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Wedding Registries: Avoiding Etiquette Issues

By January 24, 2012No Comments

And so we kick off a week of registry goodness, with a post that covers arguably the most important aspect of registering:  Etiquette.

Often, etiquette is a guide, a way to navigate social interaction with a minimum of conflict.  When it comes to weddings, you can be flexible with the ceremony processional, when to have the first dance – pretty much everything. When it comes to gifts, though, you risk giving Aunt Matilda – and even your younger cousin Susie – an apoplectic fit if you dare break the code of wedding registries.

Here’s the essentials:

  1. Never act like you are expecting a gift.  Yes, most everyone will get you one, and yes, it’s assumed – but no one technically owes you a gift.  It would come across as gauche to act like it – and in these economic times, maybe you won’t get a gift or two (or maybe you’ll get a really small one) from your guests.  That’s why you must never include registry or gift requests in your invitation.
  2. People will find your registry.  Aunt Matilda will call your mom, your friends will hop Target or Crate and Barrel and figure it out, etc.  So don’t worry about it – it’s out there in the universe, and people will buy from it.
  3. You cannot ask for cash. But, you can steer things that way.  If you already have a lot of stuff (my husband and I had lots in our kitchen cabinets already when we got married in our thirties), you will likely register for less on your registries.  When people run out of options, they’ll probably get you a gift card or write a check, or give you something equally thoughtful from outside the registry.
  4. It’s cool to register for a honeymoon – a few years ago, this was a big debate.  Now, though, honeymoon registries are common and a-okay.  (Would old-fashioned etiquette experts agree? Maybe not, but change has come and they’re here to stay.)
  5. Try not to register at more than three places.  It starts looking a little indulgent; common etiquette allows for 2- 3.
  6. Keep up a blend of items – some small, some large, some higher priced, some lower – so people have flexibility to buy things within their budget.

Fear not, you can put registry info on your shower invitation, as exhibited by this Thatcher Studio-designed invitation.

Here’s resources for gently guiding your guests to the items that you want the most: allows you to completely customize your registry. You can register for cash for a down payment on a house, for example, or build a fund for your honeymoon – pretty much anything and everything. is a fee-free, well-loved honeymoon registry that is easy to use as well.

Multi-store registries like Gift Registry 360, powered by the Knot, also allow ease of use and shopping for your guests.  You can link your registries easily for one-stop shopping.

Fret not – you can build your new life together with well-chosen gifts, without offending anyone.  Tomorrow:  The best-rated items to choose for your registry!