Nearly to Newlywed: All About Wedding Registries [Part I]

Wedding registries – a long tradition of showering couples with gifts to help them establish their home and prepare for their future.  Well, that’s how it started out at first any way.  With more couples waiting longer to say ‘I do’ [31 for men, 29 for women], many acquire the items that are traditionally registered for.  With that change, companies are figuring out how to market to the couples that don’t want a blender or new sheets. There are many untraditional registry options out there now, but we’ll cover that in Part II [so make sure you come back to check them out!].  Today we’re going to talk about the history of the wedding registry, registry stats, and the “do’s and don’ts”.  Part II will include where to register in addition to registry resources and ideas.  So let’s get started.

The idea of a wedding registry started in 1924 by Marshall Fields as a means for engaged couples to indicate chosen china, silver and crystal patterns for family and friends.  Seven decades later, Target introduced the first electronic self-service gift registry named Club Wedd, using technology developed by William J. Veeneman which was later sold to many other retailers to enhance wedding gift registries nationwide. Within its first year of formation, more than 125,000 couples registered with Club Wedd.  In a study conducted by and in 2012, more than 1.5 million couples in the US were registered [I don’t have the numbers of couples registered solely at Target, sorry].  That’s a huge increase of people in the past 20 years!.  Many thanks to William J. Veeneman or making it much easier to register at department stores and continuing developments for online registering – I know I wouldn’t take the time if I had to write everything down on a piece of paper and enter it to a computer!

A little more information behind modern-day registries:

  • The average couple registers at 3 stores
  • Top 3 stores where couples are registered: Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and Macy’s
  • Eighty percent of couples manage their registries online
  • Brides who register tend to have more traditional, formal and romantic weddings than those who do not register
  • On average, couples typically register 6 months prior to the wedding
  • On average, couples register for 153 items
  • The average gift registry is worth $5,158; 42% are valued at higher than $5,000
  • The most popular registry items are bakeware and kitchen appliances
  • Couples expect to purchase 24% of their registry themselves post-wedding
  • Sixty-nine percent of grooms provide input on which stores the couple will register
  • Registries are shifting toward casual entertaining
    • Casual/everyday china continues to grow while formal/fine china continues to decline.  In 2011, 70% of couples added casual china to their registry, while only 29% registered for formal/fine china
  • Wedding websites and social networking platforms are gaining popularity for registry communication
    • The creation of personal wedding websites has grown and most couples use them as a way to let their guests know where their registered
    • The growth of social media has also enabled couples to share registry information with their guests
    • While using friends and family members to spread the news about registries is still common, people are doing it less frequently than in past years
  • Two-thirds of couples registered for higher-priced items in expectation of group gifts.  With that in mind, 77% received one to three group gifts and 19% received four to six group gifts.

Are you shocked by any of these statistics?  I can’t say that I am, simply because I just registered this past month and most of them were pretty true when it came to my lists.

So, let’s discuss the do’s and don’ts of registering.  Please take these with a grain of salt, as every couple is different and has different wants and needs.- by all means, if you don’t agree with something, please comment and give me some feedback!


  • Think about your guests and their locations.  Are you registering at stores that are convenient for your guests [think location, shipping fees if online shopping is available, cost of items,etc.]?
  • Register ahead of time.  Give yourself 4-6 months prior to your wedding to put together your registries, but remember to check back every so often to ensure items are still available.
  • Register for enough items.  I’ve heard that you are supposed to register for 2x more items than your wedding guest list [ex: if you are inviting 150 people, register for 300 items… which can get daunting] to ensure a great selection for your guests.
  • Register for all price levels.  Make sure you register for higher and lower-priced items so it’s affordable for all guests.  As you saw in the stats, group gifts are common, so don’t feel bad about registering for that nice KitchenAid mixer or a TV.  But with that in mind, make sure you have items that are affordable for those who can’t find it in their budget to spend $100 on your gift [think wine glasses, kitchen utensils, lamps, etc.].
  • Write your Thank You notes right away… For showers, you should have your thank you’s out no more than 3 weeks after the event.  For the wedding, have all thank you’s written within 4 months [I think I have heard 6 in the past, but I think 4 is a more than reasonable timeframe].
  • Utilize the extra discounts after your wedding if you don’t get everything you registered for.  Many stores will offer 10-15% off items for months after your wedding.  Use some of that wedding money to buy the items you really wanted but didn’t get.  Or, if you have another wedding coming up, use that discount to buy your family/friends a nicer gift!
  • Have a general idea of items you want to register for.  From recent experience, it can get overwhelming when you walk into a store and are provided a scanner to go crazy with.  Remember to register for things you’ll USE instead of just scanning something for the sake of having a longer list.  For example – if you love to entertain, get all the essentials for a great dinner party; if you love camping, register for outdoor equipment.
    • It’s a good idea to have a checklist in-hand when registering, so be sure you come back for Part II for my favorite printable checklists
  • Do tell your parents and bridal party where you are registered.  Nowadays, guests like having a simple way to buy gifts for showers and weddings – so make sure your family and friends know which stores you and your fiance have chosen.


  • Go overboard.  Keep your store choices to no more than 3.  While it’s nice to provide your guests options, keep in mind that you’re inviting them to your wedding because you want them to be part of your special day, not because you expect them to spend loads of money on you.
    • Watch for Part II for places to register [and the perks] – there are a couple of untraditional options that may just surprise you!
  • Put registry information on your invitations – it’s tacky.  As you read in the statistics, many couples are opting to put this information on their wedding websites – this allows guests to check it out there… if they’re interested.
  • Ask for money.  Again, you’re not inviting them so they can pay for their meal the day of your wedding [or a new dishwasher, car, house, etc.], you’re inviting them because they’re important to you and you want them with you to celebrate your marriage.
  • Limit your registry – think about the future!  Maybe you and your fiance aren’t in a spot to host Thanksgiving or Christmas, but you would love to in the next few years… what will you need to host your families?  Register for those types of items.  Sure, you may not need a gravy boat for everyday use, but having it in storage to use for holidays and dinner parties never hurt anyone!
  • Forget to have fun!  I think registering has been one of the funnest ‘to-dos’ I’ve checked off of my wedding list.  It’ll allow my fiance and I a chance to upgrade some of those items we’ve had since college… and fulfill my dream of hosting dinner parties and finally decorating our house!

Are you overwhelmed? Don’t be.  I certainly didn’t think about all of these things prior to reading up on it!  And I can’t keep stressing it enough – registering is supposed to be fun… grab you guy [or gal] and figure out what your registry goals are.  If you’re like me, you’ll be excited for baking, cooking and decorating.  If you’re like some of my friends, you’ll get excited for camping, biking, and all things outdoors.  OR you may feel like you have everything you need and forgo registering all together – or choose an alternative option.  Come back next week to learn what those alternative options are!



Sources: wikipedia,


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