Setting Up Your Bridal Registry

What a wonderful time to “shop” if you are a bride-to-be!  You can walk into a department store and indulge your whims without worrying about what it will do to your bank account!

As you set up your registry, stick to two or three stores that you love. You’ll want to choose a national department store or a chain since such stores also let guests access and shop from your registry online. Then even guests who live out of state or abroad can log on to the website and make purchases.

These days, you can register for almost anything you like, since home-improvement centers, sporting-goods stores, and other unexpected places have begun to offer such services for engaged couples. Think of your guests — you may want to choose stores that are low-, medium-, and high-end, so guests have gifts in a variety of price ranges to choose from. Register for more gifts than you have guests, so there will be plenty of items to choose from. Complete your registry four to six months before the wedding. This will give guests time to purchase gifts for the big day, but also for your engagement party or bridal shower.

Registry expert Mary Rose Gearon says, “Don’t think just about your lifestyle as it is today. You’ll be entertaining more in the years to come, so create a wish list of items: a platter for your first Thanksgiving dinner or champagne glasses for a New Year’s toast. Keep those special occasions in mind; it’s a wonderful way to include loved ones in those important milestones.”

Etiquette dictates that registry information should never be included in a wedding invitation, even though some stores provide printed cards for this purpose. Instead, rely on your family members and wedding party to spread the word. It is generally acceptable for the hostess of a shower to include these details on that invitation however. Some stores will even gift wraps items from a wedding registry for free, so that is an added bonus for your guests!

If you don’t receive everything you registered for, don’t worry. Many stores have a completion program that offers a discount on remaining items, or will keep the registry active from a few months to a few years, so friends and relatives can continue to purchase gifts from it for other special occasions in your life.

Ideally, you should acknowledge every present immediately by writing a thank you note the day you receive it. If that isn’t possible, sending a note within two weeks is also acceptable. Of course, the period surrounding your wedding is a busy time; if you fall behind, just make every effort to send a note as soon as you can — but no later than three months after the event.

While policies vary from store to store, many shops will keep your registry active for at least one year after your wedding date. This means you’ll still be able to manage and edit your wish list online, and people who want to buy a gift for you after the event (it’s acceptable to do so up to one year later) will have access to it as well.  Also, many stores will offer couples a discount of about 10 percent if they want to purchase the remaining items on their registry after the wedding — something you should keep in mind as you try to figure out how to spend any gift cards or cash you receive.

So, are you ready to shop?  Let us know which stores you thought offered the best options as you filled out your registry.  Maybe we’ll go shopping, too!

And if you need more ideas from Martha Stewart, check out her wedding books and magazines at the library in our Wedding Neighborhood.