Making the List
Practical advice for making the most of your wedding registry
There aren’t many times in your life that you get the opportunity to walk into a store and create a lust list of kitchen gadgets, linens and place settings that you (and your significant other!) dream of, but registering for your wedding is one such time.
First introduced in 1924 by Chicago’s Marshall Field’s department store, the longstanding tradition exists to help guests decide what to give to newlyweds and to help out the young couple as they start their life together.
But there’s more to it than making a supermarket sweep-style dash armed with a registry gun, which is why we caught up with Melissa Pyron—the VP, Divisional Merchandise Manager and Buyer at Halls on Grand—to get a veteran view on registering the right way.
“Before couples even make an appointment to register, they should spend some time thinking about their lifestyle,” she suggests. “How do they live their lives? Are they going to entertain? Are they going to be take-out individuals?”
She says that the mistake she sees most often is couples not registering far enough in advance, so don’t wait too long to get started. Melissa recommends setting one up a minimum of three to six months ahead of the wedding, which gives guests a chance to purchase items for pre-wedding events like bridal showers and engagement parties.
Make sure to create registries at more than one place, too. Depending on the size of the wedding, it’s a good idea to register at two to three stores. Choose a national retailer, so web-savvy guests can make purchases online, as well as a brick-and-mortar shop where most of your guests live.
Of course, if you’re like many modern couples that are more established by the time they tie the knot, you might wonder if it’s necessary to register at all, but not so fast says Melissa. “Everyone is going to want to give you a gift,” she explains. “If you don’t create a registry, you could end up with duplicates or a house full of stuff you don’t want.”
Wondering what else you need to know before you make that list? Read on for our tips.
First things first, get your significant other involved. Pyron says the most successful registry experience she sees is when couples talk about it together.
“After all, you’re not building your life with your mom. You’re building your life together,” she says. “But you are never going to get him to be interested in the dinner plates, so be realistic. One of the great ways to get grooms involved is not only with barware but outdoor furniture and accessories.”
Fortunately, the rules have evolved and these days it’s perfectly acceptable for the registry to extend beyond the kitchen and dining room. Don’t see yourself using formal dinnerware? Don’t feel pressured to ask for it.
“When I first started, certainly everyone registered for formal china and casual china and two kinds of flatware and two kinds of stemware and all of that,” she says. “Now, what we’re really seeing is traditional lifestyle where people choose items and gifts that fit with what they’re doing.”
If camping is your thing, consider setting up a registry at REI, or if you’re remodeling your house, create a wish list at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Pyron says she often sees more established couples get creative with home decor, picking out patio furniture, accessories and other non-kitchen items.
“As a gift giver, I would love to give someone a piece of framed art that they chose, because guess what, when they look at that framed art, they’re going to think, ‘Oh! Melissa gave that to me!’”
Making a List
Early on take inventory of the items you have and those you need, as well as pieces you own that might be due for a refresh. Remember, the registry is also about helping you and your spouse build your life together. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading.
“You’re melding your lives together. It’s a time to have stuff that you really like versus things you got because they were on sale,” she says. “Maybe you have things you purchased that were utilitarian, but now it’s time to replace it with that coffee maker you always wanted.”
It’s also important to think about the future and where the next stage of your life will be. Maybe you aren’t much of a chef now or don’t entertain often, but in a few years that might not be the case. She encourages all couples to register for a great knife set and serving pieces, even if they don’t think they will use them immediately.
“Maybe you don’t really know how to cook now, but realize that you are going to evolve,” she says. “Soon, you might be having friends over for a sit-down dinner versus going out, so think a little bit about where the next stage of your life is going to be.”
In addition to registering at more than one store, make a point to select a wide range of items at all different price points. While it might feel a little gluttonous to register for that Dyson vacuum or KitchenAid mixer, it’s okay, as long as it’s offset with a variety of items at other price points.
“Look at the diversity and range of gifts you’re selecting,” she says. “It’s a gift registry. It is only a suggestion. Just be sensitive to guests coming to the wedding who are at all different stages in their own lives.”
On the flipside, don’t feel tied to the essentials. Though crystal and flatware might be standard registry suggestions, it’s perfectly fine to ask for luggage, rugs and artwork. In fact, some guests might prefer to purchase something less traditional.
As you’re making your selections, keep in mind that many stores offer registry completion discounts, so even if you don’t receive a particular big-ticket item as a gift, you might decide to purchase it for yourself after the wedding.
Like every other facet of wedding planning, tackling the registry comes with its own set of etiquette rules. First and foremost, there are do’s and don’ts associated with getting the word out.
“It’s more word of mouth,” Melissa says. “It’s your mom or his mom really spreading the word. I would never put it on a wedding invitation. I’ve gotten them before and I’m pretty sure Emily Post says that’s a no-no.”
Traditionally, the person hosting the shower will also let people know where the couple is registered with a mention on the shower invitation. Soon-to-be-weds should also include the information on their website, which can be shared by listing the URL on the save the dates or wedding invites.
Another no-no is asking for money in lieu of gifts. Although registry rules have evolved considerably in recent years, requesting cash remains taboo. That said, new alternative-funding registries are gaining popularity. Hatch My House, for example, allows guests to purchase everything from windows and doors to light fixtures and awnings.
Finally, make sure to stay on top of thank-you notes. Contrary to popular belief, newlyweds don’t have a year to write letters of appreciation. According to Emily Post, thank-you notes should be written within three months of the receipt of the gift. It’s a lot easier to write them as you go than tackle them all after the honeymoon.
Looking for options beyond the big-box stores? It’s easy to shop local in Kansas City. Consider setting up your wedding registry at one of these independent retailers.
Located in the heart of historic Westport, Pryde’s is a family-owned kitchen and home accessories store that stocks an impressive mix of cookware, tabletop items and culinary gadgetry. prydeskitchen.com
Global style meets the Midwest at Tim Butt’s Black Bamboo store. Set in the Crossroads Arts District, the shop is a great place to find unique accessories, furniture and Asian antiques. black-bamboo.com
The full-line Halls on Grand department store is a Kansas City icon with nearly 100 years of experience. Find a wide selection of servingware, entertaining pieces and home decor in the newly remodeled space in Crown Center. halls.com
Outside the Box
In an era of tech-savvy wedding planning, it comes as no surprise that many couples are turning their attention to alternative registry options. Whether you’re jet-setting newlyweds or just trying to outfit a new home, these forward-thinking services are worth a look.
Can’t settle on just one store to register at? That’s where MyRegistry steps in. The ultimate online gift registry enables users to create a universal gift list from any store. Couples can even add items from brick-and-mortar stores using their smartphones. myregistry.com
If you prefer memories over muffin pans, Traveler’s Joy might be right up your alley. Give guests a chance to contribute to honeymoon adventures by purchasing experiences like kayaking trips, boat tours and theater performances. travelersjoy.com
Already have everything you could ask for? Create a charitable registry. The I Do Foundation is a fully customizable and secure way to share your guests’ generosity with a charity of your choosing. idofoundation.org