Wedding Registries and Gifts: A How To Guide

Giving and receiving gifts is an old wedding tradition. In the past, couples were given items they would need to set up their household once they were married. Today, most couples have left their parents' homes long before the wedding and already have everything they need. Modern wedding guests give gifts to show they couple how much they love them.

So what do you need to consider when setting up your registry?

Getting Started

Setting up your registry is one of the first things you will do after announcing your engagement. Six to 12 months prior to the ceremony is customary. You will, however, want to check your registry often and make updates as needed for items which are seasonal or out of stock.

You and your partner should plan your registry together. Today, it's common for couples to register at more than one store. Ask the store about its return policies before opening your registry.

Take inventory of the items you have and what you need. Also take into account your lifestyle. Don't register for something you'll never use simply because it's nice. If you and your intended have been living together and have everything you need for your household, you can register at retailers who cater to your hobbies

When deciding which stores to register, ask yourself whether you will be inviting guests from other parts of the country. If so, you'll want to stick to national chains. Also keep in mind your guests' budgets. You'll want to register for items in the price range of $25-$150. You can register for more expensive items as well as those are often bought by groups pooling their money. Register with stores you shop at and only register for items you would buy for yourself.

The rule of thumb is to register for two to three times as many gifts as there are invitees to give your guests a variety from which to choose.

Remember that it is considered in bad taste to mail registry cards with wedding invitations. Instead, they should be sent with shower invitations. Another way is to post the information on your wedding website.

The majority of gifts will be purchased 48 hours before the bridal shower or the wedding, so you'll want to double check your registry and add items if necessary.

Guests can purchase a gift up to a year after the wedding so keep your registry open until your first anniversary.

Cash or Check

You may prefer cash instead of presents. There is really no polite way you can let your guests know this although you can have your attendants, parents and friends let people know. Again, however, there is no polite way to go about doing this and they should only do so if asked about your registry.

If a guest gives you a check as a gift and the check bounces, do not mention this to the giver. They will be notified by their bank and will no doubt send you a new check. When you send your thank you note, say nothing about the bounced check.

Be Gracious

Be sure to thank everyone who gives you a gift with a lovely, handwritten note. Call the gift giver by name and mention the gift received. Thank you notes should have both of your names on them.

For gifts received before the wedding, mail your notes out within two weeks. Gifts which are received on your wedding day or after the ceremony need to have thank you notes sent out within a month of returning from your honeymoon.

Finally, there is no reason to hurt your guests' feelings. If there is an error and you receive duplicate gifts or a gift arrived broken or exchanged the gift, keep these details to yourself. Acknowledge the gift received and thank the giver for the generosity. Adding any of these details will only make him or her upset.

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