8 Things I Learned Creating a Wedding Registry

zola logo
credit: Zola

Have you heard that I'm getting married next month? No? Okay, well pretty much everyone here on the Hunker team hears about it every day. In any case, if you're newly engaged, you might be feeling like, where the heck do I even start with a registry? After all, in your new life, apparently you need ALL THE THINGS. Here's what I learned going through the many, many versions and situations with my own registry. I hope it helps you! And mazel tov!

1. Figuring out where to register was a trial-and-error situation.

The first thing you'll think about is — do I register with one store? Multiple stores? Do an online thing? If you are absolutely obsessed with a small number of retailers (let's say you can limit it to two or three), registering directly with a store is easy enough for your guests. Amazon wedding registries are becoming increasingly popular because, well, Amazon. If you want things from many different places, services like Zola and MyRegistry allow you to add products from anywhere on the internet. We tried with MyRegistry and didn't find it so intuitive, so we went Zola, mostly because it looked prettiest and felt easy to use.

helen levi planters
credit: Helen Levi

2. Letting your guests know where your registry is located can be slightly confusing.

If you're doing paper invites, it's usually easiest for your less tech-savvy friends and family to go, "Oh, they're registered at [insert super recognizable store here]." But if you set up an online registry, you need to direct folks to your personal website (which no one can ever remember) or send them to a not-so-simple URL. Ours was something like www.zola.com/registry/ournameshere — so now you're asking people to type out a long address. We did digital-only invites, and what we didn't consider was how those get buried in an inbox, and, again, the less tech-savvy people have said they didn't realize we had a registry (for some reason). You just might want to think about how to make your registry location extra clear.

3. At first, you will add EVERYTHING.

It's like free shopping! But then you might take a step back and think, Okay, this list looks crazy. You need to consider the size of your wedding ( so if you're having 50 people but register for 100 gifts, you're going to end up with some 50-some gifts ). It's fine to go all-out and do a heavy edit later on. But a good way to figure out what to ask for is to think: What is missing from our lives that we really wouldn't/don't want to spend the money on? This should be the bulk of your registry. Then: What are some things that would be amazing to have that we definitely wouldn't buy ourselves? Try to curate this and keep it to a select group of items that really feel special.

cb2 short glasses
credit: CB2

4. Think about price points.

Our first pass actually included a lot of gifts under $50 — stuff like oven mitts and measuring spoons. The thing is, most people want to feel like they're giving you a meaningful wedding present. We ended up limiting the small, cheap pieces and trying to pick ones that were still in that affordable zone, but that felt more substantial — small appliances, beautiful but inexpensive wine glasses from CB2, etc. We then also ended up cutting out a handful of products over $500. We left just a couple of the most pricey items that feel like "forever" gifts — an espresso machine, a Sonos speaker, Shun knives.

5. Cash vs. product?

If you're using an online service, there's usually an option for guests to simply contribute to a cash fund with a designated purpose — honeymoon, home downpayment, etc. If you're hoping your guests will go in this direction, you may want to think about limiting the number of gift options. You may feel like that's sneaky — but the truth is, you're telling people that there are just a few material things you'd really like, but that you'd like to put their funds toward something that has the most importance in your life right now.

le creuset orange set
credit: Le Creuset

6. When you add from other stores, consider tax and shipping.

When you use a site like Zola, you're able to choose from the products they stock internally, which is super easy. But when you want to add things from a store like CB2 or West Elm, you need to manually provide the link and info. If you choose the option for a cash transfer (your guest "selects" your gift, but the exact funds are transferred to you and you actually ship the gift yourself), you want to figure out tax and shipping costs when you input the item's price.

7. If you add from other stores, stock might not always be available.

Similarly, if you build your registry a couple months out, just know that things you add from external stores might not be available by the time your guests start shopping for you. If you select the option to have them buy the gift themselves, Zola will take them directly to the retailer's site. If your selection is out of stock or gone, they'll get an error page. If you select to ship items yourself, then you'll find that your guest has thought they bought you a specific set of Crate & Barrel flatware, but you might now find yourself in the position of having to find something comparable. Of course, you could always pocket the funds, but that actually is sneaky.

8. You will revise and revise and revise.

As you get closer and closer to your wedding, a few things happen. First, you start to understand what will really make your home feel like it's stepping into a new life status with you. For us, it was sheets and linens from places like Parachute and Hawkins New York; a set of dishes that wasn't from a mass retailer but was also affordable (Year & Day FTW); and a quality set of pots and pans.

Second, as your guest list solidifies, you might take a look at your registry and see that it feels unlikely that any of your guests might buy certain gifts. Just be sure that you feel solid about your selection within the month of your wedding.


Leonora Epstein

Leonora Epstein

Leonora Epstein is Hunker's Senior Director of Content. She has previously served as Executive Editor at HelloGiggles and as BuzzFeed's Deputy Editorial Director. She is the co-author of "X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story" (Abrams, 2014). Feel free to reach out at leonora@hunker.com.