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If you’ve started to make a list of the best kitchen tools, bedding and linens, home necessities and other items to include on your wedding registry, and you’re feeling slightly — or very — stumped, we get it: Figuring out what to add and what to skip can be pretty daunting, especially since the options can seem endless (and falling down a rabbit hole of reviews can often wind up being … not so fun).
“We love a well-rounded wedding registry, and we highly encourage our couples to be intentional and thoughtful when it comes to registering for gifts for the celebration of their engagement or marriage,” says Ness McGovern, owner and designer of Ness McGovern Events & Design, based in Bergen County, New Jersey. “We try to help our couples register for a concise list of items that will serve their life well, in a range of price options for their guests.”
What should couples put on their wedding registry?
So what should those items be? “We’ve seen it all — there are certainly couples that don’t care if they put lingerie or gaming chairs on their registry,” McGovern says. Her advice, though, is to stick with more tried-and-true options, whether that’s cookware, a statement rug or tableware and perhaps steer clear of super personal items, like sunglasses or shoes. “Unless, of course, you’re known as the person with an extensive shoe collection, in which case, guests may know to get you that from the get-go,” she says.
Recently, McGovern has seen a trend towards registering for furniture and home goods, largely because of how much time we’ve spent at home during the pandemic. Donations are also popular: “A lot of my couples are giving back in a big way,” says JoAnn Moore, a master wedding planner at JoAnn Moore Wedding, Design & Event Planning in Vail, Colorado and the Lake Tahoe area. “Many are asking for donations to their favorite charities in place of gifts.” For instance, one bride she worked with, who was a breast cancer survivor, asked for donations to the organization Susan G. Komen.
Is it okay for couples to ask for cash or gift cards instead of having a wedding registry?
For couples who prefer cash, McGovern recommends either skipping a registry or opting for a small one with items just for the shower or other pre-wedding event. “After that event, the registry is removed,” she says. “This conveys that you’d prefer gifts of cash or like-kind,” she says.
For her part, Moore doesn’t recommend asking for money or gift cards, but says including details of your story as a couple, such as hobbies and activities, to the wedding website can help inspire guests to buy a gift card or make a donation that supports those interests. For example, a couple whose wedding website details their avid hiking adventures might give guests the idea to get the couple gift cards to stores like REI.
Where should couples put their registry details? Can you add a registry to an invitation?
This depends on what events you’re throwing: For a shower, include the info on your invite. The wedding? Both experts said to skip writing it right on the invite, since it’s not thought to be proper etiquette. “A modern alternative is including the registry information [as] a separate invitation insert or directing guests to a wedding website for more information,” McGovern says.
How should couples handle off-registry gifts?
Sometimes, especially if it’s a close family member or friend who knows you and your future spouse well, getting a non-registry gift can be great, our experts say. Otherwise, accept gracefully. “A gift is a gift and saying thank you for any thoughtful gift should be appreciated by the couple, even if it’s not on the registry,” says Moore.
How do couples know they’re registering for quality items?
That’s where the Good Housekeeping Institute comes in. The Institute tests home products of all types, evaluating them based on quality, durability, functionality and other factors.
Here, we’ve put together the 50 best wedding registry ideas for 2022, based on the expert-approved picks from the Good Housekeeping Institute, along with some other best-sellers and editor’s favorites.