Registering: 26 Top Tips

Everything you should know about registering to get exactly what you want (and need).

  • Time it Right

    It is completely acceptable to register as soon as you get engaged. This is great for guests who would like to purchase a gift for any prewedding celebration -- engagement parties, showers, brunches -- or for people who'd just like to send something as a token of their congratulations.
  • Know Thyself

    Don't be a slave to traditional registry lists. If you never cook at home but love to camp, it makes more sense to register for a tent than to request crystal goblets. But be open to the fact that your tastes may change in the future. Even though you can't imagine the need at this moment in your life for that glass trifle bowl, it may become indispensable for future dinner party desserts.
  • Take Stock

    Make a list of what both of you have and will keep -- and what you still need and want. Consider the need for "everyday" and "formal" versions of dinnerware, glassware, table linens, and serving items. Important: Discuss what level of formality you want and general color schemes or patterns before you begin.
  • Interview the Store

    Speak up and ask: Is the gift-getting process hassle-free for buyers? How many locations does the store have? Can they order by phone or fax? Does the store have a toll-free number? Better yet, will your registry be available online? Can guests purchase gifts online?
  • Look for Perks

    Before choosing where to register, find out what kinds of perks you might get. For example, some retailers offer what's called a completion program that allows you to fill in whatever you don't receive at a discount (10 to 15 percent off, for up to a year after the wedding).
  • Choose More Than One Spot

    One is not enough, 10 is too many. Two to four registries give guests more choices, and it's a manageable number. To make it easy on yourself and others, pick one store for bedding, another for china, and so on. This will prevent you from signing up for the same items at different stores.
  • Seal the Deal

    Once you pick your store(s), you'll need to set up an appointment to register. Some stores will assign you a registry specialist who will lead you around and help you stay on track. Some larger retailers allow couples to register by themselves with the aid of a hand-held scanner. While this removes the pressure of a salesperson looking over your shoulder, you may appreciate the expert advice from someone knowledgeable.
  • Do it Together

    The two of you should be registering for gifts you'll both enjoy. To decide on what you need, talk about the style of home you'd both like, and divide and conquer categories (maybe he gets to choose electronics, while she gets to choose the bedding). And don't let mom drag you around -- in this case, she may not know best.
  • Know your Guests

    Be sure to register for items in a range of prices so that people can choose gifts within their means. Provide a mix of goods: Think traditional for older relatives, affordable and fun for college pals. It may sound a bit manipulative, but you've got to make your registry choices appealing -- and easy for your guests to buy.
  • Over Register

    To satisfy gift needs for showers and engagement parties, request more items than the number of people on your guest list. Having options does not look greedy: You're actually doing guests a favor by giving them more choices.
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