Twenty years ago, the wedding registry for nearly all couples looked somewhat the same. They all asked for the home staples — fine wedding china, bed comforters and sheet sets, a cast iron dutch oven, and expensive flatware for the dining room. But today, no two couples do their registry exactly the same when it comes to wedding planning. Not everyone needs — or wants — full eight-person place settings, an expensive stand mixer, or ornate salt and pepper shakers.
With so many norms and cultures changing, it can be tough to follow what’s appropriate for wedding registry etiquette. While there’s nothing wrong with doing your wedding registry your own way, you also don’t want to confuse or offend your guests with your wish list, and you always want to make sure they feel appreciated.
So with all that being said: What is the right way to do a wedding registry these days? How many places should you register at for your wedding?
In short, every couple is different, so much like there’s no one-size-fits-all method in wedding planning, there’s no right way to do a wedding registry or wish list. That being said, the type of couple you and your partner are can help you determine how many wedding registry options you need and how to do them well.
Check out our wedding registry checklist you need for every couple type and get a few tips on doing your wedding registry right — what’s right for you, that is.
The Traditional Couple Wedding Registry
Traditional couples come from all backgrounds and love stories, and they may have all different types and sizes of weddings. But they have one thing in common: they’ve never lived together before. That means they’re starting from scratch when they move in together.
To answer the question of how many places to register for a wedding, the traditional couple should aim for three to four registries, depending on the size of the wedding. A wedding of less than 150 guests could work with three registries while any more and four is likely better. And when you have such a big wedding, it’s better to get started on your wedding registry checklist right after you get engaged — no need to wait.
When choosing how many places to register for your wedding, look at stores that offer a wide variety of home goods with in-store and online options. Some people like to shop in person while others prefer online. Give both guests the option.
Many stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond and Crate & Barrel have an ultimate wedding registry checklist you can rely on. These are great for keeping yourself on track with the little details on your checklist that traditional couples need for their homes.
After all, you don’t want to ask for the chef’s knife set and serving utensils and then realize that you never asked for a knife block or cutting boards to go along with them. Follow these lists, but don’t feel like you need to put every little thing on your wedding registry.
As you start setting up your wedding registry, keep these tips in mind:
Mix price points
Your wedding registry should have plenty of items under $25, $50, and $100 as well as a few items over for those gifts from parents and grandparents. Some guests like to buy a $75 gift and then add a few $10 items to go with it, so make sure you have plenty of options.
So, if you’re asking for an ice cream maker and a toaster oven, also consider adding small items like an ice bucket and measuring cups. Other gift ideas outside of the kitchen that cover a broad price point might include things like table linens, patio furniture, throw blankets, or even a shower curtain.
Don’t register for the cheapest or the most expensive items
It’s true that price and quality often go hand in hand, but try to find products that meet somewhere in the middle. If you’ve got your eyes on a dutch oven, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Le Creuset. Likewise, while wine glasses and champagne flutes make for nice wedding gifts, try to find a brand that offers quality at a good price point.
Plan for right now — not potential futures
Think you’ll host a family holiday someday, but you’re still living in a small apartment? Maybe you will, maybe you won’t, so ask for what you definitely need now. Maybe that’s a four-person plate set instead of eight.
The casserole dish or serving bowls might need to wait until the time comes for the holiday party of your dreams. Instead, focus on more everyday use items, like a rice cooker, measuring spoons, hand towels, or mixing bowls.
But like many couples, what some traditional couples really need is the green — cash. There’s nothing wrong with that, and sites like Hitchd.com can help you set up a personalized cash fund. If you’re saving for your first home, you can set up a cash fund and ask a wedding guest to contribute With personalized touches, a cash fund asks for cash but makes guests feel part of the experience. Our expert guide can help you put a cash fund together.
The Modern Couple Wedding Registry
Modern couples have been living together for some time when they get engaged, so they’re not starting from scratch like traditional couples. However, they too need an ultimate wedding registry checklist to fall back on, and they need to know how many places to register for their wedding.
For modern couples who have settled in together, one or two registries is best, depending again on the size of the wedding and what the couple needs. Some couples who are older and have been together for a while might have more established homes than two recent college grads, so their registry would look different.
It can be difficult to generate wedding registry ideas when you’ve been living together, but the key is to identify what needs to be either replaced or upgraded. For example, how old are some of your most heavily used items, like your knives, fitted sheets, grill pan, and coffee mugs? What about your bath mat, bath towels, mattress pad, or duvet cover?
These items make it onto the ultimate wedding registry checklist because they’re readily available at just about any store you choose a registry, and they come in a variety of price points. You don’t have to ask for the most expensive bath towels, but you can still ask for a better quality that will last you a long time.
When choosing how many places to register for your wedding, look for stores that offer better quality products and plenty of shopping options. Some stores will offer the couple discounts for any items not purchased from their original registry ideas, so keep that in mind when choosing stores.
Honeymoon funds can be better for modern couples
Some couples like to create hybrid wedding registry option — one or two registries at a store and a honeymoon fund. A honeymoon fund asks wedding guests to contribute to different parts of your honeymoon, such as a dinner, activity, or hotel.
They involve A guest in the honeymoon experience
Personalized honeymoon funds provide a guest with details about what they’re paying for by showing photos and providing links to different activities. Instead of picture frames, they’ll be gifting you the memories to fill them with inside your home.
They feel more connected than just cash
The ultimate goal of a wedding guest is to have their gift be remembered long after the honeymoon. When sending thank-you notes, you can include photos of the two of you enjoying the experience the guest paid for. It’s a small memento for both of you.
They cut down on unwanted items
Most modern couples don’t need the basic home essentials; they already have the food processor, espresso machine, and slow cooker. That can make generating a wedding registry checklist hard. Rather than asking for things you don’t need, honeymoon funds ask for experiences you’ll remember forever.
The Destination Wedding Registry
Destination weddings are a whole different ball game when it comes to how many places to register for a wedding. Couples who choose these weddings anticipate that few people will be able to attend because it is so far away, but as most couples stay at the destination after the wedding for their honeymoon, destination weddings can be a great option.
A wedding registry checklist, however, can be tricky. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with expensive items because they’re already paying a lot of money to come to your wedding. But many guests still want to contribute some small gift, and even those who can’t make the wedding want to chip in some way.
As you’re choosing how many stores to register for your wedding, think about the store’s online shopping and shipping policies. With destination weddings, a guest will likely send gifts to your home rather than bring them along. Make sure the stores you choose have good shipping policies.
When thinking about how many stores you should register for your wedding, consider what you really need for your home — a new cutting board, casserole dish, or serving bowls — and register for those items. Avoid the unnecessary, like the gravy boat, napkin rings, or pizza stone.
A honeymoon fund can also be a good addition to a wedding registry checklist. In this way, you can ask guests to help make your honeymoon more special by paying for certain activities and events. A honeymoon fund can help a guest feel like they’re keeping the party going after they leave and the couple stays behind. As with any honeymoon fund, make sure it’s personalized and the guest will feel more included.
When it comes to how many places you should register for your wedding, the options are numerous, and there’s no one right way to do it anymore. Every couple is unique, and the best wedding registry ideas come from couples who personalize their registry, be they traditonal, honeymoon fund or cash fund.
The bottom line: Have fun with your wedding registry checklist — and your guests will too.