The etiquette of gift registries

Friday, January 30th, 2009 | etiquette, media, Q&A



Q: We recently went to register for our wedding and the store clerk offered us registry enclosure cards to include in our invitations. Is this acceptable? We were also a bit unsure what to register for. Help!


 A: No, no, a thousand times, no! It may seem helpful, but it is never acceptable to enclose a registry notice or gift wish list with your invitation. Never. Ever.

 One of the major etiquette dangers is the method of informing your guests

 about your registries. The stores themselves help perpetuate this

 etiquette no-no by offering you the offensive invitation enclosures.

 Your gift registry can be one of the most fun aspects of planning your

 wedding (“Here, honey, just point this gun at things and voila, they’re on

 our wish list!”) but it can also prove to be an etiquette minefield.

 The first major issue is the registry itself. Today’s engaged couples

 often have established households of their own, so a registry is an

 excellent way for your guests to know what you actually need (Oh look!

 Another toaster! Everyone needs four toasters, don’t they?). Make sure you

 think carefully about what you actually need and make a wish list that is

 agreeable to both you and your partner.

 Your guests have different budgets, so register for items in a variety of

 price ranges. You cannot expect all of your guests to spring for that $400

 food processor, or that they will be happy buying you one teaspoon because

 at $100 a piece it is the only thing on your registry they can afford. A

 thoughtful gift registry gives everyone the opportunity to buy you

 something you will love.

 These days, it is also perfectly acceptable to register for nontraditional

 items such as hardware, sporting goods, charitable donations, or, yes,

 even the honeymoon. Keep in mind, though, that although lifestyle gifts

 are appropriate, some people are going to prefer giving you something


 You may prefer to receive money, which is traditional in many cultures, or

 contributions to your honeymoon fund, but you cannot tell your guests what

 to give you. It is just not polite to request gifts of ANY kind. Giving a

 wedding gift is the socially acceptable thing to do – but no one is really

 obligated to buy you a gift. Informing your guests what kind of gift you

 would like at the same time you are inviting them to your wedding is like

 telling them the gift is more important than their attendance.

 The way to let people know where you’re registered is via word of mouth.

 Make sure your bridal party and family know where you are registered or if

 you have a preference for a more non-traditional gift. Then you have to

 wait until someone asks where you are registered, and just cross your



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