This week we break down Five Wedding Registry Etiquette Rules To Follow In 2023.
As you plan your wedding and interact with your significant other, family and friends, the hope is that your relationships become closer, stronger and deeper through the process. But let's face it: Wedding planning is notoriously stressful and can bring out the bridezilla in a lot of us.
Work together, take inventory and make a plan that serves you individually and together. When you create your registries with your partner, it allows you to dream about your future. But to stay calm through the process, it requires a general understanding of the etiquette around proper quantities, price ranges and thank-you’s.
Take a minute to read through the next five questions and answers. Our rules of engagement with your wedding registry essentials will certainly help minimize the strain of knowing how to manage your registry and graciously interact with wedding guests so you don’t take it out on each other.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll walk you through the process and hopefully answer most of the questions you have about creating a solid wedding registry.
Q: How many items should be on our registry? A: Start with a wish list.
Real Simple suggests registering for two to three items per wedding guest invited. More specifically, a place setting is considered one item, and if something is sold as a set, like four wine glasses or salad plates, a set of four is considered one item.
For a guest list of 200, that would mean registering for around 400-600 items. On average, most couples divide their 400-600 items between two to three different wedding registry retailers.
Make sure you give your guests a variety of items to choose from in different price ranges. To make sure you are covering price ranges, group items (on your wish list or registry) into those under $50, between $50 and $100, and over $100, and count how many items fall into each category.
As you’re deciding colors, quantities and price ranges, start with a wish list to keep things organized. The Dowry wish list acts as a great staging area. You can add products and shuffle colors and quantities before pushing things over to your registry to be viewed by your guests. The Dowry wish list is private and can only be seen by you.
Q: What’s a good price range for gifts on a wedding registry? A: You need a variety.
Your registry should include plenty of gift options in a variety of price ranges. Whether it’s your rich Uncle Joe who is known to splurge, or your frugal cousin in grad school, make sure your guests can choose from items that fit their price range.
The amount a wedding guest spends on a gift usually depends on their relationship to the bride and groom. Consider these averages as you create your registry:
- Close friend or close relative: $125+
- Friend or relative: $100-$125
- Co-worker, distant family friend or distant relative: $50-$100
The Dowry suggests adding several gifts to your registry under $50 and 10-15 big-ticket items between $150 and $300. This gives guests the option to purchase lower-priced gifts that match their budget, but also allows guests to pool their money together for a higher-priced item – a trend that is on the rise.
Tip: Monitor your registry and keep an eye on what’s happening. If big-ticket items are getting snatched up quickly, then it might be time to add a few more.
Q: How many place settings should we register for? A: Count your family and friends.
The general rule is to register for eight to 12 place settings, and match this quantity as you select flatware, drinkware and table linens. If you’re always hosting large groups of friends and family for dinner and drinks, go with 16-20.
We recommend keeping one or two extra plates and everyday drinking glasses for the inevitable butterfinger moments (oops!).
Remember the process of preparing food as you build your registry. Meal-prep items – like a colander, measuring spoons and cups, utensils, mixing bowls, cutlery, cutting boards, baking dishes, pots and pans, and other stovetop items – are essential to stocking your kitchen.
Don’t forget serveware to get that delicious food to the table! We recommend a minimum of two sets of serving bowls (in various shapes and sizes) for the average kitchen (but more if you are entertaining often and/or cooking for large groups), as well as a good selection of serving platters, pitchers and utensils.
Tip: If you entertain at home, don’t forget to stock your bar with plenty of glassware of all types. Register for a good selection of small snack bowls and trays to fill with appetizers, and position them around your room for a low-key get-together.
Q: How do I get my partner involved? A: We’ve provided some options.
The way you work together as a couple in other areas of your relationship is a good gauge for how to create your wedding registry together. Here are three examples of how you can combine forces and stay positive through the process.
- Divide and conquer: Divide the registry into categories based on who does what at home. Maybe you’re the mixologist and he’s the cook. If that’s the case, you stock the bar cart with beautiful highball glassware and double old-fashioned tumblers, and let him pick the kitchen knives and bakeware.
- Option A or B: Another way to work together is for one of you to volunteer to put together an initial list of options (this is a great way to utilize The Dowry wish list feature). You can select two glassware options, two place setting options and so on, and then hand off the list to your partner to make the final choices.
- Date night: If sitting side by side is how you and your partner work best, plan a date night to make all critical registry decisions together. Reward yourself, after a long workweek, with a couple hours and a bottle of your favorite wine, and spend a quiet night at home choosing just the right items to go on your wedding registry.
No matter how you decide to work together, be thoughtful about your lifestyle and individual design styles, and choose items that work together in creating your home aesthetic. One thing we hold firm on: You both need your own go-to ceramic coffee mug. That’s nonnegotiable.
Q: How should we thank our guests as gifts arrive? A: Do it right.
A handwritten thank-you note for each gift you receive is still proper etiquette. Texts and emails don’t count. Try to send out thank-you’s within two months of receiving a gift. This goes for gifts you receive before the wedding and gifts you receive for other events, like showers and engagement parties. Gifts you receive from friends and family that didn’t attend the wedding should still be sent within two months of receiving the gift.
Make sure your thank-you notes include details about the specific gift (“Thank you so much for the beautiful table linens!”), make it personal if you can (“My table will look so incredible with these napkins!”), and try to write as clearly as possible (even if your hand gets tired).
Though it’s recommended to send thank-you’s within two months, we are big believers in “better late than never.” We know how easy it is for time to get the best of you. Somehow you are just as busy after the wedding as you were before.
If thank-you notes are going out a little late, apologize upfront (“We are so sorry we haven’t thanked you until now. Our life has been so busy since the wedding!”). Friends and family will be happy to hear from you and get a special thank-you regardless of how much time has passed.
- Share the responsibility with your partner, and make sure you each sign your name.
- Keep a notebook handy, and as soon as you open a gift, make a list of the gift-giver, the gift and the day you received it.
- Record any special details about how you felt when you opened the gift (now I want to have them over for dinner and drinks so we can put this beautiful dish to work).
We hope this series continues to be helpful as you create and add to your wedding registries. Understanding customs and formalities will remove a lot of the guesswork from the process and help you know when to follow and/or break convention in ways that work best for you.
Have questions that aren’t covered here? Please add a comment to this post. Our team and resources are here to help you feel ready and prepared.
If you have a registry at The Dowry, remember we are regularly adding new artists and handcrafted home goods for you to shop. Come back often and see what’s new.
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