Wedding Registry Etiquette

One of the most controversial decisions a couple will make for their wedding is how to ask guests for gifts. Some couples prefer a modern approach where they ask for cash donations whereas others who are more traditional may prefer physical gifts.

Image: Looks Like White

Image: Looks Like White

The History

Historically, wedding gifts were given to a newlywed couple so that they could build the foundations of their lives together when they moved into their new home. Nowadays couples tend to be a little older and have a lot of these white goods already (and generally already living together). So, many couples choose to create their own gift registry at a department store (e.g. David Jones) or online (e.g. The Wedding Nest).

Couples can select all the items that they want or need. Guests can visit this directory and select an item that they would like to give to the couple from the list. The beauty of this is a guest can elect what they would like to spend and still feel like they are picking something the couple would really like too.


A wedding registry can be tough work for couples and also guests who wait until the last minute to purchase an item (and the only item left is that $500 china set). So how can you approach this in a kind, considerate and useful fashion?

1. Guests Need Choice

Whilst you may really want that $2,000 plasma TV screen, it’s important that you remember guests may not quite have that in their budget! Select items that are a range of prices starting from $20 and up. Avoid picking items that have, for example, 10 plate sets where each plate is $200. You’ll find you end up with only a few plates and then you need to purchase the rest yourself if you want a complete set.

You also want to have a balanced list - you’ll have all walks of life at your wedding – grandparents, friends, relatives, and parents. Make sure to select a range of items so that all your guests will find something they would like to purchase and feel comfortable paying for. Be respectful and avoid items that will completely date (i.e. clothing or fashion accessories) or items that cost a fortune (i.e. TV/fridge)! You don’t want to insult your guests.

It’s also a great idea to list in multiple registries to give your guests a variety of options. For example, one department store, one online store and a honeymoon fund. (We've listed a few above and below!) 

2. Work Out Numbers

Put more on the list than you think you’ll need. Don’t make it uncomfortable for your tardy friends – just put more than you ever expect to get. That way you’ll never have to know and/or have an awkward convo with a friend who can’t afford the only item left on the list!

3. Include Your Fiancé

You are about to embark on a wonderful journey together. Be kind and curious with one another and pick items that you BOTH want. Whilst it is common for brides to take control of the registry, we’d suggest you do an initial shop together.

4. Research

Map out what you need before you get to the store so you don’t waste time and end up with a bunch of gifts that you really didn't put thought into or need. The last thing you want is to return or hide that expensive vase your great aunt bought! Your guests will also notice that you’ve put due consideration into the gifts they will be paying for and just saved them loads of time by doing the leg work.

5. Keep Track

Believe us, this is important. We’ve heard of brides who registered for the same items in multiple stores as they forgot what they had selected.

6. Honeymoon

A honeymoon fund is a great alternative to a traditional registry. Guests can purchase experiences for you on your honeymoon and contribute to flights, dinners and accommodation. For couples that have everything they need then this is a terrific way to allow your guests to “gift” you without feeling like they are just handing over money. Check out: Travel Registry or Not Another Toaster 

The Ultimate Gift Is Giving

If you are fortunate enough to have everything you need then why not ask your guests to donate to a charity of your choice. You can set up a sponsor page directed at your favourite charity (My Cause, Go Fund Me) and guests can contribute. They don’t need to display the amount, it’s totally tax deductible and you can add all the details onto your own wedding website. Save an animal or a little child!



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