Registry: Telling People About It


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

As part of our ongoing discussion of registries (see: Part I, Part II, Part III), several of you have asked me to share what language we ended up using when talking about our registry. And I figured – why not? First, let me say, that since my sense of etiquette is firmly set in 1933, I would have been more comfortable not ever mentioning to anyone ever that we were registered anywhere, so as to not look like we were asking for gifts. But, if I’ve learned anything about wedding planning, it’s that you should pick your battles, and the irony of the argument that it was more, achem, Practical to let guests know where we were registered was not lost on me.

So, here is what we said about gifts on our wedding website. It won’t be right for all of you, but if it helps just one of you, than I’ve done my job:

What we want most for our wedding is to have all of our far flung friends and family in the same room, and so, more than anything, we consider your presence to be our present. (We mean it!) That said, if you really would like to get us something tangible, here are some suggestions:

  • If you are one of our crafty loved ones, we’d love if you considered making us something
  • Like shiny toasters? So do we: Our Registry Link Here
  • And, finally, a gift that will make our day so much bigger than just us. For $45, you can give a gift of a goat in our honor, which will go to a special needs child in Uganda. This goat will give both status and nutrition to a child that is misunderstood by the society they live in. Best of all, you’ll get a picture of the goat and the child, not to mention our eternal gratitude. You can read about the project here, and if you choose to give, you can do so with the green donate button on the same page.

How did you tell people about your registry. If you wrote about it on your invitations or wedding website, what language did you use?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17408330635479725781 withasigh

    For whatever reason, I don’t feel weird about telling people where my fiance and I are registered. I guess I typically think of shopping for gifts as a burden. Shopping for wedding gifts would be a particular burden, considering that many people would likely get similar if not identical gifts. With weddings I’ve gone to in the past I’ve been very happy with purchasing items off the registry. It’s quick and easy and the couple gets what they want. However, I do feel that a little variety in the registry, such as some non-traditional options, goes a long way towards avoiding registry ennui.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03208244458086146065 Blablover5

    I did a very simple just sort of let the wedding website do it. Added in where we were but I didn’t want to think to hard about it.

    But everyone is different. My mother and best friend were floored that we didn’t include the information on our invitation. When it comes to farmers you don’t get more practical or in your face.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11793117653561745718 amyc

    We just finalized our website last night, and plan to send out the link today. We have a ‘registry’ navigation tab and here is our verbiage:

    Your presence at our wedding, your good wishes, blessings and thoughts are (quite seriously) the most memorable and thoughtful gift you could give us.

    We realize that some of you will still want to give a gift to help us build our home and begin our journey together. We are researching some registry options that make sense for us (and for you as well) and will be adding links to our registry by January, so check back after the new year and have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

    we’ll likely register at two or three places and are looking into a charity (since we love the goat concept). :)

    hope this helps.

    • Kate

      Stealing this, if you don’t mind : )

    • http://thebeejays.blogspot.com Joann

      Oh this wording is a God-send. Thank you. Borrowing it, with alterations.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13629379370439761715 Nina B.

    I love it, thank you! Part of me cringes at the idea of a registry, but it’s even more painful to think about the horrific serving trays and bath rugs my aunts have gotten my cousin-brides in the past.

  • http://www.misspinkkate.com MissPinkKate

    Ugh, I really dislike the long paragraphs justifying the gift deal- “We really love you, blah blah blah, your being there is our gift, blah blah blah”. So cheesy. I despise cheesy. I’m going to keep it simple- here are our registries. Most of my friends are web-savvy enough to probably not even need to ask- they’ll just go to TheKnot.com and take it from there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16358209654239607887 Kate

    Easy MissPinkKate… you are talking to real people here, even if masked by the interwebs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01373847736850227155 style-for-style

    I feel like word of mouth does the job.

    most of the female invites have already asked, and the wedding is still 8 mos away.

    But I agree, that listing the information somewhere is really just practical and convenient, I feel like it’s rude not to, it makes it hard on your guests who want to get you something no matter how you feel about it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06206689296805893265 east side bride

    We opted not to mention the registries on our website, relying instead on old-fashioned word-of-mouth to get the word out. And the honest truth is, we did not get a lot of wedding gifts. But our friends had quite a trek to get to our wedding (minimum two planes + one ferry, or one plane + two ferries) and having them there was the best wedding present.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    I really really wanted to do the word of mouth route… but… that was a battle not worth picking ;) In fact, it got to the point that future relations were pulling me aside saying things like “List your registry, please! It’s not rude, it’s so helpful.” So, sigh. I’m with you guys, but, you know… compromise.

    Amyc – I love your language.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    And Eastside, yes! yes! Having people there, at great expense in some case, is more than I could ever want.

    Miss Pink Kate. Please be careful with your tone here. Kate is right, we are all real people. That said, long paragraphs are cheesy if you don’t mean them (if you just want gifts, for good or ill, make that clear). But if you *do* mean it, and have freinds that are traveling and/or dirt poor, they are not cheesy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08842191847941847564 Bride in Exile

    Speaking not as a bride but as a guest, I love it when couples put registry information on their websites — to me that’s just the right balance of not shoving a request for gifts in your guests’ faces and making it easy for your friends who want the registry info to find it. So that’s what my guy and I are doing as well.

    Withasigh, I think you and I have a similar gift-giving philosophy. I like *giving* gifts, but I loathe *shopping* for them because I always spend way too much time fretting over whether they’ll like what I picked out, will someone else get something just like it, etc. So I love registries because I know my gift is needed and will be used.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16774816589101208646 skatej

    Thought I’d give you an article heads-up: http://www.lemondrop.com/2008/12/15/fairy-tale-wedding-ruined-by-stampeding-horse/?icid=200100397x1215400914x1200964218

    It took a stampeding horse to push this bride into practicality!

    I think your registry idea is good and to the point. You downplayed the registry and gave focus to the two points I think you were more excited about (I mean really downplayed…did you put it in the middle on purpose? If so, genius!) by putting them at the beginning and the end, which for the most part is what people most remember.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14535294734806203455 Nicole

    this was a major source of contention between my fiance and me. i thought it was tacky to put up gift registry information on our website, but he has a web design background and wanted to make it as easy as possible. in the end (like a preview of married life), we compromised: we do list out our registry locations with links, but above that we also encourage our guests to make a donation to a charitable organization in memory of our grandfathers.

  • http://www.misspinkkate.com MissPinkKate

    Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize when you asked for people’s opinions that you just wanted people to just agree with what you said. Sorry. I’m taking readership elsewhere, I’m not interested in being an ass-kisser.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10441798371617926431 kaitlin

    MissPinkKate, reading your reply I think it was more the tone, rather than the fact that you disagree. Personally (speaking for myself, not for anyone else here), I’m not offended that you dislike the same verbiage that I so love and plan on using. It’s more that I felt like those words you used in quotations were more meant as mocking.

    That all being said, we only have about forty-five guests, most of whom will be close friends and family from the area. We’re relying on word of mouth for our general wish list (ie. they’re registered at Macy’s, Pottery Barn…or The Bay in Canada, because that’s all we have here), and our very close friends for the few things that we are really certain we want (this to-die-for amazing cutlery set from WMF).

    Given how small our wedding will be, I don’t see the merit in having a wedding website–it’s not worth the effort for us. What is worth the effort, is welcome bags for the ten-or-so (a quarter of our total list) out of country friends who haven’t been to Ottawa before and are staying for about a week!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17382805205018716125 Valarie

    Since my husband and I both had our homes before marriage, we had a very small registry. We basically told people we were registered via our wedding invitations. What I found is some people like for you to tell them what you want and other don’t. The people who don’t will get you what they want, regardless of what you put on the registry. Now, on the other hand, I was very nervous about the money dance. Our DJ had to force me to do that. But afterwards, I was very happy. We got enough money to pay for all honeymoon activities. :)

  • Sara

    MissPinkKate, if you had left out the sentence “I despise cheesy”, I think your comment would have been fine. With that sentence it sounded, well, nasty.

    I also did word of mouth. Several people asked, and it didn’t bother me a bit that several people who traveled for the wedding didn’t bring a thing. We only got a few random things.

  • http://www.feministfinance.com feministfinance

    Meg, since you are clearly only open to ass kissery and blind agreement… I used wording that was extremely similar to yours, since [insert value judgment here]. Except we linked out to our registry on alternativegiftregistry.org and I’m kind of hoping a bunch of people will take us at our word that what we want most is their presence, and not bother following the linkout.
    Of course, our web stats tell us the registry page is actually the most viewed page of the whole site. Go figure.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10441798371617926431 kaitlin

    Another option, to go along with what Feministfinance is saying, is a site like Myregistry.com which allows couples to register for things from a variety of stores/online shops (including etsy). Essentially, you can link to purchase both the unique lamps that you want and need, but also the goats, charitable donations and cash for your honeymoon. It–similarly to alternativegiftregistry.com– allows you to control the level of “wedding registry” ness.

    I think registries, like a lot of other things that go along with weddings, can be compromises. And like everything else at a wedding, they should reflect the couple and their interests and needs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03463468394602351113 cevd

    we left our registry information on our website and didn’t really talk about it. but more importantly … we are giving our family members goats for christmas!!! i really am a fan of this idea … good for you for including it on your registry.

  • Anonymous

    From a guest’s perspective I really appreciated the bride and groom including a registry info card with their snail mail invitation only because it helped me pick something they actually wanted and made it simple and easy-peazy for me given I had a lot of other things to do to prepare to attend for their out of town wedding.
    Now that I am a bride, I personally feel strange about asking people for gifts, I understand the inclination. Given my recent guest experience(where I was pre-engaged and knew nothing about wedding etiquette) I now appreciate the discretion and non-vague approach about something that is understandably a tradition in weddings

    Either way, I think people appreciate your being direct and do the leg work for them.
    and am not expecting or assuming that everyone is going to visit my wed-site either for that information.

  • Anonymous

    Your wording is perfect. I adore the goat gift and if I was your guest, I’d probably end up doing both…a gift for you and a gift of a goat. I wouldn’t be able to help myself.
    I prefer knowing someone’s registry. I visited the alternative wedding registry and saw an example. It can end up being really creative with requests for family recipes, etc. Awesome! And then include other purchasable items, which can help in feeling out what other gifts the couple might like.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10375459870432504143 sarah

    I think a lot of this depends on your family also, and what they are used to. Reading this comment about the money dance made my mouth drop– I would never ever give a couple money! But I’m having an inter-cultural wedding and my in-laws think a registry is completely tasteless. They think we should only be asking for cash, which I know my family would never give because they think it’s tasteless. Members of my family have thanked me repeatedly for making my registry so accessible (on our website). I think the bottom line is, be grateful for whatever you get, but be mindful that some people do want some direction on gifts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05886424412420068118 Megbot

    I have no idea why the giving of a goat is suddenly an awesome gift idea! Why is it so great to send a goat off to its death in a foreign country, where its shipping conditions are completely unregulated, it will likely die in transit, and upon arrival there is no guarantee for its well being.

    An article, though slightly biased:
    http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/NEWS/pr_veggie/ALL/1420//

    if you truly want to be charitable, Kiva.org gift certificates or donations to care.org (https://my.care.org/) are much more beneficial to our world’s hungry without sending an animal to its death.

  • http://tiffanyandink.wordpress.com/ tiffanyandink

    I am the same, stuck back in Emily Post etiquette. However, I see no problem having registry information on your wedding web site, especially if yours is unique.

    Don't underestimate the power of word of mouth, that's what bridesmaids & mothers are great for.

    Here in the Seattle area it's almost a guarantee a couple will be registered at Macy's. It's so easy to go online and check registries these days, why do we have to dumb it down for guests when we never had to before? If your guests look and can't find your registry anywhere they'll ask someone if they care about buying off a registry. Yes, it's just that simple.

    Also, when advertising your web site to your guests, please don't do it in the invitation! Again, I may be stuck back in 1933 etiquette too. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14606823877612277116 Erin

    This post neatly sums up what I’ve been thinking! And your idea about the goats is a great one. I’ll add it to my list of possibilities.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15385066457650823824 tatgeer

    I have to admit, we stole your language almost word for word. :)

    The only differences are that we did a charity registry instead of a regular registry, and also told people that we’d love help setting up/tearing down. (which I think I stole from some other website)

  • Lauren

    Wow! this text is great – thanks for sharing. We actually registered at MyRegistry.com and used their e-nouncements feature but your way is very practical and polite as well!

  • Julianna

    ok I know this is a really old post but just wanted to say thank you thank you for the link to Give a Child a Goat, it is the perfect gift for my soon-to-be mother-in-law.
    (but also…wth?? who knew registries could be such a contentious, heated issue?! is it too late to report old, past comments? lol)

  • http://anhonorableestate.blogspot.com A-L

    Well, here’s another late poster! Though I have to say that Amyc’s wording is just about perfect for us. Since we’re doing the website but do not have the registry done, it’s great to let people know that eventually the info will be there.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Me, too! I used a combination of AmyC’s and Meg’s wording as a base, adapting it to our specific needs, of course. Thank you all for sharing!

      Our is a rather particular case, in that we do not want any physical items. We currently live in a country that is neither his nor mine, and are planning to move at least once within the next year. So we basically are asking for people to either not buy us anything, or to give us money… which we struggled with (a lot!), since it’s one of those things that’s not really done in the U.S. (where we’re holding the wedding). But in the end–of course–practicality won out, so we set up a honeymoon registry with an option at the end to contribute just cash directly. Obviously this is not the right solution for everyone (or most people, I guess), but it’s what works for us, and I’m ok with it now.
      In case it can be of help to people in the future, here’s our wording:

      “We would like to express our gratitude for your attendance at our wedding. We know that many of you, coming from both near and far, will make sacrifices in order to be there with us. Your presence and good wishes are (quite seriously) the most memorable and thoughtful gift you could give us. However, we realize that some of you may still want to give a gift to help us begin this next phase of our journey together, so we have added our honeymoon activities to a sort of registry, which you can see by clicking the link below. Because we’re not yet finished exploring the world and will certainly move around a bit in the coming years, we ask that you not purchase physical items (such as the wonderful Kitchen Aid mixer that [kahlia] is so planning to buy if she ever settles permanently in the U.S.!), and instead contribute toward our honeymoon… or future travel, future moves, or a down payment on a home wherever we end up settling…
      Thank you!
      [link]“

  • AntoniaB

    I really don’t like people being pushed into registries because ‘it’s so helpful’. That’s such a sleight of hand. We are older, have everything we need. I stood firm on not registering – it was a battle I did want to fight, I feel strongly about shopping lists and the hijacking of the spirit of giving.

    We figured it out by telling our parents that if people ask, we love experience gifts – dinner, movie, theater … .

  • Rosa

    What if we don’t have a “wedding webpage”? I wouldn’t mind one but I can just hear my fiance’s eyes rolling as I mention it.

  • Kate

    As a longtime reader of the site, I just googled “registry website language” with this exact dilemma and shouldn’t have been surprised to have APW be the first link! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • Lilly

    I feel exactly the same way and this totally helped me out! Thank you! Wonderfully said!