Best Wedding Registry & Gift Ideas for 2021
Hannah Warren // Senior Writer & Editor
We earn a commission through carefully selected links on this site, however, this never influences our evaluations or writing.
Creating the Best Wedding Regestry
The wedding planning process is inherently full of lists. From the list of potential caterers, wedding musicians and dress designers to prospective venues, you’ll spend a lot of time making lists.
One list that’s a little more fun to make is your registry list! This list provides an exciting opportunity for you and your fiancé to sit down and envision your life together. It’s a time to think about what married life will look like for you and what items will enhance your life as a married couple.
Read on to learn all about how a wedding registry works, what you can put on your registry and some gorgeous ideas for wedding gifts. You can also take a look at all of the best wedding gifts for this year for additional inspiration.
What is a wedding registry?
A wedding registry is a curated list of all the items a couple would love as newlyweds. A wedding registry is a great opportunity to look at what you currently own and make a note of anything you want or need to upgrade. You’ll then share this list with your friends and family, and the items on this list will be their wedding gifts to you.
One of the best parts of a wedding registry is that it takes the guesswork out of the gift-buying process. It lets your loved ones buy you a meaningful gift in the confidence that you will love it. Online wedding registries also help you keep tabs on what has already been purchased by another guest. As each item on your wedding registry is purchased, it’ll be displayed as ‘unavailable’ so nobody buys the same gift twice. That way, you don’t have to return that fourth set of silverware from a distant cousin. Everybody wins!
Before we get started
Here are a few things to do before you start curating your list:
- Think about what you and your partner need. Could you do with new cookware? Maybe a new kettle and toaster? Some fresh bed linens? From there, you can use our guide to figure out what should go on your wedding registry based on your needs as a couple.
- Start planning early on and give yourselves plenty of time to establish what items you’ll want. By getting the ball rolling early, your loved ones can bring or send you gifts at any point during the process. And if you think of something after you’ve curated your list, you can always add items right up until the big day.
- Work together to create a list you both love – this should be a collaborative effort!
- Consider registering for less traditional items and more activity-based gifts. A wedding registry is a great opportunity to upgrade your home, but more and more couples are registering for experiences, whether it’s an adventure weekend or a couple’s massage. This is a great option if you are a mature couple, have an established home, or plan to travel.
- Get inspiration from your loved ones. Family and friends who are married have likely created a wedding registry. You can ask which registry sites they like best, the items they’re happy they asked for, and anything they wish they’d added to their list.
Once you have a general idea of what you’d like to register for, it’s time to decide where you want to register your items.
These days, most couples post their wedding registry online, rather than heading to a store to register and scan items they like or, worse, hand out a list.
Online registries make the process much easier than it was a decade ago, but finding a good selection of online wedding registries is key. The gifts you ask for define who you are as a couple and (ideally) will be items you’ll want to keep forever. Not only will these gifts serve as useful and enjoyable items you and your partner will use, but they’ll also remind you of your special day. You don’t want to end up with a ton of stuff you’d love to throw out but can’t because it was a wedding gift.
Invitations are another area that has advanced significantly in the last twenty years. Back in the day (okay, the 90s, but stick with me!), you’d have to go to a specialist stationery store and pick out all your cards, pens and decorations. You’d have to write your invitations or pay someone else to write them, gather the addresses of all your guests and mail them out by hand. Nowadays, there is an abundance of paperless options and online invitation design websites which are faster, easier, and more eco-friendly. You can save time and money on lengthy appointments with wedding planners and invitation designers, and you’re in complete control of your design.
Online wedding invitations also provide you with the option to include a link to your registry. You can invite your guests and let them know what wedding gifts you’d like, all in one go!
If you still want to keep things somewhat traditional, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to design your invitations at your own pace. You can still opt for a bespoke, unique physical invitation and include a link to your registry list. If you want extra tech points, you can even include a scannable QR code so that your guests can take a picture of their invitation and be taken directly to your registry via their smartphone.
What should you put on a wedding registry?
We’ll go through a ton of ideas for what you can add to your wedding registry below, but some of the most popular wedding registry ideas include:
- kitchen appliances like mixers and coffee machines
- quality cookware and dining sets
- living room items like plants, small side tables, rugs and minibars
- soft furnishings like quilts, blankets, rugs, throws, and cushions
- experiences and getaways (or contributions to honeymoon)
- smart home devices
- charitable donations
- work out equipment
Of course, you can always ask for cash instead! Some people may find asking for money strange and even uncomfortable, but it’s pretty common to register for honeymoon expenses and giving cash for a wedding gift is normal in many Asian cultures. It saves your guests from buying you something you might not love, and it means you have less money to spend on your dream honeymoon or to put toward furniture or even a home purchase.
What should you not have on a wedding registry?
While there’s no set rule for what you shouldn’t put on your wedding registry, it’s a good idea to ask for things both you and your partner can use. It might be better to wait until after the wedding to buy anything special for yourself or your kids.
It’s also a good idea to keep your gift requests within a reasonable price bracket. Your friends and family want to feel that they’re giving you a meaningful gift, and registering for extremely expensive gifts might seem a little insensitive. Equally, there’s no point in putting items you’ll never use on your registry. Go for things you’ll make good use of, and make your gift selections thoughtful and intentional.
Are some things too expensive for a wedding registry?
Yes and no – the good thing about a registry is you are registering your interest, which means you can add items suitable for all budgets.
For example, you may know that your sister, brother-in-law, best man, and parents of each side will have a bit more to spend, while some of your colleagues will be on a tight budget. There’s nothing wrong with adding more expensive things that you don’t expect people to buy and low-cost items that will be more appropriate for those on a budget.
Just make sure the majority of items are budget-friendly, and if you know you’ve got people coming who will have wildly different budgets, you could ask those closest to you not to purchase lots of little things for you over one or two larger items. If in doubt, accepting donations to a cause or toward your honeymoon can help those who only have a little to spend. You know your guests best!
How many gifts should be on a wedding registry?
Your wedding registry size should reflect the number of people on your guest list. It should be in direct proportion to the number of gifts you expect to receive. For example, if you’re inviting 200 people, you can typically expect a gift from each couple attending, so you’ll want to put at least 200 gifts on your registry.
Don’t worry about seeming “greedy” – it’s better to go a little wild and ensure there are plenty of options for people than leave them with few options. If you’re not that into material possessions, consider creating cash funds toward purchases. There are online registries that allow you to easily ask for cash toward your honeymoon and other larger purchases and gifts. Some cash registries are:
How many registries should you have?
Most couples have 1-3 wedding registries, but there really is no minimum or maximum number! Many couples have a registry for each type of store they like most, whether that’s Macy’s, Bloomingdales, or Bed Bath & Beyond. If you already know that you’ll want gifts from one specific store, there’s no need to add more just for the sake of it. But if there are a few stores you love, feel free to add their products to your list!
You and your partner might also have specific goals for your home, and you may ask for help with home renovations or honeymoon contributions. Registry sites exist for all of these options, and a combination of a few is often the best way to include everything you want.
Remember, your guests know you don’t expect to receive everything on your registry, and most people love choosing gifts for their loved ones. When you give them a wide range of choices, they’ll still be able to feel like they’ve taken an active part in choosing your gift, and you’ll have a surprise!
Wedding Registry Etiquette
- First thing to do is find the perfect place you want to use for your registry. There are tons of options for wedding registries, so brows and find the perfect one.
- Register at multiple places, and find some online options. You want to have that good variety of stores, and the option for people to send the packages to your house in case they cant give it to you in person.
- Have a diverse variety of price points. You want your guests to be able to get you something you want, but also something they can afford. You can start with five dollar items up to whatever you feel comfortable with.
- If you have a wedding website, connect your registry to the website. This is going to make it a lot easier for you friends and family to find what you want.
- Once you’re all set up, add everything you want to the list. You can add stuff for as long as you want, just know the sooner it is on there the better.
- Last thing to consider is Thank You cards. If you can find a registry that tells you who bought you what then you will all set for those thank you cards, but you will also want someone to write it down while you open gifts so you don’t forget anything.
Building the Ultimate Wedding Registry Checklist
Congratulations on your engagement! The next step to think about is building your wedding Registry. You want to make your Registry as soon as you can after your engagement. Once people start to hear about the engagement, or get your engagement party invites they will want to see what kind of gifts they can get for you guys. This is your registry, so add anything you want. Even if you think it is too little or too much, just add it and see. You want to have a good variety of options for price range and places for the items to be bought at.
What are Essential Wedding Registry Checklist Items
When thinking about the essentials, our favorite way is to break it up based on the rooms in the house. This is a really simple way to think of what you need, and to be able to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Kitchen items can be some of the most expensive things, but they are absolutely the perfect thing to put on the registry. People want to get you something you will actually use, and kitchen supplies are one of those things they will happily get for you. There are tons of options from pots and pans, to a stand mixer. This is a great chance for you to add cheap and expensive options.
You want to give a good selection of things they can choose from. If you are thinking of decor or a theme for the kitchen then you can put that on there too. There are so many kitchen items that you won’t want to have to buy yourself. This can also be Barware if that is something you are into. Barware is a great gift to give, and even more fun to receive.
Bath items are going to be a little more standard. You don’t have a huge variety of things to put on here, but if you’re also moving into a bigger place then you will want to put some bath items on the list. Don’t hesitate to add things that are essential and basic. Those are important things you need.
You should also put things like bath bombs or bath salts on there if that is something you would like. The little things you wouldn’t typically buy for yourself are the things that they will want to get you, so you can treat yourself.
Dining wear is one thing you will definitely need, and hopefully they last a long time too. Dining sets are going to be the top priority of the needs for dining, but this is the chance to ask for wedding China as well. Wedding China is stunning, and if it is something you want then add it to the list. You can also find linens you would like for your table and add those to the list.
Bedroom items are going to be all about bedding and making sure your bed looks good. Pillowcases and mattress covers are great to add to the list. It may seem weird to ask for bedding or anything bedroom related, but I promise it is totally normal. You should add those on there because they are a good middle price range.
Seasonal Essentials (entertainment)
If you’re having a wedding that is going to be following the season theme, and there is something you want that would be considered seasonal then add it to the list. This can be fall items like halloween decorations, or even christmas decorations. These things people always forget about, but they become pricey once you start buying them.
The Weddings to the Wire Checklist
We have the perfect wedding checklist to help you get through the crazy times. The checklist will help you remember everything, and keep you in the right time frame for everything that needs to be done.
Kitchen and Home Registry Ideas
There are hundreds of thousands of items you could put on your wedding registry, but kitchen and home items are the go-to. The list for what you could add in this category is (almost!) endless, but here’s a list of the top items you should consider:
- a nonstick or cast-iron skillet
- Dutch oven
- grill pan
- a nice set of saucepans
- sauté pan
- roasting pan
- casserole dish
- loaf pans
- muffin tins
- rice cooker
- a stand mixer (if you only use a mixer every so often, the Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer is a reasonably-priced option. It includes a chef’s whisk, beaters, dough hooks, and a spatula for use in various dishes)
- air fryer
- a slow cooker (the Instant Pot 10 Quart Duo Nova 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker lets you slow-cook, pressure cook, boil, sauté, simmer, and steam your food. It also boasts enough capacity to hold enough food for at least ten people)
- ice cream machine
- carbonated water maker
- a food processor (the Breville 16-Cup Sous Chef Food Processor is particularly popular!)
- a juicer
- coffee and espresso machines (we recommend the Cuisinart Stainless Coffee Maker as it can serve up to 12 cups of coffee. It’s ideal for the in-laws’ first visit to your newlywed home!)
Other Kitchen Items
- quality knives – high-quality knives are a true investment and, while worth the money, aren’t something you’ll often buy yourself
- a knife block
- tea, coffee and sugar containers
- a set of mugs or glasses with your and your partner’s initials
- small items like mixing bowls, ice cream scoops, butter dishes, tea towels, cutting boards, a mandolin, salt and pepper mills, oven mitts, pestle and mortar, colanders, measuring cups, whisks, wooden spoons and spatulas
- mason jars for storing loose food items like rice, pasta, coffee, legumes, oats and flour
- a subscription to a food delivery service or artisan ingredient delivery service
- tickets to a cooking class
- a motion-sensor garbage bin from ZitA or Simplehuman
- table runner and matching napkins – Linoto does a great range of sustainable “treeless” linen products
- a salad spinner and servers to match
- a set of wine glasses or whiskey tumblers
- matching crockery sets (if your desired sets are a little pricey, you can split them up so a few guests can buy you a set between them)
- tea set
- a drinks trolley or foldable cart
- a food hamper
- barware (muddler, novelty ice-trays, bar spoons, cocktail shaker, jigger, Hawthorne strainer, ice-makers, bottles of syrups and your favorite liquor etc.)
- food “kits” such as a set with noodle bowls, sushi bamboo mats and chopsticks or a tapas set with sauce bowls and serving platters
Soft Furnishings & Décor
- tea towels
- oven gloves
- plants (herbs)
- a fabric steamer
- compost bin
- gardening equipment
- organic cleaning products or a subscription to a sustainable cleaning product company
- smart home products (lights, AI, security etc.)
The great thing about curating your registry is that you get to choose everything. You can figure out what color scheme and style you want in your kitchen and specifically request the brand and colors you’d like. That way, everything will match, even if you don’t directly buy much of it yourselves!
Best Places to Find Kitchen and Home Registry Items
So, where are the best places to find quality kitchen and home items? Here are our top picks:
Home Décor Registry Ideas
If you’ve been living alone or with your partner for some time, you’re likely all set in the kitchen. While it’s great to have new things to start your life together or replace those things that—let’s be honest—you’ve had since college, you may prefer gifts for the rest of your home. Here are some ideas of what home decor items to register for:
- picture frames
- artwork or prints
- scented candles
- fake plants
- real plants
- string lights
- statues and trinkets
- decorative dishes and bowls
- curtains or drapes
- bed linens
- gift hampers
- placemats and napkins
- candles and candlesticks
- storage bins
- wall storage
- home improvement store gift cards (from stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s or custom framing services like Artifact Uprising or Framebridge)
- desk lamps
Best Places to Find Décor Registry Items
You’re going to have a lot of fun here, so make sure you set aside time so you can go through all of these thoroughly and decide which ones you want to register with. Here are the best:
More Registry Ideas
Not everyone gets excited by the idea of new kitchenware or homeware, and that’s okay! You don’t have to choose gifts you don’t really want. If you’re looking for something a little different, here are some ideas for things you can put on your registry:
- luggage you can bring on your honeymoon (and personalized keychains to match)
- Airbnb or hotel service gift cards
- a GoPro to take on your newlywed adventures
- all-weather patio furniture
- barbecue set
- picnic basket
- heat lamp
- outdoor string light
- fire pit
- DIY outdoor pizza oven
- camping equipment (like sleeping bags, tents, insulated coffee mugs, camp chairs)
- sporting equipment (paddleboards, yoga mats, kayaks, skis)
- fishing equipment
- a dingy
- hot tub
- vouchers for cookery classes
- spa days
- dance classes
- wine tasting (or whiskey!)
- cash toward your honeymoon or travel
- museum membership(s)
- surf classes
- horseback riding classes
- language classes (super romantic!)
- rock climbing
- bungee jumping
- theme park passes
Make Your Life Easier
- online home decorating service gift cards
- fund for a cleaner
- meal service subscriptions (such as Hello Fresh, Snack Surprise, Daily Harvest, etc.)
- cash toward house deposit, remodel or new build
- funds toward a healthy emergency fund
- toolsets (drills, hammers, and other things – perfect if you’re also homeowners!)
- charitable donations (one caveat – think this through and make sure you feel good about this, don’t be like Pheobe in that episode of Friends, you can’t ask for the money back!)
- fund to start a business (a great way to start your new life together!)
- meal service subscriptions (such as Hello Fresh, Snack Surprise, Daily Harvest, etc.)
- gift cards (again, Amazon gift cards may not be that exciting to gift, but they’re so useful during your first years as newlyweds)
- gaming consoles (just make sure you’re both invested in playing!)
- pet-related gifts
Your Registry, Your Way
There are so many things to consider when planning your wedding. This day will be one of the most important days of your life, and you want it to be perfect.
If you’re someone who usually avoids asking for things, putting together a long list of items for your registry can feel uncomfortable. But remember that your guests want to help you start your new life together, and unless you’re hosting your wedding on a serious budget, you’re probably spending as much (if not more) on each of them to ensure they have a great time attending your wedding.
So, let loose and indulge! Add all the things you’ve been eying or see and want. You may remember the days as a child when you’d sit down with a catalog and circle everything you could possibly want for your birthday or Christmas – this is the grown-up equivalent, so have fun!
Your day should be unique to you as a couple, and a wedding registry is just one of the ways you can ensure everything about the day and the start of married life together is just as you hoped!
As Seen In
You don’t have to spend a fortune if you want to find the perfect gift. Just take a closer look at our 23 bridesmaid gift ideas, and you will make a quick decision today.
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