On my list of things for which I have strong opinions, Wedding Registry Strategy is up near the top. I know there are guides out there for what you need and how many of each item you need, but today’s post is different. This is not about what to add to your registry, but rather how to add items to your registry so that you can optimize your registry in the long run.
I recognize that this topic is rather niche, but perhaps it will serve you if you are getting married or someone you know who is about to be a bride. I also want to warn you that in my attempt to share my registry hacks, I am going to strip all the romance away from the process. It’s not going to be cute, but it will get the job done in a way that will leave you (the bride) with as many options from your registry as possible.
STEP ONE: Registering is not about you.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but registering for your wedding is not about you. Well, it’s kind of about you in that you get to choose the sheets and towels and dishes you like. You get to decide the items you need and what you can do without. You get to choose the stores where you register. But after those stylistic choices, it’s not about you. Your wedding registry is about the people who want to purchase a gift for you. The first step to registry success is understanding we are going to play a game when we register, and the game will ultimately benefit you, but while we play the game, it is not about you.
STEP TWO: Embrace the Optimal Wedding Gift Price Point.
As much as you have put tons of thought into every tiny detail of every household item you want or need, ultimately no one cares about the specific items to the degree that you do. Trust me. Guests mostly care about purchasing an item for you that you need or want, and they are looking for a specific price point.
While perhaps one or two very generous family members may be able to purchase a high-dollar gift, the majority of your friends and family are looking for gifts in the $25, $50, $100, or $200 range, depending on their means and season of life. These four price points represent the Optimal Wedding Gift Price Points, so keep this in mind as we move forward. The more items you can choose in these price ranges, the better.
STEP THREE: Don’t make your registry literal. Choose lots of Nice Gifts.
Most brides register in a very literal way. They think, “There are two of us, so we only need four bath towels. We have two beds, so we only need two sets of sheets. We have a small kitchen, so we only need six place setting of silverware and six of each plate and bowl.” The Literal Phase is followed by the Wish List Phase (plasma TV, leather arm chair, etc.) and then ends with the Random Phase where we add odds and ends that sound fun (hand weights, external hard drive, a book) but don’t feel very bridal. The result? A registry that reads like a letter to Santa, which is cute, but is not practical.
As your guests begin to purchase gifts, they are looking for Nice Gifts. Nice Gifts include items that make the giver feel like they are doing a good job giving a thoughtful and meaningful wedding gift. Hand weights and and hard drives don’t feel like meaningful wedding gifts. Give your guests as many Nice Gifts options as possible and they will respond by buying everything you choose. Nice Gifts include things like towels, sheets, and silverware, which also happen to fall into the Optimal Wedding Gift Price Point (see above!). Nice Gifts plus Optimal Price Point equals a high quantity of gifts purchased from your registry, which is what we all want!
Nice Gifts are the first items to be purchased. But if you haven’t chosen enough Nice Gifts, the rest of your guests are left with options from your Wish List Phase (spoiler: no one is going to purchase a plasma TV) or items from your Random Phase (which leave the gift giver feeling a little less than excited to purchase).
The trick to registry success? Stack your registry with lots and lots and lots of Nice Gifts. Don’t be literal with the quantities. Be liberal! Add what feels like a ridiculous quantity of each item to your registry. Register for 12 towels, 6 sets of sheets, silverware for 18. Why? Because this way, there are plenty of Nice Gifts available for people to purchase, most of them in the Optimal Price Point!
I know what you are thinking. “But won’t I end up with more items than I need?” Yes, you definitely will. But hear me out. Returning wedding gifts is as much a part of getting married as the veil and family photos. You will have to return some of the gifts no matter what, but when the excess gifts you receive come from the stores of your choosing, you are left with a significant amount of store credit from a retailer of your choosing. And now, you might be able to get some of the high-ticket items you were hoping for (looking at you, plasma tv!).
Twenty-three years ago, I put this strategy to use with my own registry. I have helped other people register using this strategy, and it always works. The wedding guests feel great about the gifts they are purchasing, the happy couple ends up with most, if not all, of what they need to stock their home, and they are left with the bonus of ample amounts of store credit they can use to either finish out their registry or purchase other items they want or need. All in all, this strategy is a win-win, and I hope it serves you well!