Bride's Advice on Registries

By Administrator User posted on Thursday, April 8, 2010 @ 4:45 PM - (General)
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For all those brides out there that are deep into their wedding planning and are becoming overwhelmed by the idea of heading to the local retail store and registering for all the things you think you need... check out this extremely valuable advice from a former bride of mine that got married a few years ago.

"What They Don’t Tell You About Registries - by Melissa Roja-Lawlor

I come from a long line of natural born shoppers. Outlet malls salivate when they see my parents’ car pull into their parking lots. My family’s bargain hunting is so intense and so strangely efficient that it should be featured on the Nature Channel. So when it came time to register for gifts for our wedding, of course I became giddy with excitement the moment that magical price-scanning gun was placed in my hot little hands. 

I’ll admit it: we (and by we I mean “I”) went a little nuts at first. But I’ll also admit that we needed everything. We were two boarding school teachers who, thanks to a dining hall and unlimited free meals, didn’t own a single piece of dining ware or, quite literally, a pot to … well, you know. So we (again, I mean “I”) ran rampant through the aisles of the department store, eager to hear the satisfying bing! of the registry gun on the way-too-expensive … well … everything. Two years later, here I am, writing out a guide on registries – and telling you to do as I say, not as I did.     

Gravy boats, crystal stemware, china patterns, oh my.

Here’s what they don’t tell you about registries: unless you plan to use that $250 silver gravy boat or the $100 crystal candlesticks, guess what, you probably won’t. Almost two years after my wedding, I cleaned out the garage and found three place settings of Kate Spade china, still in their boxes, staring up at me as if to say, Where are the others, Mommy? That’s the nasty thing about china – unless people give you enough settings, the strays are going to sit in the garage on their own little “Island of Misfit Wedding Presents” until one day, years after your wedding date, you rediscover them and can’t return them.

Full disclosure: I really did want the china. The idea of owning something Kate Spade was from the little retail demon on my shoulder who whispered in my ear, “But when are you ever going to have this kind of opportunity to own nice stuff?” Plus, I couldn’t help but think of all the grand dinner parties we could have with fancy plates.

But, two years later, who am I kidding? I ended up with three place settings, and there’s not a whole lot you can do with that. I sat in my garage and weighed the options. I could pray that the store still carried this pattern and try to return them for store credit, or I could buy five more settings at a price tag of $139 each. It was not a hard decision, but it was really hard to negotiate the return of this stuff. And in the end, I consoled myself with my $300 gift card, thinking that the Obamas hadn’t shown up to dinner at all since our wedding, so why would they start now?        

Why buy the cow when you can get a couple of bottles of milk cheaper?

I love All-Clad pots and pans. Love. They almost got their own set of vows at the wedding. And I believed my wedding registry consultant when she told me to register for the entire set of All-Clad MC2 Stainless Steel Cookware, priced at a steep $900. “A group of your friends can go in together and buy it for you,” she chirped, and I fell, hook, line, and sinker. Bing! went the scan gun.

I should have registered for each pot and pan separately. Because who in their right mind wants to get together as a group and buy something for a couple? It’s got to be something akin to herding nine cats – cats that each owe you $100. Maybe somewhere out there it happens, but I can’t imagine it happens often. You’ll be much happier registering for one pot at a time, and so will your friends and family.

What to get for the couple who has everything…

Don’t over-register. I know the wedding registry staff at stores is trained to say, “You want to give people options.” But don’t register for china just because your mom never got any for her wedding and she wants you to get it for yours. Don’t register for a gravy boat just because it’s the cool thing to do (it’s not, really) and you’ve never had one before. If you don’t think you’re going to use something, step away from the scanning gun. Cash and gift cards are really O.K. And they’ll be really nice to have when you’re trying to pay off the bar tab after the reception.

Returns: Wait, you didn’t want the cookie jar shaped like a rooster?

It’s okay to have eyes bigger than your kitchen. You may not have room for some of the stuff you get off your registry, or you may not need a garlic press for every day of the week. Or maybe you thought you wanted that giant rooster cookie jar in the store, because you were in an American Gothic kind of mood, but now it’s looking pretty hideous next to your modern stainless steel appliances. Before you register, find out the store’s return policy. It might seem basic, but I know of a lot of brides who were burned by their selected store’s lame return policy due to their neglect of the fine print. Do a little research online beforehand. Some stores don’t need to see a receipt, but some, like Target, require some legwork to complete a return. Bed Bath and Beyond is pretty great about letting you bring stuff back, Macy’s is too – although it helps if not too much time has passed. Once you are able to assess what you do and don’t need, don’t wait. Set aside one day, not long after the wedding, to do all your returns and exchanges. You’ll be much, much saner.

Here are five of the most popular stores for wedding registries and how their return policies stack up:


Time Limits

Returns with Receipt

Returns without Receipt

Other stuff to know

Bed, Bath and Beyond


store credit or check refund

store credit or check refund



“Hassle-free” is the name of their game. You can return or exchange any item as long as it was on your registry to begin with. Plus, their Bridal Toolkit is full of useful lists and charts to help keep you organized!


Up to 90 days after event

store credit

store credit (if you can find the gift on the purchase log)


According to Target, if a gift giver fails to include a gift receipt, you can obtain your purchase log from the Club Wedd ® console and locate the gift to be returned there. The purchase log can serve as a gift receipt in this case.

Pottery Barn

Within 90 days of purchase/ event

merchandise card

merchandise card

The cool thing about the merchandise card is that you can use it for other companies in the Pottery Barn family, like Williams-Sonoma and West Elm.


Within 180 days of purchase/ event

store credit

store credit

Macy’s Registry Star Rewards program allows registrants to receive fun benefits like reward certificates as gifts get purchased.

Crate and Barrel

Within 30 days of purchase/ event

Shop Card

Shop Card via mail (valid photo ID required)

Crate and Barrel holds “Wedding Party” events at their stores, private registry parties with consultants and refreshments. They’re usually held before or after regular store hours, so couples can roam the stores at will.


Think outside the registry box.

There are other ways to register if you don’t want the traditional stuff. There are honeymoon-specific registries, where you can register for fun activities, meals, and upgrades on your honeymoon, but be selective about which registry you choose. Some honeymoon registries carry surcharges and fees, and some even take a percentage of your gifts.

Other non-traditional routes include registries at Home Depot, Lowes, or other home improvement stores, which are great for couples wanting to do remodels or repairs on a new home. Or if you want to get further outside the box, has a Wish List function now where you can list anything your hearts desire, including the kitchen sink.

Also, The I Do Foundation ( allows couples to register for specific charities their guests can donate to if you’re in a giving mood. These are gaining popularity, especially with more civic-minded folks tying the knot or more established couples who don’t need more stuff in their houses. Some couples don’t use a registry system, but ask that guests donate directly to a specific charity or scholarship fund that is meaningful to them. Either way, it’s guaranteed good karma on your special day.             

This is forever we’re talking about…

Whatever you decide about registries – whether it’s traditional, honeymoon, karma, or a little bit of all three – the important thing to remember is that this is no longer going to be “my stuff” or “your stuff,” but “our stuff.” The items you register for are basically opportunities for guests to say, “Here’s to your new life.” So whatever you choose, try to make time to choose together. That way there’s no pointing fingers when that rooster cookie jar shows up. "


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