5 Ways to Create a Smart Wedding Registry

Brides-to-be can get the most out of gifts without turning off generous guests.

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Creating a wedding registry can be overwhelming: You want a lot of stuff, including a new set of pots and pans and a high-end blender, but you don’t want to seem too greedy, or pick items that your friends can’t afford. Here are five ways to get what you want without offending your guests.

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1) Don’t skip the registry altogether. It might be tempting, especially if your kitchen is already fully stocked and you’re really hoping that people write you checks instead. But here’s a little secret: They won’t write you checks. If you don’t tell people what you want, then you’ll probably end up with a dozen crystal bowls and mismatched champagne flutes. So do yourself a favor and give your guests a little guidance.

2) Pick items that you’ll actually use. Not everyone needs to register for china and silver. Your grandmother might be hoping that you do, but if you’re not the type to whip out fancy dishes at every opportunity, then those gorgeous tea cups will probably still be wrapped up in their packaging long after you celebrate your first anniversary.

Instead of wasting your guests’ money on items you won’t use, pick out items that will last for years and that you’ll enjoy using every day. Good examples include daily dishware, kitchen appliances, a coffeemaker, sheets, and bath towels. Receiving them as gifts saves you money, and you’ll probably get nicer ones than anything you’d buy for yourself.

3) Skip over the boring items. No one enjoys buying newlyweds a garbage can as a wedding present, even if it’s a deluxe, stainless steel one that costs $100. People like buying celebratory presents, so make it easy for them, because you want them to feel good about what they’re purchasing.

4) Don’t register for cash. It’s tempting, especially with the new websites that allow you to set up an account for people to contribute directly to your honeymoon or house fund. But try to resist the urge, because it can rub some guests, especially older ones, the wrong way.

[For more money-saving tips, visit the U.S. News Alpha Consumer blog.]

5) But do register for gift cards. That’s the closest you can get to asking for money without appearing crass to some of your more traditional guests. Most retail sites allow registering couples to select a “gift card” option that subtly lets guests know that they can purchase them.

One last tip: Write your thank-you notes within a day or two of receiving the gift. If you wait until after the wedding when dozens of gifts have piled up, the task becomes overwhelming. Plus, people want to know that you received their present and appreciate it. It might make them more inclined to give you more gifts in the future, too.

Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back.