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Friday, September 7, 2012

Budget Bride: Registry Tips

Once upon a simpler time, it used to be that you just told your loved ones that you were getting married, and they got you stuff. Okay, maybe you ended up with something that didn't match your color scheme, or with three toasters. But you, as the bride, didn't have to worry about it. The gift-giving was up to the guests.

Until the invention of the Wedding Registry.

Now, the bride (and sometimes groom) agonizes about where to register, what to register for, how many to register for, do we have enough items, do we have the right colors... in short, it's kind of a pain. Granted, just clicking willy-nilly, adding anything that you've ever dreamed of owning onto your registry... that can be fun. Fun, but really impractical.

Here are some tips to make registering for wedding gifts worth your time and focus.

1. Choose where you register wisely. 
   If you never shop at a store, don't have a store nearby, or a store is very selective on what they sell, you may not want to register there. You'll most likely end up returning items or have gift cards to use from wherever you register, and choosing a store that's an hour or more away can be extremely inconvenient. Pick stores nearby you, preferably those that have a website or are a national chain, so your guests can easily use your registry. Make sure that you choose stores that you will or have shopped at for everyday items. Sure, Fancy Schamncy Brothers has that nice china pattern, but if you never, ever shop there otherwise, how will you spend that $300 gift card your great-aunt gave you? It'll be really difficult to spend the gift card money or store credit for returned items if the store only sells a select few types of items or if you don't typically shop there. I'd suggest only registering at two or three stores. It makes returns easier, gives you some variety without being overwhelming, and gives your guests a choice.

2. Know what you need.
  This is one tip that I didn't follow, and wish I could have. It's nice to know where you'll be living before you register for gifts. I didn't have that option, but if you do, use it to your advantage. You know the size of the space you'll be living in, and you know what you and your betrothed already have. For example, I knew that we needed a new toaster. However, if I had known that my kitchen would be so tiny, I wouldn't have chosen the beautiful, but enormous monstrosity of a toaster I chose. Knowing what size of bed you have is important, too- don't register for king sized sheets when you have a queen sized bed. Or vice versa. Also, know what you don't need. An ice cream maker, for instance. When are you gonna use that? And where, in the name of pizza, are you going to put it until you do? Sure, it looks fun... until you've been to every store in the tri-state area trying to return it and you find out that it must have just appeared from thin air. Careful what you click on.

3. Update, update, update. 
  You'll most likely be receiving gifts at a couple of different times during your engagement. You may receive gifts when you announce you're engaged, although this is becoming a little less common and you most likely will not have a registry by then. You will most likely have at least one bridal shower (I was blessed with three), and you'll be getting gifts at your wedding, as well. A lot of online registries are set up so that when a loved one buys you an item off of your registry, the site automatically removes the item from your list or marks it "purchased." That is a heck of a nice feature. However, some of your guests may buy something from your registry and forget to tell a cashier that it's a registered gift, so the item won't make it off the list. Or a guest may buy an item that's similar to something on your registry, but it's not the exact item on your registry, so it won't remove the original registry item (like if Aunt Nell buys you a seven-speed blender, but you registered for the five-speed, so the registry still says you need a five-speed blender.) That's how I got three blenders. As you receive gifts, update your registry.

4. Make sure that your online registry is marked "allow gift cards."
  Let's be honest brides, here. Sometimes, as you're looking over your registry, you'll think, "Hmm. I'd almost rather have the money." Really. In your deepest, darkest places, you wish your friends and relatives would just hand out the cash. Some of them will. But I'm telling you, gift cards are the next best thing. For me, gift cards have been so wonderful because I really didn't know what I needed right off the bat (see #2). I really needed a good, heavy duty rug for in front of my door, but I didn't know that until a week into marriage when HH told me that he's been basically undressing on the porch so he didn't track in all kinds of mud. A gift card got me that rug. As long as you have gift cards from places you'll purchase stuff from, gift cards pretty much heaven sent. One of the stores where we registered is a department store. I just used some of our wedding gift cards to buy a couple clothing items for this fall from there. Gift cards rock.

5. Be prepared to return and recycle.
  As much as you love your Aunt Sylvia, your Uncle Freddy, and Cousin Karen, and value the time and effort they put into coming to your wedding and finding a gift they thought you'd love, you really don't need three blenders. Return, return, return. Make sure that you're not (as I often do) making the decision of which blender stays based on which relative you think would be most offended. Judge your gifts on the content of their character, not on the content of the character of the person who gave it. Furthermore, be prepared to recycle. If you receive something that's not off your registry (ie you have no idea where it came from) or something from a specialty store (like Thirty-One or Pampered Chef), or something that has no receipt and you can't return, be ready to re-gift or sell. Zeke and I got three of the large cooler bags from Thirty-One. Three. We not only don't have space to store them, but Zeke already had like, seventy million cooler bags before we got married. I'm selling two of them on Craigslist.

There you have it! 5 of the most important things I've learned about wedding registries. Hope it helps!

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