8 Women Get Real About Wedding Registries

Photographed by MEgan Madden.
Registering for wedding gifts used to mean going to the store with your partner and having a field day with one of those little barcode scanners. Thanks to the rise of honeymoon funds, online shopping, wedding registry websites, and the fact that people are getting married later in life, registering for gifts is now a whole different ballgame.
We asked women to share how they navigate the modern wedding registry process with their partners, and it turns out that a number of factors including their financial situations, age, space, traditions, and even family pressures influenced the way they decided to register and what they chose to register for. Ahead, these women spill the details on everything from how they feel about honeymoon funds to the items they regret having registered for.
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Grace, 34

City: Denver, CO
Age you got married: 27
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
All online through Honeyfund. We included a link to our honeymoon registry on our wedding website.

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
We didn't ask for any household items. The honeymoon fund included options to donate experiences, like a romantic dinner in Spain or museum tickets, as well as general donations to the airfare fund.

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
My husband is 10 years older, and we had been living together for 2 years before getting married. We already had furniture, housewares, and kitchen stuff for our home. We wanted to travel instead of getting more stuff, and our friends and families were supportive of that. Even my grandmother agreed it was the best thing for us. She thinks it's tacky to ask for money outright, but didn't have a problem with contributing to a specific experience on our honeymoon.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc. if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?

I have no problem with it. It's not 1950 anymore and so many more couples are living together before marriage and marrying later in life. The wedding industrial complex still encourages you to spend a ridiculous amount of money on one day, but I'm happy that the traditional wedding registry is going away.

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for?
Nope, because we could cash it all out for an amazing trip.
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Kayla, 30

City: Des Moines, IA
Age you got married: 26
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
We went into Target to start and supplemented by adding things online later. We also registered online on Amazon.

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
We purposefully only asked for things we really wanted. I think in total we asked for maybe 80-100 items, with 150 guests coming. We received literally every item from our registry, which, of course, meant lots of cash and gift cards as well. We didn't explicitly ask for money, but we got more than we would have even imagined.

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
We definitely did the Target registry to appease our family members who would have rolled their eyes at a non-traditional registry. That said, we still use a lot of those items. The decision wasn't really a big deal. We just wanted everyone to be happy.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc. if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?
Sure. We were just moving into a new house, so it made sense for us to ask for some "traditional" items. I respect people who say what they want. There's no point in unnecessary consumerism.

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for? 
I don't think so, besides maybe some worn-out towels or dishcloths. Like I said, everything we registered for served a purpose, and we made sure not to ask for anything superfluous.
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Marissa, 31

State: Wisconsin
Age you got married: 28
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
My now-husband and I started in-store (Macy's and Crate & Barrel) and then added things online once we finished in store. We also used Amazon to add odd items that we really couldn't find in stores. I asked my twin sister (who had gotten married before) to check our registries to see if we were missing any big items too.

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
No, I found it difficult and tacky to ask people to donate to a honeymoon fund or anything similar. If they wanted to buy something off the registry or give us money at our wedding, I found myself much more okay with that.

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
We registered right before having a small engagement party with our immediate families. I didn't know if people would want to look at it before the party. As it turns out, no one bought anything off the registry at the time. We'd also lived together for about three years before getting married. During that time, I would hold off replacing things (like pots and pans), because I knew we'd get married and register for upgraded items.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc. if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?
No, I find it tacky to ask people to donate to a honeymoon fund or anything similar. I believe you should use your own expenses for those things.

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for?
I registered for some kitchen items that I haven't really used, like cookie baking sheets. I don't think I regret registering for items, but I wish I would have thought more about how much I'd use them before people purchased them. I don't believe I've gotten rid of anything.
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Caroline, 25

City: Austin, TX
Age you're getting married: 26
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
I chose to register at Macy's and Crate & Barrel. For Macy's, I tried to go into the store, but the employees in the home department said they no longer have a dedicated registry person and that I needed to do it online. They didn't want to help me pick out items at all. I wanted to go into a store so I could feel the towels and sheets and things and see the colors in person, but I was left wandering around and taking pictures on my phone. At Crate & Barrel, they told me to get their app, and I could use it in the store to scan the items I liked and add them to the registry, but the app was down and had been for over a week. So I had to just take pictures of the items' tags and then add them online at home, but at least the employees were a lot more helpful even though the app was down.

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
I'm scared my grandmother is going to think it's tacky, and I don't know how to ask for those things, even though my fiancé and I live together, and I have a lot of nice kitchen items.

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
I felt a little limited that I needed to register at a store that has a physical location near my family, so it would be convenient for them. And I'm super worried because I don't know what price point to ask for. I don't want to seem greedy by asking for expensive things. I'm trying to pick pieces design- and size-wise that fit in our current apartment, even though I know we won't be there forever. Hopefully, we don't move anywhere smaller.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc. if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?
I personally think it is appropriate as long as you have a clear vision for the money and a feasible goal. People want to know what they're contributing to, and if you set up a fund for a lavish honeymoon then don't receive enough money to cover it, what's the plan?

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for?
Not yet. At this point, I'm second-guessing every choice! This process is hitting every single thing that gives me anxiety — family judgment, spending money, large purchases, design choices, and online shopping.
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Susie, 27

City: San San Francisco, CA
Age you got married: 27
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
We used Zola to create our registry, which allowed us to register for both physical items (from Zola and external stores) and cash/honeymoon/charity funds. We initially didn't want to register, as we'd both acquired enough items from living separately and make enough of an income to buy anything extra we needed. However, we received the advice from our married friends that people want to buy you gifts anyway and not having a registry would end in receiving items you don't want/need. In the end, our registry included a few household items, a charity fund, and a honeymoon fund.

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
We had a fund for a charity (we carefully researched one that used the funds responsibly) and for a honeymoon.

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
I think at the beginning, our financial situation and ages — I'm 27, he's 31 — made us uncomfortable asking for "stuff." Though we hadn't formally lived together before to moving in six months before the wedding, we had acquired enough items from living on our own that we didn't feel the need to ask others for more.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc. if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?
I do! I think people want to gift you something. If you don't need the physical items, don't ask for them! If you can make your cash/experience request really specific (e.g., a fund for a plane ticket to your honeymoon destination versus just asking for cash), it feels more appropriate.

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for?
Not so far! We were very mindful of the physical items we included on the registry just because we didn't want to accumulate clutter. There are definitely gifts we didn't register for that we regret receiving — I'm looking at you, three separate whiskey decanters.
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Jessica, 32

City: The Bronx, NY
Age you got married: 32
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
We handled all of our registry items online. We created one on Zola and one on Amazon.

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
We asked for tangible items and also created a house fund to contribute to a down payment on a future home when we're ready to buy, which was flagged as our most-wanted gift to let guests know our preference.

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
We've lived together for over five years and had accumulated everything we needed, so the household items that we put on our registries were mostly upgrades from what we already had. Even though monetary gifts were our preference, we wanted to give our guests the option to choose whatever they were comfortable gifting, whether that was tangible items at varied price points or a money gift. A lot of sites will also offer discounts on the unpurchased items left on the registry so we made sure to put items on there that we would purchase for ourselves if we wanted to.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc. if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?
I think it's acceptable to ask for money and experiences if you already have everything that you need. As a guest, I'm happy giving a couple something that they truly want and will enjoy. The registered experience may be something that the recipient wouldn't otherwise have signed up for or done if it wasn't for this wedding/special event that warranted the registry so this is their opportunity to lay out everything that they like and are interested in.

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for?
We haven't. We made sure to only register for items we really wanted instead of following the registry guides that a lot of stores and sites offer to help you figure out what to place on the registry. It can be tempting to click on everything that looks pretty. Because our apartment is pretty much complete, we passed on a lot of items.
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Paola, 25

City: Los Angeles, CA
Age you got married: 25
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
Online with Zola

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
We only had a honeymoon fund and home fund

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
We decided based on what we needed and would work best for us. We both had been living independently, so we already had household items when we moved in together.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc. if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?
Yes. That way their money will be put to good use instead of family/friends buying what they think they need/ want.

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for?
No.
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Taylor, 28

City: Chicago, IL
Age you got married: 28
How did you handle the wedding registry process?
We registered at two stores, Crate & Barrel and Target. We went into C&B to pick out dishware/flatware to make sure everything was fairly coordinated but did the rest of the work online. The store was OVERWHELMING (#decisionfatigue). We were both happier to complete the registries from our home computer later.

Did you ask for anything other than tangible household items?
We only registered for tangible items but assumed those that wanted to give cash gifts would do so on their own. We got plenty of checks/gift cards from guests, definitely more than we got registry items. We did not explicitly ask for money because we both felt our families would think it was tacky.

How did you and your partner decide how you would handle the registry?
Originally, my husband did not want to do a registry at all. He felt it was rude to ask for gifts — he's always been extremely selfless and unassuming in this way. I explained that people are going to want to give us gifts no matter what we say, and I don't want six toasters or the inability to return something we won't use. We had a lot of things already, having lived together for several years, but we registered for a lot of kitchen gadgets/appliances/towels, etc. I did register for a few things because my mom told me I should, which was sometimes helpful and sometimes unnecessary.

Do you think it's appropriate to ask for experiences, money, etc if you already have all the household items you'd find on a traditional wedding registry?
Sure. In hindsight, I wish we had also set up a cash fund in addition to registry items. We happen to prefer to give money at all weddings we attend ourselves now that we know how dang expensive weddings are.

Did you receive any gift you regret registering for? Have you gotten rid of any of the gifts you registered for?
Only a couple, which we returned. This was only due to poor registry planning — so many serving dishes. Who am I, Martha Stewart? There were also plenty of things we registered for that we didn't get probably because they were too boring — sheets, silverware, etc.
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