Confused about the bridal registry process? Don’t be! Think of it as the ultimate indulgent shopping spree. But before you head to the department or specialty store to register, talk to your fiancé about how you both imagine the look of your new home. Start a "style file" of magazine clippings that appeal to each of you to help you compromise on compatible design preferences. Register at least six months before your wedding. That way guests can choose gifts from your registry for pre-wedding events, such as an engagement party or a shower.
Call each store ahead of time to see if you need an appointment. The registry process usually takes one to two hours per store, maybe longer, especially if you’re registering for items from several departments. If you run out of time—or concentration—schedule another appointment.
Don’t limit your wish list! You may not have thought about registering for a lot of things (luggage, for example). But because your registry offers a unique opportunity to thoroughly outfit your married lifestyle, it’s a good idea to consider all of the many options.
Stay organized! Treat your bridal registry with a professional attitude (as you would a work project). Although many registries provide computerized tracking and printouts of the gifts that are purchased for you, errors and omissions can occur. Keep your own records of the gift notices and gifts you’ve received, and the thank-you notes you’ve sent. If you register for the same items at more than one store, you’ll need to periodically update all the lists. If you find an error, contact your registry consultant as soon as possible.
Consider registering at a national retailer, as well as several favorite local stores. That way a faraway guest across the country could call or visit his/her local branch of the store for a list of your choices. These days, most stores can take a credit card order over the phone or online, and many offer a gift-wrapping service; your guests won’t even have to leave their homes.
In addition to the crystal and china, remember other gift items you may want. Electronics: Got a yen for plasma TVs? Or, perhaps you need an extra computer, iPod, or phone. Sports: Tents, tennis gear, an at-home gym—why not start your marriage out on an active note? Giftware: From a classic crystal vase to sleek Swedish candlesticks, you can let guests accessorize every last corner of your new home. And don’t forget: Miscellaneous home equipment like an iron, smoke alarms, shower massager and a vacuum also make great gifts.