Tom and I moved in together for the first time just a few weeks before our wedding, which is basically the perfect time for all of your friends and family to gift you amazing new stuff! Tom was living in a furnished apartment in San Francisco while I finished up grad school in Boston, and we literally had nothing when I arrived – we slept on an air mattress for weeks until we got our acts together.
Why should I register?
Convenience: If you don’t, you’ll end up with a ton of gifts (mostly without gift receipts) that you don’t want! I’m not sure where you live, but I don’t have space for the things I do like in my apartment, nevermind the things I don’t… Personally, I’m all for the cash gift or gift certificate approach (this is typically what I give), but I find that many people still prefer to give a physical gift.
Discounts!: When you register, you also get these magical “wedding registry completion discounts” (typically right after the event date) which you can use to purchase any remaining items. These are usually between 10-20% – in the days of sites offering 20% off frequently, this incentive doesn’t really get me going. However, there are exceptions – I found Pottery Barn was willing to apply the discount on categories normally excluded from their promos (e.g., furniture). For Amazon, this is a real perk (theirs is 20% for Prime members) as they very rarely offer promo codes.
Where should I register?
I find that most people register at 2-3 different retailers and I agree with this approach – it can’t hurt to provide more options to your guests. If you go that route, I would recommend registering at a) either Amazon.com or Bloomingdales (both have large inventory and carry lots of different brands), and b) either Pottery Barn/Williams Sonoma or Crate and Barrel (for home and kitchen selections). I also recommend you consider Zola – read more below.
- Amazon.com. (Full disclosure: I work for Amazon.) One of the reasons I went to work for the company is because I think their customer service is industry-leading. Amazon will also offer a 20% off completion discount to Prime members who are registrants (read more here) – this becomes available after the event date provided. As above, this discount will only be applicable to items that are “shipped and sold by Amazon.com”. Because Amazon’s pricing is so darn competitive, and promo codes such as this are very rarely available, this 20% is actually quite valuable!
- Bloomingdales. Similar to Amazon, they have massive inventory and a good returns policy. There were definitely some mixups with our registry (for example, items returned via mail had the credit go back to the gift-giver (embarrassing!) instead of to us… but overall it was a good experience. If you live close to a Bloomingdales, I would recommend making returns in person where they can immediately load the funds on a gift card (don’t lose it! – take a picture on your phone just in case) so you are sure you don’t have the same issue we did with mailing back returns.
- Pottery Barn and/or Williams Sonoma is also a great option because you can use the credit at any of their stores, including West Elm and Rejuvenation. One downside is that they can be quite difficult about returns – if you return an online purchase in one of their stores, they will mail you a gift card instead of just processing the credit and allowing you to make an exchange in store (come on guys, it’s 2017).
- Crate & Barrel is another common choice and has a great selection of home and kitchen goods as an alternative to Pottery Barn/Williams Sonoma – it really just depends on your style. I opted for Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma as I liked the flexibility of exchanging at any of their brands.
- Zola. Zola was brand new when we got married and didn’t have the same service offering as today – if we registered again, I would likely go this route! Zola gives the flexibility of adding items from any site in a single location (very similar to Babylist, which I used for my baby registry). In addition, guests can purchase an item for you, but instead of it shipping out directly, you’ll receive the cash value of the gift in your Zola account. You can decide exactly when you want those items to ship, exchange them for other items, or just withdraw the funds for a 2.5% fee (details here). Since most wedding registries prohibit gift givers from using promo codes, which are often available for home goods (10-20% discounts are common for the items I recommend here), the net net means you can withdraw cash funds, purchase items when sales occur, and still get more bang for your buck (classy, I know).
What should I register for?
I used the wedding registry as an opportunity to leave behind (i.e., sell on Craigslist) old, tired things and to upgrade for investment purchases we would generally not splurge for. Keep reading here for all of my bougie recommendations: