Destination I Do

Wedding Registries

Words by Jennifer Stein

Wedding Registries Are Not Created Equal

Gone are the days when bridal couples received 48 bowls, but no stemware or when they opened a box from Aunt Gertrude to ask “what in the dickens is it?” Wedding registries have streamlined the process of gift giving for both the giver and the receiver, and are perfect for those planning a destination wedding.


But, are all wedding registries created equal?  Actually they are not.  How do you choose, and what questions should you ask?   Destination I Do is here to help!  Knowing key information upfront can ensure that you receive those things you desire most and may save you and your wedding guests mega hassles later.


Question # 1 – What things will you need to set up or enhance your household?

If your style of entertaining is formal, you may want to register for fine linens, china, silver and stemware  On the other hand, if backyard barbeques are your speed, those items would wind up collecting dust and your “must haves” will look very different.  Start by making a list – thus clarifying which retailer specializes in those items.  It is very acceptable to choose more than one registry so that you can include some specialty options (sports equipment, electronics, etc) – but be sure to have at least one registry for those guests who would like to give you more traditional gifts.

 Hint:  Sometimes retailers with their own lines of china, stemware or flatware may discontinue them after one season – be sure to ask before you choose a pattern you may not be able get a few months from now.


Questions #2 – How many locations does the retailer have and can the registry be accessed online?

National retailers and those with the ability to shop online are a huge convenience if your guests are spread all over the map. As your day draws near, you will also appreciate being able to update and monitor your registry 24 –7 from your home and office, so be sure your choice of wedding registry offers this. Some guests will still prefer to go to a physical store to choose your gift, so going with a retailer with many convenient locations is a big plus.  


Question #3 – What special services are offered by the wedding registry? 

Many wedding registries will provide free enclosure cards, gift wrapping or easy (even free) shipping options. Competition for your business is great and some retailers have become very creative with the “add-ons” they offer.  For example, Macy’s and Bloomingdales will donate to a charity of your choice for every online purchase from your registry.  Some registries also offer helpful online planning tools like guest list and thank you note managers – and be sure to inquire if they offer a complementary wedding website – an essential tool for planning a destination wedding.


Question #4 – What is the return policy?  What proof of purchase is required to get a refund or exchange?

This is a really important one!  Even though registries are designed to prevent duplicate gifts, occasionally the registry doesn’t update the list fast enough or the person making the purchase doesn’t notify the retailer when they check out that they are making a registry purchase.  Or, you may simply change your mind or not be satisfied with an item.  We have heard from a number of readers that some registries are not as “return friendly” as others – so be sure to ask for a copy of the return policy before you sign up.  Most require some proof of purchase including a gift receipt, return form or packing slip, so save these as you open your gifts.  There is also a wide range for the amount of time when you can exchange or return gifts – from 30 days to 1 year.


Question #5 – Does the registry offer a completion program?

You’re home from your honeymoon and unpacking your gifts…..and you have 10 dinner plates, 4 salad pates, 3 bowls and 6 coffee mugs toward your goal of 12 place settings.  The good news is that we found some, but not all registries offer some sort of completion program that provides a discount for you to be able to purchase those items that were on your registry that you did not get as gifts.  Be careful here as well…some provide a one time discount and others are available to you for a set timeframe after the wedding.



Wedding Registry




Web Site

# of store locations

Online registry

Gift wrapping

Enclosure Cards

Special Features

Completion Program







Wedding website, charity donation program

10% off for 6 months


Crate & Barrel




For purchase



One 10% purchase online and One 10% purchase in-store








Free wedding website, charity donation program,

, 10 % discount on remaining items


Pottery Barn



For purchase


Online thank you note manager

One time 10% discount on items not purchased during first year


Target/Club Wedd



For purchase





Linen’s & Things




For purchase



20% discount for 3 months


Bed Bath and Beyond






Referral program, incentive gifts, planning tools

Certificate for 10% off – one time use in store


Williams Sonoma




For purchase



10% off – one time online purchase




Visit the Blog

Related Articles & Advice

Hyatt - Playa Playa - Alltra ad-160x600 Hilton - Playa Palladium 160 Styling Trio

Welcome to our newsletter !