10 Wedding Registry Tips From a Real Newlywed

Depending on whom you ask, building a wedding registry is either the most fun or the most difficult part of the wedding planning process. On one hand, it’s a chance for you and your fiancé to tell all of your wedding guests exactly what gifts are on your wish list for the start of your new life together. (Would it be inappropriate to have a registry for our next birthday? Because that sounds kind of amazing.) But on the other hand, it can be quite difficult to sort through all the items you think you might need, and figure out what pieces you’ll really make use of and treasure for years to come. Too many people end up with pieces they never use or outgrow within a couple of years. But we’re here to tell you that putting together a wedding registry doesn’t have to be a daunting task. And today we have 10 wedding registry tips from a real newlywed to prove it!

To pull together these tips, we partnered with Zola, a wedding registry service that all of our engaged friends have been using (and who we’ve also featured before on the site). Zola makes the wedding registry process as fun and as simplified as can be, letting the couple customize their list with gifts, experiences, and honeymoon/cash funds. (With Zola, you can even opt for group gifting to break up the cost of larger gifts—which is one of our favorite features.) And since Zola’s ‘Newlywed at Large,’ Jennifer, just went through the real life wedding registry process herself, she’s sharing all of her tips, tricks, and even a few mistakes she made in this exclusive Q&A…

First, tell us a little about yourself.

I got married on New Year’s Eve last year (12/31/15) in Philadelphia. My husband Joel and I have been together for 9 years and were introduced by a mutual friend who I went to high school with and who Joel played lacrosse with. We love trying new restaurants, taking long walks, exploring New York neighborhoods, and traveling to new places. You can check out our registry right HERE.

A real bride's wedding registry advice on LaurenConrad.com

1. Name the 5 items from your wedding registry that you have gotten the most use out of so far, that you think every newly married couple should own:
You should register for a mix of items you will use everyday, as well as gifts that you can savor for a special moment or celebration. For my husband and I, the five things that we have used most include our water glasses, linen bedding, silverware with the perfect weight, speakers so we can dance while we cook, and the ideal carry-on suitcase since we often share a bag on short trips.

2. What is your biggest wedding registry regrets? Is there anything you wish you had registered for that you forgot or anything that you did register for that you haven’t used once?
I wish I had registered for more gifts, and consulted Zola’s registry planner more frequently, since it is such a great tool as you map out your registry. My husband and I live in a 450-square foot apartment, so after a lot of our registry was already sold out, some guests gave us off-registry gifts that we physically cannot fit in our home. It was so generous of them, but it would have been better if we had selected more gifts, including experiences, that we could accommodate in our space and that fit our taste.

3. Do you have any tips for what to do if your tastes differ from your partner’s?
Marry someone else? Just kidding! Registering is really helpful because you can merchandise both you and your partner’s taste, and start to see patterns. So if your fiancé is really into color, but you like a more muted palette, register for neutral pieces, and then add pops of colorful accents so both tastes are represented. Avoid registering for lots of coordinating items, and instead opt for a more eclectic vibe so the pieces feel more lived in and collected. If you are French country, but your fiancé is more preppy, look for more classic pieces of furniture, and then use accessories to blend the two styles. Marriage is all about compromise and so is your registry!

How to build your dream wedding registry

4. In your experience, is it better to register for bigger ticket items or smaller items? Or a mix of both?
Definitely a mix of both! Zola’s registry planner helps you decide how many gifts to register for at each price point, based on the number of guests you have. It is such a helpful tool! I would enable group gifting on bigger ticket items like camping equipment or small appliances, so your guests don’t get sticker shock, but that way you are still getting the items that will make your home feel special.

5. What was your most fun “wild card” purchase that you registered for?
We created a fund for private boxing sessions, and our guests loved it! One of my favorite things about our relationship is we love to tease each other and banter, so it was really fun to get into the ring and trash talk a bit before the big day. It definitely helped us shake out any pre-wedding jitters! Plus, we now have an activity we love to do together long after the wedding.

6. How did you choose where to register and what was the process for starting your registry like?
The day after we got engaged, my mom sent me an email that said, “Where are you registered?” I had no idea how to register, or even what to register for and was a bit overwhelmed. My husband and I went to a big department store just to check it off our list, and ended up registering for a lot of things that were nice, but really were not our taste. Shortly after, we found out about Zola and our attitude changed. The site was so personal, the app was a dream to use, and the items on the site actually felt like us. A registry advisor transferred items from our department store registry onto Zola, and we were off to the races. It was by far my favorite part of wedding planning and I loved Zola so much I joined the company the day after my honeymoon!

7. From your experience, what should you place more focus on: upgrading items you already have (ie. new sheets with a better thread count) or filling in any items that are currently missing from your home (ie. getting that waffle iron you had your eye on)?
Registering is a time to take stock of your home, and think about what you need now, what you will need five years from now, and special heirloom pieces you could pass down to your children one day. Now is the time to upgrade your flatware, dinnerware, cookware, and bedding (you can donate the older the items to make room for gifts that reflect where you are in life as a couple). We also registered for some more aspirational items (like our Vitamix, which temporarily turned my husband into the smoothie king of SoHo), plus a few special pieces, like fine china, which we will use for holidays and to celebrate major life moments together.

8. What kind of alternative gifts would you recommend for couples who don’t have a lot of space or already have mostly everything they need?
Today’s couples really cherish experiences, so using Zola to host a fund for a honeymoon, down payment on a home, or other big purchase is a great idea. I recommend that couples don’t create one large fund, but rather break it up so that it feels more personal and guests know what they are giving you. Zola has also curated experiences for couples that they can use long after the honeymoon including rock climbing workshops, interior design services, bike share memberships, and wine subscriptions.

9. What are your tips for keeping the wedding registry process fun and not stressful?
Creating a registry can be really meaningful—you and your fiancé are building your home together! The registry is one of the few elements of wedding planning that both people can get into, so take a deep breath and take your time. Put on your favorite music, pour some wine, and start with Zola’s registry checklist.

10. How did you keep track of all your gifts and list of thank you notes?
As your guests start to make their purchases, you can use Zola’s controlled shipping feature to decide when you receive items, or if you change your mind you can digitally exchange anything before it reaches your doorstep. I even shipped some things to my parents’ house that we couldn’t fit, and everything else to our apartment. Once you have received the gift, Zola’s Thank You Note Manager is a lifesaver—it keeps all your guests’ addresses in one place to make thank you note writing a breeze.

Your wedding registry just got a whole lot easier

There you have it! It’s pretty helpful to have the perspective of someone who just went through building their registry, isn’t it? And it proves that building a wedding registry can be both enjoyable and easy.

Do you have any wedding registry tips of your own? What would you recommend including?

And don’t forget to tell all of your engaged friends about Zola! They’ll be sure to thank you later. Plus, if they start a registry with Zola by clicking the links in this post, they will get $25 to spend on Zola right now!

xo Team LC

Photos: Zola

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  • Helen Harm

    I completely agree with #7. I just celebrated my first anniversary and we used our registry to update what we already had. It was a very smart decision, especially since everything we had prior to the wedding were hand-me-downs. Then we were able to give our old items to our brother who were recently college grads.

    XO Helen @ http://www.KaleidoscopeSpinning.com

  • This was an incredibly useful guide! It really resonated with me, especially the advice on choosing items that you will use both everyday, and for special occasions. We have so much of what we need already, so it’s been a bit of a struggle to think of what to add. Thank you!

    Jill

    The Most Comfortable Pencil Skirt: The Work-It Skirt by BetaBrand

  • Eden

    As a newlywed myself, I would totally recommend upgrading your existing items if they were hand-me-downs or inexpensive versions. Glad you touched upon that! Oh, and I used Zola for my wedding and loved it 🙂

  • Jenna P.

    This blog came at the PERFECT time!! Thank you LC! I just started planing my wedding and have been soooo stressed about the registry… and now I’m not! Excited to try Zola. xoxo

  • Jolie M

    This is a life saver! I’m getting married this year and registering for gifts is one of the more stressful parts of wedding planning… But this seriously makes it sound like a breeze!

  • Katani O’Kampa

    Thanks for posting this – super helpful! We just got engaged and registry is certainly something we need to consider… Has anybody from outside the US used Zola? xx

  • This is such a great post! One of our larger items we registered for was a Vitamix and it’s been our most used registry item!
    xox, Veronica
    http://www.thefourthreads.com

  • Jennifer Xia

    I’m going to show this to one of my cousins who is getting engaged. I think she’ll like these tips 😀

    j. xia

    • Ashley Xia

      Emmy?

      a. xia

      • Jennifer Xia

        yes! Emmy, the one who is planning her wedding at Martha’s Vineyard. 😀

        • Cora Vanheusel

          omg MARTHA’S VINEYARD?!?! I’m so jealous!

          • Emmy Xu

            haha you and Henry should have yours there! It’s the perfect place, Cora!

  • I’ve heard that creating a fund for experiences is a great way to go if you don’t have a lot of space or need for physical things! Great idea!

    • Chaein Oh

      hey that is a great idea! can’t believe I’ve never thought of doing that! Thanks!

  • Brooke Francis

    I can’t wait to share this with my cousin who is getting married next spring!! Her and her fiancé just bought a home and will need an organized registry to help stock up there new home post wedding!

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  • aspiringsocialite

    Great tips!

    xo,
    Vicky
    http://www.aspiringsocialite.com/

  • Such a helpful post! Will definitely be passing this along to my cousin, who’s getting married in half a year! 🙂 These tips will be so helpful to her! <3 Thank you so much for sharing!

    XO, Elizabeth
    http://clothestoyouuu.com/

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  • Heather McBreen

    really helpful post! Zola is a great site! I would also recommend http://www.withjoy.com their app lets you scan any item with a barcode and immediately add it to your registry and they also have a feature where they will recommend items based on your couple profile! I can’t say enough about how useful Joy is when it comes to making registering fun and easy!