Understanding the Wedding Gift Registry

Wedding Gift Registration has become much computerized and much easier to do. Couples can go to stores to register for gifts or use the Internet, which makes the availability of gift registries that much easier.

Brides and grooms are able to register online with several retailers including:
  • Major department stores
  • Building supply stores such as Home Base, Home Depot
  • Hardware stores, either local hardware stores or specialty hardware stores like Renovation Hardware
  • Sporting good stores like Sports Mart, Sports Chalet, Big Five, REI
  • Upscale gardening stores like Smith and Hawken or local nurseries
  • Mortgage lenders—registering for contributions to a down payment on a house is becoming ever more popular
  • Travel agents—whether for the honeymoon or another recreational trip
  • Home furnishing & accessory stores—Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pier One, IKEA, Strouds, Linens & Things
  • Couples can even create wedding wish lists at sites like WhereBridesGo.com, so family members can contribute by purchasing wedding supplies the bride and groom have picked out for the wedding.

Most importantly, offer your friends and family the convenience of an online gift registry.

Things to Ask Before You Register

Do you need an appointment? What is the store's return policy? How do they keep track of your registry and gifts? A computer database is the preferred method as it is the most quickly updated. How often to you update the registry? The more often the better so as to avoid as much duplication as possible. Other important questions are:
  • How long does it take to get your gift registry up and running?
  • Does the store have a toll-free phone line?
  • Do they accept phone purchases?
  • Do they have a Web site?
  • Do they ship gifts? Any additional charge for this service?
How long does your registry list stay in their records?
A year after the wedding date is the ideal since guests have up to one year to purchase
a gift for you.

What Can You Register For?
While many couples still stick with the tried and true china, silver, and crystal, many more are branching out and availing themselves of the huge number of choices out there, from honeymoon trips to charitable donations.
  • House accessories and gadgets
  • Kitchen appliances and items
  • China, crystal and silver
  • Linens
  • Sporting goods
  • Tools
  • Home improvements
  • Garden supplies
  • Mortgage down payments
  • House cleaning services
  • Honeymoon

If you go with traditional items like china and silver, you'll probably need to spend some time deciding on which patterns and styles both of you like before you actually venture out to register for it. Go window-shopping, browse online, or look at magazine ads to get some great ideas of what is available before registering.

Gift Problems

The Gift Arrives Broken
Occasionally, a gift will arrive broken or damaged. If the gift was sent directly by a department store, you can contact the store. Their customer service department will most likely see to the replacement of the gift.

Returning Gifts
Even with computer registry, duplicate gifts happen. It is not necessary to tell the gift giver that you returned their gift. Simply return the gift and select another item in exchange.

Anonymous Gifts
Try calling the store to see if you can track the gift that way. If it didn't come from a store, check the package for a hint as to where it came from, geographically speaking. Hopefully that can help you narrow it down. Also check with your parents and close friends, maybe they can help you determine the mystery giver.

When the Wedding is Called Off
When a wedding is called off or canceled, all of the gifts need to be returned to the givers, even the monogrammed and personalized ones. Include a brief note with each gift you're returning; thanking the person for their thoughtfulness and explaining that the wedding will not be taking place.

Registry Dos & Don’ts

DO complete the registration process by the time you send out your invitations. You may want to register earlier so bridal shower guests can select items from your registry.

DO realize that just because you've registered for it doesn't mean you'll get it.

DO register for enough gifts with respect to your wedding list. If you've invited 300 people, make sure and register for that many gifts.

DO register at a wide variety of locations that all your guests will have access to.

DO register for items with a variety of price ranges so that guests have a choice of gifts to select from.

DO keep track of every gift you receive and who gave it to you (you will need this later for writing your thank you notes).

DO plan for guests who bring their gifts to the reception instead of having it sent directly to you. Set aside a gift table where guests can leave their gifts. You'll want a special basket or box for envelopes that contain money. Assign someone to be in charge, making sure to tape the cards to the packages and guide people to where they can leave them.

DON'T select items that are so expensive that few people you know can afford them.

You Must Thank People for their Gifts
You must send a thank you note for every wedding (shower, engagement, etc.) gift you receive. The note must be written by the bride or the groom. Unlike other wedding tasks, this one cannot be delegated. The thank you notes must be sent out in a timely fashion. This means two weeks for gifts received before the wedding. For gifts received after the wedding, one month is recommended.
Tips on Thank You Notes
  • Buy all your wedding thank you note stationery and supplies early on and keep it handy.
  • Keep careful track of who gave you what.
  • Write the note as soon as possible after receiving the gift.
  • If you have several notes to get out at once, prioritize them according to which gift giver is most likely to be offended by a late note.
  • For notes written before the wedding, you must use your maiden name.
  • Make sure both of you do your part in writing those notes.
  • Mention the gift in detail in the thank you note and add a line or two on how much you enjoy it or how you plan to use it.
  • Add a conversational line or two to make the thank you note more personalized.
  • If the gift was money, thank them for their generosity or generous gift and mention what you plan to use it for. Never mention the amount.

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A Road Map for Second Marriage Weddings

Second marriage weddings are becoming much more common, which means many of the wedding traditions are changing. There are a number of alternatives and choices that may fit your individual situation. Your decisions may be determined by you and your fiancĂ©’s age, whether children are involved, or if this is a second marriage for either of you.

Announcing Your Engagement for a Second Wedding

When children from previous marriages are involved, you should tell them first. Chances are they already have an idea, but they still need to hear the news from you. A second marriage wedding should be handled carefully and with love. You want them to feel they are gaining another caring adult in their lives. You don't want them to feel as if they're losing a parent or having an existing parent replaced. You also need to notify a former spouse when children are involved, preferably before the children spill the news.

Afterwards, let your parents know the good news; then, of course, tell your friends and relatives. Traditionally, if it's the bride's second marriage, a formal announcement is not made. If it is the bride's first, and the groom's second marriage wedding, a formal engagement announcement is customary.

Planning Your Second Wedding Ceremony

If the bride is getting married for the first time, then everything remains traditional. The second marriage wedding may be as formal and religious as you would like, depending on your particular-denomination.

One of the first things you should do when planning a second wedding is to find out all regulations or restrictions on the remarriage of a divorced person. Your house of worship or officiant is a good place to start.

If the bride has been married before, a semi-formal or informal wedding is usually chosen, rather than a large, very formal wedding. The exception to this would be if the bride never had a large, formal first wedding, or has no children. Another exception could be when it is the bride's second, but the groom's first marriage. In this case the groom's parents may want to host the wedding or the couple may choose to pay for it themselves. In any case, it is not right to expect the bride's family to pay for a second large wedding.

When it is both the bride's and the groom's second marriage, it is best to have a tasteful semi-formal or informal wedding. It may still be in a church, chapel, home, hotel, or club. There should be a maid or matron of honor in the ceremony but no bridesmaids. Similarly, the groom should have a best man but should only have ushers if they are needed, and they would not stand at the altar. When there are children from previous marriages, the couple may want to involve them in some way, depending on their ages.

The Second Wedding Dress

With the increase of second marriage weddings, designers in the bridal industry are making a great number of beautiful dresses for the encore bride-to-be. You may select a romantically feminine, lacy dress of mid-calf or ankle length in white or ivory, or a traditionally elegant knee length dress or suit in white or pastel. What you choose to wear will depend on the formality of the ceremony, the time of day and, most important, what you feel good wearing.

Yes, you may wear white. However, a veil, the symbol of virginity, should not be worn. Instead, wear a hat or a wreath of fresh flowers. You may also want to carry a bouquet or a flower-trimmed prayer book.

Invitations and Announcements

When the ceremony is larger than just a few close friends and relatives, including, say, thirty or more guests, you should send printed invitations. Usually the person who is hosting the ceremony and reception issues the invitations. Again the wording of them will depend on your individual situation (examples are given in the chapter on invitations).

Gifts are not expected for a second marriage wedding, though many guests may choose to send one. Accept any gifts graciously and acknowledge them with thank you notes. It is not correct to indicate "no gifts" on the invitation.

When a large reception follows a small cere­mony, a formal reception invitation should be sent to all the guests; simply insert a ceremony card for guests who are invited to both.

The Second Wedding Reception

The reception may be any size or style you wish. Neither the bride's nor the groom's previous marriages have any effect on this. Having a large reception is a nice way to include friends who couldn't be a part of the ceremony.

You may still toast with champagne, cut the wedding cake, and have a "first dance." You might want to consider omitting first wedding customs like tossing the bride's bouquet and garter.

Reaffirming Your Wedding Vows

Reaffirming wedding vows is becoming more popular, especially with couples who had civil ceremonies or eloped, due to convenience or lack of finances. The renewal of vows occasionally takes place shortly after the wedding day, but more commonly takes place years after the couple was originally married.

The couple may choose to repeat the same vows they once said, or they may want to write new ones that express the way their love for one another has grown over the years. The ceremony possibilities for a reaffirmation are varied. You may choose a small ceremony with close friends and family, or a larger one that includes new friends you have acquired over the years. You may want to have it in a church, in your home, or in the garden, a perfect symbol of the life you have nurtured together. It's a nice idea to make children, if there are any, a part of the ceremony. Many choose to combine it with a special anniversary, such as the tenth or twenty-fifth. Then they have the ceremony first, followed by a festive party.


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