Hey y’all, it’s Landan. I know there are literally hundreds of blog posts about how to create the best wedding registry, what you should have on your wedding registry, opinions on different types of registries – pretty much every topic about building your wedding registry. With that knowledge, you may be rolling your eyes and thinking “so why are you writing another one?”

Here’s why: I”ll include a few “gimme” details you’ve probably heard before, like when to create your registry and how many you should have, but I’m also covering the mistakes I made – like un-packaging gifts when they arrived – and tricks I learned throughout the process – like signing up for a registry you can add anything to  – because I want you to have that first hand knowledge.

I’ve talked about it before, but there are so many aspects of wedding planning you don’t get to know about until you go through it. And, since it’s generally the first time you’ll be going through this experience and you don’t get a do-over (as much as I wish I could have our wedding day again and again, because wouldn’t that be stellar?!?) so the best option is to learn from others’ experiences. Let’s be honest y’all – there are MASSIVE wedding blogs that have dozens of professionals giving their input on every single topic for wedding planning. They’re great. I’m not discounting them at all. But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here for the personal. You get to hear about everything I loved and everything I messed up on because I want you to be able to feel like you’re hanging out with your friend and having a conversation. And, as an added bonus, I throw in gorgeous pictures of other couples that have gotten married at The Chandelier (like Taylor and Matthew in this post!!!) because if you’re anything like me, you’re stalking your wedding venue tirelessly because you’re so dang excited to be getting married there soon. Win-win.

Let’s talk shopping.

Create Your Registry Early

As far as I’m concerned, the earlier you create your registry, the better. It’s a fun engagement activity to do together, plus creating it early means you have more time to look it over, fine tune it, take things off that you might realize you don’t want, and add things as they pop up. That said, I know that there are a lot of wedding planning details that will have a bigger focus for you when you first start planning – like choosing a date and getting major vendors booked. Don’t let the registry become a stressor for you thinking you “have” to have it done in certain time frame. I do think it’s best for guests if you have them set up before save-the-dates or any shower invitations go out, so aim for that if possible, but make sure you don’t lose the fun of it.

Include Items of Multiple Price Points

When creating your registry, it’s really important to build variety into it so your guests feel like they have options. You can still get what you want (and more on this in the next point below), but adding items of smaller monetary value so people can throw them in as a bonus or combine a few things together, mid-range gifts that are easy to pick out, and higher end gifts that your Great Aunt may randomly decide to give or multiple people can go in on together are all important to have. You’re not greedy for having a lot of things on your registry because people like having options and not feeling pigeon holed into buying certain things. Remember, a registry is just a bunch of stuff you want, not necessarily a list of all items you need or expect to get.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Returns

Don’t love it? RETURN IT. Do not feel like you have to keep something just because someone gave it to you (though maybe don’t tell them you returned it in the Thank You note). You are also completely free to change your mind on things. Just because you registered for it and don’t love it when it comes in does not mean that you’re stuck with it. I’ve been married for over a year and still have a store credit from one place because I did returns on things I realized I didn’t actually love or just added because I felt like I was “supposed” to have them on my registry. Now we’re getting a puppy and we’re using the store credit to purchase things for her – AKA things we didn’t know we’d want or need when we built our registry almost 2 years ago.

Save Your Gift Cards

No matter how many items you have on your registry, you’re likely to have some guests who give gift cards plus some items that were returned because either 1. you didn’t like them or 2. they came in broken. A lot of stores give a completion discount where you can get a discount on items you didn’t receive off of your registry for either one bulk purchase or for one year after your wedding. It can be super tempting to stock up because you have the discount, and there’s nothing wrong with using it for things you know you still want or didn’t receive off your registry, but don’t feel like you have to use it just because it’s there. There are always more sales and you have plenty of time to use your credits. As a side note, if you have multiple gift cards/store credits for individual stores, I HIGHLY recommend getting them combined onto one or two cards if possible. It has made it so much easier to keep track and I know exactly what I have left because of it.

Keep Everything Packaged Until the Wedding

This is one of those things no one ever told me about nor did I ever think about it. I thought I had a great registry. I researched items and knew what I wanted. And, for the most part, most of my guests were stellar about buying gifts off our registry or giving us a gift receipt if it wasn’t on our registry. But what I didn’t expect? I didn’t expect my cousin to know about a casserole dish that I love 10x more than my corning ware I registered for or my husband’s coworkers to randomly gift us a bake-and-store set that has made my other similarly-sized baking dishes useless. I have no doubt that you are a genius bride, but I’m here to tell you now that some of your guests may know better than you. Open the gifts, write the thank you notes, but wait until the wedding is over to take off tags unless it’s something you’re absolutely certain you want and love. I registered for a pie dish that I thought I wanted, got another one I loved more after I’d already washed the first one, and now I have two pie dishes (and, for the record, I’ve still not made a pie).

Think About Where You Register

Thinking about where you register plays out in a couple of ways. First, think about where your guests shop and where you can get the items you’re wanting. Ideally, registering at 2-4 places is best just to give people options. We personally did Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target. I loved our Amazon registry because I could add things to it that came from anywhere, not just Amazon, so I was able to add custom coasters from Etsy to it. And, while we got a lot of stuff from Bed Bath and Beyond, Target was one of our biggest registries because it was local to New Braunfels and easy for my guests to shop at. This is where the second half of thinking about registries comes in. I’m not saying to add things to your registry with the intention of returning them (though I do know someone who did this and went and rebought everything from the outlet mall, giving them an extra couple hundred dollars to spend) but I know for me personally I can only buy so many things from Bed Bath and Beyond that I actually need, but I am constantly shopping on Amazon and at Target. We got the most gift cards to those two places I’m assuming because of ease and the fact that we had more on our registry from there, which has been really convenient to keep shopping with long after the wedding is over.

Register for Things You Love

This is so important. So many wedding websites recommend registering for not just the things you now need, but also things you might want in the future, like fine china and the giant serving platter for Thanksgiving dinners. If you love those things, GREAT. If not, leave them off. Planning ahead some is great, but I am endlessly annoyed by a few of the things just sitting in our cabinets because I thought I had to have them since that’s just what you do on registries. But you know what we do love? We love the tools Kevin (very hesitantly) registered for. He didn’t think it was “right” to put them on a registry but they were actually one of the quickest things people purchased because they knew he would love them and use them. And I really love all of the things he’s built for our home with them. Make your registry whatever you want it to be – forget what’s appropriate or expected. Ask for money or pay for a trip. Add home decor or tools. Get the top of the line blender because it’s the one you really want, even if it does feel excessive. Make it yours.

Keep Updating Your Registry

Stores are adding stuff all of the time, your taste changes, maybe you visit a friends house and love their automatic trashcan, whatever it is. Don’t feel like you can’t add things to your registry. It’s actually really smart to keep a close eye on it and make sure there are still plenty of options for your guests and that items in all price ranges are still available. Things also become unavailable sometimes (I especially noticed this with our Target registry), so if one piece from a full set becomes unavailable, you may want to take off the matching pieces and choose something else. This is especially important around shower time, when invitations go out, and during the wedding week, since those are times a bulk of your guests will be shopping at the same time.

When creating our registry, I really liked to think about how I liked to shop for other peoples weddings and added items that would help my guests achieve that goal. It’s what led me to having more items than I initially thought I would and how I chose to keep a variety of price points available at all times. I also linked all of our registries to our wedding website for easy access, which I highly recommend doing. If you’re having a hard time deciding what to put on your registry, think about activities that you like to do and things that you regularly spend money on anyways to give you ideas for nontraditional items to add, or stalk other people’s registries to see if it sparks any ideas for you. No matter what you do, remember that registries are a fun part of wedding planning, not something to stress about.

And, remember the thank you notes. Definitely write those as gifts come in so it’s not hours upon hours of writing after the wedding.

Taylor and Matthew’s Vendor Spotlight:

Catering by Werner’s

Band by Gary Glenn and the 20x Band

Hair by April Salazar

Makeup by Alexis Swanson 

Bar by Margarita Madness

Photography by Sarah Lenentine Photography 

Cake by Linda Cup

Videography by Photohouse Films 

Officiated by Mark Stephens

Bride’s Dress from Celebrations Bridal