Because so many couples today are facing huge financial challenges that were not as common a couple of decades ago—seemingly insurmountable student loans, high-interest credit card debt, and massive mortgages—it makes complete sense that couples want to receive money at the start of their married lives together instead of the items that their parents or grandparents received like mixing bowls and blenders. For many couples, a 10-piece blender sounds really, really nice but having money to put toward a down payment on a home sounds absolutely amazing.
If you’re in this position like many other DIY couples, you can always forgo the registry entirely and end up with a lot of checks. But if you do want to register and add to your savings or pay down debt at the same time, here’s how to do it. And I know it works because this is what we did for our own wedding registry!
1. Keep Your Registry Small
Only add enough gifts to your wedding registry to be bought for pre-wedding festivities (showers, engagement parties, etc.). For instance, if you have 25 expected shower attendees, only put around 25 items on your registry. This way you set your registry to close out, so to say, before the wedding. You will still receive wedding gifts for people to ooh and aah at the shower, and then people can drop cards with checks in the card box for the wedding, which most people are perfectly happy to do.
Keeping your registry small will also ensure that you receive 100% of the all sets that you register for, too. For instance, if you have more items on your registry than guests, you may receive six of the eight dinner plates you want or four of the ten forks. Then if you want the sets to be complete, you have to go and purchase the additional items on your own, which means you end up spending money instead of saving it.
2. Stick to the Basics
If you stick to mostly the more traditional gifts like kitchen items, then people are less likely to buy their own, off-registry items for you. For instance, if you have a registry that has everything from yoga mats to artwork to rugs, people will start thinking of all sorts of creative gift ideas to give you. For some couples that’s awesome and very much appreciated, but if you’re trying to encourage people to stick to your small registry, you don’t necessarily want to get their creative juices flowing. It totally works to have a couple non-traditional gifts to reflect your personality (say a camping tent if your outdoors people—that’s what we did), but try not to go overboard with all the options.
3. Only Register for What You Truly Want
Often big stores will tell you about an invite-only event to register for your wedding items. They serve champagne to you and other engaged couples and give scanners to everyone to load up items on to wedding registries. Unless you’re disciplined, I think it helps to do your registering online. Put things on your registry that you truly want like nice pots and pans so you can toss the ones you bought at a garage sale a decade ago (and the ones that might just possibly be releasing toxins into your food each time you cook…). It’s good to use your registry to get home items you would love to have but would never get around to purchasing because you’re busy saving or paying off debt.
4. Be Respectful of Other People’s Wallets
Lastly, when registering for items that you truly want, it’s a good idea to keep it reasonable. Have a few expensive gifts that groups of people can chip in on, but more than a few and it starts to look like you expect other people to buy luxury items for you that you would never buy for yourself (like a $150 can opener). I recommend keeping about a fourth of your registry to less expensive items, half of your registry to mid-priced items, and a fourth to more expensive items. This way you make it easy for people to give you gifts no matter what their budget may be. In short, just follow the golden registry rule: treat others’ wallets as you would want your wallet to be treated.
Have any other tips for couples who are getting married and trying to save or pay off debt? Leave a comment below!