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How to Build a Thoughtful Wedding Registry in the Time of COVID

It might feel a little selfish to be thinking about how to create a wedding registry during this time, but it's absolutely okay. Here's how to mindfully create your registry.

happy couple on computer

happy couple on computer

Carrying on with your wedding plans in the midst of a global pandemic may feel a little strange, to say the least. With so much sadness going on in the world, you may feel silly calling attention to your big day–and especially creating a wedding registry. But you shouldn’t, according to wedding experts. “Couples are still getting engaged and even married throughout the pandemic and their loved ones want to celebrate the good news,” says Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California. The only parts of your wedding planning that you should feel the need to halt in the face of a pandemic are the in-person ones, given the unsafety of being in close proximity to others in a large crowd at this time.

One not to forget about: figuring out how to create your wedding registry. In fact, it may be even more necessary to create one than pre-pandemic. Why? “Having a gift registry available and readily available on your wedding website eliminates any stress a friend or family member may have about making sure they pick something they know you’ll love,” says Jones. The only difference in creating your wedding registry during this time may be a slight shift in how you put your registry together and what you choose to include in it. “Everyone is weathering the pandemic differently, so it’s essential to register for items at a variety of price points,” explains Emily Loxtercamp of The Renaissance in Richmond, Virginia. “People may not have the budget they did prior, but may still want to send something to celebrate the couple, so it’s important to be cognizant of this.”

Here are some more things to keep in mind as you create a wedding registry in the time of COVID-19.

Include a mix of big box stores and boutique options.

“National brands are always great to include, as they’re readily accessible by most people and can make the process easy,” explains Kevin Dennis, Fantasy Sound Event Services in Livermore, California. “But this is also the time to be asking ourselves how we can help support smaller businesses so if you have a favorite store that you’d like to include, give them a call or email them and see if they have a registry option in place.”

Consider removing pricey items.

Loxercamp suggests filtering through your registry and removing items that may be on the pricey side or perhaps items that you added “just because.” “In times where your friends and family may be unemployed or on furlough, adding things to your registry that will be more cost-effective will be just what they are looking for and will still allow them to get you something you would like,” she says. “You may also want to be communicative that a gift is certainly not expected, especially during these times.” Including a note like this on your wedding website is a good idea. 

Place an emphasis on sentimental gifts.

“This is a tough time for many people, but relying on your loved ones can make things a little easier,” notes Loxtercamp. She recommends asking for sentimental gifts such as frames for photos and DIY artwork. “These gifts will be more meaningful and most likely, more affordable too,” she says. “Of course, you can’t exactly register for a sentimental gift so spread the word among people who may be asking.” 

Incorporate any hobbies you’ve picked up.

Think outside the box—your wedding registry doesn’t have to be exclusive to items that help you build a home. They should be items that help foster your happiness, which includes personal passions, especially things that you can do together. “It's completely appropriate to ask for things that make you happy—be it baking sheets, cupcake pans or perhaps an easel with acrylic paint,” says Loxtercamp.

Keep track of items as they arrive.

As you create your wedding registry, Dennis suggests watching it closely, especially as gifts are received in the mail. “Returning items can be cumbersome right now and you want to avoid that if possible,” he says. “As you receive items, check online to make sure it’s no longer on the registry—otherwise, remove it manually.”

Consider a charitable registry.

Requesting that guests donate to a charity of your choice in lieu of gifts has always been an option, but it’s becoming far more popular in light of the pandemic. “Nonprofits are often some of the first to be impacted when the economy is facing troubles so no more than ever, it’s surely an appreciated gesture,” says Jones.

A note about canceling or postponing your wedding:

If you’ve postponed your wedding and haven’t finalized a new date, Dennis urges couples to fight the urge to delete their registry. “No matter when or how you decide to say ‘I do,’ people are going to want to share in this joy and should have the option to send you a gift if they so choose,” he says. “If you select a date considerably down the road, your main priority with creating your wedding registry will just be seeing what may still be available.” If you receive gifts from your registry now even though you’ve postponed your wedding to, say, next year, don’t feel obligated to send it back. Simply keep track of who gave you what and don’t expect them to do a repeat once your wedding day comes around. An, of course, send a handwritten thank-you in a timely manner!