Wedding Registry Lesson

Confession time: I am a wedding registry snob, and I judge people based on the items they have registered for. If a couple registers for mostly/only the most expensive items, my impression is that they are greedy. People who mostly/only register for non-essential items strike me as very inconsiderate. When they register for mostly/only the most expensive, non-essential items, I seriously reconsider my affiliation with them. News flash Cheryl: I am not going to buy you a $300 Swarovski crystal frog figurine.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t register for any high end items, or anything fun and out of the box. I am just saying to be reasonable with your requests, and be sure that any item you register for is not only something you would purchase for yourself, but something you would be willing to purchase for someone else. If you are a millionaire, and your guests are also millionaires, by all means disregard this whole post and register for absolutely whatever you want. However if you and your guests are not quite on that financial level, please take the following under advisement.

When it comes to the price of the items you register for, you should stick to the rule of thirds. A third of your gifts should be under $50, a third between $50-100, and another third can be over $100. As far as the type of gift, approximately 70% should be “essential” items, and about 30% can be “non-essential” items. Essential items are the basics that you will need and use on a day to day basis, such as pots and pans, bedding, and bath linens. Non-essentials are going to be items like decorations, things for your hobbies, and fun and games. Basically needs versus wants. The complete breakdown of registry percentages is as follows:


30% Essentials from $1-49

20% Essentials from $50-100

20% Essentials over $100

20% Non-essentials under $100

10% Non-essentials over $100

Of course these percentages are approximate, and I understand there are a lot of variables. Couples that already have an established home probably don’t need as many sheet sets or casserole dishes, they might have more use for a new luggage set or a fire pit. If you fall into that category, it’s fine to adjust your percentages of essentials and non-essentials, maybe to 50/50 or 40% essential, 60% non. But I wouldn’t encourage anyone to adjust more than 40/60 because a lot of people feel more comfortable spending their hard earned money on items they see as useful, and not just on fun extras. If you and most of your guests are on the wealthier side, you can adjust your item prices from thirds to halves (half under $100, half over). But I highly suggest not adjusting past halves, as it can often appear very greedy. And remember: your wealthy coworker may be able to drop hundreds on a gift without flinching, but your old high school pal or elderly aunt may not have that much flexibility. So be considerate of those in your life who view $50 as more than just pocket change.

Above all, remember that a wedding is a celebration of two lives becoming one, it isn’t some big money-making/gift-getting scheme. The gifts people give are intended to help you start your marriage with some extra blessings, they are not meant to fund some elaborate lifestyle.

Now that you have been all caught up to speed on appropriate percentages, here is some homework for you. Can you identify which 10 item registry is appropriate, and which one is not?


This homework was probably a no brainer for you, even if you didn’t read a single word I wrote. Column A is the inappropriate registry as the only two items below $100 are non-essential, and the only essential items are top of the line and extremely expensive as a result. The remaining items are both pricey and non-essential. Column B is an appropriate registry as the prices are true to the rule of thirds, and there is 70% essential items and 30% non-essential.

I hope this gives you some perspective on the most considerate way to lay out your registry. Happy registering!

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