How Expensive is Too Expensive for My Registry?

Some gifts are more expensive than others, but bigger-ticket items can still make your wedding registry. Here's how to decide what's too expensive and what's worth it to add to your wedding registry.

By Laura Hensley

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Photo by Zola

Building your wedding registry is like creating the ultimate wish list. You want to register for gifts that you actually last, which means you’ll likely covet some higher-quality items. No one wants to replace cheap dishes year after year, after all. But some gifts are more expensive than others, and you want to consider your guests and their personal budgets. So, it begs the question: How expensive is too expensive to put on my registry?

Think about your guests.

Guests typically spend anywhere from $50 to $150 on a wedding gift, depending on how close they are to you as a couple. Co-workers and acquaintances often spend less, while family members may be more generous.

Your registry should have a good mix of affordable and bigger-ticket items, says Alyssa Davies, a personal financial writer and author of The 100 Day Financial Goal Journal. This ensures everyone has the ability to get you something off your registry, and also offer them a selection to choose from.

“Our expectations of guests are quite high and can be extremely costly, [and] sometimes people can’t always afford the same things we can,” Davis says. “As long as you have a range of prices, there can be a way to make everyone feel as though they’re able to support you on your new adventure as a married couple.”

Categorize by price point.

You want to register at least one item per person, meaning if you’re inviting 150 guests, be sure there’s a minimum of 150 gifts on your registry. Try to divide your registry into price points, including under $50, under $100, and under $150.

Of course, there’s room for items over $150. It’s completely normal (and acceptable!) to put some bigger gifts on your registry as some guests may be inclined to get you a bigger gift, as are friends who are splitting an expensive item. Just don’t let those big-ticket items dominate your list. Variety is key.

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Be realistic with your registry items.

There’s no hard rule about how much is too much, so you’ll need to use your own judgment. If you’re worried about appearing tacky or greedy on your wedding registry, try to frame your thinking this way: Will you actually use these items, or are you caught up in the excitement of crafting a gift list?

Pro Tip: Ask yourself how you would react if you saw the same item on a friend’s registry. Sure, that $2,000 espresso machine looks fancy, but if you can’t see yourself making lattes every morning or expect someone to buy it for you, it may be best to leave it off the list.

On the other hand, if you know you’ll use a Vitamix regularly, put it on your registry. “If you consider your needs versus your wants, you’ll be able to come to a respectable compromise that won’t make anyone scoff at your registry list,” Davies says.

Think about long-term investment.

It’s also important to think about things you may not need now but will use down the road. This can include silverware and china sets, items that are traditionally on the pricier side. As you grow as a married couple and perhaps start a family of your own, these meaningful items will have longevity and come in handy for entertaining.

Close family members who are married may better understand the significance of such items and want to help you start a collection. (It’s also perfectly OK to skip traditional gifts if they aren’t your thing, too!)

Also, don’t forget about the unexpected items you’ll use every day either. From luggage sets to home improvement tools, there are things you may overlook but deserve a spot on your wedding registry.

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Keep the style of the wedding and the role of guests in mind.

When crafting your wedding registry, keep in mind your wedding location. Davies says if you’re planning a local event where guests don’t have to spend additional money for travel or hotel, don’t limit your registry too much. “But, if you plan a destination wedding that requires travel, depending on the distance, you might want to consider not having a registry at all,” she says.

Davies also says close friends or those in your wedding party may have already spent a lot of money on bridesmaids dresses, bachelorette parties, and wedding shower gifts, so their budget may be tighter than other guests.

[They] have probably put a ton of time, money and energy into helping you plan or celebrate your big day, so be considerate of their needs, too,” she says.

Because wedding registries ultimately come down to a couples’ needs and personalities, you want yours to reflect your life together as a couple. Register the gifts you’ll use and love, and don’t be shy to add a few wish items. You just never know who will treat you.