15 Wedding Registry Secrets to Get the Gifts You Really Want

Ready to start your wedding registry? Get the most out of yours with these expert-approved registry tips and secrets to help you build the best registry for you and your guests.

By Emily Forrest

zola wedding registry tips
Photo by Zola

Creating your wedding registry is arguably one of the most fun experiences you’ll have during the wedding planning process. This is your opportunity as a couple to think about the wedding gifts you need and actually want. Traditionally, wedding registries are full of kitchen, bedroom, and other home decor items. With Zola, though, you can ask for anything you want. So, register for that must-have Instant Pot, but also register for a new puppy fund (we’ll explain).

It’s true. If you hack it right, you can receive virtually everything you want—and your guests will be happy to help you get there. Here’s how to get the absolute most out of your online registry.

1. Use The “Our Most Wanted” Tool

You probably want everything on your registry, but you probably really want a few items on your registry. Let your guests know that! When you add an item to your Zola wedding registry, you have the option to mark it as “Our Most Wanted.” This will highlight the item so that guests are more likely to purchase it. Works like a charm.

2. Split Funds For Expensive Gifts

We always recommend filling your registry with both affordable and more high-end gifts. This way you’re not only getting a variety of small- and large-ticket items, but you offer an assortment of price points for all of your guests.

For more expensive gifts (like that bar cart you've been eyeing), split the cost. When you add an item to your Zola registry, you can choose to make it a group gift. This gives guests the opportunity to contribute what they can to gifts at higher price points. Guests won’t skip over the big stuff so you’re more likely to receive those items.

3. Add The Classics

When to Do a Wedding Registry: Sharing Your Wedding Wish List Photo Credit // Zola

Your wedding guests probably aren’t all the same age or even from the same generation. While your close friends may be happy to gift you wine glasses or that DSLR camera or those travel essentials, older guests may be looking for the staples. You may not want a fancy casserole dish, but your great aunt may want you to want that casserole dish—and it will make her happy to gift it to you.

Instead of completely omitting those standard registry staples, add a few in. Think dinnerware, flatware, and that beloved Kitchenaid stand mixer. It will make the more traditional members of your family happy to give you what they think you need in your newlywed life.

Here’s the secret: If you really don’t want the casserole dish (or any of these gifts), you can return it to Zola for store credit—before it's even shipped to you. And no, we’ll never tell your great aunt (it’s completely discreet)—just don’t invite her to dinner anytime soon.

4. Placement Matters

As you’re adding items to your wedding registry, you’re probably not thinking too much about where they land on the page. Certainly your guests will give your full registry a good scan and take in all of your requested items, right? Wrong.

OK, well maybe not entirely wrong, but it’s true that how you organize your registry may have an impact on what guests buy. Place the things you want the most at the top right and the bottom. Because we read right to left, guests are more likely to remember those gifts. Similarly, it’s easiest to remember what’s on the top and bottom of your registry. It’s strange, but it works.

5. Include Cash Funds

Asking for cold hard cash for your big day may seem a bit unrefined, but it’s certainly not unpopular. With Zola, you can create cash funds for all of the things you can’t directly ask for on your physical registry. Think money for home improvements (or your first home!), a new pet, or even funds for regular date nights.

Many couples opt to use their cash funds for a variety of honeymoon-related costs. You can create a cash fund for your airline expenses, for example. Break down your honeymoon into chunks that you need money for: meals, excursions, activities, and more. Or, if you have more loose plans, create a general honeymoon fund.

The hot tip here? Make sure the photo you upload for your honeymoon cash funds is one of you as a couple. It turns out that guests are more likely to contribute funds if it’s a personal photo instead of a generic one like a city scape or a palm tree.

6. Add Experiences

Oftentimes, when purchasing a wedding gift for a couple, guests want to make sure they're getting you something special. While your great aunt may delight in gifting you that casserole dish (or a Dutch oven, over other classic cookware), close friends might prefer to buy you something you can do. Think a fun date night, monthly club membership, or relaxing night in. This is where Zola registry experiences come in. On top of being able to include physical gifts and cash funds to your registry, you can also include desirable experiences like Winc's Monthly Wine Club, AirBnB gift cards, and even wedding services like HitchSwitch's name change services. While your registry shouldn't only include experiences (people love gifting physical products, too), they're a great option if you aren't in need of any kitchen appliances or bakeware.

7. Don't Forget Gift Cards

gift cards on wedding registry Photo Credit // Zola

We don't imagine we're alone in saying that gift cards are completely underrated. This is especially the case for couples that, 1) have most, if not all, of the housing goods they could want, or 2) aren't yet decided on gift ideas. If this is the case for you—and, perhaps, you don't feel comfortable putting up a general cash fund—you can register for specific gift cards. In our shop you'll find a variety of stores to choose from. For the couple that loves a project, consider Home Depot or Lowes. Are you both known to love a good movie? Add an AMC or Fandango gift card to your registry. Our gift card options range from general and highly popular (like Hulu) to more specific (like Topgolf), so there's something for everybody.

And, of course, when in doubt, we suggest registering for a Zola gift card. When gifted one, you can access it whenever you like. It never expires and can be used towards any physical product or experience that we have in our shop.

8. ...Including Those For Zola

Of course, when in doubt, we suggest registering for a Zola gift card. When gifted one, you can access it whenever you like. It never expires and can be used towards any physical product or experience that we have in our shop. This way, you don't need to decide on every furniture piece, kitchen item, household items, and other wedding registry items right now.

9. Make It Personal

Going off of the above personal touch, be sure to give more meaning to all your gifts with brief descriptions. When you add an item to your Zola registry, you have the option to add a note for your guests. Use this space to write a quick explanation for why you want this gift and how you’ll use it. For example, if you’re asking for a pricey serving dish, let your guests know that you can’t wait to use it for dinner parties or even to host family Thanksgiving soon.

The more personal, it turns out, the more likely guests are to purchase your gift.

10. Register For Donations

We understand: Some couples genuinely don't want or need wedding gifts. However, when you tell a loved one and future wedding guest this, it can be difficult for them to accept. If cash funds and experiences aren't on your wish list, either—or you'd rather the money go elsewhere—register for donations. This gives you something meaningful to point your guests to. By purchasing GlobalGiving gift cards, you and your guests can support causes that are important to you. Once purchased, you and your partner can allocate donations to the vetted, community-led charity (or charities) of your choice. Choose from charities dedicated to women and girls, animals, education, the environment, and more.

11. Include Upgrades

While curating a wedding registry begs the question of, what don't we have yet? you won't want to forget another crucial question: What do we already have that needs upgrading? Perhaps you have appliances that you've brought with you through every move since college. Maybe there are some items in your home that get great usage and could be swapped out. Consider if you should register for things like high quality bath towels, hand towels, and fresh linens. Guests will be happy to get you something they know you're sure to use.

12. Check Our "Most Popular Gifts" Collection

Perhaps your wedding registry is already created and attached to your wedding website, but you're unsure of what to put on it. For those who want to browse for ideas, we've curated specific collections right in our shop. Just click on "Shop," then hover your mouse over the "Collections" tab. There, you'll find specially made gift lists for specific categories. One such category is our "Most Popular Gifts." These are, point blank, the most popular gifts on Zola. Meaning, guests love giving them. If you're curious about bridging the gap between what you might want and what others may want to gift you, definitely give it a look. You can even view it by categories, like kitchen, bed & bath, and home.

For similar help filling out your registry, go to your registry overview and check on your wedding registry checklist.

13. Don't Count Out Other Retailers

Navigating online registries can be a bit confusing for guests. Even more so when you have several gift registries with several different websites and department stores. To ease this entire process, we've made it possible to add items from other retailers to your Zola wedding registry. That way, guests have no problem finding and buying everything you like.

If you can't find the exact item you want in our store, you can use a link from another website to add it to your list of gifts. Simply go to "Manage Registry" and click the large "+" sign above "add gifts." This should be right above your current registry items. From there, click "Add From Another Store." There you can either enter the URL of your desired item or install our "Add to Zola" button. With all of your wanted gifts in one spot, guests are less likely to settle for the first thing they can find.

14. Add Extra

Once you go through and add the main items you want to your registry, give it a once-over and consider adding a bit more. By that we mean, ask for extra of things that go fast. Items like sheets, towels, place settings, and glassware need more regular replacement than other items thanks to regular use.

If you asked for one set of monogrammed towels, ask for another. Double down on bedsheets and pillowcases. You won’t need them right away, but we guarantee you’ll be happy to have the spare sets down the line.

15. Consult Zola Experts and Tools

Not to pat our own backs too hard, but we’re kind of registry artists—we’ve seen it all, so we can help with it all. We can guide you along every step of your registry-making journey so that you choose gifts you really want and then actually receive those gifts.

Every Zola registry comes with:

  • A registry checklist (you have a lot going on—don’t forget a thing)
  • A registry advisor (Questions, comments, concerns? She’s got you covered.)
  • Free shipping and returns
  • Price matching
  • A 20% post-wedding discount
  • The absolute lowest cash fund fee possible (And, just so we’re clear, Zola doesn’t make any money from your cash funds. The fee goes to the money company people, not us.)

Making your wedding registry is a fun way to do some future planning with your future spouse. Get the absolute most out of yours by employing these fifteen insider tips to building your wedding registry. Need some similar tips for a bridal registry before your bridal shower? We've got you covered.

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