If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us in 2020, it’s that there is no one right way to navigate wedding planning during a pandemic. Confusing at best, so many of our couples have felt overwhelmed with questions. From renegotiating contracts to communicating a change in date with the right people at the right time, it all feels like a series of hurdles. However, confusion abounds not just for couples but for their guests, too, especially when it comes to appropriate wedding registry etiquette.

The reality is that couples today have many more wedding registry options. From traditional department stores to online services and even honeymoon or experience-based registries, the list goes on. Yet, even as technology changes, good manners never do. The rules of wedding registry etiquette still apply. 

Wedding websites have made it easier for couples to promote their wedding registry or registries. Providing guests with multiple registries is a great idea. This way, if you’re primarily interested in a more modern wedding registry to fund your honeymoon or a down payment on a house, there’s a registry for that. However, listing a more traditional wedding registry for guests (think Grandma and Grandpa or your parents’ friends) gives the option for guests to give you a physical item.

When it comes to etiquette, this is only the beginning. Follow along for answers to the most pressing wedding registry etiquette questions in the age of COVID-19.

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Wedding Registry Etiquette for Couples

As a couple, here are the most common wedding registry etiquette questions and solutions for you:

What should we do about our wedding registry if we postponed our wedding? 

If you’ve postponed your wedding, the good news is that most wedding registries allow you to adjust your date. Take this time to review your registry and update it with any items that you realize you do or do not need after this year of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.

What if we’ve downsized our guest list or un-invited guests due to COVID? 

The reality is your wedding registry is a wish list so even if you’ve downsized your wedding guest list, you don’t necessarily need to edit your registry. Most guests will be understanding about your need to create a more intimate celebration and manage social distancing. Even if they are no longer attending, those guests cut from the list may still like to send a gift. 

Should we mention our wedding registry on our invitations? 

While an invitation to a wedding is also an unspoken invitation to send a gift, mentioning the registry on your invites is one of the biggest wedding registry etiquette faux pas. Traditionally, where you register is spread by word of mouth through your family and bridal party. Today, however, it is appropriate and even expected to share registry info on your wedding website. Just remember to include the website address on your save the dates and or “details” card in your invitations. 

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Should we register for pricier items only? 

Good wedding registry etiquette is all about keeping your guests’ comfort and experience in mind. Including a range of registry items ensures that everyone can find something that you’ll love and they can afford. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t add some big-ticket items to your list! In fact, several online registries today allow you to register for items that your guests (such as work colleagues or family members) can band together to buy. Just be sure to balance out those luxury picks with some more moderately-priced options as well.

COVID has made us reprioritize what we need. Can we ask for cash? 

Asking for cash outright is another wedding registry etiquette faux pas. However, many registries today provide a great alternative. You can sign up for contribution-based items, such as a honeymoon, first house fund, or even stocks. If you go this route, be sure to also register for some physical items with a second registry as well. This way, guests can choose if they feel comfortable with a cash-only contribution or a physical gift (or maybe even both!).

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Do we still need to send thank you cards? 

Absolutely! Sending thank you notes is an essential and non-negotiable part of wedding registry etiquette, but it’s also about when you send them. Technically, you have up to a year to send thank you cards for wedding gifts. However, we recommend sending a thank you card within a month of a gift’s arrival. If you’ve postponed your wedding and wedding gifts arrive at various times, set time aside to respond to each gift promptly. That way, you won’t get behind on your thank-yous, and your guests will know how much you appreciate their generosity.

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Wedding Registry Etiquette for Guests

As a wedding guest, here are the most common wedding registry etiquette questions and solutions for you:

Should we purchase a gift for both the wedding ceremony and reception if they’re being held on different dates? 

Because of COVID-19, many couples have decided to hold two events – an intimate, micro-wedding celebration followed by a larger reception in 2021. While a gift is never an obligation, sending one is a nice gesture to recognize the couple’s wedding, especially if their big reception had to be postponed. We recommend sending a gift in recognition of their wedding ceremony, especially since they will likely be home using the gift. If you attend their reception at a later date, consider bringing a card or small monetary gesture, such as a gift card, if your budget allows.

If the wedding ceremony is virtual, are guests still expected to send a gift? 

Sending a gift is really about celebrating the couple—no matter how you attend. Gifts should never be about the price tag, but rather acknowledging the couple and giving them a send-off to their journey as a married couple, no matter how small or large. If purchasing something off of a wedding registry feels impersonal, a gift card or check will always be well received and is perfectly acceptable wedding registry etiquette. 

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Navigating Wedding Etiquette During COVID-19

At HauteFêtes, we know this unique season has drastically changed the wedding experience. There are so many questions, not just about wedding registry etiquette, but about wedding etiquette all together. That is why we are here. If you have any questions regarding how to plan, design, or navigate your wedding celebration now, please reach out to us today. We are eager to come alongside you and ensure your 2021 wedding is truly spectacular.