What to Know About Wedding Registries During COVID-19

In confusing times such as these, it’s expected for couples planning a wedding to feel overwhelmed with questions. From renegotiating contracts to figuring out the safest way to move forward, the process is about solving one problem at a time. But it’s not just couples—their guests also need clarity on certain etiquette. This probably holds most true when it comes to gifts, particularly, the registry.

Since applying traditional etiquette in the current climate would be futile, we turned to experts Kelley Carter and Emily Forrest for answers to the most pressing wedding registry questions (for both couples and guests!) in the age of COVID-19.

Meet the Expert

  • Kelley Carter is the home fashion director at Bloomingdale’s. With a background in editorial, she previously held positions at O Magazine, Real Simple, and Refinery29.
  • Emily Forrest is the director of communications at Zola and has been with the company for more than four years.

Wedding Registry Etiquette for Couples

Postpone your wedding? Downsize your guest list? It’s no secret that COVID-19 has introduced new etiquette dilemmas. Below, what you need to know as a “corona couple.”

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

“The good news is that guests still want to celebrate love, which includes sending gifts,” says Forrest. “According to Zola data, about 90 percent of wedding guests are planning to give a wedding gift no matter what, even if the couple has to reduce their guest list or go virtual. Take this time at home to make some registry updates like adding a variety of price points and a few unexpected gifts that are more popular than ever before like a grill, patio furniture, or even a breadmaker.”

What should couples do with their registry if they have downsized their wedding guest list?

“If a couple downsized their wedding guest list, they don’t necessarily need to edit their registry as it is a wish list,” says Carter. “There will be guests who were cut from the list and would still like to send a gift.”

How do I un-invite guests?

“It’s a nice gesture to send a personal note to guests, even if it’s a copy and pasted message letting them know you’ve decided to downsize to comply with local social distancing recommendations,” says Forrest. “If you’re downsizing from 300 guests to 10, a larger email is definitely okay.”

The majority of couples are notifying people through wedding websites. It really depends on how many people you’ve invited and how many people you have to uninvite, but it’s best to do it in the most personal way you realistically can.

When is it appropriate to share a link to our registry?

“It’s appropriate to share the website URL on all wedding-related communication, and that includes change the date cards or reception only invitations,” says Forrest.

Should we register in-person or online, and is the online experience the same as registering in person?

“What’s great about Bloomingdale’s is that we’re meeting customers at their comfort level and giving couples the option of registering in-person or online,” says Carter. “There’s still that level of personalization for either option, as we offer both virtual and in-store appointments with our Bloomingdale’s registry consultants. These registry experts can guide couples on how they can navigate the registry process during these changing times, and answer any questions that come up.”

Wedding Registry Etiquette for Guests

As a wedding guest, you likely have lots of questions right now. Our experts answer your most pressing queries, below.

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

“A gift is never an obligation but it’s a nice gesture for the couple who expected to celebrate with loved ones this year,” says Forrest. “It’s about acknowledging the couple and their special event, and not about the price tag. I recommend guests send their wedding gift for the first event because this is when couples are at home and would be so excited to receive a special surprise even if their big reception had to be postponed. It would also be a lovely gesture to send something small or even just a card on the new reception date if the budget allows.”

Forrest is in complete agreement: “In my opinion, I think that you should buy a couple a gift no matter what happens,” she says. “Send a small gift on the original wedding date—it’s [an important] day in their mind even if they didn’t get to celebrate how they planned. Couples are at home and they are using gifts, and we’ve even seen couples buying themselves gifts off their registry. Buy a gift sooner rather than later, and, if possible, buy two gifts: a bigger one on the original date and then a smaller one on the postponed date.”

Should we send a gift if we are only attending virtually?

“[Gifts are] about celebrating the couple—no matter how you attend,” says Forrest. “It’s ok for those 200 [guests] streaming to send a gift that’s less expensive, but the gift isn’t about the price tag. Send anything, even if it’s flowers or a bottle of Champagne.”

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