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Store logos featuring bridal registriesWith all that brides and grooms have to do in planning their big day — this, finally, is the fun part!

And the best news is that signing up with a store registry has never been easier.

Today, many of the top department stores (and even Amazon) are now fully "wired" with online wedding gift registries.

That means that all the engaged couple has to do is complete a free sign-up form, pick the gifts they want, and let their wedding guests do the rest.

The result? A wedding gift is bought and paid for online in minutes - avoiding most of the hassle of duplicate gifts and returns. Many services even provide gift wrapping and a message at no extra charge.

[Note to gift givers: even the most well-known stores "drop the ball" occasionally, so the experts advise allowing enough shopping time before the wedding date to ensure against any last-minute glitches or possible returns.]

What to register for...

Register online, pick out the gifts you want,
and let your wedding guests do the rest.

Keep the wedding gift wish list to practical proportions like housekeeping items, dishes and cookware, but think about adding a few over-the-top items as well.

If you're into home entertaining, think about that high-end food processor you've had your eye on, or maybe a set of crystal glassware you can show off in the dining room.

Pick out at least one or two luxurious items that you've always wanted, or something that makes you feel special.

Why not? Hey! It's your wedding day!

Wedding registry timeline

Many couples begin thinking about registering with at least one store between a year to six months before the wedding.

If you are planning an engagement party before that, you may want to make sure that you're registered in case the guests want to start gifting you at the celebration At least six months before the wedding make sure you've register with at least one shop.

If you choice is not an online registry, make sure that it is accessible to your friends and family who live at a distance. Check you registry two to three months before the wedding to make certain that there are still plenty of gift options — in all price ranges — and if there aren't, add a few more items to the registry.

About a month before the wedding, you can start writing thank you notes for your early wedding gifts. It will make sending the thank you notes after the wedding much easier.

Send thank you notes for registry gifts that you received before the wedding, and save time later.

Gift registry etiquette

Although it is becoming more common, try NOT to include your registry information with your wedding invitation. It really is considered tacky, at best. It isn't considered polite to use your wedding invitation to suggest that your guests provide a gift — even if you know everyone will!

One way to get around this is to include the bridal registry information with your wedding shower invitation. Since the shower is clearly a gifting event, it is not out of line to let people know where you've registered.

In most cases, the shower and wedding lists will overlap. Simply tell all those people who are not being invited to the wedding shower(s) — or else anyone who asks — where you are registered and let them spread the word.

Registries online

Bridal registry giftSince most of the bigger wedding registries are online now, shopping for the perfect wedding gift has never been easier. There are also specialized web sites that bring many stores together to offer a wider range of products.

When you use an online registry have the list under both the bride and groom's names. If you have a common last name, add a middle initial or a nickname to make finding your wedding details easier for anyone shopping for a gift for you.

Remember, your guests don't need to buy a gift that's on the registry you have chosen. They can still shop around for better prices or for their own original wedding gift. The only drawback is that gifts will remain on the registry, or there will be a possibility of duplicate gifting. Again, make sure you are constantly updating your registry to make sure that doesn't happen.

Also remember that no matter how careful you are, you might still receive duplicate gifts. But no worries. Simply return the gift to the store where you're registered and ask for either a cash refund or an exchange.

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More about wedding registries around the Web:

Elsewhere around the Web, check out top resources and how to's for getting the best out of online gift buying services, along with direct links to popular online store wedding registries. .

More good news? You'll have at least one more wedding detail checked off your list ...

Bed Bath and Beyond Bridal Registry Williams-Sonoma Wedding Registry
Macy's Gift Registry Target Bridal Registry
Crate & Barrel Gift Registry Pottery Barn Wedding Registry


More wedding registry tips


10 Wedding Registry Do's and Don'ts - Here's an expert guide with planning advice, what not to register for, guidelines on price ranges, and related tips. - Registry - Find out how to register, and ideas on what to register for, including essential must-haves, and a list of the top online bridal registries with related resources.

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