how to create a wedding registry that doesn't suck

Wedding registries can be a lot of fun to compile if you and your fiancé don’t already have most of your household essentials. But it’s oh-so-easy for a traditional registry to get out of control and suddenly filled with tons of unnecessary items you didn’t even need (gravy boats, anyone?).

The good news is that it’s easier than ever to create a wedding registry that doesn’t suck. It’s totally possible to ask for and receive items you actually want that will get plenty of use! Here’s how:

First, sit down with your fiance and start making a list of what you envision yourselves putting to use in your new home. Ignore what you think is “supposed” to be on a registry, and stick with items you can see yourself getting use out of for years (preferably decades!) to come. No, you don’t need to register for expensive china that will only gather dust. But you may consider registering for camping gear, tools, or something else a little more nontraditional if it’s a better fit for your lifestyle.

For items you decide you genuinely need, this is a good time to do a little research and choose something of high quality that is sustainably made.

Alternatively, you may decide that you don’t actually need more “stuff,” and would prefer cash or gift cards instead. Some couples even ask their guests to donate to a designated charity instead of giving gifts.

Once you’ve made your personal list, choose the registry format and platform that is the best match. Here are a few top-rated choices to consider:

Zola – An all-in-one site for your wedding website, registry, and more, Zola offers group gifting, price matching, free shipping, and other great perks for couples and guests alike.

Thankful – Add items from any online or in-store retailer, alongside experience gifts, cash funds, or charity donations. Most registries take a cut of cash gifts or earn a commissions, but Thankful charges a one-time fee instead — which translates to zero advertising or pushing you to register for certain items you don’t need. – Like Thankful, this option allows you to add items from any store (or upload separate store registries into one place) but without the one-time fee. Super convenient, though less aesthetically pleasing than Thankful.

Tendr – If you’d prefer to receive cash rather than stuff, Tendr is a simple way for your guests to send money your way.

R.E.I. – Yes, outdoor enthusiasts can create a wedding registry at R.E.I.! This is a perfect option if adventure is a big part of your relationship.

Honeyfund – In lieu of gifts, Honeyfund allows your guests to help you pay for a honeymoon. This is a great option for couples who have everything they need at home, but may not have the budget to take a nice post-wedding trip.

Card Avenue – Guests can choose from a slew of gift card options rather than specific items. This takes the stress out of planning an itemized list and lets you spend the cards on your own time after the wedding as you discover what your lifestyle really needs. – Select a charity and invite guests to make donations in your honor rather than purchasing gifts.