A wedding registry (also known as bridal registry) is a gift registry used for weddings. Wedding registries are offered by department stores, specialty retailers (mostly housewares) as well as by independent registry services on the internet. Registry services are a way to coordinate gift preferences of the bridal couple and the gifts of wedding guests in order to avoid unwanted or duplicate wedding gifts.
The wedding registry was invented by Chicago department store Marshall Field’s in 1924. Its purpose was to display the wedding couples choice of china patterns, glassware and other household items. In 1993 US department store Targets presented the first electronic wedding registry as a self-service terminal within its chain stores. Today most wedding registries are internet-based, making it possible for wedding guest from all over the country to access a bridal couples wedding registry. Especially wedding registries from European registry companies are by now available in many different languages, accommodating the increasing amount of weddings with international wedding guests.
Proprietary Wedding Registries
When department stores or specialty retailers offer wedding registries to their customers, those usually are free-of-charge, but proprietary wedding registries. Wedding couples can only include items found within the product portfolio of the retailer offering the wedding registry.
Universal Wedding Registries
An increasingly popular alternative to proprietary wedding registries are the so called universal gift registries. These registries are usually offered by independent internet services that allow the bridal couple to include any gift they could possibly wish for in their wedding registry. Because the service provider of the universal wedding registry is usually not making a profit on the sale of goods and services on the wedding registry, most universal registries charge some form of service fee.
Alternative wedding registries are a major trend within the registry business. As people tend to get married later in life, more and more couples prefer setting up a wedding registry with charitable donations instead of gifts. Also an increasing number of bridal couples register for a honeymoon or other non-traditional gifts, such as donations towards the purchase of a family home or an education. Most alternative wedding registries are cash gift registries, meaning the registry service forwards the cash equivalent of wedding gifts to the bridal couple, usually for a flat service fee or commission based on the value of the gifts made.