Now that you’re engaged, it’s time to look at setting up your gift registry as part of the planning process. You don’t want to wait too long, because it’s a win-win for both the couple and your guests. The idea behind this concept is to provide a way for your family and friends to help in setting up your married life. Originally, when more people lived at home, or got married fresh out of college, they needed to build an entire household, including china, linens and flatware. As times changed, now it’s a chance for the two of you to suggest items that will create your new life chapter. Because more couples live together beforehand, many basic wants might upgrade to other specific pieces, or even experiences. For guests, that means a greater flexibility in choosing something suitable, from a variety of sources and price points. Another practical aspect is avoiding the duplication of gifts. Making use of a gift registry can be mind-boggling at first, but by following a few guidelines, your stress level will be greatly reduced. Take Stock. When planning to create your registry, look over what you have first and then build on that. Make sure you and your partner take inventory of what you already have. After all, this should be a joint selection. If the essentials are in place, then decide about other things you’d like to see in your future home. There are no hard and fast rules, but the most common areas mentioned are the kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom and outdoors. However, you can register for anything you like; you’re not limited to traditional items. Get Started Early. Although your invitations are sent two months before the Big Day, it’s better to register anywhere from four to eight months ahead of the wedding day. This ensures enough time for guests to make selections, and send gifts for any pre-nuptial events, such as bridal showers. Starting early enough also allows you to edit your listings, should things change along the way. Where to go? That’s straightforward — you can use major retailers like Target, IKEA, Crate & Barrel, Macy’s and online sources such as Amazon.com and MyRegistry.com. But don’t depend on the online segment only. It’s a safe bet to pick two or three major retailers, and one online option. Make a point of going into a brick-and-mortar outlet to see, feel and touch the items you’ll be scanning. It’s not enough to rely on photos or descriptions alone. If there’s a local retailer that you had in mind, ask if there is a registry option. Keep the Giver in Mind. When planning to create your registry, look over what you have first and then build on that. Make sure you and your partner take inventory of what you already have. After all, this should be a joint selection. If the essentials are in place, then decide about other things you’d like to see in your future home. There are no hard and fast rules, but the most common areas mentioned are the kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom and outdoors. However, you can register for anything you like; you’re not limited to traditional items. Take Stock. Remember, this isn’t all about you [not really]. It’s for your guests to get a feel for who you are as a couple. That’s why you want to have three levels to pick from: high-end, mid-level and lower-tier. That gives a wider range of affordability options. Select items that you know you’ll use, either now or in the future. Don’t get giddy with wanting luxury items that your guests aren’t likely to purchase. This is not an ultimate “wish list,” but a chance to bring out your style as a couple, along with putting your lives in place after the “I Do’s” are said. What’s In It For Me? Besides registering your preferences, many places have perks for the nearlyweds. For example, if you go to a Bed, Bath and Beyond Rock your Registry event, you’re in line for a goodie bag. Also, register with Crate & Barrel, and you’ll receive two stemless wine glasses in an embroidered linen bag. Keeping Track. Make use of phone apps to manage your registry. Check with your retailer to see if there is a mobile option; more than likely, there is one, and is easy to download. Other apps like Wedding Scan allow you to scan barcodes from any store to add to the registry. Pic2shop is another similar barcode scanner. All in One Place. Jump into the 21st century with universal registry capabilities. That means you can add items from any website into your registry, which is a huge plus. Keeping all your requests in one place makes it easier for you and your guests. Three of the more popular sites right now are MyRegistry.com, Amazon Wedding Registry and Blueprint. Taking the Alternate Route. What if you already have what you want in the needs of housekeeping? You may have been together for a while and have established what works for you. This may be an encore wedding, where a blending of two households takes place. You might think past the gift box and want less “stuff” and more fun in the form of experiences. Or, your philanthropic vein swells at the thought of charitable causes. Whatever your fancy, there is a registry to satisfy your needs. Charitable registries such as SoKind and Blueprint promote the idea of guests making donations rather than purchase traditional items. Besides, these donations usually are tax-deductible. At SoKind, not only donations, but handmade, experience and day-of event options are featured. Consider asking guests to donate to a no kill animal shelter or help to Wish Upon a Wedding, where they will be helping grant weddings and vow renewals to couples facing serious illness and life-altering health circumstances. Hankering for a new home, or want one-of-a-kind honeymoon memories? There’s a registry to fulfill your dreams. At Honeyfund, for example, you build your own fund registry for a honeymoon, a day trip, spa experience, or something unique for the two of you. Your shelter dreams can become more real when you use a registry like Feather the Nest, an online gift registry for real estate needs. You can fund your down payment, home improvement or furniture on the site. The site allows anything home related. Never include info about your registry on any wedding announcements, invitations, or save-the dates. That is considered very poor etiquette and is frowned upon. The better way is by word of mouth — you know, your mom, your friends and family members. They’ll keep spreading it out for you. In addition, it’s OK to mention your registry on your personal wedding website. After your wedding day has passed, it’s a good idea to keep your registry open for six months after the wedding, just in case there are any post-wedding day gifts, which happens. Another aspect is many websites offer discounts to purchase items left in your registry, known as “completion offers.” Typically, it’s a 10 to 15 percent discount that holds for six months after the wedding day. Individual sites have their own policies to follow. And last, but not least, is the essential task of thank-you notes. There is no getting around this, and as a couple, you are obligated to show gratitude for the generosity of your guests and family. Etiquette strongly recommends that the notes be handwritten, adding a personal touch, showing that you paid attention. This should never be done on social media, except for a general “Thanks” on your website, in addition to individual replies. As you prepare to enjoy your Big Day, always remember that showing appreciation never goes out of style.