(Closed) Buying Gifts On vs Off Registry?

posted 9 years ago in Gifts and Registries
Post # 17
1866 posts
Buzzing bee

I think there’s a bit of confusion in the wording here – OP asked if people bought gifts “on or off” the registry, and a lot of people are saying “off the registry” when I know they mean they are USING the registry.  Just wanted to point that out for OP.

In my case, I have never and probably will never purchase a gift that is not on the couple’s registry.  I feel that if they wanted something else, they would register for something else.  Now that I am engaged and have my own registry, it would bug the crap out of me if someone got me something that wasn’t listed on my registry when there were plenty of items still left on my registry.

Post # 18
9541 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

I’ve done both but for people that I’m close to I usually buy off-registry. I either buy things that aren’t going to be duplicated (tea from a hillside we visited in Thailand along with pictures of us picking tea leaves) or let the couple know what I’m doing so they can block it on the registry. For example my fiance and I were going to the Czech Republic last summer about a month before we attended a friend’s wedding. So we found some low ball glasses on their registry to get an idea what style they like. They we called and told them we wanted to get them Czeck crystal (they’re known for it). They loved the idea, took the low ball glasses off the registry and we picked glasses similar to the style they originally picked. Worked out great. In fact we did the same thing for iced tea glasses for another friend who was getting married several months after that. This may be Too Much Information, but I also bought a really expensive sex ramp thingy for my best friend’s wedding that was definately off-registry (we are college friends and took a Human Sexuality class together, so it kind of fit) !

Post # 20
842 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I think you’d have to know your friends REALLY well in order to buy them something similar to an item from their registry, but not exactly the same.  And you should include a gift receipt in case they choose to exchange it.

For myself, getting non-registry gifts that are close to what I registered for has just been frustrating.  I had one friend who I love dearly, that bought me 3 different things for my shower that were similar to items I registered for and it drove me a little nuts.  Her present, a gift basket, was incredibly sweet.  But at the same time, I now have a pot that doesn’t quite match the rest of my new pots and pans; an extra set of bamboo cooking utensil (had already registered and received a set); and 4 bowls in 2 sizes which I don’t understand exactly what to do with.  Are they mixing bowls?  They’re not nested sizes.  They’re just kind of random and don’t match anything I own.  And I’d already registered for a set of nested mixing bowls, which I received. 

Post # 21
4753 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

On registry always… it might be more fun for you the buyer, but it isn’t necessarily so for the reciever when you either get duplicates or something you straight up don’t like.

Post # 22
2819 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

I would be mad. Unless you were a REALLY close friend who knew my personal taste better than me, had an intimate knowledge of the layout/vision for my home, and included a gift receipt. Registries exist for a reason.

Post # 23
1844 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

  I normally stick to the registry. I think that way, you’re safe, you can hopefully avoid duplicates, and I know that they will like what I get. My exception to this rule would be if I was creative/crafty. For example, we have a family friend who is a quilter. If we would receive a quilt for a gift, I would be head over heels. If you’re artistic like that, then that’s awesome! I’m not, so I just stick with the registry :-).

Post # 24
364 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2012

interesting article related to this thread!



As a young bride-to-be, it never occurred to Jodi R.R. Smith to put a pitcher on her wedding registry.

But one turned up unsolicited amid the other gifts.

“At the time I thought it was lovely enough,” recalled Smith, of Marblehead, Mass. “The giver had taken the time to look at my wedding crystal and found something that would match it well.”

Still, Smith doubted she’d get much use out of it. But now, more than 15 years later, she says, “I love the pitcher. We use it anytime we can. It looks beautiful on our table. We have used it for orange juice during brunch, water and sodas for lunch, and even as a decanter for red wine.”

And so it often goes with those surprise wedding gifts, the ones you didn’t register for and don’t quite know what to do with. Give that vase or griddle or gadget a chance, and your reaction might just change from “What am I going to do with this?” to “I can’t live without it.”

But is it polite to give the bride something she didn’t ask for? Yes, according to etiquette experts.

“Invitations are not invoices,” said Smith, who runs Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Registry information is a suggestion.”

Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute, which is named for her great-great-grandmother, agreed. “It is always fine to purchase a wedding gift off-registry,” said Post. “The choice of a gift is always up to the giver.”

On the other hand, said Post, registries make it easy to figure out what people want and need, “especially in an age when people may have a household already or are merging two households together.”

And if you’re considering going off-registry, you might look at the list anyway to help guide your choice.

“You do want to think about what the couple might actually like,” said Post. “I know that sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at people who buy something they themselves would like,” instead of considering the couple’s interests and tastes.

Going off-registry may be especially appropriate for those who know the couple extremely well.

“It is one thing for my cousin or a work colleague to purchase from the registry,” Smith said. “But I would expect my sister or my college roommate to choose something special.”

If possible, though, consider including a receipt so the item can be exchanged if it’s really not to their taste or in case they get duplicates, Smith said.

Post # 25
4192 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry

I almost always buy a gift from the registry or cash. Only exceptions- if it’s a shower gift, for example, and I need a little something extra to pad it, I’ll add a kitchen towel, etc.- something I know will be used. (Did this for the last shower I went to, and when we visited them the towel was hanging in the kitchen, so I felt pretty good about it.)

Post # 27
364 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2012

View original reply
@elysion:  Great! Glad it worked out 🙂

Post # 28
67 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I buy something on the registry but accompany it with something smaller that goes along with it and that I think they will like, to personalize it a bit.  Buy a cooking pot, give them spices or a cookbook, get cocktail glasses, buy a recipe book or fun accessories like plates or napkins, etc. I always include a receipt just in case, and frankly I’ve never asked a gift receiver if they use or return my gift (why make it awkward?).

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