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How to Plan a Wedding

        Money | Financial Planning

Gifts and Parties

A wedding is all about fun stuff. And what could be more fun than giving everyone an excuse to have a party -- to put on clothes that rarely get worn, to get silly and sentimental all at once, and to hug anyone and everyone. There will be lunches, brunches, showers, cocktail events, bachelor and bachelorette festivities, and impromptu gatherings galore.

In addition to the parties, there will be gifts...lots of them. You and your fiance will receive presents big and small. To make sure you receive what you both truly need and want, you should register with at least one store. We will show you both how to tend to these final party and gift details. And remember, you can click on the links for worksheets to help you with each step.

Registering is time-consuming and can be slightly stressful because of the many decisions that need to be made. Physically, it's easy. You both simply go to the gift registry department at your favorite store and either fill out a massive checklist or use an electronic scanner to note items that you want. Then, the store will print out your complete wish list.

You both should seriously consider registering at several stores, maybe one that offers wonderful formal dinnerware, one that offers gorgeous furniture and housewares, and one larger superstore where you can register for electronics, gardening supplies, or any little thing your heart desires. That way, you both are sure to hit all of your wishes and all of your guests' price ranges.

On the subject of gifts, perhaps the greatest gift of all is the honeymoon -- something you and your fiance give to each other -- and something most newlyweds need and want more than anything. After months of planning, negotiating, and compromising, you both deserve a special and memorable getaway. After all, once you both return home, it's back to reality.

Creating the Gift Registry

Registering for gifts is fun and functional. As for the fun part, what better way to spend an afternoon than jotting down hundreds of things you both wish you owned. As for functionality, registering ensures that you actually receive things you need. Registering also keeps duplicate gifts at a minimum...unless you both really want four gravy boats?

At every store you both register, you will receive a printout of your registration that details all selected items, style numbers, and desired quantities. If you care to know your gift status at any given time, you both can request an updated printout that will list all items and quantities purchased thus far. Some stores also have Web sites that let you check the up-to-the-minute status of your list.

Before heading off to register, go through the following list together and take note of the general categories that deserve special attention. Think of particular items that you both need in each category, and jot them down on a piece of paper.

  • Formal dinnerware
  • Informal dinnerware
  • Formal flatware
  • Informal flatware
  • Serveware
  • Casual glassware/barware
  • Crystal
  • Bar needs
  • Kitchenware
  • Linens
  • Decorative items
  • Electronics

Duly Noted

Every gift -- big or small, expected or not -- should be followed up with a thank you card. To make the process easier, keep a good wedding gift record from the start that includes the name of the giver, the gift, and an area for you to check off when you've sent a thank you note.

The note should be sent as soon as possible, so you both want to try to keep up with this as the gifts arrive. Because you'll likely be writing many notes, keep them brief. You are not obligated to send an entire letter. Simply begin by thanking the person for the gift, move on to a sentence about how the two of you will use the gift, mention how happy you are that this person could attend the shower or wedding, and close with a second and final thank you.

Showers

Legend has it that bridal showers began when a poor Dutch miller wanted to marry a woman whose father forbade the union and refused a dowry. The miller's friends decided to shower the couple with everything they needed to begin a life together.

Today, the bride can expect anywhere from one to many showers. Showers can have themes, such as kitchen or honeymoon; they can be of a personal nature, with gifts centered on lingerie and bath items; or they can simply be friendly gatherings with gifts purchased according to the couple's registry list. A popular trend is a couples shower, where the engaged couple attends together and the guest list includes other couples.

Each person or couple who throws a shower should receive a special thank you letter, something a little more intimate than the usual thank you card. You both may also choose to offer hosts and hostesses a small gift -- a token of your appreciation. This could be a bouquet of flowers, a plant, a meaningful book, a special bottle of wine, or any other personal gift. Bridesmaid Party

Some brides like to hostess a bridesmaid party. This is a wonderful way to show your appreciation or their support, love, and help before, during, and after the wedding. It's also a great way for out-of-town attendants to meet everyone else before the Big Day.

Post-Wedding Party

The post-wedding party, held the day after the reception, probably began spontaneously because of out-of-town guests with time on their hands. Today, it is a very popular idea and well on its way to becoming a tradition. This event is usually hosted by the bride's mother, the groom's mother, or both mothers together.

The event can be brunch or lunch and includes anyone you both care to invite, but it especially includes out-of-town guests. The bride and groom may or may not attend, depending on personal preferences and/or the honeymoon schedule.


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