While stores like Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Williams Sonoma all offer great in-store and online wedding registries (you can read about the Best Stores to Register At here), if you want to add products from several different retailers (also known as a Universal Registry) chances are you’ll want to look into online wedding registry options that allow you to easily do that. Or maybe you want to skip that step altogether and instead opt for a more curated registry experience, allowing you to pick and choose items from a handcrafted selection. Thankfully more and more online registries are allowing you to do both, but how do you know which one is right for you? I tested out several online wedding registry options to help you decide, and wrote about the pros and cons of the best ones below.
Have you registered with any of these online options? Tell us what your experience has been like in the comments section!
TIP: Once you’ve set up your wedding registry, make sure you’re on track with our Wedding Planning checklist.
Amazon Wedding Registry
Pros: In terms of versatility, you get the benefit of registering for products from the thousands of well-known Amazon retailers (and get to see their product reviews BEFORE you register for it), and you also get the option to add items from other stores such as Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel with their Universal Registry. If wedding guests are Prime subscribers they’ll also benefit from free shipping.
Cons: If guests purchase an item from your Universal Registry (meaning a product that was added from another third-party retailer not associated with Amazon, such as West Elm), the guest is essentially just directed to that store and they have to purchase the item on that retailer’s site. You will also have to make sure that your shipping address is listed on your wedding website because Amazon does not reveal that information to your guests for all third-party purchases, which kind of sucks. After a guest makes a purchase they then have to go back to Amazon to confirm that it was purchased. One important note is that you might be charged for returns from some third-party sellers and merchants, and if you choose gifts using the Universal Registry then the returns will depend on that retailer. I think if I were to register on Amazon I would make sure I had a Prime account and only choose items from that list so I could get free returns. The last thing I’ll says is that I also think Amazon’s interface is not the prettiest, which sounds shallow but when you’re spending a lot of time and effort on things like your wedding website, invitations, etc. it’s nice to kind of continue that same experience.
Pros: The entire Zola wedding registry experience takes the hassle out of researching everything from bed linens to cutlery. They’ve done the hard work for you, and all you have to do is click on the items you like and BOOM. Done. It’s also a beautiful and pretty seamless wedding registry experience, which is great not only for you but for guests, who can sort items by price and group gifts. If you share the same taste as the Zola buyers (which I personally do) then registering on Zola is a no-brainer. You can also register for “experiences” such as cooking classes, as well as a Honeymoon and Cash Fund (something I think they do really well without it being tacky). Read our latest Zola wedding registry review here.
A huge bonus is that you can place the registry gifts on hold so they don’t ship until you give the go-ahead, which is great if you are in the process of moving or want to wait to get the gifts until after your honeymoon. They also offer free shipping for guests. Bonus? You can shop on Zola even if you don’t have a wedding registry (which I kind of want to), and you get a whopping 20% completion discount for up to 6 months after your wedding. That is the highest we’ve seen anywhere.
Cons: Zola, which is free to register for and use, does deduct a one-time 2.5% credit card processing fee from cash gifts, a cost which you can choose to personally pay or have guests pay for instead. However, this is standard practice and they do not make money from the fee (it’s also the lowest we’ve seen). While Zola has started working with partner wedding registry sites such as Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, and West Elm, guests do have to ultimately purchase those gifts directly from the partner sites instead of Zola (even though Zola does provide your address to try and make the process as seamless as possible). Buying directly from one of their partner sites means that you would not get the 10% completion discount, and you are bound to that individual’s store’s shipping or refund policies instead of Zola’s.
Click here to see how Zola works and get a $50 Zola credit!
Pros: Considering Wayfair has about a million products (literally, there are over 7 million) to choose from, this newcomer is a great option for those who want a ton of selection without the often frustrating universal wedding registry experience. To give you an idea of just how much inventory they have, a search for “blue” casual china yielded 315 results, almost all of which I loved. While a registry like Amazon will also yield a large number of products, Wayfair has a much more curated experience while still offering a TON of choices. In addition to great product roundups, I also really like their “From the Editors” section, which has surprisingly fun features like “Registry Hindsight: 20/20 Picks,” where two married bloggers share what they would redo on their wedding registry if they could (I’m getting some great content ideas here!). They also have a “Shop by Style” option (similar to what Amazon has) but I like their streamlined take on it a bit more, with style options such as “Farmhouse Chic,” “Modern Mix,” and “Bold and Colorful.” Bonus? There’s a 10% completion discount on all products leftover on your registry after the wedding.
Cons: This is definitely a product-based wedding registry, since there are no cash or honeymoon/experience options. You will also not be able to add gifts from outside stores like Pottery Barn and West Elm if you really want them. And while all gifts ship free if they’re being sent directly to the couple (no matter the price, which is great) if guests choose to ship a gift to themselves instead, it would have to be over $49 to ship free (but honestly in that case the guest would most likely just ship it to you, which is way easier for everybody involved).
Pros: Thankful is an online wedding registry that also offers a great selection of curated picks to make your life easier. However it is not fulfilled by them (like Zola) and it directs guests to the third-party site instead of the registry being contained all in one place. While that sounds like a con (and in some ways it is) it’s a much easier process than the Amazon wedding registry. That’s because they make it easier for the guest by displaying a pop-up that contains your shipping address, and then sends an email to them in order to confirm that they did in fact buy it, instead of the guest having to remember to go back and check off that it was fulfilled. I also had a question about how something worked and got an e-mail response almost right away. I love that.
Cons: While Thankful doesn’t charge a processing fee for cash contributions made, they do charge $30 for a 12-month subscription. I also think one major downside to their Universal Registry is that when you go to add an item from another store using their bookmarklet, the photo auto-populates for the item, but you then have to add in the product name, price, and description yourself. I really wish those fields could be auto-populated somehow like Amazon, Zola, and the sites below offer. Or if they’re looking to let you customize those fields they could give you the option to do that in lieu of the auto-populate (or have some version of both). I also selected a product from one of their curated selections to add to my registry and when I attempted to purchase and view the item as a guest it was sold out. I know that’s bound to happen but it then becomes a trickier experience for the guest, who would be able to see more clearly that an item is back-ordered or sold out on retail sites like Williams Sonoma and Crate & Barrel.
Pros: Simple Registry allows you to add a gift from anywhere…and the entire process is extremely easy. I added the Simple Registry bookmarklet (called the Simple Adder) and when I went to an online retailer and clicked the adder in my bookmarks bar all the product’s information was seamlessly added to my registry. As a guest the process was also easy, allowing me to buy it without hitch. Just when I thought someone had finally figured out the Universal Registry problem…
Cons: While the process is extremely easy, you’re not actually receiving the product you’ve registered for, but instead are just getting the cash your guest paid for it. There is also a 5% fee on all gift transactions as well as a 72-hour waiting period once you do decide to redeem your cash. While I love this site’s ease of use, as I stated above I can’t quite wrap my head around why you would want to go to all the work of registering for an item when you’re just going to have to go through the entire purchase process on your own in the end. However, if you are mostly looking to get cash vs. gifts or a bit of both, this is the best way to go about it. Though a part of me feels like you’re kind of duping guests who think they are paying for a set of dishes and instead are just ultimately giving you the cash.
Pros: This is easy to set up and easy to add products from various online retailers. You can also sync your existing wedding registries from other stores if you want to keep them in addition to your MyRegistry account, giving some guests the option to just go directly to your registry on those retailers’ websites if they still want to. As with most other online registries, you also have the option to set up a cash fund.
Cons: While MyRegistry does not charge a fee for cash transactions, they set up the transfer of funds via Paypal, which does. You can expect to have 2.9% +$0.30 per transaction (i.e. $3.20 for a $100 contribution to your cash gift account) deducted from each cash gift. And as is the case with most Universal Registries, guests will still be directed to the third-party site your gift is sold from and have to input your address before coming back to mark an item as fulfilled. Though thankfully they do have a pop-up which allows the guest to see your address and to remind them that they will have to come back to mark it as fulfilled.
Click here to read more about MyRegistry (to see a sample Wedding Registry click on the link at the bottom of their homepage)
So what’s the bottom line?
Deciding where to register online can be tricky, especially if you want to add to from multiple sources. I think you have to first figure out what you’re most interested in before deciding which of these online wedding registries will work best for you. If you want to register for several different brands of products but want guests to stay in one place, then Zola, Wayfair, and Amazon are going to be your best bets. If you’re looking for a Universal Registry I think the Thankful experience is easiest for guests, since it delivers reminders for guests’ every step of the way. If you want to keep your existing wedding registries but still offer guests an option to see all your items in one place, then MyRegistry might be the best bet. And if cash is your goal (but you don’t want to come right out and ask for it) than I would consider a site like Simple Registry.
Looking for a honeymoon gift? Check out our 4 favorite honeymoon wedding registries.