Can We Have a Wedding Registry If We’re Eloping?

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Wedding bells are in your near future, but you’ve opted for a simple ceremony. Instead of stressing about seating charts for hundreds of people, trying to get a diverse group of bridesmaids to agree on a dress and fielding requests from guests to amend your dinner menu, you’ve decided to elope.

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This move will almost definitely lower your stress level, allowing you to really enjoy the planning process. Whether it’s just the two of you at city hall or a small group of your nearest and dearest jetting off to a favorite destination, eloping can help ensure your wedding actually feels like it’s about the two of you.

It can also allow you to save a lot of money, considering the average cost of a wedding is $28,000, according to The Knot 2021 Real Weddings Study. However, despite the nontraditional nature of your nuptials, you’re still interested in having a wedding registry. Here’s what the etiquette experts say about having a wedding registry when you elope.

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How To Handle a Registry When Eloping

Before creating a registry, you’ll want to make sure doing so isn’t in poor taste. You’ll be happy to know, Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, said it’s fine to do so.

“Couples who elope are absolutely allowed to have wedding registries,” she said. “But, just like couples who have guests attend their weddings, this information is not shared until someone asks for it.”

Traditionally, she said when someone is invited to a wedding, they feel so honored that they want to give the couple a gift to show their well wishes. However, she said people don’t actually have to attend your nuptials to want to celebrate you.

“Even when family and friends are not included in the special day, some will still want to wish the couple well and will inquire about a registry,” she said. “Generally, couples who elope tend to receive fewer gifts than those who issue invitations.”

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“These announcements will prompt some family and friends to give gifts,” she said. “If the couple is looking for gifts, they may host a celebration after the elopement or even for their 1st anniversary.”

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Karen Cleveland, an etiquette expert and co-author of “The New Wedding Book: A Guide to Ditching all the Rules,” agreed that it’s perfectly acceptable to have a wedding registry if you elope, as long as you’re low-key and gracious about it.

“For couples who choose to elope — bravo — people might want to send you a gift and ask where you are registered, so by all means, register if that’s what you want to do,” she said. “But, don’t blast out your registry as if you expect gifts.”

Instead, she recommended telling a few people in your life that you’ve registered, in case anyone asks. This way, they can pass your registry information along in a tasteful manner.

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Chances are, you won’t be the only couple in your family or social circle opting to elope in the near future. More than half — 62% — of engaged couples are open to considering a scaled-back elopement style wedding, according to a 2022 survey conducted by Helzberg Diamonds.

Therefore, while this topic is currently a bit of a gray area, it may soon become less ambiguous as more couples decide to elope. Enjoy your intimate wedding, and if people ask about giving gifts, don’t hesitate to share your registry.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.
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