You're the blushing bride-to-be, and as your wedding day approaches, remember there may never be another time in your life when you're lavished so lovingly in gifts. Take time from your wedding planning and create your ideal bridal registry. While creating a wedding registry may seem self-serving, it is actually a convenience to your guests. Through wedding gifts, friends and loved ones celebrate your wedding (and help you stock your home!). Having a registry eliminates the guess work.

Even if you would rather receive cash gifts, consider at least registering for a few traditional wedding gifts. Remember, some guests feel more comfortable giving a tangible gift. And don't worry if you are not the traditional china and crystal type - you can still create a bridal registry. Home Depot has become a popular option for couples, as well as registering for a honeymoon or other big ticket item.

Use this bridal registry guide for everything you'll need to know when making your wedding gifts wish list.

When to Register -

Aim to register at least 6 months before the big day. Remember, there may be engagement parties, showers and other pre-wedding festivities where gift-giving is appropriate. Help out your guests by providing them with some options.

How To Choose Your Stores -

Think about what stores you like and patronize frequently. If you will be creating a more traditional bridal registry, a good bet is choosing an all-inclusive department store for items like china, glassware and flatware and also choosing a home goods specialty store (Pier 1, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel etc.) There is no hard fast rule about the number of stores you can choose for your gift registry, but 2-4 is a good number. Before making your final selections, consider the store's wedding registry policies:

• Selection -
Does the store carry an array of items and price ranges? More importantly, do you actually like their selection?

• Service -
Does the store have a registry department or handle a lot of wedding registries? If so, you can expect the store to be knowledgeable and able to offer guidance and assistance along the way.

• Convenience -
What is the purchase process like for your guests? Does the store have locations that are convenient for the majority of gift-givers? Will your bridal registry be available online? Can your list be faxed? How long will the gift registry be kept active after the wedding? (technically, it should be at least one year)

• Updates -
How long does it take for a purchased item to be reflected on your bridal registry? How easy is it for you to make modifications to your list?

• Bonuses -
Many stores offer a completion program, allowing the bride and groom to purchase anything left on their gift registry at a discount.

What to Register For -

Again, there is no rule that says you have to fill your bridal registry with china and flatware. However, please remember that these wedding gifts will be with you for the rest of your life. Even if you are not the entertaining types and "dinnertime" takes place on the couch with paper plates, fast forward to holiday meals and social events of the future. It's a good idea to have at least a set of 12 matching place settings - whether formal or casual - so that you won't find yourself limited when it's your turn to host Thanksgiving.

Typical wedding registries are divided into: china (formal and everyday), stemware (formal and everyday), barware (formal and everyday), flatware (formal and everyday), linens, kitchen appliances and gift items.

Who Spreads the Word -

It is never appropriate for the bride and groom to include gift registry information with invitations. Registry information can, however, be included in other pre-wedding party invitations-since the bride and groom typically do not host those events. Tell your closest friends and family and anyone who asks where you are registered, and they will spread the word. If you have a wedding website, you can also post your bridal registry information there.