A bridal registry is a service offered by department stores to newlywed couples. This is a system that allows a couple to manage and keep track of the purchases of gifts for their wedding.
A Chicago-founded department store pioneered the institution of offering bridal registries as a service for newlywed couples. Since then, the concept has turned into a popular service of many department stores. This service is also offered by large home-improvement retailers.
The bridal registry begins with a list of items the couple wishes to receive as wedding gifts, made from the items available in the participating stores. This list is then provided to their wedding guests.
There are different ways of implementing this service that allow participating stores to provide the couple's wish list to their guests and to assure effective management of the wedding gifts. Some registries track more details than others.
Each participating department store updates its list as a gift is purchased, and the item is then removed from the couple's wish list. This prevents the guests from giving the couple more than one of the items on the list.
Bridal registries can be greatly efficient for the couple to be married. It is also convenient for guests who usually have a difficult time making a decision about what to buy for the newlyweds.
Bridal registries, though very popular, are not always well-received. Some people perceive it as a modern practice done in bad taste. This is especially true when it comes to older, more traditional guests. Soliciting gifts negates the traditional notions on gift-giving that many people still value so dearly.
The use of bridal registries also does away with some traditional gift-giving concepts such as "being thankful for whatever you receive" and the surprise element, which many still enjoy. Moreover, many people view bridal registries as a type of competition because prices of the presents are known. This also has led to the more controversial practice of couples asking guests to give money instead of presents.