Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How the Wedding Registry Has Changed Since the 1960s

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Ah, the wedding registry. It's been a betrothed couple's best defense against multiple cake platters for nearly a century. And now, in the age of online registeries, it's a beneficial to the gifter as it is to the giftee—there is simply no faster, easier way to send off a present you know your friend or family member is going to love.

We chatted with Crate and Barrel director of consumer marketing Suzy Cirulis to see how the process has evolved since the 1960s, when C&B first opened their doors. Here's what she has to say about the decline of china, mother-in-law shoppers, and how to make the most of that gun thing they give you.

Has the wedding registry always been as popular as it is today?
Absolutely. When we began our registry decades ago, couples immediately responded to our registry experience and product assortment as a fresh, more affordable alternative to the more traditional department store registry experience.

How have wedding gifts and registries changed since Crate and Barrel opened in the '60s?
The biggest change has been in the decision making around the registry. In the '60s the bride would come in with her mother or mother-in-law (mother-in-laws are customers, too) to register. That still happens today, of course, but much more often, the couple makes all the choices and the parents are not involved in the process at all.

How has technology changed the way people shop for wedding gifts?
More and more, people are buying gifts online. Today, people rarely carry gifts to the event itself, so buying online makes it easy to shop and ship gifts directly to the registrants. And if the guest wants to bring the gift to the event, such as a shower, we're seeing many customers buy online and pick up in store, again making it more convenient. In addition to the gift giver, technology is changing the way people register and manage their registries. We've seen lots of our registrants use our mobile app for everything from scanning items in store and add them to their registry to checking and updating their registry.

Have the most popular gifts changed over the years?
For the most part, registries have always been about outfitting your home for the future. Cooking and entertaining have always been huge, but, over the past decade, we have seen more home furnishings and furniture make the lists. Many couples are blending existing homes, and already have some of the registry basics, so they also take the opportunity to register for special items like an espresso machine or a bar cabinet. We have also seen a trend towards more "casual" registries. Whereas formal china and crystal were more popular at one time, now people are looking for things they can use everyday in their more casual lifestyles.

Any advice for couples choosing items for their registry?
First, think long term. For example, while you may not have a table that seats 12 today, you might some day, so you will want to make sure to register for 10 to 12 placesettings. Second, take advantage of the experts. At Crate and Barrel, we have dedicated registry experts and special events where couples can get helpful advice. And third, look for a program that will make it easy for you to fill in anything you didn't receive, like a completion program that gives you a discount after your wedding day

· All Weddings Week coverage [Racked]