A bridal registry is a service provided by a website or retail store to assist engaged couples in the communication of gift preferences to wedding guests. Selecting items from store stock, the couple lists desired items and files this list with the chosen merchant. The list is then made available to wedding guests, either by the couple's family or the merchant. Upon the purchase of a listed item, this gift registry is updated accordingly. In addition to providing valuable information for the buyer, the system helps prevent the receipt of duplicate or unwanted gifts, potentially saving time for both giver and recipient.
The practice of a bridal registry was first instituted by Chicago-founded department store Marshall Field's in 1924 at its Marshall Field and Company Building as a means for the engaged couple to indicate chosen china, silver and crystal patterns to family and friends. US-based Target stores were the first to introduce an electronic self-service gift registry in 1993, using a service provided by The Gift Certificate Center of Minneapolis. The technology was invented and subsequently patented by William J. Veeneman et al., the founder and CEO of The Gift Certificate Center.
In the past few years[when?] the traditional concept of the bridal registry has evolved. There are now more specialized versions such as honeymoon registry, house registry and charity registry. Additionally there are registry services that allow registrants to place items from many stores on a single registry (commonly referred as Universal Registries).
In the UK, bridal registries are more commonly known as 'Wedding Lists'. It is common for couples to send out a copy of their Wedding List details with their wedding invitations. There has also been a recent trend towards gift list services that allow the couple to add almost anything to their gift list—such as contributions to their honeymoon, flights or experience days, as well as traditional gifts from any store.
During the last couple of years[when?], bridal registries have become popular across Europe. Since an increasing amount of Europeans study or work abroad at some point in their life, European weddings tend to have international guests. European registry services account for this by being often multi-lingual.
- Star Tribune (Minneapolis - St. Paul): "Technology, bridal registry are joined together at Target" (1993-06-11)
- United States Patent and Trademark office Patent No. 5,754,981. (Enter patent number at: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PT01&Sect2=HITO)