It's nice to let stores know you're coming in so, if possible, schedule an appointment with them. If for whatever reason you can't schedule ahead, don't worry about it. Most stores have incentives or a rewards program, like Bed Bath and Beyond. If your guests purchase a defined dollar amount of specific brands, you earn extra free gifts! We registered with Bed Bath and Beyond and were very pleased with their customer service. They also let guests send you wedding gifts off your registry for up to a year afterwards. Some may think that is an insignificant perk but we received a few gifts six months after our wedding. A year is not unheard of. For your one year anniversary they also give you a huge 50% off coupon. For these reasons (not to mention the amazing product selection) Bed Bath and Beyond is a popular store for wedding registration.
Target is another popular store many couples register with. I've heard brides complain that they don't have a good return policy, but that is false. Target was very helpful in returning all our gifts; with and without receipts. I think Target is a choice place to register with because of their wide selection of products and the affordable prices. Some other stores couples choose are Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, and Macy's. All are great choices.
Let your guests know where you are registred by including a insert with your annoucement. When I previously posted about announcements, I said not to include this on your actual announcement but with an insert. Stores usually give you inserts for your announcements or you can include your own.
It is important to keep in mind the guests that will be attending. A wedding should never be considered a gift grab by the bride and groom, but they are certainly nice to receive. Especially for those that are starting out with close to nothing, these gifts might be the only things you own. Certain stores like Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma are wonderful and top notch, but that often comes with a larger price tag. While some guests may be more than willing to splurge for you on your big day, others may be in need of a more moderate gift list. Just be sure you provide options that will fit the needs of the giver; be it the close family friend versus the distant work acquaintance, or the very wealthy versus the moderately budgeted.
Lastly is an idea that may be perfect for some and ridiculous for others. You may not want gifts at all, but cash or gift cards only. This type of request is somewhat rare but extremely useful in certain circumstances. I first became aware of it from a good friend. They requested that no gifts given because immediately after their wedding they were moving to Hawaii. The cost to try to ship or carry the blenders, toasters, pots and pans, dishes and glass, was going to far outweigh their value. Receiving gift cards and cash allowed them to simply buy everything they needed when they got to their hometown, saving them hundreds in unnecessary costs. Not many have situations exactly like this, but even if you were moving a large distance shortly after your wedding, all that extra bulk could add many hundreds to your moving expenses: larger moving truck, more gas consumed, possible damaged goods, etc. Instead you might consider minimizing the gifts so you can consolidate your possessions to your personal vehicle(s) only. This will greatly minimize overall costs and probably save a few strands of hair from the stresses of moving.
Obviously you don't have to register anywhere if you don't want to and leave it up to your guests to pick out great gifts. But it is nice to let your guests know what you are in need of, especially if you have been living together. I have been wedding shopping for couples and it takes me forever because they are either registered at one store and everything they want is out of my budget, everything they wanted is already fulfilled, or they don't register at all. So again, give your guests plenty of options. Hopefully I've been able to put some thoughts in your head that will help you make a wise decision in regards on your wedding registry. HAVE FUN!