While the bulk of wedding gift registries is still run through big box stores, department and specialty stores, there is a growing segment of that industry that is utilizing the reach and specificity of on line communications. At one time considered somehow "tacky", on line gift registries have come into their own and have proven to be a real advantage to couples and their guests. It's easy to build an on-line registry. Your guests can shop from their homes (or phones), which is a huge convenience if they are out of town. You can select the items you want in stores and then list them on your e-registry. You can also list your registry on national sites like theKnot.com and weddingchannel.com if your chosen retailer has a partnership with those sites.
Once registered, you can log on to your site anytime to add, delete, or change preferences. You can also see what has already been purchased. Some sites will include the information about who ordered what. This will prove helpful when writing thank you notes. Gift enclosure cards do not always remain attached to the box containing the gift.
There are also new sites that specialize in "non-traditional" registry offerings. While there is still discomfort about "registering for money", some couples have been utilizing these sites. For couples who prefer to accumulate cash for a major purchase, there are depositagift.com and myregistry.com.
Whichever method you choose for your gift registries, remember that under no circumstances should those sites be included anywhere in your invitations. Depend on members of the wedding party and family to spread the word about your gift registry preferences. It is fine to place the information on the couples wedding website if they have created one for guests.
Don't forget that although gift registries now include non-traditional items, gifts for a lifetime are remembered most!