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Ask Team Practical: Wedding Gifts and Registries


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Wedding Gifts and Registries | A Practical Wedding

One of our biggest dilemmas is what to do about a Wedding Gift List. My fiancé and I have always thought that writing a list of ‘wants’ and demanding stuff is completely opposed to our shared values. None of our family and friends are wealthy, and when we’re asking people to travel to the middle of nowhere for our wedding (mid-Wales—might as well be the moon for most people!) it seems pretty cheeky to then demand that they spend £50 on a casserole dish.

However, producing a gift list seems to be the expected thing to do (in the UK, at least; might be different in the States?). Our parents have said that a gift list actually reduces a lot of stress for our guests and also ensures that we don’t get any unwanted presents, which I suppose means less waste.

We do not want to ask for money, and the only other alternatives I can think of are either saying ‘no gifts’ or asking people to donate to a charity of our choice. This seems like a sensible option, but I think many of our guests would like to give us something that we can cherish and use in our new family.

Perhaps this is a fairly minor concern, given some of the massive issues you deal with on this site! It does, however, feel important to get right, so that we also make sure that present giving is as easy (and cheap) as it can be for all our family and friends. Any thoughts or experiences from Team Practical and readers would be great!

Thank you,

Emma

Dear Emma,

Your parents are right! While at one time it would’ve seemed odd (or even rude) to pick out a list of items for your guests to buy you, these days, registries (what “gift lists” are called in the States) are meant to help your guests. No one wants you to end up with six green blenders (especially if you already have a blender and your kitchen is yellow). I understand your well-meant concern for your guests’ wallets, but honey, they’re grown-ups. They get to decide how much they do or don’t spend on you. For many of us married old-heads (especially those who were once young and poor ourselves), it’s a treat and a privilege to spend a chunk of cash helping our friends get started in their marriage. The best you can do is choose a selection of things you need in many price ranges and then let them give what they like. Even if you don’t have a registry, chances are that your friends are going to be generous to you.

Of course, your guests have the option of foregoing the registry if they don’t like it, but many of them may find it helpful in knowing what you need and how they can help. As Meg has written before, creating a registry allows your friends and family to help build the home around your marriage. That’s a pretty nice thought, right? And you may find that you’ll remember those friends and family members later when you use those everyday objects—the whisk from Aunt Sue and the ironing board from your college roommate. By allowing your friends to give you gifts, you allow them to tangibly help build your future and create special memories to attach to ordinary things. Making a list of things you need only makes that gift-giving process easier for them!

*****

This seems like a silly question to ask, given some of the big problems and deep insights that often come up in this column, but here goes: What should we do with wedding gifts we don’t like? They all have sentimental value as tokens of our loved ones’ good wishes, but our small apartment just doesn’t fit several pieces of art that are not our style, not to mention all the sentimental tchotchkes that are cute or pretty but that we have no place to put. Some of the more practical things I might return or regift—picture frames, far too many pie plates—but the art, or the silly little things with our names on them really feel like things we should keep, even though they don’t at all go with our decor and we wouldn’t have space for them, if they did. I also have a memory of my mom indicating a wedding gift she had received decades earlier and saying “I thought that was such a dumb gift when we first got it, but it’s meant more and more to me through the years,” which makes me worry that if we do get rid of anything, we’ll regret it in the future. Will it be the appliances and dishes that I love so much now that seem boring in twenty years while the more unusual and personalized gifts, while not my style, come to be more meaningful? Even if so, what does that mean for my limited storage and display space now?

-Apartment Won’t Fit Useless Loot

Dear AWFUL,

Again with you guys minimizing the gift questions! Gifts are important, people! Especially when you have limited apartment space and a lot of generous friends.

Those picture frames and pie plates that you’re willing to re-gift are no less special than the tacky art or knick-knacks, are they? Right. So why the hesitation in parting with these certain things? Because they have your name on them? My high school gym shorts had my name sharpied on the inside. It didn’t make them more precious, I can tell you that.

If you have a spare bit of space in a closet, under a bed, or behind a sofa, consider stacking all of these wonderfully thoughtful but terribly tacky gifts together, out of sight. Next time you move or spring clean or are looking for an extra laundry quarter, you may happen upon them with more of an objective perspective. Or, speaking of your mother, put them in a box marked “wedding gifts” and stick them in her garage, to find later. Sometimes we need space from objects before we can really assess if they’re meaningful or not. If I give myself a year or so, I often have an easier time sorting what to keep and what to throw out.

Your mom is right—you may be surprised at what little trinkets have gained value to you over time. But, if you purge these things, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t miss them. There won’t be some day in ten years when you wistfully remember that portrait of Fluffy that Cousin Fred had commissioned. While the items you keep may gain value, the ones you ditch probably won’t be missed. If you’re on the fence about anything, keep it and see how you feel about it later (see: above, behind the couch or in Mom’s basement). This goes double for anything that isn’t really your style but is high quality or conversely, anything that’s just flat-out weird (weird tends to just get more fun with age). Anything that smacks of ugly or tacky, pass right on.

That said, keep in mind why these gifts are meaningful—because of the people who gave them, when and why. If this ceramic figurine of a bride is the only thing that Great-Great Grandma has ever given you, sure. Consider keeping it to remember Great-Great Grandma. But chances are that each of these loved ones probably have given you other gifts. Maybe even ones that suit your taste a bit better. I’d think it’d be better to remember them with nice things rather than tacky ones. As far as your wedding day, I can bet you’ve got plenty of mementos, photos and memories to savor without holding onto the ugly ones. When it comes down to it, your friends gave you these things to enjoy. If you’re not enjoying them, there’s no guilt or heartache in moving on. (You just may not want to let your friends know that you did.)

*****

One of my beloved college friends is getting married in six weeks and I am eager to send her a wedding gift. I ordered her shower gift off her registry happily and was excited to pick out something for her wedding from one of her three registries. My boyfriend and I popped over to her website to check it out but we were disappointed to see that most of the registry had been completed already. What is protocol here? I love putting together gift baskets and making them very personal—but as a person in the wedding industry who just saw her sister get married, I feel a little disrespectful going rogue (off registry). I get the importance of a registry, but there is virtually nothing there. Do I buy from the remnants of their registry, or do I do my own thing? As a never-been-Bride, how much does it frustrate the bride to receive gifts she hadn’t asked for?
Thank you!
G.

Dear G.,

Some folks really are quick on the registry trigger, aren’t they? Lucky for you, this is a good friend and you can pick a gift the way you would at any other holiday or birthday—using what you know about her to pick something she’d like! Remember, the registry is just to cover the basic necessities of newlyweds and to make sure they don’t get doubles (or triples) of any one thing. Now that the spatulas and frying pans are all bought, you get to have a little fun in picking out a gift! Exciting.

You mentioned a sweet gift basket; that sounds like a great idea! Using what you know about your friend and her partner, you can pull together a few things for a great movie night in, or maybe some spirits and cocktail mixers, or some fancy foods for them to taste. The point is that the registry isn’t meant to confine! It’s just the starting point. You have free reign in giving your friend a terrific gift to celebrate her marriage.

*****

Team Practical, how have you handled wedding gifts (both your own and for others)? Did you create a registry for your guests? Did you trash ugly but well-meant art? Dish!

Photo by APW sponsor Lauren McGlynn Photography

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • http://www.rationalcreature.com sweet starling

    I’ve seen good advice elsewhere for putting together a registry: include as many items above a certain price point – say, $25 – as beneath it. That way your guests have more flexibility in finding something that (a) they know you will appreciate and (b) they can afford. So if they want to get you a $100 casserole dish, that’s fine, but if they’d rather get you $15 salt and pepper shakers that they know you’ll love, it’ll still work out.

    • meg

      Yes. LOTS of price ranges actually. Yeah, chances are your friends are not going to buy you a $300 anything, but your mom probably has a friend who wants to (who you might never expect) and she’s going to be annoyed if she has to buy you three $100 things. Or one $100 knife set that she returns for a $300 knife set (I helped my mom do this, true story).

    • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

      Yes! This is how David and I absolved any guilt we felt about the registry. We have a ton of $5 items on there, as well as $10, $25, 50, 75, and $100+. We trust that our friends and family are responsible adults and can make financial decisions that are right for them (including not giving a gift at all! This is OK!). We struggled with the registry a lot, but coming to that realization and providing a LOT of varying price ranges helped immensely!

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    One of the ‘off-registry’ gifts we got for our wedding was a ‘honeymoon basket’ and it was one of my favorite gifts. Two of our friends put together a basket with champagne, champagne glasses, massage oil, some pretty candles, and some nice chocolate and snacks. We had a driving honeymoon, and so it was really lovely to stick that in the backseat and have a wonderful night in at our hotel. Even if the couple were flying somewhere for their actual honeymoon and taking this sort of thing wouldn’t work, it would still be great for post-honeymoon at home. You could also definitely tailor this to the specific couple and what you know they like.

    • Sarah

      We got something quite similar – when we got back from our honeymoon a friend had had a bottle of champagne and some great chocolates delivered to our house. We drank the champagne that night and it made our honeymoon feel just a little bit longer.

    • SarahToo

      Speaking of honeymoons…my partner and I have been living together for almost two years in a very tiny apartment with little room for appliances/gadgets, so there really weren’t any material things we needed. However, as a student who just married a musician, we don’t have much spare cash…so instead of a gift registry we asked for donations to our honeymoon fund. Our family and friends were more than happy to oblige, which means we get to have a honeymoon without stressing too much over the cost.

  • http://www.robyntheblogedition.blogspot.com Robyn

    I love the gift basket idea! I’m planning to do that next Christmas with a whole bunch of different homemade snacks and stuff but what a cool idea for a wedding gift for couples who don’t have registries (or already completed registries). I know I’d sure think it was awesome if someone gifted me that for my wedding!

    And from talking to friends who have said “no gifts” for their weddings, that doesn’t seem like it ever works. One friend said no gifts and ended up with about 50 different gift cards to 50 different stores, which were really hard to use.

    • meg

      Of 50 different horribly ugly plates. As Liz said to me last night (re: a friend of mine who does not want to register but WILL be getting a gift from me), “Oh, does she think not registering means no gifts. Ahahahha.” Actually, it just means WEIRD gifts.

      • Cali

        Hahahaha, yeah, I saw that in a message board discussion about registries somewhere… that someone had chosen not to register and told people not to get gifts, and instead ended up with a roomful of random crap they didn’t want or need. People WILL get gifts… might as well give them some direction. ;-)

        As a side note: A friend of mine got an enormous plastic, light up Jesus statue from her husband’s elderly aunt as a wedding gift. True story. It was amazing. So, y’know, if that sort of thing sounds appealing….

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      For anyone wanting a good gift basket idea, here’s mine: Buy the couple their blender or the juicer KitchenAid attachment, throw in a bottle of tequila and some margarita mix or limes. BOOM! Mexican party in a basket. If you want to get fancy, maybe add a Mexican cookbook and/or some margarita glasses.

      • Kate

        Cute idea, totally stealing that for the next shower I attend!

  • Amanda

    My fiance and I included a small insert with our invitations that requested charitable donations instead of wedding gifts. We specified three charities that are important to us on that insert. Unfortunately, we are getting some resistance to this idea mainly due to the bridal shower. Obviously, we don’t want gifts and I suggested just having lunch instead, but it seems that people want to buy gifts. I acquiesced when my MOH suggested that we have a wine party where everyone brings an inexpensive red wine as a gift. I can compromise for a wine party.

    • meg

      You guys: PEOPLE WILL BUY YOU GIFTS. Period. It’s a way to support you and support your new family. And for lots of people, they love love love that you want to support a charity, but that’s not going to give them the same feeling of supporting your family (logical, maybe not, but things we were raised with die hard). I know, because while most of these people are over sixty, one of them is me. I’ll give your charity a donation…. and then I’ll STILL buy you a gift. I’ll just spend double, in that situation. So I really think you just have to acknowledge that for many of us, that’s how we show love, and help us out a bit :)

      • Adrienne

        Meg, yes. Actually it was really frustrating to me when my friends sent invitations that requested “no gifts please”. Really? The happiest day of your lives and I don’t get to give you a thing? So I’ll break their rule. Because I can and because I love them.

      • Kara

        So I really think you just have to acknowledge that for many of us, that’s how we show love, and help us out a bit :)

        Yes!

    • Amanda

      To be honest, these responses make me sad. Do you think that the people who requested no gifts or charitable donations didn’t give it considerable thought? That perhaps they really DID NOT want gifts when they didn’t register anywhere or specifically requested “no gifts”? It’s absurd! If you shift your perspective a bit and consider that 1) The people getting married are adults and 2) They would LOVE IT if their request was honored, a lot of angst would be avoided. As an invited guest, one or both of the engaged couple (likely) love you and you should love them back in a manner that makes sense to them. For instance, charitable donations makes sense to me. A physical gift makes sense for other people, but please don’t bash those who don’t agree. We are all worthy of respect.

      • youlovelucy

        While I understand your response, I don’t agree that we should love others back in a way that only makes sense to them. As the person showing you love and affection, to really feel any sense of affirmation they are going to want/need/have to do it their way.

        I don’t know how many people have read The 5 Love Languages, but two of the five are acts of service and gift giving. I fall partially under the acts of service umbrella in that I really like doing things for people to show I care about them. If someone flat out said “no, I don’t want you to do anything for me, please stay out of it,” I would be really put off by that, to the point of probably being upset by it.

        So while I understand that you’re asking that we respect the wishes of those who don’t want gifts, it’s just as logical to ask to respect the wishes of those who show their love by giving those gifts, and not outright rejecting their advances when they ask you what they can get for you.

        • meg

          Yes! What Lucy said! Sometimes you get huge benefits when you just open yourself up to how people are, not how we want them to be. Asking for what you need is awesome and huge and a big deal, but you also just have to accept generosity how ever it appears sometimes. Damn it.

      • Liz

        Amanda, no one is bashing anyone who requested no gifts. The fact is that you can’t determine for adults whether or not they will buy you things. As a host of a party (or wedding), you don’t get to determine if people buy you things.

        • meg

          What Liz said! I think your request is great and wise. But for lots of us, we’ll do what you want, but we’re also going to need to do what feels like love to us. So it’s important to factor that into your decision making…. because yup! You’re going to get gifts. Don’t be mad at those people, they are trying as hard as they can to love you up, it’s just that sometimes how people love us doesn’t match with how they hope they love us (which is why we tend to do both).

          • Amanda

            Yes, that’s a good point about people needing to do what feels like love to them too. Of course you can’t control what adults do, but you can request for something that is a better fit for you. Whether they do it or not is up to them, but you can at least make your wishes known.

          • meg

            Agreed. I think you can and should make your wishes known. And then… life will happen ;)

          • http://themoderngal.com The Modern Gal

            Meg, I think this calls for a post discussing why we modern, feminist women struggle so much with the idea of graciously accepting gifts. Why does it make us uncomfortable and guilty?

        • Remy

          I guess the flip side of that is that gift-givers shouldn’t then take offense when the recipients regift or donate those gifts to someone else.

          I agree with Amanda. Really, if I say “no gifts”, I mean it. If you give me something against my wishes, because you simply HAVE to, I will like you less for it.

          • http://www.the-briefness.blogspot.com Rachelle

            I agree with this. Stuff does not equal love. Respect for someone’s wishes equals love.

          • Liz

            To Rachelle,

            But we could volley that sentiment back and forth all day long. “If you really cared about me, you’d respect my wish to not have any gifts,” “But if YOU really cared about ME, you’d respect my wish to give you gifts!” etc etc etc.

            The point is, when it comes to a wedding, the host handles certain details and the guests handle others. Gift-giving (whether or not it happens and to what extent) is in the realm of the guest.

          • http://www.the-briefness.blogspot.com Rachelle

            Liz – I understand, but I think when a couple specifically requests no gifts, a card and your presence are the best way to honor their wedding. If you still really want to give them something, maybe give them a check? I think burdening a couple who didn’t want gifts with a ton of things they likely don’t want is more about you than them, which to me seems like the opposite of the point.

          • Amanda

            Thank you for your support. I know it’s stupid, but I was still sad today after opening myself up with yesterday’s discussion. I should know better than to share personal information on the internet. Lesson learned. Your words make me feel better though. :)

          • Laurel

            For whatever it’s worth, Amanda, I really appreciated you saying that. It confirmed that, when friends ask for no gifts, I really should listen to them. I’m not somehow doing it wrong by not getting them a gift anyway. I’ve been doing that, but it’s still nice to be reminded.

          • Bears fan

            I think Liz is right in that the debate could never end. Both sides make sense, but only if you view it from their side of the fence.

            I think as long as you’re consistent in your ideals, it’s fine. There are gift givers who thinks the gift is about the receiver. If a couple requests no gifts, or cash gifts, or charity donations, they honor that. On the flip side, if a guest asks them about their registry and they tell the guest “no gifts” and the guest still gives them a physical gift, of course these couples will think that’s weird. You went against a request they would have honored for someone else.

            There are people who find gift giving to be in the realm of the giver, and the gift is about their expression of love for the receiver. Taking away their choice to give is a big deal to them. And these folks are always happy when someone else gives them any gift because they know it’s an expression of their friend/relative’s love for them.

            I happen to fall into the former category. We live in a small apartment, so more stuff is going to be a headache. If a friend requests No Gifts at their wedding, a honeymoon fund, or whatever, I will TOTALLY understand.

            As long as you’re consistent on what you think gift giving/receiving means, I think both sides have good intentions.

      • efletch

        I have a perfect example for this situation my fiance hates getting presents for any occasion, always has probably always will. That being said people who love him also love to get him presents, and it has led to some pretty creative tactics. We have a friend who came by our apartment around Christmas and tossed a present at him when he opened the door and then ran away. Present bomb! For our wedding although I would love to honor his sensibilities and request no gifts I know it won’t work. So we are registering for charities, and we are also registering for a few things that we need/love because we want our guests to have the freedom to give as they see fit. In the end while he is uncomfortable receiving gifts he does appreciate the love behind it, and that’s all that matters is the love.

        • http://bigweddingsmallbudget.wordpress.com Barbra

          My fiance also hates getting gifts! Something I will never understand. I LOVE getting presents, and I LOVE giving presents.

  • Sarah S.

    I had some issues feeling greedy and graspy about making a registry as well, but one of the ways I solved it (which I highly suggest) is by also registering with Oxfam Unwrapped, so that instead of a food processor or cookie sheet, guests could also donate chickens to a struggling family in Africa, or books to a school in a developing country.

  • JEM

    APW reads my mind again. Ya’ll rock!

  • Christine

    Here’s a question that’s related: what do I get for my friend who is marrying a jerk who isn’t-now-and-never-will-be good enough for her? The registry is filled with stuff to complete their home and I’m ready to spend some good money on her, but the idea of getting her something that she’ll use to cook or clean for him (he does zero of either) really makes my stomach turn. Would it be too obvious if I picked out a nice piece of jewelry for her? Or is the knife set with a note reading “for when you finally snap and stab him for never helping with anything ha ha just kidding” too over the top? I’d never do that last one of course, but something in me favors the knife set…

    Or should I just shove a wad of cash into a nice card and keep my mouth shut?

    • meg

      Wad of cash and a nice card. The gift has to be for them, not for her, I’m afraid…. Been there.

    • Hazel

      Hi Christine,

      It sounds to me like there’s a lot more going on here than a gift! Is this a close enough friend so that you can talk to her about your concerns? If not, I’d suggest just getting something from the registry – personally I feel that anything you try to say with just a gift is unlikely to be picked up on in the way you mean it.

      Best wishes,

      Hazel

    • Another Meg

      Tough situation, but easy answer- cash, or something for the home that isn’t cooking or cleaning-related like a beautiful vase in her taste. Or is there anything hobby-related that’s on their registry? Like a bike rack or something?

      • Christine

        Thanks and great advice all! I agree it should be a gift for them so I’ll do what I can to find something from the registry that they can enjoy in a non-domestic labor way. Hazel, to answer your question, there have been issues with how I feel about her and her fiance, and while they were dating I made certain aspects of my feelings known, but since they got engaged I’ve decided (after much thought) that it’s not my place to tell her how to be happy and if she’s happy, then I’ll be happy. Or, more to the point, if she’s comfortable in her decision, then I’ll support her no matter what.
        Thanks again, all, for your thoughts!

    • Brefiks

      I’m sorry you have to watch your friend go through this, but “for when you finally snap and stab him” made me LOL. My brother gave me a knife set the Christmas we got engaged! Should I worry?

      • MDBethann

        My grandmother said that you shouldn’t give knives as gifts because it will sever the relationship. Not sure if it is true or not, but we didn’t put knives on our registry and I never plan to give one!

        • Caroline

          I was told when someone gives you a knife, you give them back a small unit of money (a penny or a nickle or whatever) so that it isn’t a gift exactly, and thus can’t sever the relationship.

    • OJ

      Ooh that’s a toughie. As someone who was engaged to a pretty awful man (but didn’t marry him! I married a wonderful man instead!), I really appreciated my friends and family who always supported *me* even if they couldn’t support my relationship. I called off the wedding before we got too many gifts–I think most people were waiting in the hopes that I did that–but I can say that any gifts that were clearly just for me, and not for the two of us, would have caused some problems. Hobby-related gifts or a vase sound like great ideas.

    • sass

      Been there too. my solution? I got the “luggage set” on their registry in (secret) hope that she could actually use it when it came time to leave… and, true story, she did. If, alternatively (and more optimistically), they instead find a way to click and travel a lot and have adventures, and maybe he even treats here to a surprise trip now and again, all the better!

  • Elsie

    I’d also add, to the first letter, that you can make a gift list full of budget-friendly items. I’ve been to weddings were it seemed that the couple asked for all of the name-brand, overpriced items– when quality items could be found for a lower price– just because they could. If you register for things you need but are still good values, your guests will feel better about buying them for you, without feeling uncomfortable about spending more on an item than they think it’s worth.

    • Laurel

      So in trying to figure out a way to register, I’ve realized that the single-store registry makes this much worse. Example: enamel pots are a great value. Buy the expensive ones, use them for decades. Perfect. Cast iron, on the other hand, is cheap. You can get a fantastic cast iron griddle from Lodge for $45ish, while the Le Creuset one costs $200.

      If you register at, say, Williams-Sonoma (which I think is totally reasonable if you want some fancy, durable kitchen stuff) you can’t register for a Lodge griddle. You have to register for the overpriced Le Creuset one. I haven’t found a single store that carries all of the kitchen items I want to register for at good values, and I’m only looking for about 5 things. Much harder if you want to get good value on a longer list.

      • Kate

        Williams Sonoma does have the lodge cast iron http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/4437901/?registryId=2998929&fromrgl=1

        Problem solved!

        • Laurel

          They have cast iron pans, but not the reversible griddle. They also don’t have plates that would work for us.

      • Liz

        I had some friends who bought the items we listed on our registry, but from other stores by other brands for cheaper prices because they knew we wouldn’t care. I think you can go back in and “check off” that the item was bought so no one else does.

        • moonitfractal

          This works less well if multiple friends do it with the same item at the same time. I’m not sure if it happened to me, but I did end up receiving multiples of things without them disappearing from the registry.

      • MEG

        Register at Amazon! That’s what we’re doing, in large part because I wanted to be able to be picky and get just what I wanted–which often wasn’t the more expensive item available at Macy’s or another store.

        • http://www.missris.blogspot.com Ris

          I have friends who’ve registered on Amazon and it’s the best thing ever. You can choose this pan but that pot, these glasses but those dishes, from all different price points and brands. Seriously, amazon is amazing.

        • Louise

          I was going to say the same thing! Amazon registry is perfect. You can register for stuff from ANYwhere, or just on Amazon. (After we got over our registry guilt) We registered for some stuff from Amazon and then a few things from Etsy and Macy’s too… all in one place. Funnily enough, it started mostly because I wanted a bunch of cast iron stuff you can’t find at most kitchen places, like a wok and loaf pans. We did a little brick-and-mortar registry too, at Sur La Table for people (like me) who like to go browse in person, but really its probably unnecessary.

        • youlovelucy

          I’m going to add a caveat to registering on Amazon by saying that if you’re the type of person who gets really into researching products before buying them and putting a lot of stock into reviews, etc, then Amazon might 1) take you longer than you might anticipate to make a registry and 2) cause some serious decision fatigue.

          We originally had an Amazon registry, but the amount of time spent going around trying to pick one item made us a bit crazy. We ended up registering at Macy’s and Bed, Bath and Beyond, and then if there was a very specific thing we wanted that wasn’t at either store, we put it on my Amazon wishlist and pointed people there when they asked if there was anything super special we wanted.

          • MEG

            Oh, this is definitely true. I am completely obsessive about researching products, and registering took forever. However, I was still happy with registering at Amazon, because I knew that my worry about not getting a good deal would be greater than my fatigue from doing all the research. So, as with everything, your mileage may vary. But yeah, Amazon can be a swirling vortex of time suck.

      • Brefiks

        Amazon. Also, this may vary depending on your community, but I have a friend who registered at Williams-Sonoma and got almost nothing off her registry (I didn’t get her something from there, myself.) I think people got scared off. I know her family and her friends, and Bed, Bath and Beyond or Amazon would have been a better choice, without making people feel bad for not being able to get “something she wants.” Both of those places can sell you some high-quality cookware as well as more reasonable stuff.

      • Another Meg

        Also, you can always use a website like amazingregistry.com or myregistry.com to bundle things from different stores, so they have one place to go to get you what you want.

      • Rachael

        You may want to take a look at this more personalized approach: http://www.alternativegiftregistry.org/

        It’s a bit more work, but it allows you to list or link to items from wherever you please. Not to mention, my favorite part… you can include descriptions of immaterial gifts, like experience-based gifts, gifts of service or donations to charity! (Something for the consumption-based and non-consumption based expressions of love.)

        The only catch is that the gifter has to assume the responsibility of checking it off your list, and should do so BEFORE they buy (which may also be a challenge for some audiences with regard to computer/internet literacy/access).

        • Laurel

          I love Alternative Gift Registry, but they’ve stopped taking new memberships til the end of the summer. You can see below that we’re DIYing a version of it, but I expect it to be even more complicated.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        Wishpot worked well for us (in addition to Crate and Barrel and Bed, Bath, and Beyond).

    • meg

      BUT. Seriously, register for things at a bunch of price ranges. We’re only 32, and we’re still the friends who probably want to spend money on you. A registry full of $50 things is just going to make me think you’re trying to make my life difficult!

      • Sarah

        Definitely. I was really surprised how much some people spent on wedding presents for us. We were careful to have lots of less expensive options on our list too though, and we occasionally added things to the list if we saw there was nothing left in a particular price bracket.

      • kyley

        Exactly! I like giving one big gift. Giving lots of little ones feels silly.

        Also, I am a firm believer in the buy-a-gift-for-the-price-of-your-meal+drinks (personally, as a guest, but certainly not as a host), so I’m not going to buy you pillow cases and be done with it. I’m going to buy you pillow cases and hand towels and a garlic press and a toaster, etc.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I get the idea here, but it’s actually the things with the lower price tags that I think are a worse value on our registry. We’ve got lots of things less than $10, but they’re not things I’d every buy for myself, not new, anyway. I don’t think $6 for a garlic peeler is a good value, but $100 for a frying pan can be.

      And now Meg is making me re-think my nothing-over-$100 rule…

  • http://www.kyliewrites.com Kylie

    One of the most challenging parts of planning our wedding (or perhaps the very *most* challenging) has been allowing people to give things to us without feeling guilty or indebted to them. Simply learning to accept with immense gratefulness, but without a feeling of obligation in return. The gift dilemma goes to the heart of this issue for me, which I why it makes it so fraught.

    In my partner’s wedding culture (old-school Brooklyn), people give large wedding gifts of money or house things. We originally felt hugely uncomfortable with this, but then I realized how much it meant to family members to be able to give to us. It made them feel incredibly good to play this part of helping to create our home. We ended up having no mention of gifts in our invites, and I’m guessing most people will contribute money (this is what usually happens in Brooklyn, and it’s what we need, so that’s good!). A few friends have wanted to give us actual gifts, and we’ve responded with suggestions of things we actually need, at several different price points.

    We do have some guilt about accepting these gifts, but we’re trying to work through it. Our wedding is (hopefully) going to be all about community, and I know that it means a lot to the people in our community to give to us in this way.

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      I think you’re supposed to have no mention of registries in your invites period.

      Make sure your mom (and/or dad or mom-like figure) and key friends know where you’re registered, people know to ask! (I also put ours on our website which might not be QUITE perfect etiquette but it’s convenient and I’d appreciate it as a guest.)

    • Louise

      I just had to comment, because, Hi Kylie!!! Also, we had a similar dilemma regarding gifts. Or, I did. Nick, in his usual honest way, is happy to get gifts. I have the guilt. But, actually registering together was sort of fun, because in the middle of all the silly wedding details, it actually wasn’t about the wedding. It was about (albeit materialistically) the future. We accepted that people want to get us gifts, and many specifically requested we register. So we used it as an opportunity to chose things that will hopefully last forever, to lessen having to throw broken Ikea plates into the landfill all the time, (maybe we’re really hard on our dishes?) and it was fun to imagine feeding our family with the brightly colored sturdy plates we picked out.

  • http://www.kristinyc.wordpress.com kristinyc

    To #3- Totally do the gift basket! You can find things that complement things they have on the registry that were already bought.

    A few years ago, some of my friends had a registry with a lot of stuff I didn’t really want to buy. So I bought the wine glasses off the registry, and then went to Trader Joe’s (because they used to live in the town I was in, but didn’t anymore and no longer had access to a Trader Joe’s) and bought them their favorite wine, beers, and snacks from TJ’s. I packaged it all up in a pretty basket, and they loved it.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      That sounds like a wonderfully fun gift! I moved away from a Trader Joes and would LOVE this.

  • Sara D

    We included a registry card in our invitations that stated “Gifts are not required, just the pleasure of your company!” I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to buy us an expensive gift. I have declined wedding invitations in the past because I was not able to afford a gift, and I knew that some of our guests may be in the same position. I also included several inexpensive items on our registries. Cookbooks, for example, are inexpensive yet very useful!

    When we (and by we I mean I) first started planning our wedding I was hesitant to create registries. We live together in a small apartment and don’t have much room, and I also felt that we didn’t need anything. However I realized that family and friends really do want to purchase nice gifts for the bride and groom. I also decided that we could donate our old mismatched kitchen items (the result of combining his cheap kitchenware with my cheap kitchenware) and finally get some of the nicer kitchen gadgets and dishes that I cannot afford.

    I have made it very clear to my friends and family that what’s most important is thatthey are present at the wedding to celebrate with us. I don’t expect gifts and I don’t expect money… I do expect a great party!

    • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

      Oh yikes!! You actually didn’t go to multiple weddings because you couldn’t afford a gift? That is so sad! I know at our wedding we had some people give us surprisingly generous gifts and other people not give us anything, as well as lots of things in the middle range, and it was all perfectly lovely. Even if you couldn’t afford a gift, I would like to think that anyone who loves you enough to invite you to their wedding would want you there no matter what.

    • MDBethann

      I agree with Helen. I just wanted people there and I know some of my relatives and friends don’t make as much, but I was so happy they were there to share in our day and I could tell they had a blast. A card was fine with me as long as they were there!

  • Laurel

    Oh god the registry. Can I run my crazy solution by you all and see what you think? We have a google spreadsheet going with a bunch of sentimental type gift ideas (your favorite cookbook, a mug from your favorite diner, mix CD, photos) that we’d be happy to get many of. Plus, we have a list of more specific items that people can sign up to get: plates, bowls, etc. And an etsy registry, although that shit is hard as hell to maintain. It’s modeled on Alternative Gift Registry, which isn’t taking new accounts. We’ve lived together for years and don’t need tons of kitchen stuff, because everyone knows we cook so we’ve been getting good pots and fancy knives, etc, for birthdays and Christmas. So a normal registry doesn’t make sense, since we don’t need much stuff from a box store. On the other hand, I would love some enamel colanders and some pretty mixing bowls. Good idea? Crazy idea? Also, is someone REALLY going to want to get us something that costs more than $100?

    It doesn’t help that every time I talk to my family about it my mom tells me how mortified she was to register, so I don’t feel like I can get much family advice.

    • youlovelucy

      “Also, is someone REALLY going to want to get us something that costs more than $100?”

      Yes. My aunt texted me saying, “I’m at the store now, you have a $250 limit and 15 minutes to tell me the thing you want most off your registry.” Because hard deadlines are her loving way of making people tell her what they want. Hey, it worked. ;)

      • Liz

        It’s true. They will.

        And remember, registering for something that costs $100 isn’t the same as DEMANDING something that costs $100. It’s just leaving the option on the table for anyone who’d like it.

      • Kathleen M

        Yes, exactly.

        Also: sometimes a group of friends or family will go in on a more expensive item.
        Also also: It’s been mentioned on this comment thread already, but the Amazon registry is easy to use and lets you link things from lots of different stores so you don’t have to stick to a category like housewares just because you picked a certain store.

    • Marina

      We totally did that and it was GREAT. Got some handmade quilts, awesome cookbooks, really meaningful stuff. Also some very pretty mixing bowls that we didn’t register for but that I use every time I bake.

      And you may be surprised at who has money burning a hole in their pocket they want to spend on you… We listed some stuff that could be divided up, like place settings–people could buy one or five.

    • Erin

      This sounds like a very sweet idea, and I think the best way to make it work and make everyone happy is to physically register for the bowls et al. in a store/online registry AND have a separate more sentimental registry. People who are more traditional and just want to easily buy you something can use one of them and then your guests who are more into creative types of gifts can get some suggestions. Honestly, having bought a friend a gift from Etsy that was listed through an aggregate registry, it was kind of a pain in the butt as the shipping was unpredictable and it was a bit confusing. Hopefully now that Etsy has a specific online registry it will be much easier for guests. Honestly, unless you are my best friend that I have known forever, I just want to buy something off a list because it is so much easier. My two cents!

    • H

      I DESPERATELY want to do do this- can you tell me how you set it up? I’ve never done a google doc before (I know, I’m way behind), and I don’t know if that’s how you did it, if you can link that to your wedding website, etc etc etc….

      • http://thevoiceofthelobster.wordpress.com Laurel

        In theory, it’s easy. I have a google spreadsheet (just like Excel, but stored online) with 5 columns: item, description, # we want, # we have, # remaining. At the top are things where there’s no specific number (framing services, handmade stuff, photos, favorite cookbook). Below that are the specific items with links in the ‘description’ column and a number in the # we want column. There’s a formula in the ‘# remaining’ column that subtracts ‘#we have’ from ‘# we want’ and says how many are left. When people buy things they’re supposed to add the number they got to the number we already have.

        When we actually put it up, I’m just going to make the spreadsheet public and link to it on our website with quickie instructions at the top and a link to the etsy registry. I expect the numbers for anything we want more than one of to get totally wrecked, but that’s just plates and bowls and it’s ok if we get extras (which seems the most likely scenario, with people entering the number they’re buying instead of the total number already bought plus the number they’re buying).

        I linked my name to my semi-defunct blog, so if you want to see an example you can email me via that.

        • H

          oh that is so awesome! Thanks! I will email you!!

    • kyley

      I am a poor graduate student and I will spend a minimum of $100 on a wedding gift. Because I love giving gifts and I love you and for right or wrong that amount was drilled into my head as the minimum acceptable gift amount. (I will not expect that of other people, but I will of myself.) And I feel cheesy having to buy you a bunch of small things, so please just put some big things on there. :)

      So, yes, people will want those options!

    • JASHSHEA

      Depends, but the answer is probably yes. My parent’s friends’ (and my friends) are generous, but my extended family (speaking generally) doesn’t have a ton of spare cash.

      So, I have tons of stuff on my physical gift registry that’s over $100. And tons of stuff between 10-20. I don’t care if anyone gets me a present – we live in a 700 sq foot condo and we don’t like stuff – I’d rather people just show up. But fiance and I are “particular” about kitchen stuff, so a detailed registry for that stuff is what we did. And a honeymoon “experience” registry with lower price points (oh, hey Grandma, feel free to donate $25 so I can sky dive :)).

      For me, I give a gift at the shower, then a cash gift at the wedding (Some part of me is Italian. Ignore the freckles). If it’s a friend from a particular part of my life (HS, College, Work), I’ll try to combine with another few friends and get the big thing – you know, the stretch gift. I’ve done this for years – back when my contribution was $25 with 10 other friends to get someone the fancy margarita machine that I knew they desperately wanted.

    • blimunda

      I’m curious, what would be considered a nice wedding gift in your area? While I realize that many people (including me, sometimes) can’t or don’t want to spend that amount of money on any wedding gift, it doesn’t sound ridiculous to me.

      • Laurel

        My family doesn’t really do weddings. I actually wrote a post for APW about it a while ago, but the short version is that my 75-ish-person wedding will be either the largest or the second-largest wedding in my family (including parents, aunts, and grandparents) in at least two generations. My parents and grandmother are very generous gift-givers but they’re contributing to wedding events in a big way, so that’s really their gift. Meanwhile, I’ve given a bunch of wedding presents but they were all substantially less than $100: I think I’m averaging $30ish, because weddings for me have always involved either a ton of expensive travel or some major non-cash contribution (e.g. the friend’s wedding I catered). Then again I’m a grad student.

        So basically, I don’t have much context. I can imagine people wanting to spend $100, but more seemed like a lot. When I thought about it again last night, I thought about my cousin, who reliably sends me Christmas presents, and my parents’ friends, and realized a more expensive gift is not that improbable.

  • http://ahobbitatheart.blogspot.com/ rachel

    Let those awesome folks have a chance to help you start your marriage off in a incredible practical and thoughtful way :) I really do think of all the loved ones that came to our wedding as I use my gleaming Kitchenaid mixer (I felt too selfish to register for it, but my family knew I had been drooling over it and got one anyways), put fruit in a gorgeous bowl from Spain from a dear high school friend (an off-registry gift that I cherish), etc. There really is a joy in picking stuff out (even from a registry), knowing that it will help build a home.

    Also, gift baskets are stinkin’ awesome. Some of the most thoughtful gifts we received were packs of gift cards for restaurants and movie theaters, so we could have a free date night (being in grad school, this was truly wonderful gift to go out on the town and not worry about money). We also received a kit for a pizza/ice cream/movie date at home that was ridiculously cool.

  • http://explainingitall.blogspot.com Clarissa

    Traveler’s Joy has been a great solution to our registry worries. We really didn’t want a whole lot of stuff since we’ll be moving a lot in the next few years for grad school, and we did want to have one hell of a honeymoon trip. I was worried that the older generation of guests wouldn’t understand what we were doing but so far most of them seem to think it’s a great idea.

  • Katie

    I just want to play the devil’s advocate and say: We didn’t have a registry and it was totally and absolutely one hundred percent fine… even, dare I say it, wonderful? We had a small-ish wedding (around 60 people) and gifts ranged from blueberry plants for our garden to cards to handmade items to frozen homemade bolognese sauce to a bottle of wine to cash to gifts of time and help to nothing at all. And it was all so wonderfully appreciated and loved. Some items were strange, yes, but there were only a handful of those. We have a small house, and didn’t like the idea of filling it with things we didn’t truly need. We’re also much more interested in collecting household items over time than running out to Bed Bath and Beyond and purchasing mass-manufactured plastic.

    My favorite gifts were all things that we never in a million years would have thought to buy for ourselves. Knowing that, I’ll never buy off a registry for friends’ weddings again.

    I know this doesn’t work for everyone. We had a small wedding, friends and family talked over unusual gift ideas ahead of time, everyone knew where we stood on this: that gifts were absolutely NOT required. We also had been living together for two years, and frankly, didn’t see the need to upgrade our basic household items… we can do that on our own time, as we have the means, and our old thrift-store cooking utensils are doing just fine. This is just to say, if your head and heart are really balking at the idea of a registry, you don’t have to do it. You’ll be fine. I promise.

    • meg

      Yes! If you’re fine with people getting you whatever you want, don’t register and just tell them to go crazy! Totally fine! (Lots of us will be super excited!) The issue comes when people think that by not registering people won’t get them gifts (or will only get cash), and then get disappointed by all the random and wacky gifts they do get. Because y’all, people are going to shop/ cook/ craft for you. They just are.

    • http://mavieenfood.com Sara

      We got married a few months ago, a very small at-home wedding with about 30 guests. It’s a second marriage for both of us, and we have SO MUCH as it is, and didn’t feel right doing a registry. Instead, we did a donation registry for the Human Rights Campaign to help promote marriage equality, and about 3 people donated. I don’t think that the fact that only a few donated had anything to do with the nature of the charity, but rather that people really wanted to give us a THING. For us, it turned out great — my mom made us a cross stitch, my brother and sister in law had professional photos of our kids taken and framed, a friend gifted us homemade beer and pickles, others gave us wine and some nice glasses…I could go on and on. So yes, to Meg’s point, if you don’t register (or do a charity registry instead), you will still get gifts, and if you’re open to getting whatever folks want to give you, you can end up with some really wonderful things. We lucked out and didn’t receive anything that we didn’t genuinely love — but that’s in part because it was such a small group of super close family and friends who knew us (and our needs and tastes) very well. But if you’re not down with being open to whatever, and/or you don’t have space for whatever you might receive, do yourself and your guests a favor, and do a gift registry.

      • Liz

        A BIG big key is that this often works best with a small wedding.

        You’re going to have a LOT of extra spatulas if you don’t register for a wedding with 150 guests.

    • charmcityvixen

      We are doing the same thing! We live in a small rowhouse and have everything we need, as well as many things we want for the moment. No registries, and if you’d like to bring a gift, please bring whatever you feel like!

      Some of my friends have bugged me about a registry, but I just don’t feel right about doing a registry (telling people what to buy for me). I know it’s a bit old-fashioned (my grandma agrees with me! said they were NEVER done in her day!), but hey, it’s my celebration and I’m choosing not to say/do anything that does not feel authentic to me.

      That being said, I will be buying off the registry for other couples this summer. However, one couple in particular does not have anything they need for setting up a life together. A different scenario, in my opinion.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    For G:
    A great gift that we received (and was not on our registry, obviously) were this voucher cards that are valid at basically every restaurant in the country. I loved that it gave us date nights several times during our first year. I think giving “experiences” that will help the couple bond is really something special, if all the material stuff is already there . We really were happy with those in a way that we did not expect at all.

    And to repeat what has been said, people will want to give you stuff (I myself love giving gifts) and it really symbolizes how all these people who love you want to help you build and start your home. You will be overwhelmed by the generosity, I know we were shocked by it, in a very good way.

    Finally we did repurpose some gifts, but I think that’s ok (for example some candle holders that were pretty but did not go at all with our apartment, went to mom in law, and actually fit pretty well with her decor. When I see them I still think of the girl who gave them to us, because, well they are still within the family right ? ).

  • http://dagnydreamphotography.wordpress.com Dagny

    We chose not to register for specific items. We informed our parents and added a page to our wedding website that stated we did not have a registry, but if people felt inclined to give a gift to please consider either contributing to our new car fund, selecting an item that they have found especially helpful in running a home, or selecting something handmade by a local artisan.
    This has been well received by our guests. I absolutely see the benefit of registries in general, however in our situation and with a 23 person guest list it just didn’t feel necessary or very “us”.

    • http://kristinyc.wordpress.com kristin

      How did you word the “contribute to our new car fund” part?

      My fiance and I live in a 318 (!) square foot apartment in NYC, and we’re trying to move to a bigger place after the wedding. In NYC, moving to a new apartment usually means $3000-$4000 in security deposits/broker fees. A lot of my guests don’t know that because they live in the midwest, and I’d really like to tell them we’d prefer cash to move to a bigger apartment over things that won’t fit in our tiny apartment. Also, we’re having our wedding in the midwest, and I don’t want to deal with the logistics of shipping things to NYC.

      I know some people will still want to give us house things (and we’ll register for some), but what’s the most tactful way to say we want cash?

      • http://dagnydreamphotography.wordpress.com Dagny

        Hi Kristin! I think it helps that we chose to add a bit more detail about exactly what we need it for and why. We have numbered bullet points for each suggestion, and the car one says: “#1: Contribute to our New Car Fund (we are hoping to get a more reliable family vehicle in the months following the wedding, one that can handle New England winters and a few road trips we would like to take, and are currently looking at a Subaru Impreza.)”
        Good luck with your move and congratulations!

  • Rachel

    This is one of my favorite subjects.

    I love registries and am never, ever offended by them. I view them as a way I get to help my friends out and I know that I am getting them something they truly wanted and needed. That alone makes me happy and like Liz said, I know how much I can spend so I spend accordingly. To me it is one of my favorite parts of being a wedding guest. It just is. Then again I get the same thrill from buying my friends birthday gifts. Note: making sure that you have items at all price points is extremely important; we had guests from all economic backgrounds so we made sure to keep that in mind and people were thrilled.

    We too had the problem of tacky gifts that were “off the registry”. I knew right away that I didn’t want them but I didn’t want to just toss them in the landfill so instead I found a women’s shelter for some of it and donated the rest to our temple. Each were extremely grateful and I felt like a found them a good home. Or your could just store them, still in their original boxes in your attic, forget about it and then 20+ years later when your child moves out discover them and say “look, want some retro mixing bowls?”. You bet I took them, they were “vintage 1975″…oooohh.

    To the third question, one of our favorite gits (and how hypocriticial I am) was a 6 month subscription to Foodzie. Don’t get me wrong, I am in love with our stand mixer (her name is Betty) but a gift that really is about us is just as awesome.

    Best of luck to all of you.

    • Ris

      I agree! I love buying gifts from registries. I’m able to be creative but still know that what I’m buying is wanted.

      If I can brag, my best registry gift yet: I could only afford a few small things for a friend’s wedding. So – I bought a spatula, a veggie peeler, some wooden spoons and a glass carafe from her registry. Then, I bought two stems of pretty silk flowers and made a cute arrangement in the carafe, tied with matching ribbon. It was a huge hit, looked great, and cost around $20.

  • MDBethann

    Definitely do a registry. And don’t do what I did and make all the inexpensive gifts picture frames. Because you will get every single one of them, plus picture frames you didn’t register for.

    I like all the frames I got and they are to my taste. But I got a gazillion picture frames (the best one is personalized with wedding vows on it, which is awesome). Many of them glass frames. To go on shelves or tables. But we have 3 cats who climb on everything. Cats + glass tabletop frames = disaster waiting to happen. They are all pretty, but only the ones that hang on walls are of any use to us. I feel terrible about it because in my life before cats I would have used them, but not now. They just aren’t practical in our house (especially once we eventually add kids to the mix).

    A trick I learned from a colleague who got married before I did – register for the good quality pots & pans set you want but also register for each piece separately, giving guests flexibility.

    I also dragged my DH with me to do some of the registry stuff in the stores and then solicited his imput when building the registries at home. That way, he got some tools he wanted and some kitchen appliances (hello griddle & deep fryer!) that made his day when they arrived. He also came up with the idea of adding the sushi kit. We just made sure to add stores like Sears and Target that have a range of things that we both like and can use. Oh, and add outdoor stuff like a beach tent/umbrella, camping gear, lawn games. We got much of that – it’s fun stuff that people enjoy getting you and you can then use with them in the future.

    The only catch is, wherever you register, make sure that the local store carries at least some of the items. It’s great to build your registry online and so convenient for you (I did it that way myself) but I had complaints from some older relatives and some last-minute shoppers that my registry items weren’t in the store. So keep in mind that not everyone shops online, even though it is really normal for us. That said, I got loads of gift cards for the stores I was registered at and we can now easily finish off our registries, or at least get the important stuff that we can really use.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      We did most of our registering in-store, and we checked the stores had locations where a good number of out-of-town guests live. I’d say up to half our guests have never shopped online. We might convince some to try it, though, because our “good china” is only available online, through replacements.com. We’re hoping to fill out my great-grandmother’s set.

  • http://julierado.com Julie

    We did both an Amazon registry and a Traveler’s Joy registry, but still managed to get some rogue tchotchke-type gifts (including his and her shampoo sets (husband shaves his head), a used self-help book about making your marriage work, and a dollar-store-esque bride and groom trinket box). The stuff I knew I would never use, I took to Goodwill right away. The more thoughtful stuff that wasn’t my style and/or is also stuff I’d never use but came from a close family member, I put away. It’s now six months later and we’re moving and I feel ok donating most of it. Having to move stuff you know you will never use or display helps with decision-making!

  • Kerry Jane

    We also had issues with the gift registry. Partly due to guilt and not feeling like we need a bunch of expensive gadgets and also because we’re moving across the country for school immediately after the wedding and want to minimize the amount we have to move. So we have our registry divided into the following:

    1) traditional items across the price point spectrum 2) Etsy items (because supporting artisans/artists is important to us) 3) handmade stuff (our guests are a talented and varied bunch! So we named things like knit socks, art and other ideas off my Pinterest craft/diy board) 4) thrift store finds (things like vintage tea cups, kitchen stuff) 4) Gift cards (due to the moving issue).

    I don’t know how it will all work out but I’m very excited to see what people come up with for handmade and thrifted stuff!

  • Marie

    It seems like the weddings I’ve been to the past few years, guests mostly gave cash. Gifts were given at the shower. Is this usual? And how do gifts play in when your shower/wedding are far from your home? (both will be in the town we grew up in, where most of our family and friends still live) I’ve seen gifts from the shower alone fill two large cars!

    • MDBethann

      I definitely got more gifts at the showers, though I got a few gift cards there too. We got some presents at the reception, but most people gave us cards with either checks or cash and a number of people gave us gift cards. Several of our close friends and family members ordered off of our registries and the gifts were sent to our house before the wedding. My parents and sister went off registry and got us patio furniture, but they knew what we liked and that we could really use it. My mother-in-law bought us a bunch of our china and my DH’s tools. It really just depends on the person and how far they are traveling.

      (Sorry I’m posting so much today – we just got married 2 weeks ago so all of this is still really fresh for us and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the glass stuff….)

      • Liz

        Ah!! Congratulations!

        • MDBethann

          Thanks Liz!

    • Liz

      I think it may be partly dependent on geography, but yes. In my area, people bring gifts to the shower and cash to the wedding.

      As far as getting all the gifts there, our out-of-town friends chose to order online and have them shipped directly to our home. Convenience definitely worth the extra few dollars for shipping.

      • KateM

        That is definitely a NY/New England thing in my experience.

        • http://becomingbrown.wordpress.com Jennifer Lyn

          This happened at my wedding, but my family is all old NE stock so maybe that’s why.

        • Rebecca

          It is! I was confused reading the third question, wondering why one would get something from the registry for both the shower and the wedding. Every single wedding I’ve been too (all in NY), you get something from the registry for the shower, and a check at the reception :)

    • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

      I think a lot of people now choose to have wedding gifts shipped straight to the couple (actually an etiquette thing so that the joyful bride and groom can stay on cloud nine and not have to figure out how to transport all those boxes home) or give a card with cash/check at the wedding. Actual gifts are brought to the shower because there’s an expectation that part of the festivities will be the bride or the couple opening and oohing/ahhing over each gift. :)

    • Elsie

      We had this issue– we got married 7 hours from where we live, and would be driving home in a small car. Since many of our friends live in our city, we encouraged them to drop off any gifts whenever was convenient for them, before or after the wedding, and they were more than happy to do so, since it was one fewer thing for them to travel with, too. Likewise, several guests would be flying in, and we tried to spread the idea (through family members) that they could have things sent directly to our house, again so that neither they nor we had to travel with them. We also chose to register the great majority of items at a store that would offer our guests free shipping. In the end, we ended up with many things shipped to or dropped off at our house, though we did have to sort the wedding gifts and leave some with my parents until the next time one of us made the drive.

    • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

      I am from upstate NY but most of my family is originally from Brooklyn and husband’s family is from Long Island. Most of our family members gave cash at the wedding (gifts at the shower), but friends (not all, but primarily upstate NYers) wanted to give gifts.

      I knew about this dichotomy, and yet was surprised when a few people complained there was no “good stuff” left on the registry. I regretfully snapped at one friend that “you know, we really need the boring practical stuff, not more crystal stemware!!!!” (or something like that). I immediately apologized. He ended up getting us our shelving unit, our mail organizer, and our shoe tree as a gift! It was one of the most meaningful to me.

      We went word of mouth on “If you’re bringing a physical gift, please ship it to us.” Most registries make that super easy. Not everyone did this, but fortunately enough did that we were able to get them all home. Fortunately for us our families helped with this, too.

  • MDBethann

    I think the real trick is knowing your guests.

    For our wedding, I have a HUGE extended family and they haven’t been to our house and don’t know what we have/need. That and a lot of my relatives aren’t the crafty type. But the one who is gave us this beautiful afghan and it was probably my favorite gift. The other homemade gift was a drawing of Han & Leia b/c our friend knows we love Star Wars. The rest I think appreciated the suggestions.

    BUT I did notice that even though I put all 3 stores that I registered at on my wedding website, as well as the link to the website for our honeymoon cruise (they do gift cards), people tended to shop for us at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Macy’s, though some of the stuff we really needed was at other stores. Just be prepared for the less web-savy guests to shop only at the big boxes and chains, so while it may mean some duplication, putting same or similar items on multiple registries isn’t a bad idea.

    I know some of this seems kind of grubby and greedy, but Meg’s right, people do want to buy you stuff to start your home – the right registries with a variety of price points just makes it easier. And you will be surprised by the generosity of people – I know some of the gifts we got completely floored me.

  • Elisa

    We were perfectly happy receiving gifts that were not on our registry. There were many kitchen gadgets, games, etc. that we didn’t even know existed, so we didn’t register for them, and the gift baskets we received were very sweet. However, we were less than thrilled to receive different versions of items that were on our registry, but that we did not register for. Does that make sense? For instance, if I registered for a set of drinking glasses, those are the drinking glasses I want and someone is likely to buy them for me. If you give me a different set of drinking glasses, I will have no use for them. They are not my style and someone else gave me the set from my registry.

  • Alicia

    To #1, I agree with Meg that people want to help you build your home. We registered for stuff because our families live on the other side of the country and don’t know what we need. Don’t you like the feeling of knowing you gave someone something they really wanted or needed?

    Also, we just received one of our DREAM gifts (the least practical thing on the registry). My fiance and I put it on the list so that we could save up for it and then take advantage of the 20% discount for gifts you didn’t receive off of your registry. All of my aunts, uncles, and cousins went in on it and then bought us a couple of cheap kitchen utensils that need replacing. It totally made our day and we know we will think of them when we use it!

  • Margi

    But what can you do if you REALLY REALLY just don’t want any gifts of any kind from anyone…knowing that putting no gifts will still equal getting gifts, is there any way to request that no gifts really means *fortheloveofGodpleasenogifts*?!

    • Liz

      But why wouldn’t you?! You’re letting people love on you by giving you things!

    • Laurel

      Sadly, you’re stuck. People will give you gifts if they want to, and there’s no way to stop them. HOWEVER. The most effective anti-gift strategy I’ve seen recently was a paragraph explaining that they’d rather have donations and why. It didn’t hurt that they were moving out of the country. I couldn’t think of anything I could give them that was worth hauling to Switzerland, and they’d set me up with a great alternative.

    • http://www.advancedlivingforbeginners.com Jen W

      Simple answer? No.
      Someone’s gonna be a rebel and buy you something.

    • Amy March

      This part of your wedding isn’t just about you. It’s about us, the people who love you and want to give you something because that is our wedding tradition. I get it, and faced with no registry usually go with cash, but at some point too much no gift protesting just isn’t a gracious and welcoming way to treat your guests.

      • Remy

        We talk a lot on here about making our own traditions and respecting others’, even if theirs are not right for us. Why is it okay, though, for people to completely override the requests of the couple because that is their wedding tradition? Would there be the same response if a parent insisted on buying alcohol for the bar at a dry wedding? Or if a dear friend really wanted to be a bridesmaid, but the couple had decided not to have a wedding party? Where is the line between being gracious and welcoming and being stepped on and having your wedding taken over by other people? (And then having to be gracious about it even if it makes you feel terrible.)

        Obviously, I feel strongly about this. I’m not personally attacking anyone — but I am honestly curious as to why gift-giving falls into some category where what the couple getting married want to have/do isn’t recognized as legitimate.

        • Liz

          The difference between the things you listed and gift-giving is that the ones you mentioned are responsibilities of the host/hostess. Those are things the bride/groom/whoever get to decide. Whether or not to bring a gift and of what sort is up to the guest. It’s not within the jurisdiction of the host.

          • Amy March

            Yes Liz, this is exactly what I was getting at. To me, dictating that I must not buy a gift, must donate to a charity, or must buy a $200 embroidered cushion. I’m not saying I make a point of ignoring couples wishes, but this just isn’t a couples place to dictate. Sort of like dress codes- I’ll work with what you want to a point, but I ain’t buyin cowboy boots just to fit ya’lls vision (although actually I’d totally do that. Boots rock)

        • kyley

          If someone said “no gifts” at a housewarming or birthday or retirement party would you still think it was rude if people got them a gift? I’m also not attacking you; I think we have very different perspectives on this and I’m really intrigued. I know receiving gifts and being the center of attention can be awkward, but people do these things out of love and generosity. It would be incredibly uncomfortable for me to come to a housewarming party, for example, without at least a bottle of wine or plant. And so forbidding gift giving is also making the guests feel selfish and uncomfortable, and thus not being a “good host.” It becomes a no-win situation.

          Anecdotally: my mom *always* talks about a specific beloved aunt who bought her two pots for her wedding, and every time she uses those pots my Aunt Mary comes up in conversation and it makes my mom feel connected to her and loved. For me, wedding gifts are all about that kind of love and I get so excited to buy gifts for people to try and create that bond that my mom has with these pots and her aunt.

          • Remy

            Yes, I would. Why would it be different on a different occasion? I still see it as a guest ignoring a particular request of the host, on purpose. (A request that I don’t see as unreasonable — certainly not as unreasonable as *demanding* a gift — although I gather I am in the minority.) Why would someone who is trying to be nice/express affection/be polite do something like that?

            Being a good host does not mean capitulating to all of the wants of your guests (and I KNOW I’ve seen that on APW). It might mean smiling and thanking the guest for the lovely thought, but I think it’s rude to put the host in that position intentionally.

          • Bears fan

            Yeah, same thing. A few people asked us about gifts for our housewarming — one even asked if we had a registry. We just said BYOB, but no gifts please. We still got a few awesome gifts other than wine, but I actually think the “no gifts” thing might be practical instead of guilt.

            I’m not trying to dictate whether people bring things, but we live in NYC. We have ONE closet. It’s just practical damage control — if an old-fashioned relative HAS to get us a physical gift, cool. If EVERYONE does that, we won’t be able to walk in our apartment.

            I love on my friends the way they want. They’re adults, and if they have a request, I’ll go with it as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

    • Remy

      You probably just have to express your boundaries and if people violate them, try not to make it worse. Just pass the gifts on or sell them and use the cash for the next time you get that person a gift or do what you need to do. The gift-givers might think it’s rude, but I think it’s REALLY rude not to listen to the explicit requests for no gifts. No one says that without a good reason! Or several!

      • Liz

        Often (as we’ve even seen in many emails/comments on APW!), people say, “No gifts,” out of some feeling of guilt or concern for their guests- not out of a personal reason. Most guests who ignore this request aren’t trying to be rude, but love on their loved ones.

  • http://www.thesistersfierce.blogspot.com Carolyn

    We have a week till W-Day, and we are bowled over by the generosity of our friends and family. People WILL get you gifts, so allow them to get you something you’ll enjoy/use. We had the trouble of having to put MORE on our lists, actually. What a terrible problem to have – too many gifts?!

    I’d add to the noisy throng: have at least two registries. My grandmother doesn’t know what the internet is and you know she went to Macy’s, found the first available clerk and asked “where is Carolyn’s silverware.” We have a funkier, more “fun” registry at CB2 for our friends our age. Ya know, the ones who know how to purchase via “the google tubes.”

    Another note I’ve found immeasurably helpful: make sure you file everything appropriately – keep your wedding invite spreadsheet updated with a column for “gift” and “thank you note in the mail” so that even after you unpack it, you know that Aunt Bertha gave you your dinner plates, and then add the date you put the thank you note in the mail. We also have a folder where we keep all the return receipts/cards. It makes the thank-you-note writing all that much easier to not have to dig through box after box to remember who got us what, and it allows us to take a half hour or so a week to take care of the thank you notes for the most recent gifts.

    • Brefiks

      Ahh! Congratulations!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My mother had so much fun printing my registry at Macy’s, she printed it twice in one day, just for the fun of it. [Sorry, trees]

    • es.tr

      We got a hot tip for keeping track of gifts, write what the person got you on the back of the card! It’s going to make it so much easier when I finally get around to writing thank you cards … 5 months and counting …

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      yes, a million times yes, on keeping tracking of thank yous and maileds. I actually had multiple columns. I hand-wrote the list (well, my friend did as we opened presents) of who gave what. I marked T and then M next to each line as I wrote the card and then made sure the card got in the mail. It really made my life easier — I finished all our thank yous in the week after our wedding. (side note: to be fair, I had a week off before working again, so I wanted to get it all done. And there was no honeymoon, because my husband didn’t have that week off.)

  • Brefiks

    I was honestly surprised when we had my big family shower by what a NON-materialist feel the whole thing had. There was a lot of talk about how everyone could remember exactly what they got for their wedding gifts, “and I still have X and I think of Aunt So and So every time I use it.” And a lot of people told me they liked the things I put on the registry, which made me proud for some reason. I’m good at shopping! But seriously, it is hard to triangulate the “things I will use/that people will be happy to buy/in a range of different prices/in store and online” . . .

  • Beth

    I want to thank this whole community for always having such frank and kind discussions about this issue. Many folks just shook their heads when I expressed my hesitance about the registry, just saying I would get multiples of the same items. I struggled tremendously with the idea of registering at first, for much of the ideas noted above, but APW’s commentary on the issue (and Meg’s “Taming the Registry”) helped myself (and now-husband) find peace about it all. I had to realize– just as I want to nuture and love and kinda spoil my friends and family at special times– that we needed to respect our guests and their love for us by allowing them this opportunity if they chose to take it. It wasn’t about being grabby for new pretty things (which I felt guilty about, b/c on another level I really did like the pretty things!), but really about making it is as simple as possible for them if they did want to express their love and support through a gift. Writing personal, heart-felt thank you notes also helped empower us to really acknowledge the love and support that was behind the pretty gift. Thanks again for all the good feedback and thoughts, as always APW is right on the mark!

  • Jo

    Question for any of you who have eloped:
    How many people still tried to buy you gifts? Did any of you register?

    We’re considering eloping and then having a celebration afterwards. Any of you who did this — how did you find people handled gifts?

    • Sarah

      I have friends who are eloping later this year. I’m getting together with a few of our mutual friends to rent a house we can all stay in together for a weekend shortly after they’re married and that will be our gift to them.

    • Vmed

      Hi, I eloped last June and had a small reception (55 people) in October. I think with eloping, you should not expect a gift (like, seriously, don’t expect any gifts) because it’s so fraught… but if you know someone who elopes, be sure to love on them anyway. (Visiting is super nice. Or just letting them know you’re happy for them.)

      We were given a couple of gifts post elopement. I was overwhelmed by that, because gosh, we’d basically excluded everyone at that point. And even so, there were a few people who just flat out wanted to give us something to contribute to the start of our family, no matter what.

      My parents insisted on throwing a reception in October, and some guests brought or sent gifts then. Not so many that it was difficult to pack in a car, but I had truly expected nothing at all. It was huge to me that they even came to celebrate with us. Again, I was entirely overwhelmed and surprised. There was a gift registry from before we ran off and abandoned the big party plan, and we ended up with things from there. But we also received some really thoughtful stuff off-registry, like a beautiful set of vintage china, and a pitcher that I use to remind me to drink water, a painting of the golden gate bridge (we eloped to san francisco) and a salad bowl that we use at least thrice weekly. We were deeply touched by our loved ones’ forgiveness, enthusiasm, and generosity.

      I guess, just know that if you elope, it’s even more important for you to be gracious.

  • http://medeamaterial.com Jules

    On the other end of the spectrum: I wish I could’ve had a wedding registry and received gifts for our wedding. Overseas moves and non-credit card culture don’t mix.

    At our wedding we didn’t register anywhere, since we were getting married in a different country where we planned to live, and between a small wedding and people just not doing online shopping (not everyone has credit cards, and shipping stuff is expensive) gifts would just be a problem. A. we don’t have a place to put all the stuff and B. We don’t have space in our suitcases to move overseas with non-clothing items.

    Friends gave us money (so useful) family still gave us stuff: I even obliged and packed stuff not to our taste but handmade and with good feelings behind them in suitcases and shlepped them to where we planned to make our home. Months later when that didn’t pan out and I had to move back, I had all these wedding gifts I had taken with me that I certainly couldn’t fit anywhere, so they had to go.

    There ARE some times when giving stuff is not recommended. So we asked for no gifts, and although we got gifts, we won’t be able to use any of them. Even though we would have LOVED to receive linens and pots and pans and silverware because we won’t have anything once we move, we’ll just have to pay for it out of pocket.

  • Denzi

    Horrible confession: T’s cousin got married a month after we did, and we are super-super strapped for cash. We also received several very nice gifts that were Totally Not To Our Taste At All. So…we re-wedding-gifted them. Hopefully Cousin and Her Husband found things that they will enjoy, and if not, I sort of hope they do the same thing!

    • kyley

      That doesn’t seem horrible at all!

  • Jo

    In my experience, registries aren’t neutral. I’d love to believe the APW endorsement, that guests will be “grown-ups” and look at your registry and spend what they feel comfortable with, and that registries simply give your guests direction so that you don’t end up with stuff you don’t want…
    But as a guest to many weddings in recent years, I don’t actually feel that way when I look at registries. Registries do give off certain impressions, and I’d love to talk about it more.

    • Jo

      For example:

      When the registry is small (and often fulfilled far in advance of the wedding, a la “G”‘s question), my takeaway is that there isn’t much the bride(s) and/or grooms(s) are too picky about, and that they’re happy with off-registry items or no-gift at all or cash.

    • Jo

      Example #2:

      Registries can offend.
      I’m currently struggling with a sibling’s upcoming wedding whose registry is extremely extensive and very expensive. There are a handful of under-$50 items but they all seem like such little things compared the vast majority (a LARGE percentage are over-$200, individual dinner plates are $75…). You get the impression that the under-$50 items are there in order to be bundled with each other (what am I going to do, buy them one dinner plate? They’re going to cherish that plate and remember me by it?).

      This registry has only made me feel uncomfortable. I know that they’ll appreciate whatever I give them, but it adds a subtext of guilt and inadequacy that really sucks. I’m happily going to spend and do more for them than I would for any other wedding b/c it’s my sibling, but what is a splurge for me is going to be dinky compared to what they get from others, even if I do something hand-made in order to subsidize my lower pricepoint. And since they registered for SO MUCH, it gives the impression that they really don’t want you to go off-registry (ie, they’ve given their guests so many options you shouldn’t need to waste your time being creative…).

      • Caroline

        Definitely. When the registry consists entirely of things WAY out of my price range, it does make me feel bad. I feel like I can’t give them anything they’d actually want, anything that would actually make them happy. There’s also an undercurrent of feeling uncomfortable and out of place because I’m clearly not of the “right” socioeconomic class for this wedding — the one the couple clearly expects most of their guests to belong to.

      • H

        I’m creating my registry now (so on target, APW!) and am battling this same problem. I was in a dear friend’s wedding two years ago, and her registry was almost obscenely large and expensive, especially because I knew her taste (I could totally tell that the registry was full of “mom says” and not “we’d love”– you know?). It left me feeling resentful, even though she is a dear friend, that all I could afford was a trash can for the bathroom, and maybe a kitchen towel- it was very uncomfortable for me. Even my MOM said that she couldn’t find much that was affordable on it, and she was willing and able to spend quite a lot.

        That said, my fiance and I have lived together for several years, and our registry (even being very liberal with our “wants”) will have 50 or less items on it by the time it’s done. About half of those things are what I consider very expensive- between $100 and $300. But we really don’t need much more, and have zero space for storage. I’m trying to strike the balance of hitting all price points (the rest of the items are under $100), but I don’t see how I can. And our families are e.nor.mous so I know the registry will be all bought out very soon after we send out our website. I don’t want to offend people by putting on too little or too much…

        So we’re creating a general honeymoon registry, and hoping people aren’t offended. I don’t think they will be, but I can’t help but wonder… So tricky.

        • AlyB

          Hey H, we’re doing the honeymoon registry too for our upcoming wedding. Our plan is to bring a list of everything that people bought for us along with a cute “Thank You” sign. We’re going to take a picture at dinner, in front of the zipline place, at the hotel, etc, holding up the Thank You sign and send it along with our thank you notes to the gift giver. That way the get to see the item they purchased as being tangible and fun!

      • Liz

        There is often a cultural component in selecting registry items. While I registered for Corelle plates from Target because I wanted something practical and cheap, I have friends who registered for real-deal, $300-per-setting china because That’s What You Do, not because I Want All the Things.

        Part of approaching weddings with a fair and understanding mindset, is to not just be conscientious toward your guests when planning your own (by selecting items in a variety of price ranges, by registering at a store that’s accessible to your guests, etc), but being understanding of brides and grooms who maybe DO get sucked into the wedding vortex. Don’t hold it against them. Some of them are really good people, honestly!

        • http://thevoiceofthelobster.wordpress.com Laurel

          The cost of plates and (especially) of flatware is flabbergasting. What if you dropped and broke your $150 plate? Are your friends just way more coordinated than I am?

          • Liz

            I think they just don’t use them, right?! They get put in a fancy china closet? That’s how I’D have to avoid breaking them.

          • Jo

            They registered for 14 sets so that if they break they have backup.

            [Yep. That’s 14 x $75 just for the dinner plates ($1,050), so imagine how much the whole set costs when you include salad plates, bowls, serving pieces…]

          • http://thevoiceofthelobster.wordpress.com Laurel

            This puts my cousin’s decision to register for Heathware (durable, US-made, $33/plate and thus nowhere near my price range) in a totally different perspective.

        • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

          We didn’t register for china because we simply did not have anywhere to put it if we got it. We only registered for things we would be able to use right away. My uncle was upset, because he wanted to get me china. On the flip side, my cousin (not coincidentally, that uncle’s daughter) DID register for the traditional stuff, and my aunt (not married to that uncle!) got annoyed even though there was plenty of things left. She got annoyed, though, not bc of the price, but because she doesn’t “believe” in china.

          So, my advice? Register for what you want/need, and enlist those word-of-mouthers (in my case, Mom and MIL) in defending your choices. Our registry had all price points, but we are particular. The towels, kitchen electrics, blankets, etc that we registered for were more expensive. We tend to go without until we can afford what we want as opposed to buying the cheaper version so we have it because, well, we are fussy. None of it was outrageously priced, but yes I registered for the le Cruset dutch oven, because I would rather not have one if I can’t have the one I want.

          Which brings me to another point – a lot of people have mentioned that friends will often go in together on large ticket items. But, also, gift cards are popular gifts. Not to mention — completion discounts! So, go ahead and register for the $200 le Cruset (or the $400 Kitchenaid Mixer, if that’s more your speed). If no one buys it, you can pick it up post wedding using the 1500 gift cards people got you, at a percentage off to boot!

          • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

            Also, what I was trying to say … Don’t register for something you don’t want because you feel like you should. Whether that be the cheaper version, the more expensive version, or not at all. I didn’t want china or the mixer, but we wanted bedding, towels, other kitchen stuff, etc. People will buy it or they won’t. Just enlist your defenders – they are very useful!!!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I judge other people’s registries, and so was worried about people judging mine. How do I judge? Well, I’m sorry, $30 is too much for a machine-made wine glass, which is something a friend registered for. And maybe our wedding guests will think $20 is too much for a pillow [I sleep on $7 pillows right now.] or $100 is too much for a frying pan.

      How have I gotten over it? I realized that I still love that friend, even if I think she has misguided taste in wineglasses. And of course I never brought it up to her or anyone else who had looked at her registry.

      So, if people are judging my registry, I doubt I’ll hear about it. And I won’t let what I don’t know hurt me.

      • http://kristinyc.wordpress.com kristin

        The only time I’ve felt “judgy” in a bad way about a friend’s registry was when, in addition to lots of household items (like, the whole registry had over 500 things, for a 150 person wedding), it had a lot of stuff that was CLEARLY just for the bride – makeup, clothing, haircare products. Because, seriously?!? I don’t think anyone bought that stuff.

        On the flip side, sometimes registries make me judge my friends as awesome. One husband was clearly having fun in the store, and scanning things the wife didn’t see, which is how a bag of Cheetos ended up on their list. So we bought them the hand soap dispenser, some bowls, and the cheetos, because we like giving things that go together. (You know, you put the cheetos in the bowls, and then wash the orange stuff off your hands using the soap dispenser…)

        In general though, I feel like the gift I buy for someone reflects me to an extent, so if I don’t like something on the registry, I buy something else or give a gift card/cash.

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      I tried to address that issue by not registering for anything I wouldn’t be willing to pay for. We registered at Crate and Barrel, but we also picked the basic level of dishes and flatware. I think our dish sets were $20 for the whole set, and silverware was $30 a setting. I found that buying things in our reasonable price range was useful.

      We also kept a fairly small registry and ended up with lots of nice off-registry things from relatives who wanted to spend more, eg silver candlesticks. I won’t use most of that stuff now, but it’s all within the realm of reason to use at some point in the next decade. Having the registry helped everyone know our tastes.

      • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

        This is a really good point. I mentioned in my above comment that we are particular, but nothing we registered for was something that, under other circumstances, we wouldn’t buy for ourselves. In fact, with many of our unfulfilled gifts (there weren’t many) we DID buy them after the wedding.

  • Sarah

    I’m getting married in September and struggling with the gift list thing right now. We have been living together for 3 years, we were both kitted out pretty fully before then anyway to the point that we have duplicate Le Creuset dishes, duvets, pillows etc etc. There are so few things that we actually need that we would struggle to put a list together, plus, we already have SO much *stuff* that I really really don’t want to add to it unnecessarily. The thing that would make most sense is to ask people for a contribution to our honeymoon fund, but I’m uncomfortable about asking people for cash – I don’t like to do it for friends getting married as I’d rather buy them something that they’ll use in their new family and hopefully for years and years rather than spend on a holiday. Can anyone shed any light on this (particularly in the UK)? My only idea is to allocate any gifted cash to a specific day or event whilst we’re away, and write the thank you note describing exactly what it was used for (Dear Aunt, thanks so much for your generous gift, you bought us a lovely dinner overlooking the sunset, the steak was fantastic/day in a beautiful guesthouse, the view was awesome/day’s wandering around a Medici palace, so romantic…). Thoughts please!

    • Sarah

      Hi also Sarah!
      I’m from the UK and don’t mind at all being asked for cash as a gift. It would make my day to get a thank you note that made me imagine my friends in a Medici palace! Having said that, I know my mother doesn’t like it when couples ask for money, and suspect that’s true of others of her generation.

      One of my favourite gifts was a wine tasting my work colleagues arranged for us at the hotel we stayed at on honeymoon – there might be a way you could set up a list of specific experiences people could buy for you ( in our case my colleagues were just sneaky and found out where we were staying and set it up as a surprise!).

      Even if you have that sort of list, I think you’d probably get some household type things as gifts too though.

    • MDBethann

      Depending on where you go for your honeymoon, you can register for excursions or outings and such – one of my best friends isn’t into housewares and when she married, they honeymooned at an all-inclusive resort, so they registered for things like horseback rides on the beach (which I think I contributed to). They made wonderful memories of it. And depending on what you do, you might be able to send people great honeymoon photos as part of the thank you.

      • kyley

        Yes! I’m going to a wedding tomorrow and they did this! My partner and I wer SO excited to buy them two dinner’s at their resort. It felt more sentimental than cash and more fun than silverware. I would love to do this for every wedding!

    • Alex

      My friend did exactly this and it worked brilliantly. With their invitation they sent round a break down of their honeymoon with prices. It had a mix of expensive, middle of the range and very cheap, so the sleeper train from Paris to Venice was a couple of hundred pounds but aperitivi for two was £10 and ice cream was £5. They also included a curry take away for the night they got back so that the honeymoon would last just a tiny bit longer. They took pictures of themselves doing the various things that people had paid for and then sent them as thank you cards. They didn’t have a standard gift registry. I think this was a lovely idea as they have wonderful memories of their honeymoon thanks to their friends and family.

    • Pippa

      I’m not from the UK (Australia) but just thought I’d throw in a different perspective. My friend got married last year after living with her fiance for about a year beforehand. She often complained that he didn’t earn enough money and they let a friend move in and pay board to help with the mortgage. So when I got a card with the wedding invitation saying they had everything they could possibly need and to please give us cash, I was offended. It’s being done more and more in Australia but I think there’s still an air of tackiness around the request. By asking for money to contribute to the honeymoon it dulls the distaste a bit, and I was happy to do that for other friends (especially considering they’d never travelled together). But the poem from this couple just smacked of ‘we’re very well off, nothing you give us is needed or wanted.’ They’d also been on a tour of Europe several months before so I wasn’t keen on donating to their honeymoon. Plus, I like buying gifts for people, and asking for money isn’t okay when some of your guests are poor-arse students who aren’t comfortable with the thickness of their envelope being (in)directly compared with others.
      Long story short? I bought them a tagine, a Moroccan cookbook and some jars of spices. They didn’t have those things already.

    • Lydia

      There are websites set up for this, like www[dot]buy-our-honeymoon[dot]com or www[dot]honeyfund[dot]co[dot]uk (sorry, don’t want to cause spam!) and lots of others if you put honeymoon wedding gift list etc. into Google

      Or as my friends did (I don’t think they would mind me re-posting here):

      We are sending out this invitation
      In hope you’ll join our celebration
      But if a gift is your intention
      We’ll take this opportunity to mention

      We have already got a kettle and a toaster
      crockery, dinner mats and matching coasters

      So rather than something we have already got
      We would appreciate money for our honey pot

      But most importantly we request
      That you come to our wedding as our guest.

  • Amy

    So, what about money? Is that not an OK wedding gift any more? It was the #1 thing we wanted for our wedding (even setting up a honeymoon registry to get it), and my go-to gift for weddings since then. Easy for everyone to carry, and fits with any decor! But is that rude, if people have gone to the trouble of filling out a registry? Like I don’t care enough about them to actually shop for them and schlep the casserole pan to the out of town wedding?

    • Liz

      HA! I don’t think cash will EVER be turned away. By anyone. Ever.

    • moonitfractal

      As someone very recently married, cash and gift-cards were the best things we got. Carting home car-loads of gifts at 1 am when you’ve spent the entire day getting married (especially if you did so in a floofy dress and not-too-comfortable shoes) is not my idea of a good time. Checks addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast” are a HUGE hassle, especially since I haven’t changed my name yet, when I do it won’t be to “Mrs Hislast,” and we don’t have a joint bank account. We have to sign each check three times and show ID to deposit them if they are made out this way. Furthermore, the polite thing to do is deposit checks right away, so there is also time pressure to jump through all these hoops.

      I highly recommend either a card containing cash or a gift-card or shipping gifts directly to the couple’s home (just try to time it so the don’t arrive while the couple is away on their honeymoon and sit on the porch for a week).

      • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

        This depends on your bank. So long as both parties are present and you can prove they are he intended recipients, they’re legal to cash. Many national banks have stricter policies which most people aren’t aware of when they write the checks. We’ve been married over a year and a half and STILL don’t have a joint account (long story), but my credit union was AWESOME and SO helpful when going through the mountains of checks addressed to differing names!

  • Caroline

    We registered for wedding gifts, but kept everything on our registry under $100. For real — no one coming to our wedding was particularly wealthy, and a lot of people were in situations where $30 would be a lot for them. But we knew that people would still want to give us something, and would want to know that they’d given us something we wanted and would use.

    We knew this from having been on the other side of that situation multiple times. Our desire to give wedding presents wasn’t out of a sense of duty, or a sense that we had to “cover the cost of our plates” (argh, I hate that saying) — it was just a desire to do something to demonstrate that we cared about the couple, something to help them out and make them happy.

    And the thing is? When we were the ones getting the wedding presents? Everything made us feel happy and grateful and loved — whether it cost $5, $75, or was just a handwritten note of congratulations and best wishes. I don’t think we were totally abnormal in feeling that way, either. It wasn’t about who got us stuff or how expensive it was; it was just the fact that people were thinking of us. (And yes — the handwritten notes DID mean just as much to us as any of the material gifts.)

    Yeah, I get either bummed or grumpy when I check someone’s wedding registry and I can’t afford a single thing on there. And I will admit that I’ve made snarky comments in my head when I see super big-ticket items on wedding registries — “yeah right, they expect someone to get them that big-screen TV?”

    But I don’t feel that way about wedding registries in general. I get excited about giving the couple something they really want, something they’ll really like.

  • Kathleen

    AWFUL here. We just celebrated our first anniversary, so we’ve already been following the “put it in a box and come back to it” plan for a little while now. I’ve already (theoretically) off-loaded some pie plates (WHY do so many people buy so many pie plates?!) – my friend said she’d take them, and her bridal shower is next month, so I’m going to wrap them up and give them to her – she’ll know exactly where they came from – along with an actual gift that I’ve purchased for her. So that’s one victory! But I’m still having trouble coming to terms with some of the other stuff. Things that are intended for display – won’t the givers notice that they’re not on the walls? And blocks with our name on them aren’t more valuable for being personalized, but they certainly mean we can’t give them away or sell them. Am I just supposed to throw them in the garbage pail?

    • Liz

      (yes, just throw them in the garbage)

    • Anon For Now

      Turn the blocks into door stops or pavers in your garden?

      As for the display items, bring the things out when the people visit. If they don’t visit you, you’re in luck!

      • http://theblogwhisperer.tumblr.com HeatherG

        Maybe someone would notice if it wasn’t on the wall when they visited, but that seems like an awful lot of trouble!

        Maybe this will help? My parents have this question they ask each other when getting rid of something, “Have we honored this enough?” It feels liberating to ask myself that question and even more so to figure out a way to dispose of it.

  • NHD

    I hope its not too late in the day for this question, but APW, do you have recommendations for registry stores? I’m leaning towards Amazon at this point but I’m afraid it will give me decision fatigue and become a really stressful event for me.

    My parents friends in particular love doing wedding gifts and get very excited to pick things from their friend’s children’s registries so I definitely will do one. But I’m just not a big box store kind of person. If I was, I would register at something in the Williams Sonoma to Crate and Barrel price-range/style, but everything there just feels so generic to me.

    I would love to find a smaller store (maybe a regional or one city store) that is a kind of one-stop shop for kitchen/house stuff and that is easy to order online from as most guests will be traveling from out of town. I guess I just described the big-box-stores so I may just have to bite the bullet on this one (and we do need grownup kitchen basics as our law school Kmart pots and pans, etc. are about to fall apart), sigh.

    • Liz

      I understand where you’re coming from (I really like smaller retailers), but your older guests may have an easier time with a department store or, as you said, a big box store. Many of the older crowd won’t be bothered with online ordering or with digging around in the side streets of town to find that little housewares boutique of all local handmade. But! Your friends might.

      Like you said! The grown-up basics are good items to register for in those department stores, if you can’t find any way around it.

    • Catherine B

      I haven’t registered yet, so don’t have too much knowledge, but what if you went in to one of those “big box” stores, found the items you liked, and then registered for those on Amazon? It wouldn’t necessarily work for everything, but might take some of the decision fatigue out of it, and you would be able to get a sense of quality and size in person. Good luck!

    • MrsM

      We used http://www.notanothertoaster.com and this gave us flexibility – only had three options for people to contribute to 1. BBQ 2. Wine to cellar 3. donation to us to use at Kiva.org – which is an awesome micro-finance charity website – we have $600 there now and keep relending the money to new projects as they become available.

      We chose each ‘unit’ price and kept it low. I was amazed and shocked at how much money some people were willing to spend on us, they selected multiple units, whereas some people we know are hard up gave us one unit or nothing and that was great too.

      All in all it was pretty good – only downside with website is that they charge each person who uses a credit card, and you pay international tranfer fees to direct deposit into the account (from where we live anyway).

    • Anon

      Etsy! The Etsy registry! It came along too late in the game for me, but seriously, hearing about this made. my. day.

    • Laurel

      Think about using the I Do Foundation, which donates a percentage of purchases to the charity of your choice.

    • ECK

      I just had a shower thrown for me yesterday, and had registered at one “big box” store, which many of my older relatives/family friends appreciated, because they wanted to give me kitchen staples and such. However I also registered at 10,000 Villages, a store that sells fair trade crafts and housewares (http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/). They have some stores, but are not huge, but they do have a website. Many of my friends loved picking things out from there, and I was able to say that they could pick out almost ANYTHING in the store and I would love it. Made them feel good about picking out a personalized gift, and made me feel good for money going to a worth establishment. I recommend it if it fits your style!

    • Bessa

      When it comes to Big Box type stores, I truly recommend Bed Bath and Beyond. They’ve got a good variety of price ranges (so you can get $15 plates or $150 plates, depending on your taste/culture), and their return policy is AMAZING. Anything on your registry can be returned for cash or store credit without a receipt at any time, which was a lifesaver for us when we learned we’d be moving across the country shortly after our wedding and couldn’t keep everything we’d gotten. Other stores we looked at only allowed X number of returns off a registry (whether you had a receipt or not!), or similar restrictive policies, but BBB was pretty great about it. They also have good online updating/shipping, so it was easy for the internet generation as will as the brick-and-mortar folks.

      (Another bonus to this was that while we had to return some items that just weren’t practical for us during the moving process, we used that credit to buy an air mattress and some other stuff we used a lot on our move, so I still had something to remind me of my thoughtful friends and family.)

  • http://useyourwordss.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    We did not have a gift registry, and it didn’t cause any problems for us at all. Since my then-fiance and I already lived together in a tiny apartment, and since he already has a habit of buying what he wants for the kitchen, it didn’t make sense for us. I also call BS on the necessity of aligning myself with a bix box home goods store just to be “polite,” and I’m kind of disappointed that this advice post seems to embrace the practice unequivocally.

    What we said gift-wise was 1) gifts aren’t necessary (we’re fairly financially solvent, luckily), 2) if you’d really like to contribute to our new life together, we’re saving up for a home and if you’d like to chip in a few dollars for our “house fund” we would be grateful, and 3) if you’d like to support the right for all individuals to marry, please consider a donation to the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

    Some folks gave us money, some folks gave us a card, a few folks gave us thoughtful, interesting gifts, and NO ONE gave us a hard time.

    • Liz

      As mentioned above, NOT having a registry is a viable option for many folks! The point isn’t that everyone MUST have a registry or that without a registry your guests will give you a hard time, but that having a registry is not equivalent with being greedy or demanding gifts.

      • http://useyourwordss.blogspot.com/ Michelle

        Thanks, Liz – I get that, it just seemed that registries were really getting the APW seal of approval specifically in the post, and I do think it’s more complicated than that. I also think the “people WILL buy you gifts” argument, while relevant, is frequently used by less-thoughtful-than-APW folks as essentially a scare tactic for engaged couples who are on the fence about registries. I absolutely believe that registries can be a good choice for many if not most; I just want to make sure that those who question them – or who prefer to request money (which I think is perfectly valid too and often VERY practical) are validated as well.

        I get, though, that a big part of the issue is just being okay with accepting gifts in whatever form they come. That is a message that APW is really consistent about, and which I really appreciate. So thanks!

        (P.S. We are right now under contract on a house, in part because of the generosity of our family and friends. And I am always thrilled to write a check with a personalized card to other friends getting married. Yay for generosity all around!)

        • Liz

          I think if the question would’ve been different, it would’ve received a different response. “Should I register? We’re moving overseas…” or “Should I register? We only have 20 wedding guests…” or “Should I register? We don’t care what we get…”

          But, “Should I register? I don’t want to seem greedy…”? Yes, register! That’s not greedy at all!

          Case by case, of course.

  • anon

    I would love to hear if anyone in the APW community has tried the Miss Manners approach: register, but don’t tell anyone about it unless they ask you or your moms for the info (as in, don’t post it on your wedding website.) That way folks who prefer registries can get you something from it if they want, but there’s no *asking* for gifts and no one feels pressured to do so if they’d rather craft or whatnot. This we’re planning to do, but I’m worried that it could backfire by either a) people assuming that not saying anything on the website = we want cash and judging us for that or b) it not occurring to anyone that we would have done this and therefore not being able to utilize the registry even if they would have wanted to. I’m not worried about not getting the stuff we register for, I’m worried about offending guests. Has this worked for anyone out there?

    • Liz

      I haven’t done this. BUT. We created a wedding website that listed registry information, and next to no one used it or found our registries there. Everyone asked our families. So, I would imagine (as usual) Miss Manners is probably right on the money.

    • Elena

      This is what we did for our wedding, and it worked great. We spread the news through our various family networks, and told our best man and maid of honor, as well, and that did the trick. We got some lovely off-registry gifts from our friends that weren’t as connected to our families. Plenty of people just gave cash or gift cards, as well, so it was a nice mix. We skipped the wedding website, or we probably would have considered posting our registries there, but we didn’t get it together for a website.

      I think Miss Manners hit the nail on the head for this one, at least in our situation. No one was offended, people who asked us or our families found our registry, and we didn’t have to write anything about gifts in our invites, which was really important to us.

    • Remy

      If most of your guests know your families well, or have contact info for another point person, like your maid of honor, that could work. My mother asked for our registry info to share with a couple of her friends (who want to buy us gifts? Okies.), but no one on our wedding guest list (except my best friend from high school, my MOH) has met my mom or would feel comfortable contacting her, even if they knew how. So it depends on who’s invited!

    • http://www.rachelwilkerson.com Rachel Wilkerson

      Ooh I really like this idea!

    • http://www.hungrybruno.com Adrienne

      The Miss Manners approach worked brilliantly for me! We didn’t have a wedding website, so anybody who wanted to get us something from a registry had to ask (usually they asked my mom) and there was no awkwardness in this arena at all. And as for the what stores to register at question, we split the difference with two registries: one at Amazon so we could use the Universal Wishlist for the couple of things we wanted at other stores, and one at Macy’s because my grandmothers are old school. Incidently, we also registered for fine china because it was really important to my grandmother (which, really, as I am the oldest/first hitched grandchild, was the reason for a lot of the things we did for our wedding) but it turns out I LOVE having it and we use it for special occasions.

  • Calon

    I can’t remember where I saw this online, but one couple asked guests to give them the a gift of their favourite book – they both loved reading, and this way they got to know their guests in new ways, and had in incredible reading list for a long time to come.

    I LOVE this idea.

    I think I might do this combined with ‘anything handmade’.

    Cheap, cheerful, meaningful, fun and surprising. Better than cheese graters ;)

    • Remy

      That’s a neat idea! My sweetie and I are both bookworms, so that might be a kind of gift scheme we’d be okay with. (It’s something I’d hoped for at a baby shower, down the line — mine or someone else’s who likes kids’ books as much as I do.) I love giving gifts, but they really should suit the recipient, I think.

  • http://www.rachelwilkerson.com Rachel Wilkerson

    My distaste for the registry has nothing to do with guilt or shame (gifting is my love language, and I can totally own that); for me, it’s that I find it really strange and arbitrary.

    Here’s what happens. I make an explicit list of the things I want. Someone decides to buy something for me; they look over the list of things I’ve chosen and they pick one mainly based on budget. They don’t bring it to the special occasion; they have it mailed to me. I don’t open it in front of them. Then I send them a thank you card. Well, of course I’m grateful…they got me exactly what I asked for!

    As someone who LOVES gifting (seriously, Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Days, hell — SATURDAYS…if I love you, I will SHOWER you), I think what bothers me about the registry is that it doesn’t feel thoughtful at all. What feels so good about giving and receiving (at least for people like me) is that the giver and receiver can both be excited about the gift because there is an element of surprise, love, thoughtfulness inherent in a maybe-I-dropped-a-hint-or-even-better-you-just-knew gift. And there’s a lot of love in a oka-turns-out-you-don’t-know-me-that-well-but-the-thought-totally-counts-and-this-is-so-awesomely-bad-it’s-good moment that comes with a gift that isn’t a good fit. So while I get that the registry is practical because people want to build you a house, as Meg says, telling them exactly what to do kind of goes against the spirit of gifting for someone like me.

    And while I don’t resent a couple who registers, I pride myself on being good at gifting; when I see Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I’m just like REGISTRIES ARE FOR AMATEURS. I TOTALLY GOT THIS. I never know it’s bad etiquette to go rogue when it comes to disregarding the couple’s registry.

    (Also, if anyone is interested in this topic, the book “How Pleasure Works” has a fascinating chapter on our culture’s gift rituals, and gift cards in particular — like, when all we basically just exchange gift cards at the holidays — and it’s definitely worth a read!)

    Maybe I’ll change my mind eventually, but I’m just still not sure how to get past this sense of “OK, but isn’t this sort of silly?” feeling I have every time I think about registries. Anyone else feel that way about them? Any advice for getting past it?

    • Liz

      I don’t know if you necessarily have anything to get past! If you enjoy buying gifts outside of the registry, go on, girl. Lots of people are NOT wired that way and are perfectly content (excited, even, in the way you described) to have someone open something that they bought for them. (even if it was picked out by the receiver in advance) For many, deciding what to give someone is a stress- especially when 100+ people might possibly give them the same.

      • http://www.rachelwilkerson.com Rachel Wilkerson

        Liz, what do I do for my own wedding though? I don’t want to stress my guests out, but that’s why I feel like I need to find a way to get past it!

        Although if most people feel comfortable disregarding it, then I suppose I have nothing to worry about! I just want them to know it’s seriously just a guideline and a SO not diehard one.

        • Liz

          Oh, see, as a fellow gift-giver (hi, kindred spirit!) I’ve sort of given up on the idea that people relish putting as much thought into gifts as I do. I’ve come to terms with love languages and all that and know that I’m better off giving my mom a Christmas list to make her life easier, even though I’ll think and plot and scheme and dig. Don’t you find that to be the way? Because that translated easily to me for the wedding. I may conjure something special based on my knowledge of my friends, but they probably won’t work that way. And that’s okay! Their gifts (that I picked out for them) are still heartfelt and meaningful.

          • kyley

            YES! THIS! This whole thread is perfect. It’s like you two climbed into my brain and sorted stuff out for me. So thanks for that! :)

          • http://www.rachelwilkerson.com Rachel

            True, I DO give Christmas lists because not everyone is the same as me. But I can tell my mom, “FEEL FREE to go off-list.” There’s no way to say that with guests/registry. But with so many wedding-related things, it seems like a good idea to tell your closest friends/relatives who can tastefully say things like that to other guests without you feeling weird/tacky for bringing it up.

            One more question — do people typically register for destination weddings too? Or do they find a nice way to say “Seriously, your presence here is your gift to us”?

          • Caroline

            This!!! I suck at gifts so hard. It’s not my love language at all. So I really appreciate a registry to go off. But if a guest goes off list and gets me something thoughtful, I’d be delighted!! I just really want an idea of what they want when they get married so I can give them something non-sucky because I suck at gifts.

  • es.tr

    We took bits and pieces of advice that people have mentioned here and found something that worked for us.

    We made a list of things we needed, but didn’t specify brands or store you could get it. So we’d say we need 6x wine glasses, but let’s be honest you can get those anywhere and as long as I’m drinking wine with 5 other people I don’t care if the glasses cost $12 or $50. If we were asking for something that wasn’t common we’d put a link to somewhere you could buy it, but make clear an equivalent would be OK. So, we asked for mesh bags to take to the grocery store for produce, they aren’t that common so we put a link to somewhere you could buy them.

    We put the list online, but also gave access to both of our mothers so if people wanted to do the more traditional ‘ask the parents’ they had access to the most up to date list.

    We made a note that if you were in doubt to buy something plain and durable. We knew we’d get some wacky coloured or patterned things, but if most people went plain we’d be OK.

    We found it was a good balance of us not wanting to ask for All The Things, but rather providing a list of things that we needed and letting people decide on an item and a price point they were comfortable with.

  • http://laorencha.blogspot.com channamasala

    *heart* the post, and agree with it (really there’s nothing to disagree with), but it has reminded me to someday write and submit a post about how it’s OK to not register if you don’t want to, that you don’t actually need a reason (although it helps to have one), that *gasp* some people don’t register and that’s OK, and what happens when you don’t.

    I’m still subscribed to a few wedding blogs, including this one obviously, and every post on registering pays lip service to not having to do it, but the person writing the post always ends up doing it anyway and writing from that perspective. Which is fine, but the perspective of someone who faced the same decision and ended up not registering – and found out that the world does in fact continue to turn on its axis – might be helpful. I have, as yet, not seen it. Even once. On any wedding blog. I don’t read many, but still.

    (apologies if that comes off snarky – I don’t intend it to be overly so. I need more coffee)

  • Emma

    I’m the Emma who first wrote to APW with my question about gift registries a few months ago. In the interest of truth, I should tell you what we’ve since decided: putting together a gift list just plain didn’t sit right with us, although I entirely understand all the good reasons for doing one . We are the first of our friends to get married, many of our guests are still in post-graduate education or struggling through the early years of badly paid jobs, and our wedding will be in one of the least accessible parts of the UK.

    SO what we’ve done instead is respond to our guests individually when they’ve asked us what we’d like. This way, we’ve been able to keep in mind different people’s budgets when we’re requesting gifts, and also ask individuals for gifts that we know have some personal meaning to them as well. It’s working well so far – people have been happy to either approach us or our parents to ask what we’d like, and those who like to make up their own mind are free to do so.

    My fiance and I went against the grain making this decision – family, tradition and even my beloved APW told us that we should make a gift list, but it simply didn’t feel right to us, so we didn’t. Moral of the story? There are lots of ways of doing things, and you have to pick what feels right to you and then make that work. And it will.

  • JASHSHEA

    As always, APW gives me food for thought. I just cycled back through my registries (which are not yet “public”) and made sure that I really and truly had items in every bracket. We’re inviting ~280 ppl and I’m from NE (so shower gift plus cash at the wedding is fairly normal).

    I wanted to post my details, in case it helps anyone else out.

    Physical registries:
    38 Line Items
    90 Unique Items (i.e. I registered for 8 of this plate)
    <$10: 49 Unique
    <$20: 16 Unique
    <$50: 17 Unique
    $200: 4 Unique

    Honeymoon registry isn’t completed yet, but we’ll probably make the most expensive thing on there a $25 or $50 donation towards our adventures. We both feel a little icky about asking for money for flight or hotels for some reason (though I’ve happily paid for it for someone else’s wedding), so we’re just registering the experiences (guided hikes, heli tours, swim with dolphins or whatever).

    I obviously don’t know the financial situation of every guest, but I tried to remember what it was like to read through a registry in my younger days and not be able to afford a dern thing on it. I DGAF if someone buys me one $7 plate or nothing at all. We’re inviting people because we love them and want them to dance their faces off at our party.

    Long story longer, I didn’t want to have any showers (I live in NC, family in MA, so two is a necessity). I told everyone that I didn’t want any showers – I’m uncomfortable in a room full of women who want to ooh and ahh over presents. But…it’s like it is with the gifts. People (my mom, his mom, friends, aunts/uncles) WANTED to do something for us. And I’m finding out that part of being a grown up (I’m 33 and this was news to me) is being gracious when people want to do things to congratulate, honor, host, or roast you.

  • Moz

    I’ve seen etiquette guides that slam slipping a registry card in with an invite. But personally I never feel weird about a registry card, it’s the solicitations for cash that I hate. I HATE them and I would never give cash as a gift, ever, for a wedding.

    But I know people feel differently. I just think that if you’re lucky enough to have already set up house and you have all the good stuff already, you’re probably doing OK without a gift of cash. So I’ll buy you something nice for your walls or a wine subscription or something else that feels, you know, like a wedding gift and not a 21st birthday present.

    • Bears fan

      Gift giving is pretty cultural, too. I think cash gifts are the norm in my culture — it symbolizes prosperity and well wishes or something like that — and a physical gift is considered odd. Stuff registries weird me out though, so these things are all regional/cultural, etc.

    • AK

      I HATE this too. Perhaps my situation is particular because the couples who has specifically requested money in my (limited) experience have all been couples having weddings that require travel – plane, car rental, hotel, etc. If I’ve already spent over a grand getting to your wedding, I am going to be offended by you asking me for cash.

      I do understand the general sentiment behind the support of registries / presents / cash on this site. I agree that it’s never a good idea to feel guilty for your wedding or the trappings (for example gifts) that come along with it. But I also think there are wrong ways to go about it. Or at least ways that truly will offend and or hurt your guests.

    • atypicallyengaged

      This comment makes me sad, and I think this issue highlights an unfortunate reality of APW, which is a bias towards issues and opinions of the socioeconomically privileged.

      I don’t think that couples who ask for cash necessarily have all the good stuff already. I know lots of couples who don’t have the good stuff, and don’t even have the sh*t stuff, but really want to have a wedding anyway and can’t figure out how to pay for it. So they ask for cash at their wedding, and I’m always happy to oblige.

      If, as a guest, you feel that the couple is so well-off that they don’t need your contribution, then it is completely your right to not give anything (including a gift). Personally, I think a couple’s financial situation isn’t really their guests’ business, and if I’m financially able, I’m happy to provide whatever they most appreciate, and if that’s cash, then great! Easy gift!

      • Moz

        To clarify: I am not counting other people’s money. In every case, the solicitation was prefaced by: ‘We have already set up house and have everything we need’ or something very close to that effect. In every case, too, I was told this by one of the people getting married, that they ‘had enough’.

        I resent the implication that my comment suggests that I must come from money myself to make such a judgement. The middle section of your comment also suggests that you have no problem counting other people’s money when it comes to paying for their weddings, and I don’t see how that is any better than what you condemned me for.

  • Lydia

    I’m also in the UK, and as I and my friends have just graduated, we are all on a tight budget! I feel bad asking friends for gifts they can’t afford, even if I need them. So I have decided to do the gift list with three options for guests to choose, based on how much time or money they have:

    1) traditional gifts, like chairs, cheese graters and china. (We really really want a piano but of course that’s a massive lump sump, so we will invite guests to “buy a key” or “buy an octave”) and we will write their names on a big sheet inside the piano lid….)

    2) bring-and-share food or drink for our buffet evening reception;

    3) sponsor an event or fun item on the day, like hire a bouncy castle, or hire the violinist from our ceilidh band….

    Another thing we will ask for is that guests bring their favourite recipe for us to fill up a personalised cookery book. This doesn’t cost anything, is very personal and is a great way to remember them – or even entertain friends at future dinner parties!

    Gift lists don’t have to cost the earth and produce lots of waste.

  • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

    so, i angsted a lot about the first question posed. probably more than any other wedding aspect (as an aspiring minimalist, picky bitch, and someone who is tweaky about money, the registry idea was *hard*). turns out, like everything else, what we did wasn’t perfect…but it worked out perfectly: we just didn’t deal with it.

    because, as everyone here has mentioned, the people (well, the ones buying gifts) invited to our wedding are *adults* and can make their own decisions. moreover, they are our people, and i mostly trust them. they are our people; they are likely to know what we like. they are our people; they can always *ask* what we want (and we did have some general answers prepped, but no registry to reference – mine was “well, all we really need right now is dirt and sheetrock” – both of which we got!). and, while i believe the horror stories or hideous gifts due to lack of registry…ours were great. we got one or two things we didn’t dig. but we also got wonderful, thoughtful things we would never have even known we wanted!