Can We Spend Registry Gift Money on Something Else?


AAPW: Is it ever okay to let people think they're buying something that they're not?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

wedding rings on map

Q: My fiancé and I have been living together for the last decade. We like nice stuff, we’re both working professionals, and over the years we’ve set up a great home, so overall we feel like we have everything we need. We were never planning on having a wedding. A couple of years ago we started to reconsider, and now we’re two and a half months out from our two hundred-plus person wedding. We’re also pretty financially conservative and place a very high value on experiences over stuff.

But we also know that some people like to do gifts rather than cash, and my fiancé’s family is especially traditional. So we went ahead and set up one of those universal gift registries that basically collects the cash for you, checks that item off your posted registry, and then you cash out all the funds they collected and go and purchase the stuff yourself.

We originally did this so we could have options in case we changed our minds. But now that people have started actually buying us gifts from the registry, we’re not sure what to do. If someone thinks they’re buying us a nice serving platter from our registry, but in reality we turn around and use those funds for something else (say a trip to Hawaii or the down-payment on a house), are we crossing the line in not honoring their gift? And do we tell our guests what we’re doing? Granted, all the things that we registered for are legit things that we thought would be nice to have, but since we’ve set up our registry in this way it feels like WE are the ones actually spending the money on the gifts, and it’s really hard for us to actually consider spending that money on stuff that we haven’t already had a need for. Is taking the cash instead of the gift any different than receiving and then returning an item?

Right now our plan is to wait and see what the full registry looks like after the wedding is over, but we want to start writing thank you notes now (to get a jump start) and out of all of our pre-wedding conversations, this is the one that has us both the most befuddled.

—Registered and Confused

A: Dear RAC,

Don’t do it. While I understand the urge, something about this idea feels really false and a little gross.

Your original intention was to give folks who prefer tangible gifts an outlet. So skipping the entire tangible gift part goes against the whole point. If you’re going to just take the money anyway, why register at all? So people incorrectly think they’re giving you a gift? Ta-da, we find ourselves at the dishonest part.

You ask if taking the cash isn’t the same as just secretly returning the item and I agree that yeah, it basically is. But (at least in the case of registries) most folks don’t return a gift because they decide they’d like money instead. Usually there’s a reason—like getting two of something, or mistakenly receiving the wrong color. This isn’t like that. This is more like registering for a bunch of things you don’t want with the sole intention of taking everything back to the store and cashing out.

You mention being frugal-minded, and I get that. It’s one thing to get a fancy, pretty gift from someone, and a totally different idea to take money and go buy yourself a fancy, pretty thing. So change your mindset about it. You’re not being given money, you’re being given gifts. Tangible gifts may not be your thing, but you may find that they’re a really nice way to keep reminders of your wedding and your awesome friends around your house in everyday life.

And don’t worry. Most people know that cash is a great wedding present. You might be pleasantly surprised by the number of gifts that arrive in envelopes.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTIONPLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO 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 sons.

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  • Amy March

    And this is exactly why I don’t like these types of registries! If I want to give you cash, I will. If I want to buy you a decorative platter, and you register for a decorative platter, and I click on it and pay money to a website that makes it look like I am buying you a decorative platter, yes!!!! I want you to in fact get that gift. Sure, if something changes and it clashes with your table or someone buys you a sterling silver one off-registry or you just don’t love it in person, go right ahead and return it. But this just feels like you are misleading me, deliberately, to benefit yourself- basically it feels like fraud. And I’d feel the same way if you did register traditionally and then returned everything for cash.

    If you suddenly have some desperate financial situation arise, you do what you need to do. But wanting to spend my decorative platter money on a honeymoon instead doesn’t count.

    • Sarah

      I never heard of these registries and agree they sound stupid. And yes, many people give you money even with registries but it’s nice to have an option for the traditional folks. And some of the very traditional folks won’t even look at registries and get you what they think you “should” have.

    • KJ

      Our registry gave us the option of receiving the cash equivalent or directing the gift-giver to the online store to purchase the gift. It requires one extra box checked on the part of the gift-giver, but as someone that always prefers to bring a gift with me to a shower rather than ship it, I decided to go with this option. We have two exceptions to this on our registry, our request for a home down payment and a piece of furniture that we prefer to order so we can control the delivery options.

      We’ve been living together for 4+ years and we just don’t need that much stuff. I do think it gets a tad tacky when the entire registry is filled with super specific “experiences”. My favorite is a family friend that included the experience of paying for their utility bills while they were on their honeymoon.

  • joanna b.n.

    Or take stuff off your registry now if you realize you don’t want it. And/Or add a “dream fund” as a gift option if you want people who DO want to give you cash a way to do it (and a heads up that it’s wanted).

    • emilyg25

      Yes, just change your registry! We made changes to ours up until like a week before the wedding.

      • Lisa

        Same here! I was constantly removing things from it throughout our engagement. We’re still sitting with “soup tureen with ladle” though because I didn’t make the decision to get rid of that one soon enough.

      • Lawyerette510

        Best change made to our registry was while my husband was on his guys’ weekend, a friend and I were drunk, playing cards, talking and I had an epiphany that I needed a waffle iron. I added it as an impulse, and it is one of the items we use the most.

        • Danielle

          I love my waffle iron! I wanted one for years and for some reason (limited NY kitchen space) never bought one. Then my mom’s friend bought it off our registry… And I’m so grateful.

    • Her Lindsayship

      This is what I didn’t get from the perspective of the question writer! Why didn’t you register that way if that’s what you both wanted?? If you were concerned enough about people wanting to give you physical gifts that you created the registry for them to do so, why are you suddenly not at all concerned about those people’s feelings?

      Although I must also admit, even though it would be deceitful, in some cases the gift giver may never ever know what you did with the cash. As long as you thank them for the gift they intended to give, and have every reason to believe they’ll never know, it *could* actually work without hurting anyone’s feelings. But why risk it??

    • Greta

      Seriously – just add a cash section, and make it known that you would prefer cash/dream fund/etc. Whenever I see the bride and groom would prefer cash I give it to them because that’s what they asked for! If I don’t see that you want cash, I’m most likely going to buy something off your registry, unless everything in my price range is taken.

      And registries are SO not set in stone. We made tons of changes to ours as things went along. We kind of went crazy with it in the beginning because it was so exciting, and then as people started buying stuff, we calmed down and realized, ok, no we don’t really need this, and adjusted things to be more realistic to what we needed/wanted.

      • Lisa

        We got freaked out by the salesperson at our registry event and were paralyzed by the choices. So my husband started scanning everything that we both liked with the idea that we’d sort out what we actually needed at a later date. If anyone had seen that first iteration of our registry, they’d have thought we were nuts! (It included a fancy gas grille and two $700 bar carts, none of which made the final cut.)

        • Greta

          ha yes! multiple $700 bar carts? That’s amazing.

          • Lisa

            Ha, yes, we both liked them and couldn’t make a decision which we liked more so naturally my husband scanned them both. I remember going through and cleaning it up and asking him repeatedly, “What were you thinking when you added this??” He added things he thought were awesome without looking at price tags or anything. I don’t think it helped that the saleslady took us through the furniture section of C&B and talked about people registering for bookcases, etc., and actually receiving them. It skewed our perceptions of what was reasonable at the beginning.

          • Lorraine

            Is it just me, or do a lot of men go crazy registering. I think the notion of a registry is so far off their radar prior to getting engaged, that when the opportunity shows up, they flip out.

          • AP

            OMG yes. My husband wanted to put the entire Amazon electronics section on ours. Like fancy camera lenses and a $1000 speaker surround system. I was like, “Dude, none of our bath towels match and we own one coffee mug. This is what a registry is for.”

          • Lisa

            When we first jokingly told my ILs about the registries my husband created, they made a big deal about us having items that were $200-400 on there because “no one will buy those.” Then when my husband’s great aunt arrived in town for the wedding and asked my MIL to take her shopping for a gift, the same MIL called and complained that we had no big ticket items on the registry! We just can’t win.

          • Daisy6564

            We registered for mostly $50-$150 things and my aunt called and insisted that we add some bigger ticket items. When the wedding rolled around she gave us… nothing. I am 100% sure this was an oversight on her part because she is notoriously flighty, especially about cards and gifts. We never said anything to her. Two years later my husband and I still joke about the $500 vacuum we don’t have.

          • Lisa

            Oof, what is it with aunts??? One of mine made this big deal about how she was so upset that she couldn’t attend and how she was planning to get us a really nice gift to compensate for it. She even asked which of the gifts we wanted to make sure she got us something we would use. When a card from her turned up, I thought she’d decided to give us cash instead. Yup, she had. We got a whopping $25 from her. Don’t build up what you aren’t planning to deliver!

          • Marcela

            We had one of my husband’s family members make a big deal about how they were going to get us a washer/dryer set as a wedding present (used, but still!). Wedding rolls around, nothing. Not even a card. They had given us some nice champagne flutes at the shower, but that was before the talk of W/D. I don’t get people.

    • Cellistec

      Yes, as a wedding guest I love the “dream fund” option.

  • Ashlah

    This question wasn’t what I expected*! We did both a cash registry and a universal Amazon registry for folks who like physical gifts. Our cash registry was clearly cash towards our honeymoon or home improvement projects, there was no way for our guests to misinterpret what they were gifting. If you want cash for your honeymoon, ask for cash for your honeymoon! (Yes, some people will find it tacky. Decide not to care. It’s become a lot more acceptable, and I was only exposed to positive comments.) A similar combination of registries seems like a good solution for you, letter writer. Or, don’t register at all–I hear many people tend to gift cash in that case.

    *I was curious to read it because we had a situation where my mom incredibly generously gave us the funds to cover our honeymoon after we had already set up our cash registry and received some gifts. I struggled with whether leaving the registry up was disingenuous, since we no longer needed honeymoon money. We ended up leaving it, and put the post-honeymoon surplus in our home improvement savings.

    • Lawyerette510

      We had a physical stuff registry and a cash registry. We really wanted a king-sized bed and mattress and we didn’t think anyone would be all-in for the cost of either one of those items, so on the cash registry we highlighted those two items and that’s what we hoped to put the cash towards. My in-laws ended up giving us enough to cover the entire cost, and similarly we left it up as an option for people who wanted to give cash. We put the windfall that we received ahead of the wedding into the budget for the night-before celebration.

  • Eenie

    If you prefer cash don’t add a million items to your registry. Once all the items are taken people will default to cash or check. Or you can slowly watch as people buy stuff and add on lower priced items if you want to have that as an option for everyone.

    • Bethany

      This is excellent advice that people don’t do very often… at least in my experience. For example, my friend who told me she would “really prefer gift cards” but registered for HUNDREDS of things. HUH?

      We’re just going to have a super small traditional registry which I think will kind of imply that we don’t need “things” but if someone wants to bring a gift we would definitely appreciate a gift card or a check that we can put towards some bigger ticket items (like a bed) or our honeymoon.

      • Eenie

        Yes! My SIL gave me this advice. I wish we hadn’t spent so much time registering either since most people opted for cash or check since they all traveled. Only put the stuff you need/want on the registry. I regret registering for some of the stuff that we did just to hit the right price points.

        • Alanna Cartier

          I keep having this battle in my brain. The fiancee and I have a registry, but it’s limited to mostly just stuff for our table (Because I want to throw dinner parties!) and I keep thinking that maybe we should add more to the registry. Thank you for reminding me I don’t have to do that :)

          • Lawyerette510

            You really don’t have to do that. Register for the things you want. 2 years after getting married, it’s really delightful to pull out a things for a dinner party and think of my cousin who gave us the platter or the friend who gave us the plates, etc.

          • Alanna Cartier

            Too true. And I LOVE throwing dinner parties. So much so that I’ve been throwing them at other people’s homes for years, since I don’t have a dining table. But that will change soon :)

        • aoverlock

          We are going the small registry route. Since we have lived together for almost 3 years, the things we added are hand-me-downs we would like to upgrade, like our dishes, which are actually the set MY parents received for their wedding 30 years ago (Corelle really does last forever!). At the same time, about 75% of our guests will be traveling, so I anticipate most of them will go the check/gift card route for convenience. I expect this will lead us to look at the registry again after the wedding to prioritize what to get now and what to wait and buy later on our own.

          • Eenie

            Corelle!!! I have my parents set from growing up. Didn’t like the pattern so we bought the plain white and passed it on to a younger sibling.

          • aoverlock

            Same for us! The pattern is pretty dated, so we are going plain white too :)

          • Ashlah

            We registered for (but then purchased ourselves) a set of Corelle dishes and I LURVE them! We actually shattered a plate last week, though, and I am still kind of devastated. We did not go plain white, and our pattern has been discontinued :(

          • Kara E

            Replacements?

          • Caitlyn

            As Kara suggested – check out replacements.com – they sell tons of discontinued china, etc. Or ebay, but I’d check replacements first. Good luck!

          • Ashlah

            Thanks for the suggestion! I wasn’t sure what Kara meant by that single word. It looks like they’re out of stock right now, but I will keep my eyes on it!

      • Jess

        This is very good advice and also something that people like my Mom don’t understand. She often complains of people having “small registries” which are usually couples who have been living together or on their own for a while.

        I’ve trying implying that it’s a kind way to suggest that they don’t need many things but are probably saving up money for something, BUT…all for naught. She is a *gift* person, not an experience person.

        • Lorraine

          It would never occur to me that a small registry might be a bid for cash. Then again, I live in the South. Giving cash here is not popular and even considered a little gauche unless it’s from a family member.

          • Bethany

            Whenever I see a small registry, I suppose I don’t necessarily think “these people want cash!” but I DO assume “They must not need a lot” and so my train of thought then goes to money. I wouldn’t literally write a friend a check, but I do give gift cards a lot. I realize that is basically the same, but somehow feels less awkward to me?

          • Michela

            Exactly!

          • Jess

            This is also probably a reason my mom is against it, come to think of it!

        • Michela

          We’ve received a surprising number of complaints about our experience-only registry, but I’m standing firm about not adding things we don’t need because I think this is the wave of the future! Of course I’m gracious and grateful when people go off-registry, but I’m not adding things we don’t need because that would feel either wasteful when we wouldn’t use it or dishonest when I return it because we didn’t even need it in the first place.

          • Bethany

            Definitely stand firm! I think it is so refreshing to see an experience registry, or a small traditional one. I had a good friend who registered for SO MUCH (she was younger and didn’t take advice) and now she just has a bunch of stuff that she never uses and doesn’t have room for. It’s so wasteful – and frankly I’d be really mad if I found out I spent $$$ on something that was literally never used and sat in a box for years.

          • Michela

            Yup! We are more experience-based people anyway, but definitely decided to go with an experience-based registry when we saw so many of our friends’ wedding gifts sitting unused in boxes for months. That felt really wasteful for me, even though I understand the stress of sorting through stuff following a wedding. We’re staying firm in the hopes that our guests’ generosity is reflected in the fun we’ll have on our honeymoon and on the 12 Months of Newlyweds Dates we also registered for.

            To all my other alt-registry people: hang tough! The engaged couples who follow us will thank us for socializing the concept ; )

          • Jess

            I love experience registries, and I’ve had friends very involved in volunteer organizations that have asked for donations to those causes which is always cool and I always do!

            But yeah, I think there’s a large portion of people who just don’t really get it?

          • Michela

            Yea it’s funny, because I try to (gently) press people when they tell me they don’t want to buy me an experience because to me, it’s the same as stuff, and so far no one has been able to identify why they don’t like the experience registry. My aunt said “I don’t know, I just don’t like it. I want to get you something you’ll actually use.” Umm I’ll use a beachside massage, trust me! For my shower, my friend said “I want to buy something just for you, not something for you and T” and I said “well if we had a ‘stuff’ registry and you bought me stuff for my shower, you do realize T would use those towels and that toaster and those forks, right? We would have registered for everything together, so it’s the same thing, just without the stuff” and she said, “still. I don’t like it.”

            It’s totally perplexing. I only try to press people on it because I think this is really the coming trend, and I’d like to save future couples the headache by getting people used to it earlier. It’s not because I want to dictate what people gift me; I received loads of physical gifts at my shower and most I kept. I’m more just trying to socialize the idea because I really think it’s the future.

            And when I’m completely exasperated, I just repeat my wedding mantra- “planning an untraditional wedding is a lot of fucking work”. Feel free to use that, y’all!xo

          • Lisa

            I think what people don’t like about it (not that I agree) is that the idea of wedding presents used to be that you were moving from your parents’ home to your new family home, and you needed things like dishes and sheets and towels because obviously you didn’t own them. Now that we’re setting up homes before marriage, a lot of us already own those items (or multiples of them) and don’t need others to purchase them. As a result, Dream Fund and Honeyfund registries have grown up to direct people towards cash while still making them feel like they’ve purchased an “item.” However, people still haven’t gotten over the idea that a wedding gift is reserved for items the couple will use in their daily lives.

            Someone mentioned that her mother’s friends threw her a “You’re an adult”/first home party where they gave her basic cookware that she needed, and I’d love to see that become more common. I sure could have used a party like that when I started grad school and suddenly needed dishes, sheets, and cookware! I was fortunate enough to get a bunch of hand-me-downs from my mom and MIL’s houses, and when we created a registry, we selected items we wanted to upgrade. (Hellooooooo fancy Wusthof knife block.)

          • Michela

            Right! I totally understand where that history comes from, I just think it’s outdated for all the same reasons you listed. Even my parents were a little irritated by us not registering for physical gifts. I asked them “what gifts from your wedding do you still use?” And they could only think of one- a crystal cut vase that wasn’t even on their registry! I laughed and said, “those aren’t great odds. And besides, memories last forever!”

            I also love the starting out on your own party! My bff is moving into her first home in two weeks. I’m so proud of her for saving up all that money and buying it on her own! Since starting out on your own parties aren’t totally a thing yet, I bought her a pretty heft gift card to Target so she can either splurge on expensive throw pillows and lamps or buy cleaning supplies and wine. Let’s get that trend started!

          • Shawna

            Yeah, the You’re an Adult celebratory milestone is sorely missing. He’s in his 40s and I’m in my 30s and we’ve joined a household with a lot of hand-me-downs. However, we feel like it would be perceived as somehow more selfish and/or wasteful to now register for basic housewares like towels, dishes, and cookware we already have just to upgrade it to something fancy we can’t otherwise afford (but have always liked) or just to get something new when the other stuff still serves us just fine. We’ve compromised by putting some really nice sheets as a group gift (which no one has touched yet, interestingly enough) and a hot water dispenser (because we both drink our weight in tea or coffee). The Kitchenaid mixer and ice cream maker were the first things to be purchased off the registry, but at T-8 days the experience presents have been popular enough that I’m thinking we’re going to be ok. Very curious if we’ll get gifts at the wedding, but our DOC said we had to have a cards box so we have that. I won’t be surprised if we get some money in envelopes since Indian families like to give money anyway. Probably why we’re not getting too much pushback (yet – knock on wood).

          • RH

            As someone who really dislikes “experience registries,” cash hints, gift card requests, etc., and has thought about it, I’ll speak for (some of) those people and say that I want to give an item that will be HELD by the couple. I don’t want it to vanish like a wisp of smoke as a massage would. I want tangible, in the same way a card is better than a text. I do not want my gift to be part of an amorphous blob of fifty other people sending digital payments so someone can go on their honeymoon.

            This is shameful so the fact that I’m sharing it should be underscored by how little I would like to say publicly: I do not remember every single person who gave us cash upon the arrival of our baby. Many did, and I remember the large amounts but not even what we spent those on. But I will NEVER forget the burp cloths a lady from our church sewed us. Every time I put the baby in his crib, my mind catches on the memory of my mom buying it for us and I smile at the tangible reminder of the community who supported us. Not so with the checks, no matter how sizable, that came in and went to such and such cost.

            I humbly disagree that it’s the wave of the future. I hope it’s a passing fad but only time will tell.

          • Daisy6564

            As someone who values experiences over things, let me explain why I get physically ill at the idea of getting tangible gifts. I grew up in a household bogged down with extra stuff. My mom sentimentally holds on to every card, baby shoe and hand drawn picture that has ever come into her house. It is suffocating. It has made me into an adult who is very conscious about what physical things I allow to take up my space. If I don’t love or use something, it has to go. I have been in too many houses bogged down by useless, dust collecting chotskies. I find it anxiety producing. I am also eco-conscious and all of this “stuff” just ends up being garbage some day (even if that someday is in a generation).

            When we registered for our wedding we made a small registry of things we actually needed and hoped that everyone else would give us cash. We use every single thing from our registry. The cash allowed us to finish paying for a honeymoon and start a house fund. I valued that trip and will value our future house 100x more than a waterford vase or nice china. We got exactly one thing that we did not register for and it still produces anxiety for me when I look at it.

            We just found out we are expecting a baby and I want to push the families to give us cash and hand-me-down stuff. Those burp clothes would go straight to goodwill the moment last baby is weaned. Same with the crib. The memories are still there, with or without the stuff taking up space in your house. Money for a college education will set my child up for a successful life.

            I love a card, but to me there is nothing more satisfying than throwing a pile of cards in the recycling.

          • Michela

            Interesting.. I wonder what I could do to assuage your point of wanting something that can be held if I don’t, in fact, need anything physical? (We’re both very established, merged two homes into one so already have duplicates, live in a tiny apartment with very little storage, etc. etc. etc.) I’ll think on that. Regardless, thanks for the perspective! I know it can be hard to voice a dissenting opinion, so I appreciate your voice!xo

          • I’d go with something edible. Like a selection of really nice teas, or some fancy dessert sauces. That way, you get the tangible bit, without the eventual clutter.

          • tr

            I agree completely! I really feel like the people asking for money for a trip are shortchanging themselves–20 years from now, I want to be able to look at my dishes and serving platters and think of the wonderful people who gave them to me. In the short term, yeah, I’d rather go to Hawaii, too, but in the long run, tangible reminders really are worth more than people realize.
            Now, if you’re truly broke and you NEED money, then yeah, go ahead and ask for money. But if you’re comfortably middle class, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn $1,000. You won’t have as many opportunities to furnish your home with memories of loved ones.

          • tr

            I tend to dislike experience registries and cash gifts because I’m a sentimental person. If I’m going to spend the money to get someone a gift, I want to be something that they’ll keep for many years. If I buy you a serving platter, I figure you’ll think about me (or at least the wedding) periodically when you take it out of the cabinet to use it. If I buy you a massage, you won’t still have tangible reminders of that massage 20 years from now. Plus, somehow to me, experience registries just always feel sort of entitled, like “I have such wonderful stuff that I no longer have a use for silly things like candlesticks and serving platters, so just give me money, you peasant”.
            I know that latter complaint isn’t logical at all, but that’s still how it sometimes feels to me.

          • Sara

            We are doing a charity registry instead (one charity of each of our choosing) and I expect to get similar pushback. Oof.

          • Kara Davies

            If you really want that pretty gravy boat, add it to your registry. If you don’t, don’t. If you want an experience only registry, do it! You’re the couple, you know what would most benefit you in your newly married state!

      • AmandaBee

        We went the small registry route. So far only one family member (definitely a “things” person) has complained. I can honestly say that the things we have on there are things we’ll (a) really enjoy or (b) really need. Much of it is a needed upgrade for something super old/outdated that we currently own and use. I feel pretty good about that choice, especially since we’re potentially moving in a year and don’t want to lug a bunch of stuff with us unless it’s actually helpful.

        I’ll also say that this is another ‘know your crowd’ thing, but we suggested to a few family members that we’d prefer “experience” gifts, whether those are gift cards to a favorite restaurant for date night or money for our honeymoon. Most of the people we told are really close to us and also experience people, and I think if anything they were relieved to know that we wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t get something off the registry.

    • Yes, I totally agree with this. We’ve been together 12 years, living together for 8, and although we have some things in need of replacement, what we REALLY need is to make some major repairs on our house. We’ve asked our parents to communicate that, but we got a lot of pressure from family and friends to register for things. We were only going to put maybe 30 things on the registry (I didn’t want a shower) so that people had some options, but hoping that the limited choices would make them feel more inclined to give cash if they wanted to gift us something. Well, it was important to my sister-in-law, sister, and mom that I have a shower, so they threw one for me, which meant we had to add more stuff to the registry. We were a little bitter about having to register for things just so people could bring gifts to the shower, so we decided to register only on Amazon, which allows you to add things from other websites to their registry, including some less traditional registry items. The world is your oyster. On Amazon we were able to register for a bunch of replacement items (bedsheets, flatware from Crate & Barrel), home repair related items (a weedwacker, semi-flush mount lights from Home Depot, a compost bin, another drill), experience-related items (tent, sleeping bags), and some local artwork from Etsy, among other things – about 100 items in total, which still leaves a little wiggle room for people to feel inclined to gift cash. No one has seemed to have any issues with the registry items that were added from external sites because we’ve received a bunch of those items already. I’d highly recommend this route to people who are in a similar situation.

      • Caitlyn

        Home repair stuff is such a great idea! We have a lot of people who want to give us tangible stuff, but my mind just draws a blank because we just don’t need more house ware type stuff (I am seriously on a mission to downsize what we have so the thought of more honestly turns my stomach a bit). But we just bought our first house and we could SO use a weedwhacker, lights, drills, etc. And our people would really respond to those types of items. Experience gifts are a no go with our crowd, but this is such a great compromise!!!

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    I’m not clear on exactly how this type of registry works. So people can buy an item but you actually get cash? Can someone clarify for me?

    • Eenie

      I think it’s a website where you can register at a whole bunch of different stores and have it all in one interface like thankful.

      • Lisa

        This is my understanding, too. You pull in a bunch of items from several different sites, and then people “buy” the item through the registry. In reality, the money is sent to something like a Paypal account, and then the couple is supposed to purchase the items themselves. It’s a little misleading on the web-site because it can look like you’ve already bought the item. The idea is supposed to be that this way you can incorporate things that typically can’t be found on registries or from stores that don’t offer that service.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Ok so on the end of the purchaser, they don’t actually know the recipient is getting cash. It appears like they’re actually buying the item.

          • Lisa

            That’s my understanding, though I’ve never known anyone who used anything other than traditional department store registries so I don’t have personal experience with the interface.

          • Alynae

            This is different then Thankful. I used Thankful and people have the option to send money towards a gift/experience or they can link to a variety of physical stores to buy an actual item. So the person who wants to buy the platter from Pottery Barn is linked to PB and purchases the platter. The person who wants to buy an experience can select “honeymoon brunch” and then can send a check or donate via paypal. Then its up to me, the registrant to actually use the money as I said I would. In the case of OP it sounds like its all “false fronts” that lead to cash.

          • Lizzie

            I am in the midst of using Zola, and you’re spot-on for part of it. Just chiming in to say that they do have a TON of items on their actual merchant site (my registry is entirely items from the Zola store), and when a guest buys anything from their store, they are actually buying me that gift. Now, I could exchange the gift for something else from Zola, but I’m not getting cash, I’m getting either the item, or store credit for the item if I want to do a switcheroo (more plates, fewer throw pillows, etc).

            Just mentioning this so that anyone considering Zola (or confronting it as a guest) doesn’t automatically connect Zola with ONLY cash-equivalent gifts!

          • Susan

            Seconded. Admittedly, I didn’t use the honeymoon or cash fund registry features (largely since I think it’s silly to pay transaction fees), but for the actual gifts, the ones on Zola are purchased by guests but not shipped until you request shipping. Therefore, you can do exchanges for other items (like you would do with a department store registry) easily, but you cannot simply “cash out” on the actual gifts. For external, non-Zola items added to the registry, it’s just a link that takes the guest to the underlying website to purchase the item for you. I’m not sure what registry service the LW was using, but it’s definitely not Zola.

          • Lizzie

            And – not to sound like an ad for Zola because I do think it has some irritating/annoying drawbacks, but – that “hold for shipping later” feature has been a total lifesaver!

          • Susan

            Agreed — I lead with that feature when people ask me what I thought of it. I assumed with an online retailer this would be a standard registry feature! We also had an Amazon registry (for less traditional items) and I was surprised when those packages just started showing up with no email or anything. If we hadn’t needed a pet sitter anyway while we were on our honeymoon, I’m not sure what we would have done about those gifts — it seems crazy that there would just be a bunch of Amazon packages sitting delivered on our porch for 2+ weeks. Now I’ve taken to trying to ask in advance the couple (or family members) if the couple is going on a honeymoon right away and try to plan ordering registry gift either a few weeks in advance or a few weeks after so that it doesn’t arrive while they are out of town.

          • Lizzie

            Seers! We had one registry with the normal shipping thing (REI, ugh, sadly do not recommend) with, like, 5 things on it. More headaches from those few items than from everything on Zola combined!

          • Kara E

            Heh. This. The neighbor who was supposed to take stuff in from my husband’s porch turned out to be a total flake. Another neighbor rescued all our wedding gifts and brought them over in a couple of giant wagon loads with his three year old’s help.

          • Actually, you can set external items to not forward the guest to the external website. i.e., you can add an Amazon item, but not allow Zola to send the guest to Amazon, and just ask for the cash instead. So, the LW could still be using Zola.

          • Susan

            Interesting — I didn’t know that. I assume they would charge you the processing fee then so I’m not sure why someone would choose to do it that way! I only had 2-3 non-Zola items on the registry (from Etsy) so I didn’t work that hard to figure out that functionality.

          • You can decide (through the settings) whether to shove the 2.7% credit card fee off onto your guests, or take the hit yourself.

            You’d do it because you want control over when AND where external items ship. Some of us live on one coast and are planning a wedding far away. I don’t want packages sitting on my porch for weeks at a time, and I don’t want large physical gifts showing up at the wedding. This goes for both the Zola items and the items from Etsy/Amazon/wherever. Setting it so guests don’t get forwarded to the external site, forcing me to purchase the gifts myself, prevents either of these situations from happening.

            The real problem is how Zola charges $10 shipping on purchases under $100, even if you ship everything together all at once. So some shipments could actually have, like, $80 worth of guests’ shipping fees in it. I’m guessing that’s one of the avenues through which they make their money. Makes it a terrible registry service for Showers, though.

          • Susan

            Oh I know a great way around the shipping fees. If you convert the guests gift to credit and then just re-buy it along with other things that get you up to the $100 free shipping mark. I didn’t have a gift shower so I’m not sure how this would apply to that, but for general wedding gifts, I waited til after our wedding to have any of them shipped, converted the gifts to Zola credit, reselected the items they got me and then I got to use any of their shipping payments plus the completion discount to get extra stuff. I’m not sure how the people in this thread would feel about this, but functionally people who paid for shipping gave us a gift and $10 which I used towards something else on the Zola.

          • Oh, I see. I hadn’t noticed it gave me the $10. I should probably go through and slightly reduce the price of objects, since the $10 shipping will cover most of that.

            The real bummer is when someone wants to buy a $10 potato masher for your bridal shower, they can either pay $10 [extra] shipping, or they can go off-registry and have no way to mark that item as purchased!

          • Lizzie

            Yassss I did the exact same thing : ) With a combination of the converted shipping costs, plus the 10% discount, we ended up with enough extra Zola credits that we bought a $200 food processor too. I like to think of it as an extra bonus gift from our already very generous guests!

      • Amanda

        ETA Thankful doesn’t have to work this way. Basically, you link to other stores or items & Thankful NOPES out of the actual money exchange. I chose Thankful because I happen to like a lot of used and vintagey things. So I linked Etsy for “Vintage Linens,” which I couldn’t do at a traditional registry at a department store. But a few of my friends/family who are also into antiquing have hunted down things for me outside of the Etsy Link (which was the point!). They’re not just giving me money to do my own antiquing. Similarly, it allows people to shop at their favorite stores or bargain hunt. Sometime Bed Bath & Beyond is cheaper than Macys, or you have a coupon. But again, it’s not like I’m getting money to buy this stuff myself.

    • Amy March

      Yup. This is partially how Zola, for example, works. A guest pays the registry money, you can chose to have the gift purchased with that money or take a credit for the cash amount. Like most honeymoon registries- you aren’t actually buying them a surfing lesson, you’re giving them cash in an amount equivalent to the cost of a surfing lesson.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Yeah, you’re basically banking on the person you’re gifting being honest. It’s essentially like giving $50 cash and being like, “This is to take yourself out somewhere nice on your birthday.” And then hoping they do right.

      • Eenie

        But I think it’s more like “here’s some money to buy yourself that bicycle I know you want because you told me.” I wouldn’t expect money towards a honeymoon or experience be treated in the same way as a physical gift. What if it was raining when you meant to see the dolphins?

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          Yeah, I mean, I think it’s super nuanced and a know your people thing. There’s a difference between “You bought us surf lessons but it was raining that day so we went to a museum instead” and “We asked for a stand mixer we have no intention of using, because we really just want the $300 to put towards a weekend away.”

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            And when you put it that way, OH HELL NO.

  • Lisa

    And to piggyback on the discussion yesterday, what would you plan to tell people in the thank you note? Thank them for the money they gifted towards a specific item or actually thank them for the item itself? I would feel really betrayed if you sent me a note thanking me for the decorative platter and then later found out you took the money for something else and never bought said platter. I would also feel weird about being thanked for “donating” money towards something, especially if I thought I’d already purchased you the platter in question.

    • Keri

      or you might feel potentially horrified when you thought you purchased a whole platter but the thank you note makes it sound like you purchased a portion of a platter.

    • Rhie

      It does seem like if you decide to go this route, you are also deciding to either actively lie in your thank you notes or tell everyone, “Thank you for the serving platter! We opted to take the cash and put it towards our honeymoon.” Neither of which sounds great to me.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    Having reread the letter and some people clarifying for me how this registry works, I think this is deceitful and if I were a guest and found out I gave you cash when I intended an item from the registry, I would be pissed. I think if you don’t want the items, don’t register for them. But this feels like you tricked people into giving you money. It’s not worth the damage it would cause if people later found out.

    • Jess

      Right, like I’m thinking: I saved up and bought my very best friend some lovely serving dishes she registered for, because they reminded me of the days we spent in college being fancier than we were and sitting at dinner tables with groups of friends until late at night.

      I would be heartbroken if I found out she had returned them immediately and used the cash to renovate her bathroom.

      • …but your friend could still likely do this, even with more traditional registries. BB&B [used to, may still] have a very generous return policy that gives cash for registry returns.

        I guess the issue here is sort of the “keeping honest people honest”. If you use a traditional registry service where you get the item, you are less likely to return it for cash. If you use a [*cough*] Zola-type registry, then it’s easier for the “honest” person to become dishonest, because they see the cash right there and have to order the items themselves…

        • Jess

          She totally could – what I’m saying is that I would be really sad to have my gift go towards something else.

          And to me, purposefully intending to do that while eliminating the step of going to a store to return something would feel like the same thing, regardless of how the exchange happened (straight cash the whole time or returning an item).

          But you’re right in that the action is different and more than a little ickier.

        • emmers

          Ha! One of my husband’s friends is getting married, and is registered on Zola. When I went and saw that we’d just be giving them cash designated for certain items, I just assumed that what they really want is $$. So that’s what we’ll be giving them, but through a check, to hopefully avoid whatever convenience fee Zola chrages.

          • The way you imply you want cash is by not registering at all, or for only a small sampling of items ;)

            Zola has some other benefits, like you can control where items ship, and *when* they ship. They have the lowest credit card fee of all the registries, but they do charge $10 shipping for all purchases under $100. THAT is actually the worst part about it.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I don’t even know if it’s this for me. If it turned out that she didn’t like the dishes in reality or got a second set and she returned mine for cash, that wouldn’t bother me. For me, the thing that irks me about this is that the intent is to let people think they’re buying gifts from the registry when in reality they’re gifting cash. Granted, no one would ever be the wiser unless the recipient owned up to what they were really doing. But if you’re asking how something feels, well this feels shitty. If you want cash, tell me that If you want things for your home, tell me that. But don’t tell me you want things for your home as a way to trick me into giving you cash.

        • emmers

          I’m with you. We registered for some stuff, and then it turned out when we got it we didn’t need it, or needed something else more, so we did do some registry swapping. But the intent here feels icky.

        • Jess

          Yeah, it is the intentionality that would bug me

    • Lorraine

      Not gonna lie. I was actually enraged by the letter. Imagine how I would react in real life!

  • Greta

    Maybe this is a bit disingenuous, but on advice from our recently married friends, we waited until after the wedding to open any gifts. We then went through everything that we got, and what we didn’t get it, and returned some items for other items we wanted more. For instance, we registered for 12 place settings of both dishes and flatware. We got 9 sets of dishes and 7 sets of flatware. We decided that it was really important for us to actually have the full 12 sets of each, so we returned other items we didn’t need/want as much (muffin pans, random cookware) from that same store and used it to finish the dishes sets. We genuinely wanted everything we registered for, but we wanted some things more than others. We didn’t plan on it happening, but it felt silly to have extra baking and cookware that we didn’t need, and be missing out on plates and flatware that we did need.

    However, I think the LW needs to take stuff off the registry that they no longer want, and also straight up ask for cash, or start a honey fund. If cash is what you want, ask for it – and then have an actual (much smaller) registry or stuff for the traditional folk that want to go a traditional route. Friends of mine who got married asked for cash for a new mattress they desperately needed to fit the very tall groom, in the form of a paypal account. But they knew the groom’s family was pretty traditional, so they said something along the lines of “A and B would really love money for a new mattress to fit B, but if you would prefer to gift something more traditional, we are registered at this store.”

    • BSM

      We did something similar to you. My best friend’s mom went off registry and got us a sous vide machine. While it was incredibly generous of her, we just had absolutely no use for the thing, and it took up a lot of space in our tiny kitchen. She didn’t provide a gift receipt, so I just took it back to BB&B for a gift card worth 75% of its value, and we bought ourselves a few new pots and pans that we really needed.

      The whole thing did make me feel a little icky, but I also wasn’t sure what to do with this giant appliance we didn’t want, need, or ask for.

      • Lisa

        I had a co-worker whose father’s friend bought her and her new husband one of those Margaritaville machines. It was expensive, gigantic, off-registry, and pretty much useless to them. (They’re home brewers who drink almost exclusively beer.) She returned it and bought a bunch of other housewares that they actually needed, and I have a hard time faulting her for doing that. Otherwise, the machine would have been re-gifted or donated. At least this way, they got items they could actually use.

        • BSM

          Oh good! It’s not just me :). Our thinking was that she wanted to get us something fun and kind of extravagant that we’d enjoy using. We like to cook, and she likes her sous vide machine, so she went with that. We felt like replacing it with some high end pots that we actually needed and would use all the time was in the spirit of her gift and rationalized it that way to ourselves. And we do happily think of her often when we use them!

          • Lisa

            I like the way you handled that by considering the spirit of the gift! That’s a great way to deal with unwanted presents.

          • Shawna

            That seems to be the key: honoring the spirit of the gift and thanking them in that spirit. As many people say, choosing a gift whether it’s off registry or on is often done with a reflection of what activity or value you want to contribute to or imagine them thinking of you during (especially so in the kitchen, for some reason). So if someone got you fancy tableware and you switch it for sheets, their gesture is no longer something that will be seen and admired at a dinner party. That really helps as I toy with whether to shrink my already tiny registry of physical items on an otherwise cash-fund-for-experience-only registry.

      • Amy March

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that!

        • BSM

          Glad that gets the AM stamp of approval! I feel better already :)

      • Amanda

        I really don’t think there’s anything to feel icky about. There’s a big difference between exchanging a gift that was off-registry and registering with the intention of taking it all back!

      • Lawyerette510

        I think returning/ exchanging something you receive that you won’t use is ok. Whether it’s something like this off-registry, or it’s something like only receiving half of place settings or the like and exchanging to have more because you’ll use those more than another piece, is very different than representing to people they are buying you something, but then them not ever actually buying it for you.

      • toomanybooks

        At least part of why I think this is fine is the fact that I have no idea what a sous vide machine is (so of course replace it with things you actually need/know about) lol

    • Lorraine

      Nothing wrong with what you did!!! I think it’s common and somewhat expected.

    • Sara

      This is off topic but since you mentioned it – I never know how to deal with things like entire towel sets or place settings on registries. I guess giving someone $50 worth of a $700 set (or whatever the case may be) just feels… incomplete? I’ve never been able to bring myself to buy little pieces of sets, and I guess I thought it was inappropriate if I couldn’t purchase the full set. I’m glad to see that it’s acceptable to just buy half of the flatware, or whatever it is that is in my budget.

  • Nicole

    We used SoKind registry because we were in a similar position as the OP and many others – it was awesome. We mostly put on things we wanted money for (specific trips, or gift cards to restaurants). We also put a very small number of things, such as used cast iron pans, great luggage, and some bathrobes from etsy for the “buying things” crowd. We also asked for help setting up, cleaning up, etc.

    At the time, soKind didn’t even have a way to accept money so some people brought cash or checks and some people contacted the places and got actual gift cards. The people who bought things bought the actual things and brought or sent them. Very clear about what we wanted and needed and even helped with off registry stuff. The off registry choices were still clearly inspired by what we’d been going for (other restaurant gift cards, handmade things, etc). It sounds like there are some others out there with a similar mission and I agree with other posters, it’s probably important to make some big changes to the registry.

  • Miriam Plachta

    A different perspective: If I buy something off a wedding registry, it is because I’m trying to give the couple a gift they actually want. I’ll narrow it down by price point, and then go with whatever I like the most. If the couple were to actually receive the money instead of the gift, I would care not. at. all. Now, if I were to spend significant time and effort thinking of/ finding/ deciding on/ making a unique and thoughtful gift … then I might be hurt if the couple exchanged it for cash. But since the whole point of a registry is for the recipients to choose the gift, I really don’t see anything wrong with what the OP is proposing, at all.

    • Danielle

      Yeah, I feel similarly. I really don’t care; then again, gifts are emphatically not my love language. Personally I have returned many gifts because I just didn’t like them, and I want to reduce unnecessary “stuff” in my life/house.

    • Sara

      I, personally, would not care at all if someone did this with a physical gift I bought. Honestly by the time I’m actually at your wedding, I’ve already forgotten what I bought you anyway (unless you’re like, my BFF). So keep it, exchange it, put it in a closet and never see it again, spend the money on hookers and blow, I don’t care. I CAN understand why this would offend other people, though.

    • tr

      Weirdly enough, my perspective totally varies depending on the amount of the gift. If I give you a $45 pan, by all means, exchange that thing for cash if you want! On the other hand, if I buy you the Kitchenaid Mixer or Wusthof knives you registered for, it’s because I WANTED to get you something really special that you’d use. Honestly, though, that’s probably just a weird hang up on my part.

  • april

    I totally agree with Liz’s advice and just want to add that if you want money for a trip to Hawaii, do a Honeyfund and register for money towards a trip to Hawaii! We did a Honeyfund and tons of our guests (most of them, I think) contributed money towards our honeymoon. I’ll admit that we were a little “squishy” with how we spent the money. We hadn’t really started planning the trip at the time we made the registry other than a vague sense that we wanted to go to Europe, so we identified some generic things we needed (hotel rooms, plane tickets, etc) and some generic things we were likely to do (breakfast in bed, celebratory champagne, bike rentals, museum passes, etc.) and estimated their costs. Did we wind up doing exactly everything we “registered for”? No – for example, it was a little too cold and rainy to rent bikes and our hotel didn’t offer room service so breakfast in bed was out – but we got pretty close. And we tried to find somewhat comparable experiences so that we could go back and tell people “Hey, the weather didn’t cooperate with our bike rental plans, so we used your gift to take a day trip to this incredible little village about an hour outside of the city. Thanks!”

    • Shawna

      This really helps. We have set up our registry with a mix of generic travel things (plane tickets, train car reservation, museum tickets) and specific things where possible or funny/evocative (tootling about on a rented Vespa in Rome, taking a tour of a winery in Burgundy). But we’re not certain we’ll get to do the specific things yet. We are hoping that if we just describe a similar experience in our thank you people won’t complain “But I specifically wanted you to learn about wine at a winery, not just drink wine in a beautiful winery restaurant!” Splitting hairs, but part of the wedding planning brain anxiety.

      • cpostrophe

        We’ve tried to use the experience registry as a chance to involve our guests. We’re doing a two week Pacific Coast road trip, and just break the registry into discrete chunks for each location:

        “Two nights in Seattle — we know that Seattle has some fantastic Japanese and Korean food, as well as some great seafood. Contribute here if you’d like to support us having a great meal, and if you have recommendation for a place, totally let us know!”

        “15 days on the road — we’re going to take a rental car from Seattle to LA along the Pacific Coast. It seems boring to just pay for gas, but we’re also going to be listening to some awesome music along the way, and if you contribute here, we invite you to share some of your favorite road trip songs with us.”

        “Portland — we know that Portland has some epic brunches and great food carts, and like with Seattle, we’d love getting recommendations on places to eat; but you also wonder why we’re allocating as much money here as to Seattle when it’s just brunch and food trucks? (secret spoiler: we might spend some extra cash on books at Powell’s. Do put in money here if you want to feed our habit and if there are books you’d recommend for us).”

        • Lisa

          That’s actually really cute! I love the idea of asking for suggestions. It really gets your guests personally involved in the trip. I’d consider buying postcards in the city the guest donates to and send them as the thank you notes! (The postcards might be slightly more expensive than stationery, but you can save money on the postage.)

          • cpostrophe

            yeah, we’re totally doing the “fund this location and get a postcard” thing too. It’s pretty much the “Kickstart our Wedding” paradigm of getting people involved in the registry.

        • Shawna

          This is a really neat way to do it! I hadn’t seen that before, but our wedding is in just over a week so we can’t change things around now (already have some gifts coming in).

  • Kim

    I think weddings are one big minefield of slippery slopes (apologies for mixed metaphors), and the “I would rather have the money for X” is definitely one of them. But I think it puts it in perspective to consider your guests’ slippery slopes. Like, if a guest re-gifts an item to you that they received but didn’t like, but you believe they chose it for you with good intentions? Or a guest lies about why they can’t come to your wedding, and is really off having a fun time somewhere else? Maybe the deception doesn’t have any major repercussions, but it would sure suck to find out you’d been lied to.

  • TeaforTwo

    People give wedding gifts because they like you and want to celebrate you – the same reason they give birthday or Christmas or housewarming presents. And just like with those other kinds of occasions, you don’t get to pick what people give you.

    These are the people you have invited to your wedding. They are your family members and dear friends. Why would you lie to them so that you can get their money?

  • FM

    Based on the other comments, I’m sure this is an unpopular response and, but I am going to be the voice saying that I don’t agree that it’s uncommon to return your wedding gifts for cash/store credit/something else you prefer. As someone posted below, most people at least do this so that they can end up with the things on their registry that they prioritize, like completing dish or towel sets, or something like that. And many people (like me) specifically register at places with great return policies like BB&B (which at least used to give you cash back, not sure if they still do) or that have lots of things you’d like to get if you end up with store credit for returns. I know that this is very, very common. However, even though it’s very common it is true that some people might feel hurt or miffed if they found that you returned or didn’t get the item they chose off your list, so in deciding what to do for a particular gift it makes sense to consider whether the person who gave it to you will have occasion to know whether or not you actually kept/acquired it and (if they would) is likely to have strong feelings about your choice.

    • Lizzie

      “I know that this is very, very common.” YEP. I basically consider any wedding gift I give off a registry as giving that couple store credit. I wouldn’t be offended at all if, say, my cousin exchanged the wine opener I bought them at Williams Sonoma for a couple of potholders – that’s totally ok by me!

      I do think it’s kinda different than said theoretical cousin returning the wine opener for cash and then spending it on something totally random… (Which, honestly, fine by me too.) But I honestly think that the expectation that if you buy a gift from the registry, the recipients MUST KEEP the ACTUAL GIFT and if not it’s DECEITFUL and HURTFUL etc etc is really unfair! It’s a gift, not an obligation!

      • Michela

        I agree with you totally! I don’t expect people to keep the gifts I give if they look at all their gifts in one pile on the living room floor and realize “wow we got a lot of kitchen stuff but none of the towels we registered for”, and return my silverware for towels. It’s all about intent for me. I gave you a gift intending to help you build your home and you returned my gift for another gift to build your home- great! My discomfort with this situation is that LW’s intent is not to build her home with the gifts she registered for and with the intent I gave her those gifts, but to keep the cash and go to Hawaii. That’s where it takes a left turn for me. If her intent is to go to Hawaii, make that the intention and I’ll give her a gift with that intention in mind.

        • Lizzie

          Yes! Exactly! You’ve perfectly articulated the issue here, I think – the intent is disingenuous, and that feels icky. That’s a wonderful guideline – do we, as the couple, have the same intentions for the gift as we imagine the giver does? As a so one-to-be-married couple, I agree that it’s important to honestly represent the *intent* of your registry – trip funds, homeowner nest egg, outdoorsy equipment, building a home, etc – and then don’t sweat a little shifting around once the chips all fall.

          (This is also where multiple registries can come in handy! We had Zola with a honeymoon section and a kitchen goods section, REI for starter camping gear, and Heath Ceramics for nice dishes. I loved seeing what kinds of gifts different guests gave us! And we did the shuffle too, but not across registries – you bought me a sweet kitchen item, I got a sweet kitchen item!)

          • Michela

            Exactly! Shuffle items around all you want, but maintain the gift giver’s intent to respect their generosity.

          • Lizzie

            Andddd filing this away as how I’m gonna explain registry etiquette to any and all future engaged friends/siblings/coworkers who ask for guidance. [praise hands emoji]

          • Michela

            [kissy face emoji]

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  • Michela

    Perhaps LW feels squicky asking for cash, which is what they ultimately want, and came to this solution as a way to receive what she really wanted without feeling the squickiness. Unfortunately, the deceitfulness of asking for items (even items you thought you’d want) but taking cash instead is so much squickier. Your people are being generous and loving towards you- be honest and loving in return. Register for what you want- if you want a trip to Hawaii or a down payment for a house, register for it! And add a few physical items you know you really need for those traditional folks on your fiancé’s side of the family. Regardless, don’t take a generous gift and use it deceitfully.

    It’s really all about intent here. If you received the serving platter you registered for and thought you’d use it but ended up not needing it after all, sure- return it for something more useful. But don’t add items you know you wont feel comfortable shelling out money for with the intent of just keeping the cash- cash that you’ll use, not to serve dinner guests with the platter from Aunt June, but to buy plane tickets for a trip to Hawaii. That’s the squickiest of all.

    If your wedding is 2.5 months away, there’s still revamp your registry. We’re 3 weeks away from our wedding and have received gifts from ~5% of our nearly 200 guests. So set aside time to recreate a registry that’s authentic to you and honest with your people. It’ll save so much hurt and angst.

  • Caitlyn

    My husband’s grandma had the BEST present idea for a couple that doesn’t want more stuff (us!). She is giving us a gift card to a local nursery so we can buy an indoor tree/large plant. I seriously cannot get over what a fantastic idea this is so I had to mention it in case anyone else doesn’t want stuff, but would adore a plant. Not for everyone, but holy crap is it perfect for us!!

  • Alex Eichler

    If you think people give gifts to get you exactly what you wanted, you’re wrong. A gift is a sentimental item from one to another, and it usually has plenty of thought and care attached to it. Weddings are not an even exchange from you to your guests – it’s not about what you want, it’s about what they wanted to get you. Just wait till you have babies! You’ll be swimming in 3-12mo clothing but still need cash for diapers.

  • tr

    Are these people going to find out in some way that you don’t actually have the platter they got you?

    If the gift is something obvious (like a serving platter), and it’s from a person who’s going to come over, then you’re keeping the dang platter. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck explaining at your next dinner party why you aren’t using the platter they got you.

    On the other hand, if it’s from your third cousin who lives 16 hours away and is never, ever going to come over to your house, go ahead and keep the money if you want to. Just don’t tell them. Send them a thank you card gushing over how much you appreciate the platter. Sure, it’s dishonest, but if there’s no risk of anyone finding out, then it becomes a victimless crime.

    Either way, though, think long and hard about it. I know that I’m a pretty sentimental person, and I want to be able to look at my wedding gifts 20 years from now and think back on the love my family and friends showered me with. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to make $60, but you won’t have that many opportunities to get a nice gift from Great Aunt Florence.