Why “Must” I Have A Registry? I Don’t Want One!

Ask APW: Registry rules and etiquette


Q: My fiancé and I have been engaged for about a year now, and we have fourteen months to go. A lot of stuff is already taken care of, but one topic that has come up recently is asking for gifts. We really do not want “stuff.” In fact, we just held a yard sale because we already have way too much stuff after having lived together for four years. Really if people feel the need to give us things, the most helpful would be money, especially because we will be moving soon after the wedding. Certainly I am uncomfortable saying “just give us cash,” and someone suggested just having the mothers of the bride and groom spread the word that we don’t want “stuff” when people call asking for registry information. But the more I talk with people about it, the more people seem to think that actually having a registry is an absolute requirement. What is the protocol on this? I know the point of a registry is to give people a chance to get things you really want and will use, but since there aren’t things we want and if we would use it we probably already have it, even on the registry I would be picking out things we don’t really want. Is it okay to jettison the registry entirely and try to discreetly spread the word not to get us things?


A: Dear Sam,

Spend enough time on this site, and you’ve probably figured out that there’s very little about a wedding that’s an “absolute requirement.” A registry definitely is not. If you just flat out don’t want gifts, of course don’t kill yourself picking out a bunch of things you don’t want.

So why do folks defend the registry so ardently? Well, if they’re like me, they want to make sure you’re not just feeling shy about picking out things you like (hint: it doesn’t make you look “greedy”). Also, registries are helpful for friends who want to give you an actual thing. Some people like to think they’re contributing to your home, building the life around you a bit, and that you’ll remember them by these little items that surround you. That’s all the easier when you have an entire list of the things someone wants.

Of course, those rationales may not matter to you all that much. You’re not afraid of being greedy; you just don’t want stuff! And grown-ups have been buying gifts for people without any sort of handy checklist for ages. It’s totally okay to skip the registry.

Your idea to spread the word via moms is perfect, assuming that guests will call your mom. A few of them will. But, I’m guessing, most of them won’t.

More likely, not having a registry ups the likelihood of two possibilities already in existence: getting cash (yay!) and getting tacky things you don’t want (…oh). Some friends will see there’s no registry and just write a check. Others will use this as an opportunity to find some “creative” gift that you’d have never thought to ask for! (Often, for good reason.)

The point is, end of the day, people will give gifts however they give gifts, and your control over that is pretty minimal. My advice? Go ahead and skip the registry. Let mom know to spread the word that you’re really trying to avoid “stuff.” And then embrace the fact that folks will give you what they’d like, and that’s one small piece of this planning process that you can’t control (nor should you).

If you would like to ask APW a question please don’t be shy! You can email: 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! 

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  • Daisy6564

    Here’s another suggestion: register for a very small amount of stuff to make your taste clear and when that runs out everyone else will give you cash. Registries tend to suggest that you register for twice as many things as you have guests (!) to give your guests gift-giving options. We went the other way and registered for about half as many gifts as we had guests. I got all of the “stuff” at the wedding shower so the registries were pretty much done by the wedding. Nearly everyone gave us cash for the wedding. The success of this will obviously vary by your crowd.

    My husband and I live in a small, one bedroom apartment so we are always waging the war against stuff. That was why it was super important to me that we minimized getting stuff we did not want. I felt that with a registry people could get a sense of our taste so at least if they bought us some sort of crazy, off registry gift they might sense if it goes with the stuff we wanted. As it turned out, we got most of the stuff off the registry and only two non-registry gifts, one of which was wine. It worked for us.

    • Chelsea

      I’m probably stealing this idea — all we really want/need is to update our plateware (Fiesta dishes!!), a new knife set, and some nice sheets. We’re probably inviting 100 people but I can’t see myself asking for enough stuff to cover everyone. Did any of your guests seem miffed that the registries were full??

      • Kate

        Fiestaware makes my heart beat a little faster.

      • Nora Rose

        This happened recently at a shower I went to. The registry had 5 things, which she got. She also did a honeymoon registry where 2 people participated. And then the remaining 15+ people did random gifts, duplicates of the registry items, and a few gift cards.

      • Emily

        Some people were upset that the registry was “limited”, but all of those people just gave us cash…so really, the plan worked perfectly ;)

      • l_weston

        We registered at two places, mostly going the upgrade (knives, sheets, towels, stock pot, glassware) and things we’d never actually purchase on our own but really thought would be handy route (food dehydrator, citrus press/juicer thing (seriously saves my hands), some basic larger serving pieces that are very versatile). We were actually pretty “traditional” in the idea of registering for a lot of items at varied price points concentrated at the $20-$50 per gift range. We tried to look out for most guest situations, and we still got push back that we didn’t have China or more “big ticket” items like a stand mixer (I already had one). I think no matter what you do, someone will be miffed.

        As a wedding gift giver, I do get miffed when there are 5 items on a registry and they get full, especially when there is a shower. It’s awkward for everyone to watch the bride open cards with checks or cash. Another commenter posted about taking the chance to upgrade things you have and donating your old things to shelters or other places (we did siblings who are just starting out in new places) and that really helped with the “collection of stuff” problem. I hope this helps!

        • Chelsea

          That’s a good suggestion. I, too, have gotten pushback for not wanting China & I already have a Kitchen-Aid. I like the idea of adding time-savers or other less frequently needed but useful things like serving dishes or salad bowls!

        • Glen

          Almost everything we registered for was an upgrade: sheets, towels, dishes, glasses. We had a few items that we needed but didn’t already have (random pots and pans) and a few “oh, wouldn’t that be nice” items (Reidel wine glasses!).

          We donated a lot to Goodwill and our local charitable thrift store. And one of the movers was thrilled to take my old knife set.

          We didn’t live together before we were married, so the new items helped the new place feel like “ours” rather than a hodge-podge of “mine” and “yours”.

        • Daisy6564

          I actually also got push back for for not registering for big ticket items. So I added a $400 vacuum. No one bought it. Even the people who told us to register for big things. But seriously, a good vacuum is probably smart to get.

          • l_weston

            That is exactly what happened to us too. We got told to add more “big ticket” things or ideas and I worked really hard on coming up with things we’d want. We got none of those ideas….oh. At least it’s nice to know it’s not just us that this happens to.

      • l_weston

        Side note: Fiesta has some really beautiful platters and non-standard place setting pieces (their gravy boat for some reason is particularly pretty and is handy to use for pancake syrup). Maybe you wouldn’t feel bad about expanding your collection. I don’t know where you stand on Christmas, but Fiesta also has a line of pretty cute Christmas stuff. Personally I think it’s fun and festive to bring things to holiday parties/events on fun platters or in bowls.

        • Chelsea

          Oh, I am all over the snowflake pattern.

        • Natalie

          I got their gravy boat as a wedding gift. Can’t wait to use it this Thanksgiving!

      • Natalie

        We registered for Fiestaware! Some entire place sets, and then some individual bowls and plates, gravy boat, and casserole dishes. It was nice for guests, as our poor grad student friends could literally buy us one bowl and know they got us a nice gift that we’ll use forever, while wealthy older relatives bought several entire place settings.

        Our registry was through Amazon.com, because it let us register for a few books, board games, and random odds and ends in addition to typical wedding gift items. When all our registry gifts had been purchased, guests bought us Amazon gift certificates. That turned out to be really useful, because we unexpectedly were adopted by a lost puppy in the desert a month after our wedding, and we used our Amazon gift cards to buy puppy supplies.

        • Bethany

          You sound like an amazing person. Any photos of said pup?

          • Natalie

            This is the morning after he found us, when he was campaigning hard to come home with us.

          • Bethany

            Awww, thank you so much for sharing! You guys really are amazing.

          • Natalie

            :-) I don’t know about amazing so much as really susceptible to cute puppy faces.

          • Natalie

            This is him after we washed the dried blood off his face and he felt settled in our home. We named him Boulder, because he found us while we were rock climbing.

        • l_weston

          We registered on Amazon for some puppy supplies! One of the gifts we got that was most useful was a Tuff Bed for the dog. He loves it and it’s the only one he hasn’t destroyed. I second Bethany for a photo of the puppy!

          • Natalie

            We haven’t bought the puppy a bed yet; he’s currently using a pile of old towels and a fleece blanket, because he still has accidents due to his puppy-sized bladder. I’m thinking a Tuff Bed will be the way to go once I’m no longer worried about having to wash his bedding all the time.

    • A.

      Second this idea, since that’s pretty much how we did it. We also did not want “stuff” so we registered for a small number of things and only for things we really, truly wanted or needed. Some of it was things we didn’t already have but knew we wanted and some were upgrades of cheap or worn out things we already had. I didn’t have a shower so we didn’t quite empty the registry, but we still got plenty of cash as well as some handmade items (two beautiful blankets) and other lovely gifts (framed art, a whole quart of real maple syrup, hand-dipped beeswax candles, etc). Liz hits the nail on the head though, ultimately people are going to give gifts however they want, so you should do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

    • amalance

      I agree with this idea – I didn’t plan to register, but my friend suggested that I should create some kind of registry as soon as we got engaged. She said that people will want to start buying us stuff, so we might as well have one so we had a chance of getting what we actually wanted. I found that a lot of guests gave us cash or checks for the wedding, but some people felt more comfortable buying a registry gift, especially friends and family on a tight budget, who could get something nice from the registry for a small amount of money.

      We registered for nicer versions of what we had: plates, pots. pans, knives, etc. We plan to return quite a few of the things we got and use the funds to upgrade other pots and pans we didn’t get and things like new towels and sheets, which we needed anyway.

      • TeaforTwo

        Yep, I think the registry can be really valuable for friends on a tight budget. We looked at a few different china patterns, but the tie-breaker was that one set was “open stock,” meaning that you could buy individual pieces rather than only full place settings, and we did the same with crystal stemware.

        It’s all really nice stuff that we love, but it meant that some guests could spend a few hundred bucks buying us a set of 10 wine glasses, and others could spend $30 buying us two cereal bowls, but know that they were bowls we wanted, that would match the rest of our stuff, and that it was more like chipping in on a group gift.

        I’m of a mind that wedding gifts are absolutely not required (I love to give them, but didn’t want to be a bride who expected/demanded them), but I also knew that realistically, people were going to want/feel they needed to get us something. So I was quite adamant that we only register for open stock china so that there were lots and lots of options in the $20-$50 range.

    • Philippa

      Thirded! This is also what my fiance and I are doing. Initially, we were really nervous about having a registry… we thought, having already bought our own place, it was a bit unnecessary and we REALLY didn’t want our friends, most of whom are in the midst of further study, buying flats, having babies, planning weddings, setting up businesses, or just going to tons of weddings and hen and stag dos, to worry about the added expense.

      But then we realised we were only thinking about it from our own point of view, and that of our friends at our similar stage of life… Our mums pointed out that there would be wedding guests who really wanted to get us something to – as Liz says – build our married lives around us. So we are setting up a really small gift registry, and the details will be held with both sets of our parents, rather than being included with invitations. That way, our friends won’t feel pressured, those people that want to give us something creative or ‘off-registry’ will feel free to do so, and those that would expect a registry and want to go down that route will be given the details by our mums around the time that the invitations go out. We’re hoping for a win-win in which everyone (including us!) feels comfortable!! xx

    • This was us too (down to the little one-bedroom)! And it worked quite well–all the gifts were gone after the shower, but since word got around that we were moving to a tiny new place and didn’t need much, the people who like to get physical “stuff” got us really cool things like concert tickets and museum passes!

  • Alice

    Just a personal anecdote. We had a tiny wedding followed by a party in a different state a week later. We didn’t register, and my mom printed ‘no gifts, please,’ since we are in the middle of moving to the UK (I’m here, he isn’t yet), amd really can’t do stuff right now. With two exceptions, people either gave us cash, despite the no gifts note, or did what I would have done, and brought top-shelf wine and booze we like, or fancy little foods. This worked out great, since we’re broke, and both need cash, and appreciate fancy consumable things we can’t normally afford. I guess it will depend on whether your people are the food and wine sort, but it worked out great for us! Also, the two gifts we did get were a set of fancy knives which I adore, and a lovely serving board. So we did have to move them, but they are genuinely things we’ll use forever and really value.

  • nikkiandringo

    You can also do a honeymoon registry, or a charity registry. I did both and they were very successful!

    • stella

      We did a honeymoon registry where we picked out specific things that we planned to do that were different amounts people could ‘give’ us, like a dinner out, a snorkeling session, a night at the hotel, etc. That way people got to feel like they were giving a tangible gift rather than cash.
      I also love the idea of those ‘experience’ type registries where people give you something like concert tickets or a cooking lesson together.

    • Erin E

      We also did a honeymoon registry and it was perfect. Sometimes you just *don’t* need any more stuff, even to upgrade! We had a ton of guests use the registry (I second structuring the registry so you ask for fun things like “Moped rental in Italy – hope we live to tell the tale!” The funnier I made the requests, the more people bought them!). And the trip was an amazing experience for my husband and I – such a great way to start building memories together.

      Don’t feel bad if your desires lie outside the realm of housewares. Times are a’ changing!

    • p.

      We did a charity registry, and people definitely contributed to it.

      • laurasmash

        We are doing both a charity registry and a regular gift registry (but the gift registry does not have as many items as we have guests). I’m most afraid that no one will contribute to the charity registry

    • bsc

      We also did a honeymoon registry and it went over really well. We had lived together two years and had ended up selling/giving away a lot of “house stuff” when we combined households so we didn’t really want to ask for a third toaster. Traveling is important to us so we thought a honeymoon registry would be a great idea – we printed out our itenerary and put it on the guest book table at the reception and got a lot of comments about it. For us, it was about asking for something meaningful from our guests. For thank you notes, we made a photo collage card of our trip and personalized them for each guest.

    • Erin

      I will echo the awesomeness of the honeymoon registry. We were in the same situation (living together with too much stuff), and the honeymoon registry was perfect for us. My mom was worried that her friends would find it tacky, but several people told us what a great idea they thought it was. We used our wedding website to explain to our guests that we live in a small, one-bedroom apartment (with no plans to move) and are fortunate to already have the things we need, which is why we chose an alternative registry. Like others have said, you can break it down into specific activities, which I think helps people feel like they’re buying you an actual gift (think train tickets, romantic dinner for two, or day trip to a vineyard) instead of just forking over some cash. We got married a few weeks ago, and almost everyone contributed to our honeymoon registry! Now we get to plan our trip to Italy!

  • JB

    A registry can give you a chance to–if you want–upgrade some of your things, such as nicer knives or towels. You can find good homes for your older, not-as-fancy stuff: a community kitchen would love decent knives, and your local animal shelter can use old towels for puppy bedding. Of course you don’t have to create a registry if you don’t want to, but if people are asking about one, this is an option.

  • april

    I’ll echo what other people have already said about doing a Honeyfund – it may help encourage people to give cash/checks if they have an idea of what you plan to use the money for. Another thought: for people who absolutely insist on bringing physical gifts (and you will have a few of them), consider registering for a couple of upgraded versions of things you already have (nicer sheets, new towels, new camping tent, etc.). On a whim, we registered for what I call the “space toaster.” It’s seriously the smartest, prettiest, best toaster we’ve ever owned; we use it every day; and we never would have bought it for ourselves.

  • Eh

    My husband’s family shows their love through giving gifts – physical, tangible objects. About a year before we married my husband’s brother got married. When they got married my BIL and his wife had lived together for a while and already had a couple of children. When people inquired about where they were registered, my BIL/SIL’s response was that they did not need “crap” and that they had a house full of “crap” already so they wanted cash. This did not go over well with the family since it’s customary for them to give physical gifts and also because of the way it was presented (e.g., we’re not going to like the crap you buy us so just give us money so we can buy stuff we want but we won’t tell you what that is). Despite the plea for cash most people got them gifts. Just before their wedding the couple’s toaster broke, so my FIL started telling family members that they needed a new toaster. This became a huge joke in the family and they ended up getting a large number of toasters. (We did end up registering as it was not a fight I was willing to get into with my in-laws.)

    We went to a wedding a few weeks ago for an older couple. They had an insert with the invitations that said that they were at a place in their lives where they did not need things. It suggested that people donate a charity, and it said that if you wanted to get them something that gift cards or cash would be appreciated (I can’t remember the exact wording but that was the gist).

    I totally agree that there is no requirement to have a registry. Since some people are not conformable with providing cash (that could be for many reasons including, that it’s not customary in their culture, or they want to feel like “they’re contributing to your home, building the life around you” and they might not think that cash has that direct relationship) my recommendation is to spread the word that you don’t want “stuff” and if guests want to get you something to gently suggest gift cards for experiences or consumables (e.g., alcohol, restaurants, groceries, museum passes, movie passes, etc. – whatever you like or like to do).

  • anonpsu

    I have to say, 2 of the best wedding gifts we got were not on our registry. They were so creative and perfect. But…these were coming from people who are generally good gift givers. We also got some weird gifts where people had clearly re-gifted or just given us something from their house they didn’t want. I have to say, I’m a fan of the registry because we got a lot of upgraded stuff we did want. We had just moved and also gotten rid of a lot of stuff, so it was ironic that our house got filled up again with new stuff. But it was le creuset cookware and wusthof knives, things we will keep for forever.

    • Exactly! We got 4 “off-registry” gifts, and they are my most and least favorite things. One is perfect and I never would have thought to register for it. The other three are just not things we like, but now can’t return. I feel like not registering is just asking for all of your gifts to be like this.

  • fridayfan

    If you feel compelled to list a few things on a registry, one type of thing that doesn’t take up counter space (and people seemed to like to give) is framed art. We rent and live in a small 1 bedroom apt (read: no extra storage, white walls) but selected some prints of famous paintings we liked and had seen in person together. Amazon registries will allow you to do this(and they have original art too!). We had the brilliant idea to put art on our registry after my maid of honor gifted me a print of one of my favorite paintings in a really nice frame at my bridal shower, it was so thoughtful and significant to our friendship. Granted, I can imagine there might be reasons for not wanting art/not having wall space but just a thought! Make sure you list prints that are already framed- so much easier than otherwise.

  • Amy March

    I think the only complication with no registry is having a shower- I’m quite happy to get you cash for a wedding but if you invite me to a shower something is getting gift wrapped.Of course a shower is also not required, or you could set a easy theme- favorite cookbook, most unexpectedly useful household item.

    I would caution you about saying anything that sounds like “we don’t need more crap”. It feels a bit hurtful to tell someone “there’s nothing you can give me I want” and I also am personally rubbed the wrong way by complaints of too much stuff generally. I get it, I also could do with a clean out, but it’s a bit like whining about the burden of being overpaid.

    • Lauren from NH

      To the second part of your comment, what about when that’s true? Don’t say it in a rude way, but I don’t think people need to be ashamed of not worshiping at the alter of American consumerism. People should be ashamed of being content and satisfied with what they have. Maybe people don’t even want to upgrade! for environmental or other reasons. There is such a thing as having enough, and recognizing that and being happy with what you have, doesn’t make you a whiner.

      As we have discussed in other places on this site, the cost of consumable everyday goods has gone down but other costs like housing, childcare, health care and education have gone up while our wages remain about the same. I think often today the most helpful thing to give a person is money. Money for a honeymoon, for a home, for padding your savings since social security is in jeopardy. It kinda seems like you want to spite that in the name of tradition, which makes no sense to me. I understand that asking for money is icky or tacky to some people, but I think that is putting blame on the couple when there isn’t really any blame needed. There is a tradition of gift giving related to weddings so guests are theoretically asking, “what can I get you guys to help you build a future?” and with registries couples are theoretically responding, “oh we are so happy to have you, no need to get us a gift, we really have everything we want and need, we are just trying to save for a house (or blank).” That’s the reality for a lot of couples as a result of the economy, it’s not personal.

      • Amy March

        I’m 100% fine with it being true. I just don’t think it’s a polite response to someone who has indicated they would like to give you a gift. It’s coming right out and saying “oh, you value giving me a material good? I don’t like that value actually!” in effect that I find problematic.

        So: “I want to give a gift!! Oh gosh thanks so much! Of course what we’d love most is seeing you at the wedding, but we’re also saving up for a house.” This doesn’t bother me.

        But “where are you registered? Oh we really don’t want things. We have so much crap already” seems not cool.

        • Bethany

          Yes! The wording of it really matters.

        • Lauren from NH

          I see you point on communication now. But I have noticed others commenting on a sense of ickiness related to gifting money and I guess I find that a bit short sighted if their true intention is to help the couple build a life together.

          • Eh

            I think some people don’t see the direct relationship between cash and helping the “couple build a life together”. A lot of people in their late 20s/early 30s who are getting married have a lot of student loans and consumer debt and giving them cash is seen as helping them pay off their debt. Some gift givers would think that’s ok (it’s helping them be debt free which is helping them “build a life together”) but others would not agree with putting wedding money on debt (debt is past expenses, wedding money should be used for the future; or you didn’t get a physical thing with the money that you can remember the gift giver by).
            My in-laws recently signed over insurance policies to my husband and my BIL. My FIL was hesitant to sign over the insurance policy (which has a cash value) to my BIL because he (and his family) is in need of money (they just bought a house and have three kids and they have some debt and they are not good with money). When he told me that I flat out told him that my husband was cashing out his insurance policy and putting it on his student loan (it covered about 80% of what was left). I convinced my FIL that it was the right thing for us to do but he still didn’t agree with my BIL doing it (my FIL pointed out that we have insurance and that we are responsible with money). I have no clue what my BIL plans to do, but that is his (and his wife’s) choice. If they decide to pay off some debt or go on a family vacation or renovate their house then that’s what they decide. It might not be what my in-laws want them to do with the insurance policy but when you gift something you give up that control.

          • Marcela

            Sometimes it can be that a cash gift spells out exactly how much you come/wanted to spend. I can stretch my dollar way farther with a physical gift through coupons/sales/careful planning than I can in writing a check.

          • Lauren from NH

            I think some of the cash registry or funding platforms out there these days conceal the amount contributed. But where it comes to finding deals on more typical registry items, that gets to my point up thread, in today’s economy I can afford the items to put in my house (I can find deals on the same home items if I wanted them), what I can’t afford is the house itself.

        • Sarah E

          That’s a perspective I haven’t heard before. I must say, I’m with Lauren in the sense that one of the most uncomfortable things about wedding-planning is dealing with the “stuff” and figuring out how to purchase (or accept) things while still holding true to my environmentalist values.

          We’ve discussed not registering, and if people really want to give gifts, to asked for framed photos of themselves or themselves with us, to build a family photo gallery for our future home. Hopefully that doesn’t come off as rejecting people’s love or values, as we’re making inclusiveness our priority, even while staying true to our own values.

          • Amy March

            I mean, personally if you told me what you’d really love is a picture frame with a photo in it, Id think that was awesome. And if I know you well, I’ve probably seen you living out your values and have an inkling that a national parks membership might go over better than a fondue set.

            The only part where it becomes a problem for me is when your response to what would you like is a judgment of the value I place on giving.

          • Sarah E

            That’s fair. (Also, I swoon to think of a National Parks membership!)

        • What if it’s impractical for you to have “more stuff?”

          We’ll likely be living in a tiny NYC sublet with roommates for at least a year, and then we might move to another country, so any stuff that people get us will have to go in storage. Is it impolite for us to spell it out for people that “due to very limited space, we only have a tiny registry/no registry and would prefer cash/gift cards?” We won’t be buying a house any time in the near future, so if we acquired a lot of “stuff,” it would actually cost us a good deal in that we’d have to rent storage space, and we wouldn’t even be able to use the gifts they meant for us to enjoy in our everyday lives.

          I’m self-conscious that the conservative response we’re going to get is “you should wait til you can settle down and afford a house to get married,” but getting a house or even a larger living space isn’t realistic for where we want to live or the career goals we have.

      • Jess

        So, I’m split on this. Because while I am not a stuff person, my mom IS. Rachel has talked about this in her own life, but some people speak the love language of “gifts.”

        If I were to tell my mom that rather than [expensive fancy item] I preferred to get the monetary equivalent to [put toward a car/house payment, purchase food, pay for a medical bill, etc] she would be heartbroken and feel like I was rejecting her and her love. Even if I said what I was going to spend it on. And if I returned said thing for cash, she would feel the same.

        Sometimes, it is personal, right or wrong as that is.

        • Lauren from NH

          I hear that, but sometimes I think we are so nice that we think up a bazillion reasons why people can’t change and that since we can see the big picture it’s our job to sit on our feelings and prioritize someone else’s. It’s one issue I I sometimes have with the advice on this site. Sometimes I think we are a little too understanding of the past and we cut ourselves off at the knees and don’t give people an opportunity to grow and change. I am looking back a couple of weeks trying to find another example, because I have been thinking about this and I held my tongue last time…maybe this piece (http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/10/asking-father-for-permission-to-marry/) but I think there have been others. (FYI this is more of a general comment and in no way meant to blast on you.)

          • Jess

            I think that’s fair. I tend to struggle with people pleasing, and I know I’m not the only one.

            It comes down to personal choice and what/who we prioritize. In general, I am on the side of, “donations to X charity, help us fund Y, we want to buy Z” registry suggestions. I will almost ALWAYS opt to do that rather than give a gift for people I know. Maybe I’ll also get them something because I’m in a position to do so, but it would be smaller and only if I found something I thought they would love.

            I know that in my family, saying “We don’t want gifts, but we do want to go on a honeymoon! Help us!” would not go over well, because they are a lot of gifters. We would do both and keep the registry small, stuff that we think would be fun to have, but not ever buy for ourselves.

            Could I prioritize my needs (like a healthy individual)? Totally. Would I want that to be the place I make my stand? I’m not sure.

          • Sarah E

            You make a great point. Personally, I err on the side of confrontation (at least, in my head), so I have to remind myself to be nice and thoughtful. However, I’m more and more growing into my own sense of adulthood and not needing to conform to my family’s expectations anymore. I have a very different lifestyle than a good portion of my cousins, who are much more conservative in what they do, and make choices (where to live, what to buy, where to work) that conflict with my personal values. My cousins are lovely, wonderful people, but there must be space– and I continually search for the right balance– to say “I love you and respect you, but here is how I live, so please respect that, too”

            My best thoughts right now are making sure we underline the “we” in “we’re not changing our names” and to be polite and firm when we talk about what gifts we do and do not want. Of course, having a non-church wedding that’s self-officiated and working in the “this ceremony is important, but we’ve been married in our hearts for a while” language will probably get the point across more overtly ;-)

      • I second this. And yes—for me, Amy March’s comment is true: the vast, vast majority of the people at my wedding couldn’t buy us anything that we truly wanted. And it’s not like we were going to ask the few people that *could* to buy us a new car. If this sounds like a first world problem it’s because it is. But I live in the first world, and I feel incredibly grateful to have this “problem.”

    • up_at_Dawn

      Apparently my future mother-in-law had a recipe shower back in the 1970s, where all the guests brought their favourite recipes. There must be some other themes like that out there. How about a wine shower? I’d totally go for a bottle of everyone’s favourite wine.

    • Ilora

      Most unexpectedly useful household item sounds like it would be such a fun idea!

  • Jessica

    We didn’t want to register, but ended up doing a combo all what other commenters suggested: we registered for a very small amount of things, including upgrades to our basics and furniture, plus a zola.com registry with honeymoon experiences, food delivery and home cleaning services, etc, and wrote something on our website about how we live in a tiny apartment, don’t need many things, please don’t worry about bringing anything other than yourself to the wedding…..we still got a lot of pushback. I think you just get resistance about doing anything not uber-traditional, but I was told people didn’t like the experiences/honeymoon registry, that we didn’t have enough lower-priced things on there (sorry, don’t need kitchen stuff! Have had my own kitchen for 10 years, I long ago bought my own dishes), that we didn’t have enough options….I’m not sure it was worth it meeting in the middle, since I had to deal with all this resistance anyway. My friend went the no-registry option, and people got the hint, but she also got a fair amount of ‘things’ because some people REALLY want to give a ‘thing’. Oh well! It was worth it for her, because she didn’t have to deal with any of the registries.

  • Nora Rose

    It’s so awkward with no registry if you plan to have a traditional registry. A friend recently did this and I felt so uncomfortable going to a “money” shower and I would usually just skip it. Which makes me sad because I do like to participate in “showering” the bride. If your family plans to have a traditional shower, maybe make a registry just for that or pick a non-cash theme. Blergh, I know I’m just traditional in this.

    • Nora Rose

      Etsy shower? Travel shower? Wine shower?

      • scw

        completely unrelated, but “wine shower” makes me want to have a glass of wine in the shower.

        • Sarah E

          Ah, that hearkens back to my college days when “shower power hour” was a common phrase. If wine in the shower is anything like having a beer in the shower, I highly recommend doing it at least once.

          • up_at_Dawn

            Does it count if you wash your hair with the beer? ;)

        • Bethany

          That’s not Friday for you? ;)

    • Lauren from NH

      A shower with no registry or one directing people to cash gift? That is awkward! I would think you need to either theme it a different way or skip it. Receiving checks with an audience would be very weird for me. Like on the same level as counting and smelling your money in people’s faces lol :/ But I bet a theme could work. Honeymoon registry talk about the trip and maybe provide little tag shaped cards for people to write what they gifted air fare, swimming with dolphins, one massage. Or for a home, talk about the neighborhoods and maybe what you are looking for in a house, people could get inventive with the tags, write that they gifted three stairs or a red front door or the kitchen sink.

      But I am not a big fan of showers, if you ask me skip it!

      • Nina

        I’ve heard of people doing a “recipe” shower where everyone was asked to write out their favorite recipe in lieu of giving a gift. I think something like this could work. This basically get back to “if you’re going to have a shower, you’d better give people some sort of directions”… and don’t open gifts in front of everyone if your direction is cash-themed.

        • Natalie

          I did a recipe shower for my sister. It was great fun. We had fancy cupcakes and punch and silly games.

      • Bethany

        So glad there’s another nonfan of showers. I’ve been really happy that all of the brides for which I’ve been bridesmaids said that they didn’t want showers. Way too gendered and way too focused on material goods. It probably helps that they all realized that most of their guests were young professionals living in an expensive city and didn’t want to have another occasion that demanded a gift!

        • Lauren from NH

          My idea of the perfect shower would be hanging with all of my college friends and, though we are more hippy than frat like, creating a rule that if anyone said the words bride or shower they must take a shot of rum. That’s how my people can support me on my way to married life, just keep loving me the way they have for years! No need for formal parties to create formal relationships because I am going to be formally married. I’ve been “married” to the guy for years, nothing is really changing.

          • Bethany

            My sister asked if, instead of a shower, I could just gather her friends for pierogies and beer. I believe that there was a drinking game established that if anyone said certain gendered words that they had to drink. It was awesome.

        • Jules

          I’m with y’all. They make me feel rather uncomfortable, and I secretly have dreaded EACH one (even the good friends) because of its gift-centric nature (even though I LOVE to give gifts).

          However, when I go, I do enjoy some parts. It was really heartwarming to hang out with all the women who are going to be supporting the marriage and mingle in a way we didn’t get to at the wedding. We heard lovely stories from both mothers, the hostess, and had some awesome ice cream coffee punch and sandwiches. They collected “love advice”; another shower also did recipes.

          I like the community and more intimate mingling aspects, but the giftiness makes me feel weird (both as a guest and as the bride).

    • TeaforTwo

      MONEY SHOWER? Never in one million years would I attend a money shower, and whoever threw that shower needs some bossier aunties. (They can borrow mine for a day, if needed.)

      I love showering a bride, with or without gifts. If you don’t have a registry, I would so gladly go to a recipe shower or a marriage advice shower, or a “everyone tell a lovely story about the bride and offer her warm wishes and a blessing” shower. But a money shower is straight-up not a thing.

      • Bethany

        Sadly I’ve heard of it. A friend’s wife insisted on doing one. I politely bowed out. My boyfriend definitely raised his eyebrows at their reception when the money dance started (for the space of a song whoever gives the bride cash, in this case stuffed into the back top band of her dress, dances with her around in a circle until the next man steps up with cash — so awkward and weird to me).

        • TeaforTwo

          I’ve actually been to a wedding with a money dance (or rather a “pig dance” that is really just a money dance in which you throw cash onto a platter that has a pig on it, carried around by the best man.) For some reason that didn’t bother me nearly as much as the idea of a money shower.

          It was tradition in the groom’s culture, so his whole huge family was SO into it. It was early on during the reception, and everyone had a bit of a buzz on and was still all warm and fuzzy from the ceremony and overflowing with love for the couple. But mostly, I think, it was definitely tradition. There was accordian music and a dance and everyone (except the WASPy guests on my side of the room) knew exactly what was us, so it felt really nice to pitch in and help the new young couple out. (Plus we were all a bit buzzed, so it was fun to throw money at a pig.)

          The thing about showers is that there is already a tradition there, and it’s one that I happen to like. Saying “no thanks I don’t want your tea towels just write a cheque” just sounds so harsh.

          • Amy March

            I’m 100% into any wedding tradition that involves a whole pig!

          • Lauren from NH

            Oh this is a good point. Money is very cultural. In Thai culture (and some other Asian cultures, I believe) for many religious holidays they create these kind of money trees, which seem rather nice in my limited view (their money is lots of different colors). I am guessing, but it seems people take pride in donating/contributing and don’t mind that being on display, however I am not aware of the finer details of the practice.

      • Rebecca

        I was at a Hindu wedding a few years ago. At the Sangeet the bride’s father (whom I knew as a very sweet and quiet man) was out on the dance floor with a stack of dollar bills, making it rain over everyone dancing with the happiest look on his face. If money showers were like this, I’d be all in.

  • Catherine McK

    With the full understanding that some people think “Honeymoon registries” are tacky, here’s what we did: registered for what we wanted, upgrades, things I’d had on my wishlist since college, etc. Then we set up a Honeyfund with only one item on it, a beautiful cabinet to store our new china, wine glasses, etc. People could give varying amounts toward it, and I think they liked contributing to setting up our home. It made it easy to write thank yous, even for the people who gave regular cash. Are there things you’ll need for your new home that people could help with? New kitchen table etc?

  • Sara

    I agree with Liz – people are going to buy you ‘stuff’ whether you want it or not. One of my girlfriends did a very small registry and a larger honeymoon registry with a note that said ‘D and I have been living together for almost 4 years! We’ve put a lot of our own money into building our home so there isn’t much we need” or something along those lines that ended up saying we don’t need gifts but if you want to contribute, here’s a honeymoon fund!

    My parents still bought her a grilling tool set. NOT on her registry.

  • lady brett

    we didn’t register, partly because of the “stuff” problem you mention, and partly because the whole thing gave me heartburn. liz is spot-on about it seriously upping the chances of getting money, as well as tacky stuff (but, let’s be honest, if your friend/aunt/person thought that tacky thing was *perfect* without a registry…they may well have gotten it for you anyway with a registry). but there are two other things, also: it ups the chances of getting something cool you would never have even known to ask for (we got a wonderful piece of art, a box full of liquor, and one or two unusual gift cards), and it ups the chances of folks not getting you anything (which is *awesome*, because that’s *exactly what we asked for*). i think the exact ratios probably depend a bit on your guest list.

    the other thing you might want to consider is whether or not there is one or two things you *do* want/need. that’s not worth registering over, but it may give you an answer to your most persistent people. our line was “no, really, the *only* things we could possibly need right now are sheetrock and dirt” (having recently moved into a fixer-upper). we got both of them (in the form of gift cards/cash).

    other than that, we got one *really* tacky gift that we just gave away, a lot of really lovely cards (some of which are now in our wedding album as tiny art pieces) with enough cash to pay for all of our “fun money” on our honeymoon, and one housewares gift card (from the traditionalist family members).

    not having a registry was *perfect* for us, and we got the best gifts *because* of it.

    • Ashley

      I agree. Our wedding was very untraditional in that no one except our immediate Family was invited to the ceremony buy everyone was invited to the party. We also lived together and have everything we NEED so we were having a hard time with asking for gifts at all so we just said we’ll tell them not to get us gifts. We put “best wishes only” on the invitation and it worked out great. We still got a few gifts (handmade quilt, personalized art) but mosty we got money (because people don’t know how to not get you anything) and we also got nothing from a decent amount of people which was exactly what we wanted. In the end I felt like I left the decision up to people no strings attached. We did have two showers but people did fine without a registry. My sisters did ask for a few ideas for shower guests (towels – I feel like everyone can always use towels and gift cards to a store where we’ve picked out new appliances)

    • KC

      I love that someone out there can now say “Oh, them? We gave them *dirt* for a wedding present…”

    • Liz

      “box full of liquor” = SOMEONE I NEED TO INVITE TO ALL MY PARTIES, PLZ.

      • lady brett

        the other thing about letting folks get you whatever they please is that their presents are all “oh, yeah, of course they got us that” – the liquor was a joint gift from all my college buddies (clearly!). (oh, and the dirt was from a homesteader friend, so…yeah).

  • Bethany

    Can I put in a plea to give some sort of genuine thank you for any gifts you’re given? One of the weddings that we went to last year caused some hurt feelings between the super expensive registry and the very late, generic thank you notes.

    The thank you note came about 8 months after the wedding and said “Dear guest(s), Thank you for coming to our wedding. We loved seeing everyone there. We are sure that we will use your gift regularly. Sincerely, [couple’s name]” I’m all for late thank you notes (I’ve sometimes sent Christmas thank yous at the end of January), but late without any personalization kind of hurt.

    I actually far preferred the friends who sent a FB invite to about 20 of us a year after their wedding that said “We forgot to send thank you notes, but come to a happy hour for pitchers of margaritas on us and we’ll thank you in person.” They actually then did remember what each person had given them and praised it to everyone there (we gave a week of intense honeymoon cat sitting with a diary “written” by their cat, and a cat instagram account since they’re super into social media, along with a scrubbed home and two lovely bottles of wine suited to their tastes waiting for their return — we were broke when they got married and they insisted that we not give them a gift).

    • scw

      as a cat owner, what you did was way, way better than any gift I could receive – whether or not you were broke!

      • Bethany

        Thanks! We were actually really proud of our gift. The cat is super shy around most people but I’m good with cats (worked in animal welfare for awhile and used to write a lot about cat behavior/training) so the cat knew and liked us. We made sure to put up a post each day about the cat with photos so the parents could keep an eye on him if they wanted without us being intrusive and emailing it or anything. The couple said that was their favorite part — logging onto Facebook from the beach and seeing that their cat was having a good time.

        It also made us feel really special to help, too.

    • Jules

      I’m SO ruffled about this. Of the 3 wedding gifts I sent last fall, only 1 wrote a thank-you.

      The other says she has 12 months to write a thank-you (it’s now been 17 months now, and still not even a verbal acknowledgement…even though it was bought off-registry and sent directly to the house).

      • newyork22

        Chiming in with a bad manners horror story: last year, a friend of my husband’s got married. Between our wedding gift and the bachelor’s party, we must have spent close to $1,200 on the couple. There was NO THANK YOU NOTE!!! We got a Christmas card from Minted in the mail that said “married and merry” with a picture of the couple, but there was no note on the back and it was just a blank card. I guess they considered it a thank you card, but in my books, if the words ‘thank you” don’t appear anywhere, you haven’t done your job properly. We had a destination wedding this year and this same friend actually asked me at our reception if the cultural norms of the country dictated that they should give us a present because he had heard that you didn’t have to give a present. it was the most awkward conversation ever! This caucasian male was trying to pretend that super local southeast asian mores applied to him. Sometimes I’m not sure what planet people are living on.

        *edit* we got married in a country where local brides and grooms typically have separate events – the two families actually never celebrate the wedding together! The custom is that you must bring a present to the bride’s reception, but it’s not required for the groom’s reception. We only had one reception for the both of us and we did celebrate together so we went the non-traditional route. It’s a crazy country for sure, but dudes…I took MAD offense that this caucasian friend tried to pretend the custome applied to him. Didn’t even bring a card to wish us well – it felt like it was just another exotic vacation for him to boast about on Facebook.

        • Bethany

          I feel like a bad manners experience happy hour would be kind of awesome. Not only for ranting, but also so that people can get a better idea of what might be considered bad manners!

          • newyork22

            I would LOVE to see something like this! Or even a post….things one should do to be a good wedding guest? things one should do to not incur lifelong wrath after a wedding? something along those lines…

          • Jules

            I think that would be both awesome and scary. I think I would go into conniptions about possibly offending someone (I’m already worried about the possibility of a Friday wedding, not providing liquor, registering for too many/not enough or too expensive, etc….). They would all have to be really extreme horror stories, haha.

        • Eh

          My husband and I went to a wedding about a year after we started dating (he was still a broke student). My husband was the best man and the couple expected him to go all out for the stag and doe, the bachelor party and the wedding. The wedding was also out of town so we had to rent a car and stay in a B&B as those were the only accommodations nearby. My husband spent well over $1000 on the wedding (his parents and I helped him out). The couple never thanked him (not even during their “thank you” speech at the reception – none of the guys were thanks, only the bridesmaids and the MOH) and they have actually criticized him for not doing more. They never sent out thank you notes (from the wedding shower, wedding or baby shower) and have mad it clear that they did not appreciate the gifts (they have commented on how tacky some of the gifts were and how they would have preferred cash). Then went it came to our wedding we tried to make things easier on our guests and wedding party (no stag and doe, wedding in the town where half the guest live) and this couple didn’t even bother coming to our wedding and have never given us well wishes on our marriage.

          • newyork22

            Some people have nerve! Sorry to hear:( I actually love weddings because they can illuminate things about others that make it so much easier to walk away from less than quality people in your life. Look, we’re all busy! The only people for me are the ones who think about others despite their busy lives. I mean…if you can’t show up for a milestone in my life and afford it the proper respect…why should I value you as a friend?

          • Bethany

            I did skip one wedding of friends about whom I deeply care. However, it was shortly after I started what I thought was my dream job (turned into an absolute nightmare), was on a day when I absolutely could not take off, and was several states away. I did send a lovely card and gift at least with many apologies.

          • newyork22

            Ahh! You bring up a valid point and I should have rephrased. Not everyone can make a wedding and there are many legitimate reasons for that. We certainly haven’t ever made all the weddings we wanted to get to. I really meant to say that if someone shows up but can’t afford the event the proper respect (i.e. treating everything as if it’s just another vacation), then I will most likely not be a huge fan of that person going forward.

            To Eh: STILL totally sucks that the couple couldn’t show up to your local wedding or at least acknowledge it!

          • Eh

            I totally agree that there are legitimate reasons to not show up to a wedding. A large portion of my family was unable to make it because our wedding was in my husband’s hometown and far from where they live. My family and friends who were unable to make it did “show up” by sending us cards or calling me (two of my cousins who couldn’t come called me as I was getting ready). This couple did not want to go to our wedding out of spite. For example, the wife admitted to us that she did not book the day off work.

          • Eh

            Our wedding (and their wedding) did illuminate a lot about our relationship with this couple. We have talked about it since. We were more or less told that they felt we didn’t do enough for their wedding and they were paying us back (as my husband is not one for flash, a lot of the things they claimed he did not do he actually did do and other people got credit for). Their behavior didn’t just hurt their relationship with us but their relationship with other people who saw how they treated us. As it would be difficult to cut this couple out of our life we have made strides in improving our relationship.

          • newyork22

            I applaud you for taking the higher road! If there is one thing I’ve learned, life is usually long and I am far better at ignoring people I don’t care much for than I thought I’d be. This just means there is time left for folks to change and for you to be better friends. There will be milestone birthdays and children and funerals – how those friends show up then will be your means of evaluating their importance.

          • Eh

            If this couple was “easy” to get rid of we may have taken that road. We have learned that we need to have totally different expectations for these people (which is really sad to say) otherwise we will either be stressed or disappointed by their behaviour. For example, we were planning on going to a fundraiser for her work and my uncle passed away and his funeral was the same day and far away (i.e., I had to fly). I sent her a text apologizing that I couldn’t make it (we had pre-bought the tickets so I was still contributing) and that my husband would be still going. I never received any words of condolence from them. The next day was my husband’s birthday party at our house and they came over. Other people who came to the birthday party did say some words of condolence and forgave me for being a horrible hostess (my husband had to host his own birthday party because I was exhausted from travelling).

          • Ashley Meredith

            I agree with both your original (as expanded to mean, “showing up by letting the person know you care, either by being there or by sending a message of some kind”) and the edit. I’ve never been very close with my dad’s side of the family, but since none of his three sisters or their children bothered to respond to my wedding invitation or acknowledge it in any other way… I pretty much don’t consider us related any more. Good riddance.

            To put them even more completely to shame – we got a present from my husband’s stepdad’s (who married his mom when my husband was in his late teens) dad. And also from his step-mom’s (married to his dad at about the same time) parents and siblings. Was that sweet or what? Point is, if people care, they’ll show it, and if not, that will be pretty obvious too.

          • newyork22

            Agreed – people will surprise you in good and bad ways and that was sweet of your husband’s stepdad! You can only control your reaction to others (haha, which means I should really become quicker about letting go of my annoyance at the non thank you card).

          • vegankitchendiaries


        • ElisabethJoanne

          This was probably a mistake, but our groomsmen’s families* didn’t give us tangible gifts, which meant their gifts didn’t get logged in the thank-you-note-tracking spreadsheet, which meany they didn’t get written notes from us. They did get thank-you gifts at the bachelor party. I think my husband did small notes with the gifts. And they got a lot of oral Thank Yous the week of the wedding.

          So have you checked with your husband about what might have been given or said at the bachelor party?

          *Groomsmen are married with kids, so any tangible gift would likely have come from the families, not the groomsmen individually.

          • newyork22

            Around the time we received the non-thank you card last year, hubby and I had a long conversation about this friend. The first thing hubby told me about was how the groom manged to insult all his friends by telling them why they had been invited to the bachelor party and using the process to really just make himself sound better than everyone else (e.g. And you John Doe were invited because I admire you for being carefree in your 20’s and not working on building your career). Groom of course said the standard expected “thank you for coming” but no mention about the wedding presents which he had received by then (the bachelor party was one month before the wedding). There were no presents exchanged during the bachelor party either:(

          • ElisabethJoanne

            OK. I just wanted to throw out a way in which the gift of being a groomsman can fall through the cracks when it comes to a formal thank-you-note-card.

            I get serious pangs of guilt periodically about how we’ve had virtually 0 communication with one of my husband’s groomsmen since the wedding two years ago. I talk about it with my husband, but he doesn’t want to restart the friendship for various reasons – embarrassment about his employment situation, awkwardness in purely social situations (all my husband’s friends are also business connections), etc. It’s all connected to my husband’s depression and other mental health issues, and I can’t force my husband to be a “good” friend, so it just sort of sits. But I wanted to give a different perspective here.

          • newyork22

            I totally appreciate you sharing the hint – others in a similar situation may not have thought about it!

            As for guilt: it sounds like something happened to cause the original break in the friendship and that things are now more complicated because of mental health issues. You aren’t responsible for your husband’s actions, nor can you fix the break between him and his groomsman if it didn’t involve you, so if I were facing the situation, I’d focus my guilt energy towards making sure my husband’s existing network is strong so he can get better. Hang in there! Mental health issues are taboo to speak about but a very real challenge that needs to be addressed on so many fronts!

      • N

        Yup, people can be really bad a bout this… my fiance and I took a long time making a gift for his brother and his now wife, it wasn’t done until after the wedding (he was the best man). We got the gift to them a month, maybe two later. Then they gave him a thank you card… for being a groomsmen. They didn’t even mention the gift. I was a little peeved.

    • stella

      Best gift ever!

      • Bethany

        It was a joy.

    • The B.

      Ugh, yeah. I mean, disclaimer disclaimer some people have specific circumstances that make it difficult for them to send out thank yous in a reasonable time period disclaimer. But overall, most people are just being straight up thoughtless…and in my experience, it’s usually the couples I expect won’t send out thank yous because they have *historically* been thoughtless.

      /still annoyed about not getting a thank you from fiance’s groomswoman over a year ago and making sure I bite my tongue during our upcoming events (i.e., no “I think the RUDEST thing EVER is not sending THANK YOUS after a WEDDING” in her and her wife’s earshot…though I desperately want to.)

      • The B.

        And for the record, I actually don’t need a literal note in the mail. Just some kind of acknowledgment, by email, phone, text… beyond using it in front of us once and saying, “Ha, hey, you got this for us.”

        (It was awkward.)

        (And yes, I realize that I’m letting it bother me too much. Pet peeve!)

    • Natalie

      There’s nothing like spending time and energy picking out a gift and card for someone and then not receiving a thank you note or an in-person thank you.

      And that cat-sitting is an awesome wedding gift.

      • Bethany

        We honestly felt honored that they were trusting us with their cat.

    • laurasmash

      OMG that is an amazing gift.

    • MDBethann

      Impersonal thank you notes? That is AWFUL! At every shower I’ve been to or that has been thrown for me (wedding and baby), a list of gifts and the givers has been made and we did the same thing with our wedding gifts. It takes awhile, but I ALWAYS send a handwritten note thanking the giver for coming to said event (or saying that we missed seeing them) and for their thoughtful gift of _______. When possible, I try to tell them how we’re using it or plan to use it. I can’t imagine doing generic thank yous. It makes moral sensibilities hurt.

    • Ms. Wylde

      Ok firstly, you are the best gift giver ever. That’s amazing.

      Secondly, I totally agree with you re personalisation, but I have to be honest that it took us about 6 months to write all our thank you notes. My mum thought that was pretty long, but honestly we worked hard on it. I grew up overseas and a ton of special people from childhood weren’t able to make it, but sent surprise notes, cards and photos to my fiance who they hadn’t met. There were others who sent us money or gifts who we hadn’t even invited. We are community workers and some people from the community we were involved in sent us presents, which was totally unexpected. We weren’t expecting any presents on the day, we got a ton of thoughtful stuff that was off list (we only had a tiny list – we hadn’t been planning to make one but my aunties told my Mum “we really want to spend money on your daughter can you please for the love of family get them to make a list!!!”), or from young people who we just never in a million years expected to buy us gifts. Some people took time off work to help with the wedding. What I’m trying to say is that we were UTTERLY BLOWN AWAY (still am, 3 years later) and wanted to write handwritten letters to every person, and send cake and photos to those who couldn’t make it or who we hadn’t invited. We did do that, but it took a LONG time. I mean, I am talking something like 150 handwritten letters or something that we wrote. Most people would have had no idea about the people who weren’t at the wedding who we were writing too. So, sometimes – and by the sounds of it not in this case, but sometimes – it is not because people are not grateful but because they are so grateful that nothing seems enough and they just can’t figure out a way to say thank you that doesn’t feel trivial compared to how grateful they are, and so they are a little too…ambitious. I am still slightly worried there might be people who fell through the cracks, because we didn’t have one “list” from a registry or anything to tick off.

      • Thanks for pointing out how much work thank you notes can be.

        I have always loved writing personalized letters to people I care about (it used to be a Christmas tradition of mine that I’d send people thank you letters for everything they did for me that year) but reading this comment thread just makes me feel… exhausted. I just started wedding planning, and there are already all these ways I’m bending over backwards to meet other people’s expectations and make sure (to the best of my ability) that they’re comfortable or not offended by any of our decisions, so the thought that once the wedding is over, I’m going to have to stress out about getting out thank you cards in a timely manner lest our guests criticize us for bad manners… I can’t help hyperventilating with stress a little bit, just thinking about it.

    • As a former cat owner, this would have been AMAZING. Cat Instagram account?! I would have LOVED this.

  • Marie

    I’m pretty torn on this issue. On one hand, I totally get the whole not wanting “stuff”. I love having a place for everything and purge at least once a year myself. On the other hand, it feels a little contrived to “force” people to give you cash. I really, really do not like giving cash, it cheapens the whole idea of a gift “to start the couples life together” idea. I recently went to a wedding where they did not register, and did not want anything that they couldn’t take on a plan with them back to their apartment (they got married across the country), and it seemed like they were giving no option to guests other than into handing over money.

    • Amy March

      I hear you on liking a registry, but in this case wouldn’t the solution have been shipping a gift to their apartment?

      • Eh

        My sister got married where we grew up and she lives on the other side of the country. One of the reason she registered was so people could buy them physical gifts and have them sent to their house instead of bringing them to the wedding. They did get a few gifts at the wedding (and the shower) but most people understood the situation and either got them a gift off the registry and had it sent to them or gave them cash.

      • Sarah E

        Friends of mine got married in their hometown, though they lived several states away and planned to move another several states in the year following the wedding (military life), and they put a note on their website to please ship gifts to their home address, since they won’t be able to pack everything in the car on the way home. It’s certainly a consideration for my partner and I, as we will be in the same geographic situation.

        • TeaforTwo

          Yes, dealing with getting the gifts from our wedding to our apartment (which was actually only a few blocks away) was one of more difficult logistical issues of our wedding. It involved the person who had agreed to do it backing out, a few drivers being deputized at the reception – at one point – my brother carrying the last few gifts on foot through a blizzard. (Almost of this happened without either of us knowing at the time, while we drank mulled wine and then headed off for our wedding night. Thank heavens.)

          So if at all possible, geography aside, ship your gifts before the wedding. Or, better, if possible: visit the couple a few weeks after the wedding and bring your gift then. They will LOVE to see you when they can talk for more than two minutes like at the wedding, you can both catch up on all of the wedding gossip, and opening just one gift, in front of the giver, when you can ooh and ahh appropriately will actually feel much nicer for the couple than ploughing through all of the gifts in one sitting.

          (We got home from our honeymoon on December 23rd to an apartment full of gifts that my sister in law had staged beautifully. Spent the 24th-26th celebrating Christmas with our families and then picked up all of our registry gifts on the 27th. By the time we were done opening those ones, my husband looked around at all of the boxes, packing peanuts, and piles of wrapping paper and sighed, “no one should ever get this many gifts.” I am so grateful for each individual gift, but five straight days of opening presents was a bit of overload.)

      • ElisabethJoanne

        My older etiquette books say shipping gifts ahead is best, regardless of any space or geography concerns. My newer etiquette books still say it’s best, but recognize guests procrastinate, so couples have to arrange for gift tables and someone to watch them and transportation for the gifts.

    • Caroline

      I too really hate giving cash. It makes me very uncomfortable. But if you don’t want stuff, what I’m totally happy for is to give a gift to your favorite charity. Buy cash gifts? I hate giving them. I would only gift cash gifts “down generations”. Ie, I’d be okay with cash gifts for a teenage niece, but not for a friend. It feels too much like exposing my financial situation. But as I said, I’m totally down with giving to your favorite charity if you don’t want stuff.

      • TeaforTwo

        Agreed. I have never written a cheque for a friend’s wedding, and I don’t imagine I am about to start. I love buying big, generous gifts from the registry. (LOVE it. Especially since getting married and seeing how much our wedding gifts mean to me, and how I think about the giver every time I use them.)

        And I can also see getting a kick out of writing a big cheque to nieces or nephews. (In the same way that I slip money into their birthday cards, but not into my brothers’ birthday cards.) But peer-to-peer money as a gift is probably never going to happen, and I dislike the idea of being manipulated into writing a cheque.

  • kcaudad

    You can also register at places like Target and Home Depot. If you are planning on moving soon after the wedding, maybe register at a place that is near you new home location, and register for practical things that you may need in the future.Also, only registered for a few things at Sears, for the ‘man’ registry, and got several gift cards there, too. Ex: power tools and shop-vac for your new home projects, decor items or linens at Target, etc. We upgraded our towels, plates, and bed sheets because of the registries from our wedding. (Althought it wasn’t “needed”, it was nice to upgrade some things that we might not have bought on our own, but use all of the time! Grandmas and Aunts love to buy that kind of stuff, too!)

  • Misti

    We were in the same situation (two complete households, moving soon after the wedding), and chose to go no registry. If asked, I told guests that we had two of everything we knew we needed, but if they had an idea for something small that in retrospect they just couldn’t live without, that would be appreciated. I told my mother that Miss Manners said it was OK.

    It did bug some people, but, I want to say, we did not get a bunch of stuff of questionable origin. We did get a few really lovely things that we would never have picked out for ourselves, but that we will treasure and use. I touch that stuff as I go around the house, and it does remind me of the giver, in a way that something that I had picked out might not. We also got a lot of cash – which felt a bit awkward to me, but I’m also just weird about that sort of stuff.

    My sister, who did have a registry, still ended up with about 5 salad spinners and some fairly bad art that they would never display, so even a well-thought-out registry is no guarantee!!!

    • Misti

      Oh, PS, I know you likely aren’t asking for cash, however, since it will arrive…make sure somebody makes it clear what your names will be! I ended up in possession of a lot of checks made out to Mr. & Mrs. His First His Last. Since we lived about 2.5 hours apart for several months after the wedding and neither of us changed our names, that was a bit of a hassle in itself.

  • Greta

    Two thoughts – I agree with everyone who has said it is nice to upgrade your things. We upgraded our sheets, a few different kitchen things, and our dishes, and then took our old stuff to goodwill. I had a great friend who was getting married to a very tall man. They really felt they didn’t need the stuff, and what they wanted more than anything was a king size bed for the groom to sleep in without his feet going off the edge. On their website they wrote an explanation of what they were looking for, and simply did a paypal account (so they wouldn’t have to pay a service fee). They also had a very limited traditional registry, which they listed underneath, for those who felt more comfortable with tradition. It worked great – they got enough to buy their new mattress, and only a small number of (older, more traditional) guests bought them things off of the registry.

  • Jules

    A friend of mine in your EXACT position did simpleregistry.com. It’s essentially a cash registry, because you can register for stuff but the site just sends you cash. It can serve as a honeymoon registry too: i.e. 4 shares of $50 each to go towards a couples’ massage!

    While I would not advocate that you faux-register for a bunch of things that people *think* they are buying you and then take the money to do whatever (that feels deceptive)…..as a friend, I think there’s some leeway. I’m traditional and I like Stuff or actual experiences, but I really wouldn’t care if you used that to simply pay moving expenses if that’s what you need most. I understand the awkwardness surrounding couples in your position. I “gave” my friend a set of Anthropologie bookends but I have no idea if they’ve been purchased yet or if they ever will be.

    However, I think the solution would be to do a mix of things and honeymoon/charity/other if you’re afraid of ending up with things you don’t want from the people who are hell-bent on buying you…things. (Like me.) The others will get the hint and give you a check.

  • Not having a registry backfired on us. We didn’t want gifts for several reasons, most significantly because we (well, mostly *I*) had no desire to accumulate “stuff” just for its own sake. I don’t have a particularly anti-stuff philosophy (I am no minimalist), but I have a very low tolerance for clutter and try very hard to avoid bringing new things into our home, unless the item is worth getting rid of an existing item in return. Despite our best efforts to communicate that people should consider the money they would spent on gas to get to our wedding to be our gift (our wedding was about 2.5 hours away from almost everyone), we ended up receiving an enormous amount of gifts from Macy’s. Everything we received was either stark white or tan (I prefer bright colors and patterns), and everything came in sets (imagine: 32 super-soft, but stark white towels of varying sizes). I felt like such a terrible person for not only NOT appreciate the generous gifts, but feeling outright annoyed by them. We did all the things we were supposed to do (oohed and awed; wrote thank you cards, etc), but truthfully, the gifts were more of an inconvenience than anything else. Yikes, was I too truthful just there? It worked out well in the end though. After all was said and done, we ended up returning over $1,000 worth of gifts to Macys, who issued us a gift card. We then sold that gift card to Gift Card Zen for something like 90% of the value. Not too shabby.

    Oh, and just for the record—I Imagine this didn’t come through in the above—we *did* appreciate the gesture and we *do* get that the set of towels (for example) was just somebody’s way of showering us with love.

    • Amy March

      I think this is also a good strategy point- I would be downright offended by the suggestion that the money I spent on gas should be considered a gift. It feels like you’re telling me I’m too poor to actually give a gift!

      So maybe for others going forward, suggesting a way to give something to you might be more effective in warding off unwanted stuff- even if that gift is a great card, or a contribution to a savings goal.

      • Bethany

        Oh I loved the friend who told me in no uncertain terms the year after college that my attending her wedding across the country was gift enough. This was a couple who even found couches for cross country friends to crash on! Admittedly, the plane ticket there and back was a bit more than gas for a 2.5hr drive…

      • But what if you KNOW that a tank of gas would be a financial hardship for some people? Then what? We felt like we should keep our message consistent so that the people who are truly struggling don’t hear that we told someone else that we’d love a gravy boat.

        • Amy March

          I’m not sure it’s effective to decide for people what is and isn’t a financial hardship and how they should be spending their money. It may be absolutely true, but I think avoiding physical gifts from people who want to give them is more effective when you can channel that desire in some way instead of trying to stop it. Like turning a stampede from a cliff.

      • Helloooo Nurse

        A friend of mine noted on their wedding site that they did not need gifts but that contributions to their travel fund would go far. I know they got a couple of gifts at the wedding, but most of us just wanted to get them something they’d like and contributed to the travel fund.

        By the way, “contributed to the travel fund” feels much more festive and personal than “gave them cash money” so that was helpful for us- it framed it in a way that still allowed us to feel engaged with the couple.

  • Nina

    One of the best things we did was “register” for manual labor. We used the SoKind registry to ask for stuff like “help set up the reception hall” and “be our iPod DJ”. We also put some links to charities on there as well as a “honeymoon fund”.

    • Bethany

      Ooh, I love this idea!

    • Nicole

      We were in the same boat as many people here – already combined households, live in a small place and love it, don’t want a bunch of things we don’t want or need. But, we realized early on that it was going to be stressful for guests who expected a registry and stressful for us to be constantly fielding questions, even though we weren’t doing a shower or anything. Additionally, we had a sense that at least part of our crowd was likely to follow a registry, but without a registry, to go nuts on things we don’t value.

      We used SoKind (More fun! Less stuff!) in just this way! We also added tons of date night ideas (restaurants we’d like to try, an old movie theater we love) and, knowing our crowd, a few things that we thought we might really like (a thing from etsy we loved, a used cast iron skillet, carry on backpacks we’d like to use for traveling etc.). We also made it clear on our website and our registry that we see everyone’s presence as a gift, but for those who really want to give something also, here are ideas.

      It worked out AWESOME. Lots of people didn’t bring gifts, including some traditionalists we really expected to. Lots of people picked things/experiences/helping off the registry and it was all stuff we loved. The people who went off the registry knew the sorts of things we’d asked for and/or knew us really well and picked things/experiences that we might have asked for if we’d thought of it. We’re still working on thank you notes a couple months later (pro-tip: if you send electronic invitations to practically everyone, but want to send real thank you notes, don’t forget to actually gather all those addresses :-p) and everyone who came and did look at the registry commented how much they liked it and had fun picking things out.

      That said, if you think your crowd can handle no registry, then go for it. But if you think they can’t, I thought of SoKind right away reading your letter because they literally say “less stuff” in their tag line. And they mean it.

      • Nina

        Yes! We got so many amazing gifts using SoKind that we just couldn’t have gotten from Macy’s (although we did have a Macy’s registry too).

        We asked for a sign-in sheet for the wedding and a friend crafted a beautiful shadowbox so everyone signed their names on wooden stars and dropped them in (hard to explain but trust me it is amazing!). We got some beautiful art and photographs of our wedding venue.

        The day-of help was seriously one of the greatest gifts we received. It was such a relief to have help setting up, cleaning up, picking up the ice-cream, bringing beer to the beach, etc. The setup crew was so industrious, I got an extra hour to shower and get dressed! We could have just asked friends for help directly but I think putting in the registry made it clear that we really thought of it as a big gift and I think people like that feeling of pitching in to get us married.

  • I’m just going to raise my hand and say I’m so glad we registered. It was such a grind, and I often thought it was so unnecessary because we really did have everything we needed. And then after the wedding we spent more time than we would have liked sorting out duplicates, wrong items shipped, items that arrived broken, and oh god the thank you notes!
    But we just had a weekend where we did a big push to really get things unpacked/ put away/ hung up/ etc, and walking around in our house this week, we keep looking at each other and saying, “It looks like a couple of grownups live here!” which is such a nice feeling. There are lamps on tables, and plates that match, and art in frames on walls, and the nice oven mitts really are better than our old ones with the holes!

  • Amanda

    My husband and I were in this exact same spot — we had already condensed 2 households full of stuff into our home together and had been living together for over a year and, truly, just did not want stuff. For a lot of reasons the registry was just so stressful to us both:

    1) We are both semi-minimalists.
    2) We are both pretty thoughtful and particular about what we put in our home so it really was hard for us to just go to Macy’s and try to decide what color bath towels we wanted or try to find a new comforter set or plates — these are things we will want or may want in the next few years but it was a lot of stress to have to think about all that stuff while in the middle of wedding planning.
    3) We thought it was kind of rude to just upgrade all of our things because, lucky for us, upgrades for the things we currently have would be pretty expensive and something about only registering for things over $100 felt really wrong.
    4) The thought of receiving lots of gifts before and after the wedding that would need to be sorted through and found a place for during the wedding process was also fairly stressful.
    5) We knew we’d be planning to move semi-soon (actually, we’re in the process of that now only 5 months later) and had no idea how much room we’d have or what our new place would look like and I didn’t want to get a bunch of new things that I’d feel bad about getting rid of or exchanging in that process.

    That being said we did end up doing a small traditional registry and honeymoon registry and the combination worked great. We got lots of things off the traditional registry but having the honeymoon registry was so nice because it gave us a place to explain why we didn’t have a large traditional registry and our family and friends really seemed to enjoy giving us those experiences. We did get some “random” gifts and honestly, those are my favorite. They are not things that we would have picked out but they truly remind us of the gift givers and bring us so much happiness when we use them.

    Also, we used our moms, sisters and ourselves to communicate about our preference that gifts were not at all neccessary. We all found small ways to work it into conversations and the word did get out!

  • TeaforTwo

    When we got married, we lived in a 604 square foot apartment, and had just moved in together six months beforehand. Combining two households + adding wedding gifts into the mix created some storage issues, and so I totally get the reticence to add more “stuff.”

    That said, I have a really hard time with the tone that conversations about wedding gifts start to take. Even, sometimes, on APW: calling a gift that someone has chosen for you, bought, possibly flown across the country, and then presented to you on your wedding day “tacky” is just…well, tacky.

    • Kayjayoh

      Indeed. I got a couple of things that I smile about, and can’t see ever using, but they are also charming and unique. I always think about the person who gave it when I see it.

      • TeaforTwo

        Yes, we got a lot of non-registry gifts and not all of them reflect our taste. But those ones definitely do reflect the taste of the people who gave them to us – people whom we love so dearly, and think of when see them :)

        (My absolute favourite non-registry gift was 12 place settings of Christmas china. It came with a lovely note about starting our own family holiday traditions that made me tear up a bit, imagining Christmases 40 years from now surrounded by children and grandchildren. It also made me laugh because clearly the giver did not consider what life is like in a tiny urban condo, where we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen 12 place settings that we can only use once a year. I never would have thought to register for Christmas dishes, but I have to say they were one of the more meaningful gifts that we got.)

        • Kayjayoh

          The one that makes me smile the most was part of a group of presents that included a very lovely table cloth. The giver also included a red satin Chinese bellyband/undershirt. It was…an interesting choice. It is beautiful, though, and I’m sure the giver was delighted to buy it for us/me.

  • Nell

    There are a lot of ways to do a non-registry. I think we are going to have a small registry of actual things, and list a few local stores that we’d be happy to get gift certificates from. I think the website will say something like: “We love our local businesses, and here are a few that we frequent!” We’ve been going around and asking about gift certificates already.

    You can even write on your website: “We’re moving soon, so we can’t take a lot of physical stuff with us! If you want to help us start our new life in X city, we’d love gift certificates to Home Depot, Ikea, [favorite store here].”

    I feel a little better giving a gift certificate than cash. I don’t know why, it’s just nice to imagine that my friends are going off to the hardware store to embark on some weird home repair project, and feel like I helped.

    • Kayjayoh

      In our registry we made mention of the fact that we were going to be moving twice in the next two years, and emphasized gift cards and non-tangible gifts if people really wanted to give. We also registered for tea and spices, which are small, light, and consumable. In the end, we got a combination of charitable donations in our name, cash and checks, gift cards, help with the wedding itself, warm wishes, and a small collection of physical things. We didn’t register at a particular store, so that pressure was off. It turned out to be nicely low-key.

  • enfp

    I think Liz’s advice that you can’t control this aspect of wedding planning is so important. A gift is a voluntary gesture from a guest and you can’t control your guests’ behaviour. No matter what you do, some people are going to go off-registry, or not feel comfortable giving you money, or want to follow their family’s gift giving tradition, or whatever. All you can do is make your wishes known to your guests in a respectful way, but you can’t actually prevent getting five toasters, or people giving you stuff when you want money.

    For what it’s worth, we debated not having a registry, or making it known that we did not need/expect gifts, but we ended up doing a very small traditional registry for a few things we genuinely needed (mostly dishware), and we passed this around by word of mouth only. We got a mix of cash, most of the items of on our registry, and non-registry gifts. Honestly, most of the non-registry gifts were wonderful and thoughtful, and some of them were our favourite gifts. Yes, there were a few items that were not to our taste, or weren’t needed, and we did receive a few duplicate items. Some people did not give a gift at all (which was fine!). We appreciated all the gestures, and now that we’re preparing to move, we’ll deal with the few items we don’t really want or aren’t going to use.

  • Raven Shutley

    All amazing ideas; I second everything said! PLUS, you can always create a registry with your wedding photographer for things like wedding albums or wall art for your home!

  • V

    I have a related question – I happen to be of the opinion that if you’re in someone’s wedding, you bought a dress, paid for plane tickets and lodging for the bachelorette party and wedding itself, and have been helpful and supportive, you don’t need to get your friend a big wedding gift. Like, your gift has been being a part of her day and so it’s fine to get her something small and sentimental and not go all out. I’ve heard other opinions that if you’re in someone’s wedding, you should get them an even BIGGER gift than you normally would. My opinion may be clouded by the fact that I have very little disposable income to spend on these things, but anyway – thoughts?

    • Nina

      I absolutely agree! All of the help and support definitely counts as a gift. I would also add a card, this allows you to say all your heartfelt support in writing (I’m sure I’m not the only one who cries when given heartfelt cards… and then keeps them and reads them over and over) and also keeps your friend from worrying that your gift may have gotten lost in the mail.

    • Annie

      A gift is a gift–an expression of your appreciation (like the appreciation of being invited to share a special day) and/or celebration. It does not have to be a certain dollar value.

      Also, hopefully if you are in a wedding party, it’s because the bride/groom likes you and is more likely to understand your financial situation. If they’re pissed that you didn’t get an expensive gift, especially if they’re aware of your general financial situation, well, maybe you need to reconsider the friendship post-wedding.

    • Jules

      Card and sentimental gift. Honestly, my budget is capped for everybody. If you’re a good friend, I’m willing to spend $$$, but it may be split into $, $, and $ among all the typical bridal party costs. If I don’t incur those, maybe I’d get you a pricier gift. Similarly, if I have to travel for a wedding (and therefore pay for lodging + travel), I go with something smaller than normal because the couple knows I’ve come from afar.

    • Sarah E

      One of my friends got married the year we moved across the country, immediately after Christmas. So my partner and I had driven to our hometowns for the holidays, then we drove the 4 hours to the wedding, then drove back to my hometown for another wedding, then drove home. Needless to say, my budget was busted. Since they are a military family, I bought a US map online, got a bulletin board and map pins for them, then put pins where I knew they’d already lived. It didn’t cost much, and was something they could use/remember (or easily dismantle) for a while. Granted, they had to drive home with it, when they had asked for gifts to be shipped, but oh well.

    • april

      I think it somewhat depends on your circumstances. One bridesmaid (who is in finance and has done very well for herself, thank you very much) pretty much bought our our entire Target registry – a totally over-the-top act of generosity. Another bridesmaid (amazing writer, in grad school for journalism) gave us a really sweet card, and the best man (kind of goofy, also in grad school) gave us a hug and some candy bars. We remember each gift because it so perfectly reflected our friends and their love for us. In other words, do something meaningful … whatever that means for you :P

    • Emma

      I was in my sister’s wedding and didn’t even think about a gift until my boyfriend started looking into what HE should get them! I ended up knitting a dishtowel and feeling a little bad that that’s all I gave, but I have no idea if my sister was expecting anything from me, and I also bought my dress and plane ticket (and spent hours and hours and hours helping plan the wedding to begin with)! I agree with april that I think it really depends. As someone in the wedding, I think next time I would just ask the bride/groom what they are expecting and then figure out what works for you based on that.

  • Laura C

    A family friend told me that his family’s practice is to get something that will be used up — a nice bottle of wine, etc. Which I love, at least if you’re going off-registry but don’t want to give cash. And maybe there’s a graceful kind of language to express that suggestion in? I will say that the friend of my husband’s who gave us a case of wine as a gift is someone I think fondly of quite often, usually while drinking the wine he sent us … but also while thinking about wedding gift strategies, and how he found us something off-registry that was so attentive to our likes.

    Although, don’t get me wrong, all the Crate & Barrel gift cards people gave us after our registry was bought out that we turned into an amazing chair? I also think fondly of those people when sitting in that chair.

    • Annie

      I’d never thought of doing “something that will be used up” until my husband and I got married. A few friends gave us nice liquor or wine, and it was fantastic! It kind of requires knowing the couples’ taste, but it’s a nice way to treat your loved ones.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My family is very direct about gift-giving. My father also doesn’t like having white elephants around, so he often says, “The best gifts are consumables” by which he means things you use up, like food, alcohol, and fancy soap.

      • Channa

        Yup. I’d be much happier with a bottle of esoteric liquor than a ‘thing’. I’d be over the moon if someone handed me a bottle of Chartreuse, Dassai 23, Laphroaig Triple Wood, real violet liqueur, Ararat Armenian brandy, Mastika…

        • Channa

          Anycra Okuzgozu…Formosan aboriginal taro liqueur…a bottle of tej…

          I’ll just be over here naming obscure spirits I’d like to drink.

  • Sheila

    A good friend of mine just got married and they didn’t have a registry. Personally, I like that better because it gives me the opportunity to think of something to give that’s a bit more reflective of the couple than new dishes, for instance. We ended up buying them a six month subscription to a monthly vinyl club. Each month they get a new record and custom artwork with it. We got one for ourselves too. This worked well for the couple because they love music, and frequently go record shopping together. (If anyone is interested it is http://vinylmeplease.com/)

  • Kayjayoh

    As a slightly unrelated side note: I’m laughing a bit at the Disney weddings banner ad at the top of the page. “You’ve been dreaming about your wedding your whole life.” Nope. Can’t say that I have, but thanks, Disney!

    • Lauren from NH

      Yeah there are some new ads on the site that seem a little spammy. One yesterday on the side was one of those awkward before and after tummy tuck ads. I fully support the staff making good money and I know ads are part of that, but these ones are kind of icky compared with the other classy sponsors.

      • Bethany

        It’s possible that they’re automatic ads rather than chosen ones. I worked at a pet site for awhile and about once a month or so a wave of ads targeting our keywords would show up that we’d have to go into Google and inform were banned. For us it was anything that sold (rather than adopted) pets, sold shock collars, or electric fences. I imagine that’s what’s happening here. Not sure about the APW staff, but we honestly appreciated screenshots of the bad ads being sent to us because sometimes the public would see them but we wouldn’t.

    • scw

      lol the one at the top of my screen right now says “let love fill your heart… and sur la table fill your kitchen”

  • Juliet

    I was in the same boat- I really didn’t think I wanted to register for anything, but I realized that there were a few things it would be nice to have that we would just never ever buy for ourselves for various reasons. Dishes from Heath Ceramics, Chimex coffee pot, kitchen scale, good tupperware, hardwood floor pet vacuum (A LIFE-CHANGING APPLIANCE,) that kind of “you know, I’ve always wanted a ________” stuff- no ‘upgrades’ really, but just a few things we are definitely using and are happy we have around now.

    Because we registered for these ‘around the house’ things that we are excited about having and using, we can use all of the amazingly generous cash gifts we received for ultra practical things like credit card debt, saving for a house, etc., and not feel like we missed out on the fun that comes with wedding gifts.

    • Can you recommend a particular vacuum? My life might need to be changed in that area.

      • Juliet

        We got the Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Corded Vacuum, 81L2A, and it’s $49.00 on Amazon. I cannot BELIEVE the years we’ve spent trying to get all of that cat hair with a broom/Swiffer when the only thing standing between us and this thing was $50 and 2 day Amazon Prime shipping.

        • Thank you, Juliet. I personally use the Swiffer a lot and really like it (am a Virgo with Type A cleaning habits) but it sounds like the vacuum does a really great job too. I will check it out!

  • Confession time: I LOVE presents. Now, once I got past the part where I’m supposed to register for china and things I’ll never use, creating a registry wasn’t all that difficult. But I also will love whatever people will or won’t give us. I like the idea that my loved ones thoughtfully picked out a gift they thought we’d enjoy. So who am I to turn it down? Our apartment looks like it was decorated by a drunk hipster hobo. There is literally nothing someone could give us that won’t match.

    But. If you don’t want a registry, don’t have one. But put on your gracious face because people are going to get you whatever they want anyway. They want to contribute to this new life adventure you are embarking on. Let them do that for you (within reason).

  • Jess

    I suggest something like Zola (https://www.zola.com/). A friend of mine did this for her wedding. They were in the midst of remodeling their house, so you could contribute to things like a new refrigerator or furniture, as well as their honeymoon.

  • Channa

    THANK YOU FOR THIS. I think this may be the first “go ahead and just don’t have a registry” post on registries in the history of ever.

    We were in a particular situation with our not-registering: living abroad (still are), living together, and even though there was stuff we could have used, we had – and still have – no intention of moving back to the US, well, ever, even if we switch countries. Taiwan emphatically does. not. do. registries so there was no way to register locally (not that any of our guests could have figured out a registry in Chinese), and have you ever looked up shipping costs to Asia? The cheapest packages start at about $29! And it’s tough enough getting our personal items under the luggage limits – bringing back piles of household goods ourselves was just not going to happen.

    So we didn’t register. And the world did not end. For everyone afraid that cash is so “forgettable” and the couple won’t have something to remember you by, first of all, nobody wants to remember you by a salad bowl that’s in their parents’ attic because they can’t get it home, and secondly, we fondly remember all of our guests by the honeymoon we took with the cash (we didn’t say we wanted cash but we got it). We remember them more fondly than we would if we were trying to figure out how to get a set of towels they gave us from the US to Taiwan.

    No Apocalypse. It really is okay to just not register.

  • Meg

    Things from the registry are generally just given at the bridal shower. Very few people buy them and them bring them to the wedding. At the wedding you will mostly just get checks (and the odd gift). So you could just avoid having a bridal shower too, that is where most people would feel the need to buy your things.

    • Amy March

      This is very much true where I live, but far from a universal rule.

      • Meg

        of course, it’s not universal. I was just trying to offer some advice.

        • Marcela

          :) I totally get it, I thought the same thing too! That’s how my people do it and then it turns out my husband’s people were very much let me sit with a big present on my lap at the ceremony people. Who knew?

    • Marcela

      That really depends on your people. While I had mostly physical items at the shower, we got a ton of gifts at the reception which was unexpected. Apparently there was quite a scramble to figure out whose cars the gifts would go into at the end of the night since I had not expected people to bring gifts to the wedding itself.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I know I’m unusual in this, but, except for immediate family, I don’t like the people I give gifts to to know precisely how much I spent. I’ll usually include a gift receipt, but I don’t like giving cash or gift cards. It’s too purely transactional for me. If a couple doesn’t have a registry, or everything on the registry is outside my budget, I will give something long-lasting and practical, like those heavy-duty canvas boating bags from LLBean.

    As a gift recipient, certain gifts are more burden than gifts. Items for display especially fall into this category. My older etiquette books say that people generally shouldn’t give art objects to people whose homes they visit – The recipients will have to display them, but may not like them. There’s lots of old sitcoms about these kinds of power plays.

    I didn’t have qualms about exchanging a lot of our practical wedding gifts, especially where we got just part of a set and couldn’t arrange to buy the rest. But my husband feels very burdened by gifts. He won’t exchange them. He won’t donate them to charity. They just live in the back of our closets.

    tldr: I’d advise LW to develop a plan for tangible gifts they don’t find tasteful or useful, considering their personalities, their relationships with the givers, and where they’re living.

    • Marcela

      We were gifted a large concrete bird bath by one of my husband’s aunts, despite the fact that we were moving to a second floor apartment with no outdoor space. When my husband realized it got left behind in the move (because he shoved it out his old apartment’s backdoor and forgot about it ) he wanted to go back and get it because in his family you do not return, donate or otherwise indicate at all that a gift was not optimal.

  • Valerie

    We also really did not want “stuff,” but knew that some people would want to give us objects. Here’s what we did, which I’m generally satisfied with:

    – on our wedding site, we politely said that, as adults living in a small SF apartment, we didn’t really need anything, and encouraged people to make donations in our honor if they felt inclined. We suggested a few places that we had a particular connection with (mostly music education-related, as we’re both musicians)
    – we also included a note at the bottom of the “Gifts” page about contacting our mothers if they had any gift or registry-related questions
    – we created a “secret” small registry at a store that we love (that’s owned by my aunt and uncle), knowing that giving them business was an added bonus. The only way to get this info was to ask our moms, so we theorized that you would have to REALLY want to gift us a physical thing to know about it.

    Result: we haven’t received all the donation acknowledgments yet, but we know anecdotally that a LOT of people made donations (yay!). We also were given some cash and checks, which we suspected might happen (culturally, it’s part of both of our families’ traditions, loosely speaking). What we did not expect was that our registry would nearly sell out. We had about 160 guests, and I think a lot of people wanted to give us a token. I’ll know more when we get all the info, but I suspect that a number of people made a donation and then also got us something small off our registry (which didn’t feel small because they also made a donation). Anyway, it worked out mostly as we intended!

  • Kelly Mine-His

    We also lived together for more than four years before we got married, and I really didn’t want a registry or more stuff. My MIL, however, was INSISTENT that we have one.

    Ultimately, the way we dealt with it was to let her throw me a shower, for which I put together a very small registry (basically just upgrades on things we already had, and a few dream items (hello, immersion blender!)). We also did a honeyfund. On our website, we had the registries, but were very clear – We are beyond delighted and so grateful that you want to give us a gift! However, please keep in mind that we live in a small NYC apartment, and space is limited… etc. It worked out so that people who really wanted to give us “something” felt they could do so via the honeyfund, and most eveyrone else just wrote a check. We did get a handful of physical, off the registry gifts, but nothing overwhleming.

    Best of luck!

  • Nell

    Did anyone on here have disagreements with Future Spouse about what stuff you actually wanted to put on the registry? This is a major First World Problem, I know.

    Even though we’re going to nudge people toward buying gift certificates to local stores, contributing toward a Honeyfund, and getting us replacements for household things that are totally falling apart . . . I kind of also want some amount of matching, carefully selected, mildly overpriced household items that are not total necessities (like guest hand towels. no one NEEDS guest hand towels.) There was a time in my life that I practically lived out of a suitcase, and the idea of the people we love helping us nest is really comforting to me. Has anyone found a good way to express that to a spouse who isn’t really into stuff?

    • laurasmash

      I’m having a hard time with that too. Fiance DOES NOT WANT STUFF. At all. And I point out that well, maybe we need a new non-stick stir fry pan because all the Teflon is worn off of the one we have. But dammit I really really want gold electroplated flatware, and I feel utterly ridiculous about that but it’s ok.
      The compromise is that we are doing both a charity registry (which he wanted) and a traditional stuff registry (one at macy’s for household stuff and one at REI for camping stuff). I hope people donate to the charity registry. But I also hope someone gets us the fancy flatware I wanted.
      Also, what I would tell him is that people really want to get us a thing for our home because they love us and they hope maybe we’ll think of them and about our wedding when we are still using the thing in 20 years.

    • K

      This is super late, but–

      My fiance is also super anti stuff. His parents are big “stuff” collectors (mom likes to shop and dad won’t throw anything away) and so their house is claustrophobically full of knick knacks. So his reaction against owning possessions comes from there. But he’s relaxed a little after living with me for a while and realizing that there are good points to living in a home that looks nice and is comfortable. I’ve adapted by making sure that everything has a use, and being extra willing to get rid of things via craigslist, thrift stores, etc. So extra decorative items that we don’t have room to display are out, but things like pretty bowls that we can use are in. In our case, guest hand towels wouldn’t work since we only have one tiny bathroom and nowhere to put them, but if we lived in a house with a guest bathroom they’d be fine.

      I’m not sure how helpful this is but for me, figuring out what is behind his dislike of nonessential “stuff” (not wanting to end up like his parents) allowed us to figure out a way of dealing with it in a way that makes us both happy. So I don’t know what your fiance’s point of view is–does he value minimalism, or does he feel like it’s a waste of money that he’d rather was spent elsewhere (or saved). Or does he just categorize everything outside his normal daily life as feminine frippery?

  • dragonzflame

    We actually did ask for money – we had quite a few overseas relatives on my side who couldn’t make it, so a cheque was easier for them, and for local (NZ) people, I didn’t want to get a registry from typical homewares stores because we only need so much stuff for the kitchen, and we own it already. (They also had the option to get us a vinyl record of their choosing with a story about why it’s a meaningful record to them. Or vouchers for a particular independent kitchenware store in our town).

    What we did, though, was to tell people the cash was for a new lounge suite. That satisfied people who actually want to ‘get’ you something, rather than handing you a wad of impersonal money, and helped us get rid of the cheap and horrible couches we got for free.

  • DM

    I’d encourage you to skip the registry, but be prepared to make some suggestions of what you can (and cannot) use, should anyone ask. People who are asking what you’d like are doing so because they like to give gifts

    My husband & I refused to register – we had just moved into a new house and had gotten rid of so much stuff. We have a very well equipped kitchen (including 2 KitchenAid stand mixers, 2 immersion blenders, and at one point, 2 high end food processors). Asking for upgrades would have been crazy, and we couldn’t think of anything that we really needed. When asked, did let people know that we love to cook, and while we’re well equipped, we’d love items that other people can’t live without.

    I think we received some pretty awesome gifts, which we never would have registered for. My Indian / South African cousin & his wife put together a selection of spices in an Indian spice tin (which my husband was skeptical of but uses daily) as well as a great Indian/South African cookbook. My husband’s friend who had been helping us with minor home repair jobs bought us a drill. We also got an amazing set of wind chimes, a bird feeder, and a bottle of wine we’d never feel justified in purchasing for ourselves.

    Ultimately, most people gave us money, but the gifts we received were really nice (and I can be tough to please with gifts).

    I’m a little old school, and am not tremendously comfortable asking for specific gifts in general. Unless gifts are truly a burden (ie, you’re moving overseas soon), I think it’s pretty tacky to respond to gift givers with the suggestion they give you money, and you’re better off stating that no gifts are necessary (and I read the honeymoon registries as thinly veiled requests for cash). I think this is viewed differently in different circles, though.

  • I felt very strongly about not wanting a registry — I hate clutter, we live in a small-ish apartment, and most importantly I would rather build the the collection of household items we need gradually (& avoid having things we don’t need). I don’t want to be controlled by stuff — my nightmare is to be in the position where I think I need a bigger house to house all this stuff, and putting in time and energy into maintaining all these possessions. I love having a simple and meaningful life — and part of that involves using my money in the best way: investing it, spending only on what matters – which to me is not stuff (this given that I have an amazingly comfortable first-world existence and have all my needs and wants satisfied).

    We had about 90 people at our wedding, and we handled the situation by essentially saying nothing on our website. Not having a registry link there made it pretty clear we didn’t have a registry. We emphasized to our parents that we don’t want stuff (see: small apartment, though honestly I wouldn’t want stuff even if we had a big one, that was just a reason people could understand) so they could spread the word to relatives who asked. Then all the friends who texted/asked us about whether we have a registry – we just said no, because we don’t have much room.

    Now I’ll lay all the money info on the line: our wedding cost a bit under 20K, with 90 people (in the Boston area). His parents paid for the rehearsal dinner, alcohol, cash for tips to our vendors (we dropped the ball on that), and a 5K check. My parents gave us a 10K check. All unexpected and awesome. The rest of our guests gave us about 8K in money (mostly relatives gave extremely generous checks, and friends were generous, and others just gave the gift of their attendance and we appreciate that). We got a couple of items – hammock, wok, a beautiful handmade item, steam cash, a tea set, and a cheese making kit. Some of those items I didn’t care for, but obviously I have no control over what people choose to give. I do feel uncomfortable when people spend their money on gifting me something I don’t enjoy (because that is inefficient) which is why I’m glad that our subtle method made it clear we generally wanted cash.

    If anyone has questions, I’d be happy to answer!

  • Meredith

    We are struggling with this too! My mom practically pulled my teeth to name a few items off a make-believe registry so she could tell my grandma something to give us for Christmas. When our wedding website goes live, we’re having a link to a paypal account where people can contribute to our wedding in lieu of gifts. I’m sure my grandma thinks it is tacky, as well as a few other traditional relatives, but it is what want. I wrote a nice little note to people that basically says, “Your presence at our wedding is gift enough and our home is complete. But if you feel moved to give a gift, we have an undying love not only for each other but for travel. A contribution to our honeymoon would help make it a trip to remember!”

    If you don’t want it for the honeymoon, you could probably still tailor that to your needs. “Thanks for being with us as we start our new life together. In fact, our new life means a move just after the wedding! Instead of lifting boxes or giving us gifts, you can contribute to our new home via the link below…” something like that.

  • Emma

    My cousin didn’t want stuff either so they registered for stuff to do one their honeymoon! I don’t remember the website they used, but it was so great! They got to do so many amazing things because of it.

  • KH_Tas

    “Your idea to spread the word via moms is perfect, assuming that guests
    will call your mom. A few of them will. But, I’m guessing, most of them

    Maybe 1% of the guest list is likely to call my mum relating to our wedding. Perhaps 5% each for N’s mum and my dad. The rest just don’t have that sort of relationship with them, neither of us live in our hometown and nearly all our friends we met as adults.

  • DM

    Thank you notes for gifts, acts of kindness, house sitting, ect. are ALWAYS important! I write thank you notes all the time. It is important to me that when people are generous I thank them for their help. I rarely get thank you notes for anything. I’m not sure when we became a culture of ungracious individuals, but I don’t think this problem just happens with wedding related gifts. I do, however, wonder if brides who fail to get thank you notes out after a wedding have a better excuse: newly wed married life and in some cases, newly wed married living together life. If we want people to thank us, maybe we should be more gracious when they don’t.

  • Stacy {Woodsy Weddings}

    I adore the idea of letting go of the registry. It is true, so many people buy you things that aren’t even on it anyways that they wished they had gotten. Knowing you don’t have control over it and letting it go allows you to focus on the important things.

  • Treasure Stirling

    This is an option that we are incorporating for my bridal shower – gift cards; specifically ask that people get you gift cards to stores you shop at (Home Depot/Lowes/Walmart/Target, etc) or that they get you gift cards for “date night” – restaurants, movie theaters, netflix; or ask that they get visa giftcards, as you can use those anywhere…. this way you’re not asking them to “hand over the cash/check” but you’re not getting the junk you don’t want; also consider asking for a “wine of the month” club membership, or something like that, which suits y’all’s interests/personality…
    This way your guests feel like they’re contributing to your life, know its something you’ll enjoy/use, but you’ve also given yourself an “out”.

    Ask that gifters get cards from their favorite places, or places that they have heard good things about, etc, and maybe ask that they include a note with the giftcard explaining something significant relating them, the card and you…. this way at the shower, when you’ll get about 1/3 or more of your gifts, you have something to share with the group at large, and everybody and “ooh” and “awww” and laugh and cry….

    you allow them to fulfill their end of the social contract, you don’t feel overwhelmed and obligated to keep it, use it, make a production of doing so if the gift-giver ever is in your home…. etc.

  • Cait

    We were also against having a registry- we had already lived together for five years and were getting ready to move. We had a travel registry and it was amazing! People really did want to feel like they were giving us a specific gift of an experience, and part of the joy of our honeymoon was going to the places on our registry so we could report back with thanks. We even had some money left over for our move.
    Another friend of mine eloped, and had a registry where people could contribute to their drive across the country through hotel stays, new tires, or gas… You get the picture. It takes more time to set up but it’s a good compromise if people are determined to give you a gift.

  • Treasure Stirling

    I had another idea, as I continue to build our registries…. pick a “library” that needs some help – your music, or film, or even actual book library – if you love having CD’s, or just want iTunes downloads – register for those; movies that you not only love, but that you’ll want to make sure the next generation gets exposed to (your munchkins, or borrowed ones) to make sure they get jokes/references – things that your generation is nostalgic for; if you like digital books – then hey, no heavy boxes to move; but if you prefer the tangible-tactile experience look for classics, or beloved novels, again – things that you not only love, but will want to make sure the next generation isn’t ignorant of – classics are only classics if everyone still remembers them; otherwise they become obscure, obsolete….

  • Angie

    In the Vietnamese tradition, we don’t do registries. We give cash to the couple! =) So in our culture, the wedding will basically pay for itself because of the money the couple receives from the guests (It’s much easier to have a more elaborate wedding because you know you’ll break more or less after the wedding is over). In terms of the etiquette of how much you give to the couple depends on how close you are to them, how much you are able to give and your financial situation. The standard is $50 per person. You could give a little less if you are not as close to the couple and of course, you can give much more generously.=)

    I think that it is okay if you don’t want to have a registry! Until very recently, I didn’t quite understand registries because I had never attended a non-Vietnamese wedding before this recent wedding. I had to have my friend explain it to me and I appreciate the meaning behind them. Do your thing! This is your wedding! Try to explain to them why you don’t want a registry but don’t let it bother you too much if they don’t understand. Sometimes, it’s hard for people to understand things that seem to be ‘nontraditional.’

  • Hi , I found your article to be very informative.


  • Kallisti

    “The only gift we request is your presence”
    Just a simple line on our wedding invitations that felt right and conveyed a concise message. We are also weary of ‘stuff’ and also didn’t wish for anyone to stress about finding just the right thing or spending money. We had a very simple and magical wedding that was very refreshing and relaxing for a lot of our guests. We didn’t get married to ‘settle down’, our adventure is just beginning, and has nothing to do with furnishing a newlywed nest. Our guests travelled into a hidden mountain homestead, rolled up their sleeves to pitch in and had a blast which is the greatest gift we could receive. It is truly a joy to give and receive but I feel that something is lost when it becomes obligatory. Everyone has their own ways of giving and expressing love, we focus on experiences and being ‘present’.

  • jdizzl

    We aren’t doing a registry. Small wedding of under 25 people…plus we are in our 30, and have pretty much everything we would want and more in our kitchen, house and what not. . We don’t really need stuff. If anyting, cash would be nice to help pay for the wedding since we did it out of our own pocket…hence why it was sub 25 people to begin with. We are also moving shortly after the wedding to a cheaper city where we can buy a house and have kids (seems to be common) and don’t need more clutter.

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  • catsquared

    Some wedding planner ripped off your article. She used the same ideas, re-worded some of it, and used some parts verbatim – http://www.dionneeventproductions.com/blog/2016/6/30/we-have-enough-stuff-already-i-dont-want-a-registry