Wedding Woes: Registries
It’s wedding season. The puff-pastry brides are out en masse, the over-the-top self-centered celebrations rival Marie Antoinette’s wildest dreams, and the one-upmanship is nauseating.
There goes my paycheck.
As I make plans to attend two weddings this weekend, my latest conundrum is the almighty wedding registry. It seems that there are three types of bridal registries in the world today, and the differentiation relies largely on geography. Let’s examine them.
Southern Registries: Practically Perfect in Every Way
Emily Post would be proud. The lion’s share of southern invites are footed with the words, “The bride is registered at: Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Charles Willis.” Besides being code for just how fancy this soiree is going to be, visiting these registries is mind-boggling. Once upon a time, a bride registered for home goods and housewares. After all, she was leaving her parent’s home and needed help stocking her own. Nowadays, many brides have lived on their own for a few years, so they’ve got the pots and the pans, but maybe need a little help fleshing out that china cabinet. But things are a getting a little out of hand. If you’ve been living with your fiancé for three years, you don’t need to register for a coffee pot and a wine fridge. If you’re not planning on throwing formal dinner parties, you don’t need good silver and good china. And for crying out loud, if you can’t cook to save your life, you shouldn’t be registering for anything that is prefaced by the word, “Cuisinart.” Let’s be serious, girls. Just because you’re getting hitched doesn’t give you a free pass to run screaming through Bed, Bath & Beyond screaming “Mine! Mine! Mine!” The idea of asking friends to buy your cooking utensils for you is insulting. Especially after they’ve blown $350 on plane tickets to attend a 3-hour celebration halfway across the country.
The Western Way: Vacations and Philanthropies
I’ve seen it in every west-of-the-Rockies wedding I’ve attended. Home goods are passé. Instead, couples are registering for their honeymoons and their favorite charities. Buy the hot air balloon ride for Mr. & Mrs. during their honeymoon in Nepal. Fund the first night in the Rivera Maya hotel room. Adopt a wild monkey in Tibet. Okay. I can maybe understand helping to pay for the honeymoon, if you delineate exactly where my money is going. But there’s something crass about saying, “Just fork your $100 into the pile for our post-wedding recovery vacay!” There’s also something ridiculous about ADOPTING A WILD ANIMAL. Seriously? No. I’ll keep my cash and send you a card.
Yankee Class: Money Talks
When my cousin’s New York gal pals arrived in Atlanta to celebrate her nuptials, they walked in front of the gifts table, eyes agog. In her turn, my aunt rolled her eyes as they handed over envelopes of cash. Each side thought the other was crazy. Yes, there’s something to be said about giving money to the bride and groom. They probably need it, and they can use it however they want to. It’s very practical. But when was the last time any wedding was practical? Practical gifts are boring. The groom has the rest of his life to open up Christmas Day boxes and remove socks, doesn’t he?
What’s the Point?
What it comes down to is: Why are you giving the bride and groom a gift? Are you giving them something because you’re supposed to, because they invited you to eat at their $100/plate reception? Or are you commemorating their blissful union? Yes, registries tell us what the bride and groom want or need, and they take the guess-work out of gift selection. But must everything requested be either mundane or farfetched? For my part, I guess I’m a romantic. Maybe I’ll pick something I qualify as “special” off the registry – Champagne flutes or a monogramed serving tray. More likely, I’ll wait until some sort of inspiration hits me, and buy them something they didn’t ask for and they aren’t expecting. Because it’s a gift. Because it’s a gift from me. Because it’s not the fulfillment of a request, it’s a physical symbol of my wish for their happiness. And because I hate to be predictable.