Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wedding registries are killing me.

Here is what I have learned about our wedding this week: I do not want to be registered at Crate & Barrel. Here's how I learned it: I registered at Crate & Barrel.

We haven't really figured out what we're going to do about a registry, and honestly, with just over a year to go until the wedding, I figured I didn't have to worry about it for a long time. And I don't, really. But it seems to be something that people start asking about, and Torsten and I weren't quite sure what to do about it, especially given that we will have many international invitees who will not be familiar with American stores like Crate & Barrel whose websites are available only in English.

Our solution to this is to register at two places: one will be and the other is TBD. Amazon is Torsten's choice; it's his favourite place to shop and they have a site in all the countries from which our guests hail. We just hope that our registry will be accessible from any of them. We haven't looked into that yet.

So it follows that the second place will be my choice. So at first I thought, okay, C&B, no question, because I love that store (so much that I brought it up in my third blog entry ever, before I had any readers except a couple of college friends--hi Jill!). So I figured, fine, I'll go online and register and not tell anyone about the registry and then see what I think.

So I went online one evening, and I registered, and I got a bit overwhelmed at the selection of glassware, and cutting boards, and kitchen towels. I kept asking for Torsten's opinion and he kept being like, "Why would we need a set of matching dishtowels? We already have plenty of dishtowels." In other words, he was Not Helpful.

So I registered for a bunch of stuff that either I thought was attractive or I thought we would use or (ideally) both. Some of it was cool. Most of it, in retrospect, was the kind of thing that I would briefly look at when I went into C&B, then choose not to buy because I just didn't want it that badly. I was registering for things because I felt that I should.

I guess I'm not one of those people who's always thought, Wow, I can't wait to register for wedding gifts so that I can finally have a fully functional kitchen/stop sleeping on a bare mattress. And now I keep getting these emails from C&B saying things like, "Hurry! Custom upholstery sale ends in three days!" and it's exactly those emails that have made me decide that much as I love C&B as a place to wander and admire and occasionally make a purchase, it is not a place where I want to register. Because really? Custom upholstery?

But basically what happened was that I got so confused about registries and what to register for and how it works and oh God, why do I suck so much at this? Here are the concepts that I am stumbling over when it comes to registering:
  • We don't need anything, per se. My mom already got us our wedding china, and we had two separate apartments before; we are already fully-stocked. So what we can do with the wedding registry is upgrade. Instead of a bunch of mis-matched, threadbare towels, we could get a stylish, matching set of plush ones in a matching colour/pattern. We could get a really nice set of knives for the kitchen, amazing cookware, a new down blanket. We could get home accents like vases. But we don't need it, and it feels weird to register for stuff just because it looks like fun.
  • We live in an 800-square foot, 1-bedroom apartment that, while spacious for what it is, and loaded with closets, is already filled pretty much to the max with our stuff. I mean, there's room for more, but only if we want to feel surrounded by stuff, which we don't. We are planning to move to a bigger place, but not until after the wedding, and possibly not directly afterward. It depends on a lot of factors. Once we move, we will have a lot of things we need in order to furnish and decorate more than two rooms. But we don't know yet what those needs will be.
  • Our income is in a place where we can purchase most reasonably-priced things that we need or want. The stuff we don't purchase is the big stuff, like furniture, and super-expensive kitchen things. Unfortunately, I feel like our disposable income spending range is similar to the range that most people spend on wedding presents. So we are supposed to be registering for exactly the type of thing that we would normally just go ahead and buy for ourselves--or perhaps have already gone ahead and bought.
  • I suppose you could say that what we should do is stop buying that kind of stuff for ourselves, put the money we would have spent into the Future House Decorating fund, and let our wedding guests get those things for us. But the problem with that is that we have already bought most of that stuff. There isn't much left on the list, and what is on the list is stuff that occurs to us slowly, over time.
  • Torsten likes things that are electronic, like wireless music players and stuff. My understanding is that wedding registries, at least for people who remember them from the time when weddings meant the creation of a new household, are about household stuff, like dishes and salt shakers. Not for fun gadgets. Will people be taken aback if we have stuff like fun modern techie things on our registry? Also, most of what he wants is over the $100 line that I usually think of for weddings.
  • What about stuff like artwork for your walls? Are wedding registry items supposed to be practical things? So that the guests can say, Oh, they need this, I'm really helping them get on their feet, here.
  • I am definitely not one of those people who will say, Oh, we don't need anything--for our wedding, I'd like you all to donate to charity. I am just not that good of a person. Instead, I am the type of person who sits there agonizing and being like, Help! People are offering me free stuff and I want to have it! I know there are things we would like and can use, but I cannot for the life of me think of what they are! Can you take a rain check on a wedding registry?
  • I know that a lot of people think it's tacky to "register" for money/gift cards/honeymoon contributions/other forms of just handing over a check, and while I personally don't have a problem with such things when my friends do them, I don't want to piss off a lot of people, especially family members, by doing it. Especially because I also think it's fun to open up gifts and have things. If we had money we would feel compelled to use it responsibly--like add it to our down payment fund.
  • Now that my favourite home store has been eliminated from the running, I am casting about for a new place to register. Macy's? Bloomingdales? Not a department store?
  • What I really want is to buy a house with a few rooms in it and then go to this amazing discount furniture store in North Carolina (seriously, people. This place is astonishing. It's miles and miles, literally, of all types of amazing furniture at all different prices. It is glorious, as long as you have the stamina to stay there for at least a day. People actually travel to High Point and the surrounding area and stay in hotels for several days, just to shop for furniture) to furnish it. Because that is the next step in our life together, so that is what really seems to make sense in terms of the spirit of wedding gifts, i.e. launching the newlyweds down the path toward their life together. But you can't register for furniture. It's too expensive. And like I said, I don't want to register for gift cards. So basically, I'm totally stuck.
So basically, the point of this post is: Help! What do I do?


  1. Bed Bath and Beyond and Target are the ones I see people registered for most often. Since you're not looking for fine china, Target would be fine, and you can get lots of useful stuff!

  2. You've illustrated exactly why we are not registering.

  3. Oh, this is one of many reasons why I never want a wedding. Bleh.

    Good luck to you, I say.

    If I did ever dive into this, I'd want to register for $1,000 All-Clad cookware and a $500 Dyson vacuum. But I'd never list such expensive stuff because I'd feel really snobbish and spoiled, especially to my family. So, I guess I'd be in a real pickle, too.

    I am no help to you!

    Maybe register for quality stuff that you'd like to have last. Like, say, a really good iron? I don't know...

  4. Yay! Weddings! I LOVE weddings. I'm a free lance wedding planner and I can tell you the following:

    1. It's good to register for stuff at all price levels. Some people want to spend $300, while others only want to spend $50.
    2. The "donate money to our honeymoon/new house" trend in loo of registering is really catching on and may not offend as many people as you think. Some even prefer it because then they can just write one handy little check and hand it over - much easier than deciding which item to purchase. Especially if you dedicate it to something specific like a house or a honeymoon.
    3. For people who may be offended by the money donation problem, Macy's, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond all have very central locations and a variety of price points and items.
    4. You can register for anything you want!! It's your wedding. Keep remembering that it's your wedding and your friends and family love you and would want you to be happy.
    5. This comment is stupidly long.
    6. I'm such a know-it-all, jeez!

  5. I see your dilemma here. When I got married BR and I had both been living alone for several years so really we had everything we needed. It's still fun to register though, even if you are replacing items or upgrading, because there is some sentimental value to stuff that "you got as a wedding gift".

    Also, tell us what you register for!

  6. Dude, I want to get married SOLELY for a pasta maker and ice cream maker. Register for things you want, but would never buy for yourself. And do it at Target. Everyone loves Target.

  7. Registering is stressful. It just is. It's overwhelming, and it's too many decisions, and it's too much second-guessing.

    How about registering at a store that has furniture you like, and then you can take the stuff that came with gift receipts back and exchange them for a higher-end gift?

    Sometimes people include a few higher-end items in case people want to pool their money to buy something bigger. But I'd probably look askance if the registry was filled with all kinds of $500+ items.

  8. We registered at BBB and Target. My favorite gifts were some nice sets of sheets from BBB. We already had a lot of stuff, so we used registering as a chance to get nicer things that would last us a lifetime, as opposed to the cheapo stuff and hand-me-downs we had at the time.

  9. First of all, I have to echo most of the other posts - Target and BB&B are huge favorites around here too, although I'm not sure how international-friendly either is.

    The Knot has some pretty good articles on registering...they talk about what banana mentioned - having a selection in all different price ranges - 0-75, 75-150 and 150+, or something like that. That way, there are things for all types of gift buyers.

    The one thing I would watch out for in regards to registering for a honeymoon or something is that a lot of those places charge a fee for every gift. So instead of the $50 someone wanted to give you, they either have to spend like $55.74 or you get $46.26...or something like that. You might be better off having your parents/wedding party be aware that you would prefer money to help you purchase furniture, or make a down payment on a house. But I would still have a registry - some people just love to buy "stuff." They want to wrap something up and have something for you to actually open.

    Wow....long comment. Sorry! I'll stop now.

  10. I wish i had some kind of advice, but i'm not quite there yet. My cousin is getting married and has had some trouble with her registry, too. When you already have your life set up and don't live with your parents, it makes it hard.

    I always thought registering for gifts would be so much fun...

  11. See that's the dilemma of wedding registries -- approached the wrong way, they can come across as nothing but "gift grabs." That sense is worse when you don't even ask for gifts, but look for money instead. The theory is your friends and family are there to provide you love and support, not be your ATMs for your honeymoon or house payment.

    Yeah, it's hard to register if you have most of the stuff you already need -- but many times people want guidance on what to get that won't offend the sensibilities. Target and BBB are great places because you can pick practical stuff which you will actually use.

  12. Target, target target. My brother got pretty much everything off his registry there, and way less from their department store registry. And if you don't want it, that's a good place to return things for store credit, b/c you can always use money at target. Hell, you could buy toilet paper.

    And before/after your wedding, have a huge yard sale. If you're going to upgrade, with a little cleaning out, you'd be surprised how much money you can make. For that house fund, of course.

  13. i had a friend...that was kinda in your situation.. she had everything she wanted/ lieu of a registry asked that donations be made to the susan g koman she had lost her mother to breast cancer and the grooms mother had recently been diagnosed with it as well.. i thought that was soo elegant of much rather donate to worthy cause then give them a $100 pot that they dont want or need...
    and oh wishes!!

  14. We lived together for a few years before we got married, so we were sort of in the same boat. However, for whatever reason, I never want to buy electronic things/giftcards for people's weddings, or to just write a check. I always want to give something that seems more...useful and wedding present-ish. Something that I've thought a lot about, you know? I got sort of weirded out by a cousin's registry that had DVD's and video games on it, is what I'm trying to say. So I got them a kettle instead. (I'm not very fun, I guess. But I know they loved the kettle.)

    So! Anyway! We ended up registering at Target, because Target = love. We registered for two sorts of things: items that we had but were crappy and needed to be replaced, and items that we wanted really badly but could never quite justify buying. We got things like nice pans, to replace our old crappy rusted pans. And nice new glasses, to replace our old cheap hard-water-stained glasses. Etc. It was nice to replace a lot of the old things, and I didn't feel like we were getting things we didn't need. Also, on Target you can say you would also like gift cards, and we got a lot of those, which were really useful for buying items on the registry that didn't get purchased.

    The end!

  15. I think I would then NOT REGISTER. Just let people get you what they want to get you.

    Or. I TOTALLY don't condone what I am about to mention, and in fact I think it's icky. But it does solve the problem. One of my friends registered on purpose for a whole lot of stuff she didn't need--and then returned it all for the cash. This plan lets you register for the things people like to buy for wedding presents (towels and dishes and pots and pans, rather than stereo systems and toys), but lets you take out of it the cash, which is what you actually want. This idea makes my soul shudder, though.

  16. I agree with Target... that's a very sensible place to register and who doesn't love Target? btw- something I've found completely annoying: couples registering for dvd's and cd's (and lots of them). This happened to 2 weddings I was invited to. Yes, they were young couples, but don't look to your guests to buy you the entire series of Friends. But I guess that's just my opinion. Good luck!

  17. I had friends who found themselves in a similar predicament when they got engaged. Their solution: they asked their friends to donate the money they would have spent on a gift to one of five charities the bride and groom had chosen. They did a little registering since they knew they'd have guest who just insisted on bringing a physical gift, but most of their friends made contributions in their name to organizations that reflected the values of my friends.

    Seems like a nice compromise...

    Good luck!

  18. I have just found your blog and so am a late poster. BUT. I just got married 6 months ago, so I have hindsight, and: Register at Bed Bath and Beyond, at least. Because: They have the best return policy. It's like someone else said, even just register for a bunch of stuff you don't want, if you want, and then take it all back and get something "big." You'll also get lots of gift cards. Trust me. Also, they have tons of china, which had been the reason I did NOT register there... had I known they had such a good china selection, I would have.

    Macy's was good to me too. If you don't want a new set of dishes, here are my suggestions: luggage, nice towels, fancy electronic kitchen gadgets... think of stuff you'd never buy yourself but that you like. The best gift I got from BBB was a cutting board with a little tray/cup thing at one end... a "prep and chop" board. Genius.