To Register or Not to Register: That is the Question!

It’s 2013.  I will be getting married in June 2014, to my boyfriend/fiancée who I’ve been living with for over 3 years (1 year permanently, not as students).

Because we’ve lived together for so long and since I’ve collected a mass of household items from living in a house (that my mother owned) with roommates… we’ve got our fair share of stuff.

Alas we will still be “tying the knot” in less than a year and the old debate/question has already come up a couple of times: “Where will you be registering?”

When I think of a traditional wedding registration scenario, I think of a bride and groom who have lived separately their whole lives, and are only going to be moving in together after the wedding.  While this does not happen as often nowadays as say during the 1950s, the tradition of a wedding registration has lived on.

I really don’t like anything about wedding registries (ok… maybe going around a store and scanning things would be fun!)  But the idea of having to pick things we want (read: want and not NEED – because we would have already bought them if they were the latter) seems very selfish to me.  And the whole gift table at the reception?  Don’t the “big” boxes make guests who don’t have as much money feel kind of bad?  And what about the after-wedding tradition of opening the gifts in front of the whole family (which apparently is a tradition on the groom’s side)?  Another way to make people feel even worst about any gifts they did or didn’t get!  “Thanks Aunt Liz for those expensive silver utensils, oh hey cousin Jeanie, nice face cloths… oh notice there isn’t anything here from you Uncle Bob”.  Seriously?

So of course, when I replied “we’re not registering” … I have gotten some odd remarks.  People seem to think that the wedding guests would be so confused as to what to buy us that we’ll end up with some sort of ridiculous item that we will never use.  (read: fancy platters/dishes/towels/glasses etc!)

But then again… when I think of a wedding registry, those are the exact items I think of!  I already have soooo much stuff, and when you combine it with my hubby-to-be’s, the house fills up quickly.  I don’t need kitchen item x, what I really need is a bigger kitchen to fit my already owned kitchen items a through z!

So when I jokingly said “I wish I could just register at Home Depot” so that we could plan our kitchen renovations and get things we would truly need, the mothers (mine and his) actually didn’t disagree.  Now I’ve looked into it a bit, and from my initial internet gathering, it seems like you have to go into a physical store and create a registry there… however the guests would need to visit that exact same store in order to see and purchase things (which is harder for people who live farther away).

My side of the wedding will need to travel quite a distance; it would be wrong of us to expect a gift from them anyways, since they will already be spending money on hotels, food and actual travel.  And I really don’t expect anything from the bridal party (hope you guys read this) because they will also be travelling, and will be doing other wedding duties (like standing there all day and looking good!)  But they may occasionally have to deal with some sort of my pre-wedding antics…. who knows!

This still doesn’t solve my registry problem!

My problem is with the whole “expecting people to buy you a gift” thing, just for attending your wedding.  I get that it’s a social convention, and I always give a gift when I attend someone’s wedding (although I haven’t actually been to that many… and by gift I mean “cash”); but people shouldn’t have to be “hinted” to buy gifts from any type of registry (Home Depot or otherwise).

Everyone knows people would prefer the cash, but sometimes don’t feel comfortable giving it, with the excuses that it’s not personal, or “who knows what that crazy couple would do with it” (answer: probably help pay off the costs of the wedding!).  So a gift registry basically gives a false sense of happiness (“thank goodness we got them that salt and pepper shaker… who knows what they would have done without them”).

A compromise I’ve read about on the various wedding websites and blogs is to let people know that their monetary gift is going to a specific cause, say the honeymoon, a down payment on a house, or in our case: a new kitchen.

A couple of tips I’ve heard:

  • Don’t ask for gifts (money, or registered items)
  • NEVER EVER mention gifts on your invitations
  • Never ask for cash straight up (not being registered anywhere should give the hint)
  • Have the mothers and bridal party pass the gift information to guests (whether you are registered or not)
  • And, as I mentioned above, let guests know what any money received will be going towards ahead of time

And don’t forget to send personalized thank yous!  Hey maybe we can even send a picture of our new kitchen (although the BF doesn’t think we can pull off a wedding, honeymoon and kitchen renovation in one summer…  pah what does he think!)

Oh and one final note… I think I may emphasize a “do not bring any gifts to the wedding reception” because I have read some horror stories of people’s cash and cheques being stolen during their wedding!  And it would hopefully reinforce the notion that we would rather people attend our wedding and have fun, than worry about the size or scale of their gift.

5 thoughts on “To Register or Not to Register: That is the Question!

  1. Lindsay

    You get a box for cards at the reception 😛 That way people put them in the slot and can’t take anything out.

    I saw a lot of people put on their invitation that they would prefer monetary gifts…or even donating to a specific charity in the bride & groom’s name which is kind of cool

    1. Nicole Post author


      I’ve heard of the box card getting taken too, the whole thing! Also, to my knowledge it is a faux pas to put any gift info on the invitation at all?

  2. Annette

    I like your post (blog) Nicole; it makes a lot of sense to me, especially as you have been living together for a few years now. I also appreciate your honesty and comfort in being able to share your thoughts on what can be considered a sensitive topic ‘wedding gifts’…….so glad you will be joining our family soon!

    1. Nicole Post author

      Thanks Annette, I actually wrote this post a few months ago – but felt it was fitting if anyone was wondering about this. It was hard for me to convince Kenn that it was inappropriate to ask for any gifts at all, so I am mostly trying to explain that we do not need anything. (Hopefully it does not come across badly).

  3. Tante Julie

    Well, call me old-fashioned, but not old. You’re getting a gift whether I have to drive 8 minutes or 8 hours. You are my only niece and godchild to boot, so…

    You’ll just have to wait to find out what it is, or they are.

    Love you lots,

    Tante Julie

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