I love giving gifts. I take notes throughout the year when I see something that reminds me of someone, or when a loved one mentions that they want something in passing. I love the curation of items that come together to build a cohesive theme. I think I love giving gifts more than getting them. Does anyone actually love putting together wish lists, or feel prepared asking for specific gifts when prompted?
At the end of the day, you know that the gifts aren’t what the wedding is about. But the idea that you are beginning this new life as a married couple and your closest family and friends are helping to set you off on the right foot is a nice outcome of the tradition.
For the modern couple, this tradition is really fantastic—take your time to provide a list of the things you’d like, so your guests know exactly what gift will make you happy, and fill a need.
The actual concept of giving gifts at a wedding has a curious history, and the registry as we know it was invented by Macy’s in the 1920s as an evolution of the bride dowry, followed by the marriage chest which held all of the bride’s future “wife goods” for married life.
As a recently engaged individual, building a registry was one of my bigger tasks on an ever-growing list. Going into a store and getting that scanner gun was much more intimidating and overwhelming than I thought it would be—it wasn’t like it is in the rom-coms. We thought being there would help us see everything at once in order to make more informed decisions. We ended up leaving feeling like we needed everything and nothing at the same time.
We love to cook and are furnishing a new home, which in theory makes it a lot easier to register for the items one would typically think of when shopping for a wedding gift. But with years of living in multiple apartments and combining belongings, we’re already in a pretty good place with the standard necessities. We’re also eager to get situated and have bought things for ourselves to get our home up and running. There are a few standard kitchen items that we’ve gone without all of these years and by the time we got engaged, I figured that it wasn’t worth buying them when we had an opportunity to ask for them in relation to this joyous occasion.
Today’s options make registering as an established couple a thousand times easier. Sites like Zola, The Knot and Honeyfund are great options for couples that may have their eyes on some physical gifts but are also hoping some guests contribute to things like honeymoons, home improvements and experiences. It’s a way for guests to know they’re giving you something specific and useful, and to the couple, it can feel like cash (Because it is.)
Registering for both physical gifts and experience-based gifts also provides you an out when you can’t hold off on a necessary item before the big day. I learned this recently—with a cheese grater.
A cheese grater is something you can pretty much get by without having, if utilizing some inventive knife skills, for most of your life. At this point I had waited, in my mind, way too long to buy one for myself. I thought I could hold out. But a Sunbasket recipe calling for grated zucchini for a fritter finally broke me. I promptly went for a $6 Homegoods purchase, and the cheese grater was deleted item from my Zola registry, easy as that. You aren’t beholden to registering for everything you’re “supposed” to, and you can be flexible when you just really need a cheese grater.
What it comes down to is this: Give the people what they want. And by people, I don’t mean the bride and groom. Sure, you should choose things for yourselves that you want and will enrich your newly nuptial-ed lives, but your guests will gift how they like, so provide options for the best experience for everyone.
In our case, we went with a traditional retailer with both an online and physical presence, as well as a registry site that allows you to add products, experiences, and cash funds to our wish list. Some people just want to see and touch gifts before they buy them. Some want to gift something that was meaningful to them when they got married. Some may want to buy something super early and some may wait until the last minute. The point is that these people want to buy you things, so make it easy and enjoyable for them to do so.
Want something that registry aggregators don’t offer? Most aggregators like Zola and The Knot offer options to either contribute cash towards a specific purchase or link guests to a third party site (Like tn.com.) to buy the product directly. Amazon’s registry service is also a great option for everything under the sun (And they also carry the T&N mattress, in case you’re wondering.)
A word to the wise, choose items with care (Will you really be happy if you got all seven of those serving bowls?) and revisit your lists often to update and make changes. I’ve found that taking our sweet time when registering has led to making better decisions, and way less stress. Go through the registry, add some things, go back at a later time, remove and add more things, and so on. Your guests will feel like they are making the right choices for you, and you won’t have to spend your days debating on the right time to buy a cheese grater.
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