One of the interesting things about planning a wedding is the way it has shifted my experience as a participant in friends' weddings. I have a heightened awareness (and forgiveness) for all things wedding (C - that's my way of saying sorry for getting angry that you had an immediate-family only ceremony. I get it now. Really. And the restaurant reception-for-everyone was truly delicious.) Anyhow, with weddings on the brain, it's only natural to start noticing and filing away lessons learned and moments of awesome for my own planning process. And the same goes for registries, apparently, so I thought I'd pass along this little lesson-learned tip.
Along the wedding planning path, I finally came to understand that the registry is a really useful tool. We're only listing things we really want and need (nor do I expect gifts at all - I really believe in the idea that "your presence is present enough," but I know that a lot of guests like registries), and I know most of our friends are being equally thoughtful with their registry requests. It's not impersonal to buy a registry gift, it's helpful and appreciated. And while I know that, I still prefer to slightly personalize a registry gift, if possible. Which is why I recently made a beeline for a girlfriend's Target registry coffeepot, since I know coffee and I was pretty excited to accessorize her coffee habit. I was also excited because the coffeepot was only $35, which left me enough money for a permanent gold tone filter, a coffee bean grinder, an airtight container to store beans for maximum freshness, or beans from my favorite local, organic, fair trade roasting company. (Yes, I am a coffee snob, and darn proud of it)
This would have been a brilliant personalized gift plan, if Target hadn't decided to charge $15 for shipping, thereby wiping out most of my extra accessories budget. Well eff that shipping charge. I decided to go to the store in person, since I figured she'd prefer additional coffee awesomeness to arrive-in-the-mail gift convenience. (Note: if you decide to buy something offline because find a better deal than the one listed on someone's official registry, let your friends know immediately. My whole genius plan could have been thwarted if someone else decided to click through with an online purchase, thereby leaving the couple with two coffee pots and the hassle of returns.)
However, when I arrived in the store, I was underwhelmed with the coffee pot. And no, this is not from a coffee snob perspective, it was from a looks-cheap-to-the-naked-eye perspective. Whereas online, it had decent reviews and looked sturdy with its brushed stainless steel, in person it was flimsy. It looked like it was made in China by a less than happy factory worker. (Granted, most stuff in our stores is made in China by a disgruntled factory worker, but that doesn't mean it has to look like it.) And I couldn't buy it for her. Even if it was the exact model listed on their registry. And even if the other coffee maker models were more expensive. I couldn't buy a cheap-looking registry gift for a friend. Inexpensive, I can handle (especially when it's a deal) but cheap I cannot.
Instead, I bought her an awesome coffee maker that came out to the same price as the $35 + shipping price from the original registry request. I decided to buy her an accessory too (no, I'm not telling which one, just in case she stops by to read this post before her wedding. Which she probably won't, but it never hurts to be careful.) I also learned an important lesson as we begin to craft our own tangible gift registry*: although internet registries are incredibly convenient, there's probably a real benefit to that in-person laser gun process. It would be nice to confirm that our requested gifts will actually help us build a home together, instead of falling apart the week after the honeymoon into a pile of made-in-China plastic and wrapping.
*We're doing a tangible gift and intangible gift/"alternative" registry. And we're also making it clear that, especially for guests who invested in traveling to join us for the day, that we're simply grateful for the gift of their presence. We want to make it clear that our real excitement is the opportunity to celebrate our joy with friends and family and not about anticipated wedding gifts.