Friday, July 30, 2010

Registry Tip

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.


  1. I couldn't agree more with your first paragraph. I cringe in absolute shame when I think of the wedding where I was bridesmaid (beautiful dress, lovely thank you gift, delicious food, a bed for both nights) and the gift I bought was a £15 photo frame *with a friend*. Now that I appreciate the effort, expense and care that goes into planning a wedding, I vow to always appreciate them.

  2. I registered online only and did not set foot into any stores because S was NOT into the idea of a registry. ("We don't NEED anything.") So I just registered mostly at Crate and Barrel. THANKFULLY everything we got turned out to be good quality. But most people either just gave us money or got us Crate and Barrel gift cards. It could have been disasterous though; it's probably a very good idea to look in person. :)

    PS. Now S occassionally says, "Why didn't I get any wedding gifts? We only got kitchen stuff." And I have to remind him that he repeatedly *refused* to register for anything (or let me register him for "guy stuff" and at least he gets to eat what I make with all the kitchen stuff. Haha.

  3. In store registering for the win! You could not be more right when you say that the laser gun is the way to go. We started our registry online only to later remove a few things after seeing them up close and personal.

  4. Agreed! I opened our registry online, but refused to select anything for it yet until we can go for actual visit (this Sunday - woohoo!). We don't plan to register for many material pieces (we agree, support and love is the very best present. But we also have a honeymoon registry and hope people who are inclined to give gifts - buy off of that, but also know there are people who would prefer to give us a nice pair of sheets) Since we're not registering for too much, I want to make sure it's a good value and well made.

  5. Another good thing about in-store registering...

    We registered for most of our stuff at Macy's, and then finished up (online) at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. we received a whopping FOUR gifts from our BB&B registry. When we went to go use our completion discount, we realized that very few of the things we had registered for are actually carried in their stores (at least around here)! I mean, even the shower rings in the store were slightly different, but the same price as the ones online.

    No wonder we got so many checks - I think those were the people who went to BB&B they day before the wedding, couldn't find a darn thing, and wrote them out of desperation!

  6. We just registered a few days ago in person, and I became absolutely giddy. Partly because I love kitchen gadgets, but also because I would think about making cookies with our mixer and sipping coffee from our coffee maker and cooking my dad's spaghetti recipe in one of our pots. We're not even thinking of having children any time soon, but when I picked up a fork or a cup I found myself thinking, "Is this too heavy for a child? Can little hands manage this giant spoon?" Registering is sort of strange, but it's also nice because the people who love you and can afford it like to help you start your life with those things that you will use for years to come. When other couples get married, you will probably want to pay it forward by helping them.

    I also recommend registering in person because salespeople can be really helpful. A saleswoman at Williams-Sonoma talked to us about knives for at least 20 minutes and let us hold them all and see how they felt to us. We both love to cook, but our cooking equipment is very much of the hand-me-down variety. We didn't choose the most expensive knives, but we chose the ones that are well made and sturdy and worth their sticker price.

  7. while we don't have a lot of people traveling long distance (i.e., flying), we do have a number of people staying two nights in our B&B. And it ain't cheap; $200+ per night (but with a killer view of the beach/bay). That's about $500 with tax, gratuity, and a little bit of gas for the weekend. So, we are definitely trying to figure out how best to convey to our guests that their presence is truly enough. For those who insist on giving us something (we don't need any stuff), I've thought about setting up some kind of honeymoon or photography fund. On one hand, I worry that not offering some kind of registry will frustrate people. On the other hand, I worry that a honeymoon/photography registry will come off as inappropriate.

    What do you all think?

  8. Don't forget about donations to your favorite charity as a registry option!

  9. From one coffee snob to another, good call on switching pots! :-)

    Your story reminded me of my brother's wedding gift to us. Econo Man and I had registered for a really nice chili pot. Bro went to the store in person, and discovered that they were also selling a "Chili Cooking Set" that contained the exact pot we'd registered for, plus a ladle, plus a towel, plus a chili cookbook ... for $10 less than just the pot. (I know, what?) So he got us the set and tipped us off so we'd take the pot off our registry.

  10. we registered for a cable knit sofa throw from Bed Bath and Beyond and Rob's cousin got us one from Ralph Lauren. She works there and thought it would be more "meaningful" from there. She's right! It is gorgeous and we love knowing that she was able to buy us something we wanted but with a personal touch.

  11. I agree very much with your first thought about becoming so much more forgiving about other weddings after planning your own. The year before I got married I was really disappointed when a close family friend left me off the guest list when opting for a more intimate ceremony. I made a second vow after our wedding that I would never again be upset if I was not invited to or have a role in a wedding that I thought I would. It was some much needed perspective. Thanks for sharing


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