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A couple weeks ago, I went for coffee with a long-lost friend who reconnected with me through, what else, Facebook.  We enjoyed the time together catching up, gossiping about our classmates.  I told her I started blogging for WedNet, and having switched to the topic of weddings, she launched into a quick and harsh criticism of her cousin’s wedding gift registry.  Blown away, I asked family and friends if this story sounded familiar:

The cousin of my friend was the groom in an upcoming wedding in Connecticut. As my friend was searching for a wedding gift, it came to her attention through relatives that her cousin was registered at a few stores including Williams-Sonoma, Target, and Bloomingdale’s. As she started looking for something that was in her price range, she noticed two very strange things about the registry. First, most items not from Target, were priced over $150.  Not a gravy spoon nor a single place setting was to be found.  Also, the items from Target were articles of clothing, DVDs, and various video games for different systems. My friend felt mortified that she was either buying extremely pricey household goods that were way out of her range (the wine distribution center was $1000!) or personal items that were not a part of starting a home together. Upon discussing with fellow family members , it became clear that most people were not buying items off the registry because they didn’t feel the gifts requested were appropriate–in context or price. My friend said she just put $50 in an envelope because it was obvious the bride and groom didn’t actually want traditional wedding gifts. She felt the couple offended their guests with the registry and she wasn’t surprised that few people ended up utilizing the lists.

I never thought much about the etiquette that comes with selecting registry items until this chat.  But apparently, it gets up under some people’s skins…and those are the people purchasing your registry items!  The tradition of a registry started in 1924 with Marshall Fields, the department store, as a way to help engaged couples inform their families of the selected china and silverware pattern.  It has obviously expanded beyond china and silverware, but the concept continues to center selecting items needed to build a home together as a couple.  Following a few basic guidelines, you can easily have a diverse and useful registry that ruffles no feathers in the family:

  • Select a wide range of items price-wise. You are welcome to put elite presents over $1000 on your registry, but rest assured, you probably won’t get too many of those.  Be realistic about what your guests can afford. Some guests will go into together to get larger items so it is completely fine to have them, but remember those who are purchasing items for you on their own.
  • Include several types of items.  For any number of reasons, family and friends may not agree with purchasing certain items on your list and need a large selection to find something they feel is appropriate.
  • If you already have the majority of homemaking items, come up with a concept registry and EXPLAIN the concept to your guests on your wedding website.  Honeymoon registries are a great modern twist; have guests purchase certain “activities” for your honeymoon. Then, be sure to send them photos of the gourmet meal on the cruise, the bike rentals in Tuscany, or the chance to swim with dolphins in the Caribbean in your thank you note!  If you need “gear” for your honeymoon, make sure you explain why those items are needed.
Wedding registries are not a free-for-all of things you and your spouse-to-be could want; they should be items that family and friends would be happy to sponsor as a symbol of the home you are about to share.

**title quote from a traditional Maori saying “E iti noa ana, na te aroha.”

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