Friday, September 20, 2013

Dirty Little Wedding Registry Secrets

Some brides manage wedding stress by screaming things like,"That's not the right shade of ivory! Are you trying to RUIN my WEDDING?" Or "That's ALENCON lace, you idiot! I CLEARLY said I wanted a veil trimmed with BATTENBURG lace!" They micromanage and obsess and make everyone else miserable. Not me. Everyone was telling me, "You're such a laid-back bride." They didn't know my dirty secret: I compartmentalized and managed all my wedding planning stress by secretly micromanaging one thing: Our registry.

At first I had mixed feelings about wedding registries. I felt uncomfortable telling people what kind of gifts to buy us; it seemed so greedy and bossy. Soon after Keith proposed, I made a registry because it's what you're supposed to do. I put, like, some kitchen gadgets and a $24 tray from West Elm on there. I didn't want to have too much stuff in our tiny place. I blog like OMG look at The Fancy! But in real life my stuff is mostly from Goodwill and T.J. Maxx, so I couldn't imagine having really nice things or (horrors!) telling people to buy me really nice thingsThen my mother sat me down and schooled me.

The Loveliest Linens

She told me point-blank, "You need to register for nicer things. The things you have on there now are good shower presents, but what about wedding presents? I know you don't think you need fancy things now, but wedding gifts aren't just for who you are now. They're for who you will be in the future." If I turned my head and squinted, I could kind of see a Future Jen with nice things and enough space to keep and use them.

Mom said, "The people on my side of the family expect to spend more on a wedding present. They love you and they want to give you nice things that you will think of as heirlooms someday." That made sense. I lavish the people I love with gifts nicer than what I'd buy for myself. I was warming up to the idea.

The she gave me the kicker: "If people want to buy gifts, they will, registry or not. Without a registry, you're pretty much guaranteed to get a lot of stuff you don't want. This way, you won't spend all day waiting in line to return stuff." There are few things in the world I hate more than returning stuff. Honestly, I'd rather change a bunch of dirty diapers and clean the microwave than stand in line to explain, "Umm... there's nothing wrong with this chip and dip. I just... don't want it?"

So I took stock of what was in our kitchen: An incomplete set of dishes I bought at a thrift store 10 years ago and a set of slightly rusted flatware from Target. Oh, and we were missing all but three teaspoons. The binding at the edge of my bedspread is falling apart. And when my favorite set of sheets was new, my age was in the single digits. Yeah, we needed stuff. I went nuts and started registering. And then it got freaky.

Setting the Table

When I was feeling stressed out, I went on a registry-managing binge. And I do mean binge. I'd add things, remove things, make sure everything matched but wasn't too matchy, read reviews, change my mind, and read about stoneware versus porcelain versus bone china. I'd reconsider the font I'd chosen for a monogram, re-read the reviews, watch infomercial-style videos on Bed Bath & Beyond's website about pineapple slicing gadgets, and repeat. If there was anyone out there keeping an eye on our registry, they probably thought I was a huge freak, and I don't care. It was obsessive and harmless and weird and funny, and I'm glad I had an outlet for stress that didn't involve snapping at other people.

I really did learn a lot: Wilton Armetale serving dishes are beautiful and really useful. They thaw your meat faster and keep your salad crisp longer. Porcelain is a comparatively affordable and dishwasher safe substitute for bone china. Godinger crystal weighs a TON. Like, be careful lifting it. The regular prices at Bed Bath & Beyond are, on average, 30% cheaper than the regular prices at Macy's. Most people hate towels; I was bewildered by all the HATEFUL towel reviews. NO ONE LIKES THEIR TOWELS. But everyone loves a Dyson. And that pineapple slicing gadget is amazing.

So last weekend, friends and family all came together to shower me and Keith with love really awesome gifts. It was humbling and I cried a little bit. I kept thinking They are so good to us. Do I deserve this?! I'm feeling grateful, supported, loved, and (woo-hoo!) finally over the registry obsession. Watch out, bridesmaids!



  1. Your mother is right!!! I always buy people nice gifts, preferably from the registry. It feels good to give them something nice that you KNOW they want, and perusing the registry is kind of fun!

    My recommendation is to register for things you love but that you know you'll use, that are nicer than you'd buy yourself but something that suits your lifestyle. If you're not going to take the time to ever polish silver, don't bother with it, get a really nice, heavy stainless set that will last forever (and maybe even survive the dishwasher). If you think you're going to move around a bit, don't go for too much glassware (I ended up selling brandy snifters and such at a yard sale).

    My first marriage didn't last, but the Kitchenaid mixer, Pyrex, and high thread count sheets I received sure have! Were I to have a do-over, I'd definitely be more thoughtful about what I register for, because I fell into the trap of choosing some lower-end stuff I could have bought myself for fear that people would think I'm greedy.

  2. This post could've been written by me in 1987. I obsessed over the registry instead of the wedding. The only things I registered were both sets of china, stainless, and crystal. The odd thing is, the brides I knew who picked home colors then registered china to match the color scheme soon grew tired of their things. The brides who had an emotional reaction to a pattern (like me) have loved it forever. However, I only use my fine china for special occasions. They are:

    Xmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter
    When someone cooks for me.
    Dinner parties
    Visiting relatives
    To feed groups of small mourners after a pet funeral
    When 3rd graders cook for me
    Whenever I damn well please

    Remember - memories impart value


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