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The Purpose of a Wedding Present

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katamari

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We have effectively lost the battle to not register for our wedding. Both my mom and FMIL think it is discourteous to our guests to not register and also feel that none of them would see not having a registry as a request to not get gifts. I also made a really cool flow chart to post on our website stating other options that guests could pursue apart from purchasing us unneeded housewares (like donating to charities, spending time with us, sharing wisdom about marriage, etc.) but the moms thought this could be perceived as smart aleck and weren''t having it, either.

It has got me thinking, though, about the purpose of the wedding gift. I really don''t want gifts, but I am getting married and starting a married life with my FI. And, were any of my friends or family members to do something similar to what we are doing, I would buy them the equivalent gift I would buy someone having a traditional wedding without additional doubts about it. Does anyone know the rationale behind the wedding gift? Should I feel as bad about this as I do?

And, I suppose, if I may throw in a subquestion, would it be appropriate to register places like Sur la Table or Crate and Barrel in this situation (given that this really is where we would buy our own stuff), or would it be more appropriate to register somewhere like Kohls or Target?

As perhaps necessary background info, FI and I are having a small ceremony abroad, attended only by our immediate family members, and are then coming back to have a reception in the state where we grew up with around 200 guests the day after we return from our honeymoon.
 

FrekeChild

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Eek. Great question though. I felt the same way, and we thought about registering for cancer society donations, a honeymoon, or the normal gift thing. We ended up going for the normal gifts (Macy''s and Williams Sonoma) just because there were actually a few things we needed.

My cousin''s suggestion was to have a big wedding, invite a lot of my dad''s well off friends and then sell the gifts on ebay.



So then he tells my dad about this plan. My dad thinks this is a GREAT idea.



So I don''t know the deal with giving gifts, but I would say that you should register for things you''ll use, and if that is at a store like Sur la Table and Crate and Barrel, I say do it anyway! Just try to register for a selection of stuff in a variety of price points.

(Where is Gypsy? She''s good at this registry stuff. And Haven can tell us why people give gifts...)
 

panda08

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To celebrate the marriage? I''ve always found wedding gift giving to be incredibly awkward. It''s difficult for me to buy someone a household good (usually) because I think it''s strange to mark such an important occasion with a toaster or place setting, ya know? I completely understand the purpose behind the registry and have often purchased off of them but it''s still weird. More often than not, I give cash but that''s more a cultural thing for me.

If your heart leans towards the untraditional and you want to direct the gift giving to charities, etc., go for it! It''s no different that registering for stuff that everyone else does. We''re also having a small destination wedding and plan on telling our guests that their attendance is gift enough. As for the people we''re inviting to a banquet afterwards, we haven''t decided if we''re going to register or just don''t do it at all cuz it''s just a dinner party in our minds.

As for where to register if you are going to, I always think it''s nice to give your friends and family options and register at places with a range of prices. I personally heart Target and would register there in a heartbeat. I know many people who register at one "pricer" place, like Bloomies, and one "more affordable" place, like Target.
 

Haven

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Does anyone know the rationale behind the wedding gift?

I believe so, yes. Miss Manners says it so much better than I ever could:
"In social life, there is no such thing as an obligatory present. You do not owe your friends anything just because they are getting married. Nevertheless, it is customary that when one values people enough to want to participate in occasions that are important to them, one is moved to express this emotion in some tangible form." (Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, p. 431)

So, in other words, we give gifts because we are moved to do so when we participate in important moments in our loved ones' lives.

And, I suppose, if I may throw in a subquestion, would it be appropriate to register places like Sur la Table or Crate and Barrel in this situation (given that this really is where we would buy our own stuff), or would it be more appropriate to register somewhere like Kohls or Target?

Of course it is appropriate to register at Sur la Table or C & B, why wouldn't it be? DH and I registered at Bloomies and C & B for our own wedding.

As for telling guests what you would like in lieu of traditional wedding gifts, (e.g. charitable donations, honeymoon registries, no gifts, etc.) I really love Miss Manners' explanation of why it is inappropriate to suggest any of these things:

"The fact that other people's money is under their control is not suspended in the case of wedding guests, so that you cannot properly tell them how to dispose of it, even though you suspect they have set some aside for you, and even in good cause.

Of the many letters Miss Manners receives from people who want to have some control over the selection of presents they expect . . . (t)he severely offensive ones ask, "How can I let them know I want money instead of some crummy toaster? or "Instead of giving us pieces of silver we won't use, why can't our friends get together and pay our mortgage?" Least offensive are the ones from people who either sympathize with their friends' problems of buying presents or profoundly distrust their taste, and want to say "No gifts, please" on their wedding invitations.

What Miss Manners must tell all of you, regardless of your motives, is that there is no tasteful way--not even any moderately decent way--of directing present-giving when you are on the receiving end. You must even seem pleasantly surprised when they give you something. To act as if it is such standard payment that you can acknowledge your expectations is rude-rude-rude.

Perhaps what has confused you is the business gimmick of the bridal registry, by which engaged couples inform stores of their tastes in the hope that their friends will come in, get this information and act on it. There is just enough distance between the giver and the receiver to make this a passable practice. The bride and bridegroom do not actually instruct their friends--they only tell their preferences to a neutral business establishment. And the present givers only receive the information if they ask for it." (435)
 

AmberGretchen

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Ditto everything Haven/Miss Manners said. People give a gift as a way of marking the occasion and celebrating with you, and you can register wherever you want - no one is obligated to get you anything, much less obligated to get something specifically off your registry.
 

PilsnPinkysMom

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Gosh.

That''s sort of a tough situation, but it seems like the Mamas are making you guys do it, anway...

I know Miss Manners is an important lady... but if you *have* to provide registry information, I think there''s nothing long with posting a link to a charity...

Bed Bath & Beyond
Kohls
Macy''s
Crate & Barrel
ASPCA

You know? I mean.... You don''t have to tell them it''s an alternative... but for those who care enough to look, it''s there as an option?
 

MishB

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I've been to a couple of weddings where the couples have requested donation to a specific charity and everyone respected it. I think it would be extremely rude NOT to respect their wishes in this situation. In this day and age, I am confused how this could be thought of as 'smart alec'?? When you already have everything you want and need, asking for donations for a charity you support is a no-brainer to me.

We were in the same situation as you are, we got married overseas and had a reception party when we got back. I specifically asked for NO gifts, but people gave them anyway. If I had thought of the charity donation, that is what I would have done.

Registering for wedding gifts would have been totally against our principles, so if you feel strongly about it, stick to your guns.

BTW - to my knowledge, wedding gifts of household items were traditionally given when the couple were just setting up house and didn't already have these things. Often not the case these days.
 

LaraOnline

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Well, the rationale behind the wedding gift was to help set the couple up for practical life in a home / household together, was it not?
But then , this was in the days when any wedding reception was probably hosted and paid for by parents as well!
I thought it was funny the attitudes of your parents, I guess at the end of the day it is an entirely localised, cultural thang... in my neck of the wood *cough* redneck *cough* it would probably be seen as more discourteous to have the registry - almost as if we were expecting gifts.
Because we were older, and had already lived in plenty of shared houses etc etc I really didn''t see the need to emphasise presents at all!
Autralian culture probably reflects this attitude as well, it''s common for presents not to be big and flashy these days...
Although a couple of the older family friends (the experienced mums amongst us) got some really thoughtful presents, such as a complete set of quality saucepans, that I still use to this day.
I didn''t have a set of good cooking gear, and had never thought to spend the dollars on it...
Trust the mums / grandmas to know what would be a good wedding present!!
 

goldenstar

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Date: 4/9/2009 11:21:17 PM
Author: MishB
I've been to a couple of weddings where the couples have requested donation to a specific charity and everyone respected it. I think it would be extremely rude NOT to respect their wishes in this situation. In this day and age, I am confused how this could be thought of as 'smart alec'?? When you already have everything you want and need, asking for donations for a charity you support is a no-brainer to me.

I respectfully dissent... I think its perfectly fine to express a preference for donations but I don't think its rude if a guest chooses not to donate. I'm sure most charities are not objectionable to guests, but if a person doesn't want to donate to whatever cause its completely in their right to refrain. If it were me, and for some weird reason I didn't want to give money to XYZ Charity, I would give cash to the couple and they can do whatever they like with it. Even if it means that the money ends up with the charity in the end.

Oh, and if you end up with unneeded housewares, you can always donate THOSE to charities. Churches, schools, shelters etc. would love to have them.
 

bee*

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Date: 4/9/2009 11:34:59 PM
Author: LaraOnline
Well, the rationale behind the wedding gift was to help set the couple up for practical life in a home / household together, was it not?
That''s what I thought too. Personally we always give cash as it''s normally what''s done over here. Registries aren''t very common over here at all so unless I know the couple really want a certain gift, cash it is. Sorry to hear that you can''t not register.
 

hawaiianorangetree

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My understanding has always been that the tradition of giving a gift at a wedding stems from the days when two people got married, they really were just starting out their lives together, ie they both still lived with their parents and didn''t have a home of their own (and certainly not together) therefore they didn''t have all of the things to put in it, so people would buy gifts that would help them set up their homes, eg, toasters and towels, basically anything domestic.

Nowdays, since alot of people either already have all of that stuff, (how many of us have 2 sets of everything?)

or they already live together before they marry, it kind of seems pointless to puchase gifts of such a nature.

I''m not too sure what happens in America, i think you guys go alot more formal and follow the etiquette rules more than us, but it is quite common over here in oz for people to ask you to contribute to the honeymoon fund, with a gift of cash, i know a couple who had a ''plasma fund'' and i have heard of people asking for donations to charities etc, but if people wanted to bring a gift of the domestic nature they are more than welcome.
The receptions also seem to be set up for this too, a table with a wishing well or suitcase (honeymoon fund) with enough room for a few presents as well.

As far as your subquestion goes, i am unfamiliar with the stores you are referring too, except for target.
but here is what i think, most definately register at the place where you would normal buy your household goods from!! Since it seems like you didn''t really want to register for gifts anyway, i don''t think you should register somewhere you wouldn''t normally shop, ie, lower than the standard you are used to, and get a bunch of stuff you really wouldn''t like!
If you are worried about it being too pricey for your guests, just make sure that you list alot of smaller (ie cheaper) items for guests to choose from, glassware and photoframes make lovely wedding gifts and they don''t have to cost the earth.
 

katamari

Ideal_Rock
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May 18, 2008
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2,949
Great information! Thanks, everyone! I know that my guests are not required to buy us anything, but I guess I just have trouble with the whole process. Too much sociological analysis of it, I guess


FrekeMacy''s would be a good option--especially since it is a national chain with a wide range of products at all price points. I can''t believe that anyone would even think about selling wedding gifts on ebay. Sheesh.

That is actually a really good point about the home goods being a seemingly awkward gift, Panda. I mean, it made sense in generations past, I guess. I always give money, too. How is your wedding planning going? I am sure all your guests are thoroughly happy with a Hawaiian vacation.

Thanks, Haven. This was exactly what I was looking for (and thought you might be the one to know
)! I couldn''t agree more. And, I think this is my mom and FMIL''s big objection to the flow chart I made. They saw us stating our preferences on how people spend their money more as telling than just simply having a registry that guests could find, were they interested in using it.

Thanks, AG. I guess I just see a registry as a suggestion to buy us stuff. I need to see it more as a suggestion of what to buy us, were you so inclined.

PnP, That is an excellent suggestion! If we include a link on the website, it will just seem like another option. And, even though FI and I have strong political views, we selected very apolitical charities as to not offend our guests.

I hear ya, MishB. I think the real objection was the use of the flowchart, which I personally thought people might find a little funny, but not offensive. Apparently not the case. The moms are threatening to register for us, but maybe if we boldly say, "Fine, but you have to select from these charities." it would be okay.

Lara, that is what I thought, too. That is was so the couple could set up a home together. FI and I are both in our 30s and have been living independently nearly as long as not at this point. So, while we could upgrade some stuff, I don''t feel there is anything we truly need. I also felt that setting up a registry showed that you expected gifts, but the moms feel that the guests will independently decide, and providing a registry simply makes it easier for them, showing we respect their time and effort. And, both our families tend to buy pretty lavish gifts, so I would much rather they be more practical.

Great idea, Goldenstar. FI and I both volunteer with a charities that would be more than happy to get any home goods we would not want. And, I totally agree about the ideology behind the charity being an issue for some. I had a colleague get married last year who asked for us to make political contributions, and I thought that was very odd. I know there are some causes I would not be comfortable giving money to, even in someone else''s name. We tried to pick non-offensive charities, but you never know.

It seems to weird to think that you don''t have registries, Bee. I suppose American materialism is unprecedented, but it seems to happen for everything here anymore. I just got an e-mail from a cousin yesterday telling me that she had established a college graduation registry


Australia sounds far more relaxed, HawaiianOT. We are both 31 and have been living together for 3 years now, so we really do have 2 (if not 3) of everything! One day I counted and we had almost 40 forks!
It really is ridiculous. Yes, the stores I had mentioned were higher end stores (which is why I was wondering), even though they have things at all price points we would use.
 

Gypsy

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Date: 4/10/2009 12:06:57 AM
Author: goldenstar



Date: 4/9/2009 11:21:17 PM
Author: MishB
I've been to a couple of weddings where the couples have requested donation to a specific charity and everyone respected it. I think it would be extremely rude NOT to respect their wishes in this situation. In this day and age, I am confused how this could be thought of as 'smart alec'?? When you already have everything you want and need, asking for donations for a charity you support is a no-brainer to me.

I respectfully dissent... I think its perfectly fine to express a preference for donations but I don't think its rude if a guest chooses not to donate. I'm sure most charities are not objectionable to guests, but if a person doesn't want to donate to whatever cause its completely in their right to refrain. If it were me, and for some weird reason I didn't want to give money to XYZ Charity, I would give cash to the couple and they can do whatever they like with it. Even if it means that the money ends up with the charity in the end.

Oh, and if you end up with unneeded housewares, you can always donate THOSE to charities. Churches, schools, shelters etc. would love to have them.
Ditto.

When asked what we wanted outright by friends and family. I always said, "The pleasure of your company." I only EXPECTED felicitations... such as a card.

But I did register. And in fact had to register at a store I did not intend to register at because my GUESTS didn't like where I registered.
I registered initially only at BBB. It wasn't to some people's taste and I was specifically asked to pick someplace 'nicer' (do not want to start a discussion on how nice BBB is, obviously I think it's quite nice enough, thank you). So we registered at Crate and Barrel. BUT I didn't NEED anything from that store that I could put on a registry. Seriously, all the stuff I wanted and needed was furniture and stuff like that. So I registered for a bunch of stuff there (since no one wanted to buy off our BBB registery) and promptly returned it all after the wedding... seriously, we drove up with a car load of gifts and got the cart from the store and wheeled it all in. Got a bunch of money back on gift cards and evenually bought a lovely desk, a coffee table , a set of three nesting tables, and a rug with the gift cards plus the 10% registry completion discount we got after the wedding (after the wedding I added the furniture items we wanted to the registry so they'd qualify for the discount). I think I kept... 2 items from our registry at CB... a set of twelve napkin rings I really liked, and the wine chiller BBB had discontinued and I was able to add to the CB registry. Everything else went back. I kept the BBB stuff we got though because I wanted it.

Advice on registering based on MY experience:

1. Look at things you'd like to update: Towels, sheets, appliances, decor items (vases, candesticks, lamps, wall decor). You can usually use some of these.
2. Consider a couple of higher priced "like to have" items-- you never know. We didn't think we'd get our wine chiller, but we did. I know someone who got a Dyson.
3. Many people won't want to pay for shipping registry items out, so will get you a giftcard to that place. So register someplace that has stuff you LIKE. Cause you can't return giftcards.
4. Find out from your parents what they gave as gifts to their friend's children's weddings and the price range. That's where you should concentrate the 'bulk' of your items. Ours averaged about 125-150 a couple. Don't make it hard for them to reach that 'average amount.' People don't want to buy you 2 cook books, a set of measuring cups, 4 dishtowels, and a partridge in a pear tree to get the 'number' they consider appropriate.
5. Have items both reasonably below and reasonably above the 'average' gift amount. You certainly dodn't want to make people feel like they HAVE to spend 100 dollars. We had lots of gifts in the 50 dollar range. Of course most of those were snatched up for the bridal shower.
6. Prepare to be shocked. You will always get the guest who give you something completely unexpected. We got a HUGE check from one of my step-uncles. We thought it was a mistake of adding too many zeros, until we saw the written out amount. My parent's thought it was a mistake too. It wasn't and we were IMMENSELY grateful but completely shocked, nonetheless.
 

panda08

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Date: 4/10/2009 3:16:06 PM
Author: katamari

That is actually a really good point about the home goods being a seemingly awkward gift, Panda. I mean, it made sense in generations past, I guess. I always give money, too. How is your wedding planning going? I am sure all your guests are thoroughly happy with a Hawaiian vacation.
My wedding planning is coming along, thanks for asking! I''ve nailed down the venue, caterer and photographer and I''m pretty close with the MUA/hair, officiant, music, hula dancer and coordinator. Still remaining: the DIY invitations, flowers (should be minor as I just need a bouquet and leis for the groom and guests), rentals of tables and linens (pretty minor, as we''re having less than 20 guests), travel arrangements (probably not until the date gets closer), and oh, yeah, the wedding rings! I''ve definitely slowed down since I got the big three (venue, catering and photog) taken care of, although I''m always wondering what I''m missing!

How about you?
 

Haven

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GREAT registry advice, Gypsy.

And for those who already have *everything* they need, why not register somewhere where you can either return the gifts and then donate the cash (because you don''t need anything) or donate the actual gifts. I never understand people who say "We have everything we need, so we want our loved ones to pay for our honeymoon instead of buying us gifts."

My husband and I had a lot of housewares when we married at ages 37 and 27, but we didn''t have *nice* housewares. The registry was the perfect time to select a beautiful glass pitcher to replace the nasty brown plastic one I had been using to serve iced tea for years, or fluffy new towels to replace the mish mash collection I''d had since college.

And yes, people do surprise you. We registered for a KitchenAid stand mixer at C & B so we could purchase it for 10% off after the wedding, but dear friends bought it for us as a wedding gift, which we really didn''t expect. So generous.
 

katamari

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Wow, Gypsy! All terrific advice. I am so glad you posted! I think the moms have been asked by lots of family where we are registered and requesting we do it soon. Who knew? And, now that you say it, the majority of the things I covet at C&B are furniture items, so I might want to rethink registering there (or maybe going shopping and making sure there is plenty in the $40-$60 range first).

Haven, you are right that we could definitely upgrade some stuff. We both still have the same towels from college (with our names Sharpied on them and everything, hilariously enough). It might be a good opportunity for us to have linens without our names on them


Panda can I tell you how jealous I am that you are having a hula dancer at your wedding! AWESOME! We are in the same spot where things were getting checked off the list left and right and then I hit a little plateau. Once I got into the stuff like rentals and linens, well, it just got less fun (as I am sure you know). But, one of our family friends is an amazing artist, and she is designing our invites. They are so wonderful that it has kind of reinvigorated me. So hopefully that will get me through finding all the rentals and stuff.
 

Gypsy

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Thank you Haven!

Kata... CB has a lot in the 40-60 range. I just remembered that I kept three gifts from them... I kept the set of 12 beautiful glass chargers I was lusting after as well. I just registered online. LOL. But they have nice ''registering party'' events. Call them up and ask them when the next one they are having is, I''ve heard it''s kind of fun because they give you run of the store.

Here are the items we bought from them:

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=1070&f=29099&q=spotlight&fromLocation=Search&DIMID=400001&SearchPage=1 A really lovely desk. Super quality. And I love the hidden drawers and laptop/keyboard tray.

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=1264&f=31147 Perfect contemporary easy to care for cat friendly rug. Very reasonably priced and stain resistant. And it makes the room looks much bigger.

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=14252&f=29409 I love nesting tables and these were so much FUN and matched the rug perfectly. They are really cool and well designed.

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=14252&f=30898 Our favorite piece. Cat proof, large, VERY unique (the pictures on the site don''t do it justice) so it''s a great statement peice and works perfectly with the rug and the nesting tables.

We''re really happy with it all. We don''t have any more credit left with them, but we got everything I wanted so it worked out perfectly.

I just (like 5 minutes ago) ordered a new entertainment center online (not from CB), and yesterday found a bunch of really cool affordable items that work with our ''new look'' at a great price from Pier One.

It''s been so much fun. The gift that keeps on giving. I love that our guests gifts have given us so many items we love (even if they weren''t aware of it when they bought us the candlesticks and vases and kicknacks and bedding we registered for) and remember our wedding and our guest''s generosity every time I walk into a room in our house.

Z gallerie has a LOT of cool stuff too. But much harder to register there.
 

Pandora II

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I think it's really easy to start off thinking that you have everything you need as far as household items are concerned. DH and I certainly did - we were getting married at 35 and 32, had lived together for nearly 4 years and owned a house together.

Then I thought how nice it would be to have bone china instead of the earthernware we had, a really nice set of cutlery that actually matched and had enough knives for side-plates etc, new saucepans, bamboo-fibre towels and new bedlinen.

We also added things we never expected to actually get - a top of the range titanium Kenwood mixer, a DAB shower radio and a gorgeous vase.

In the UK most people register at John Lewis, which means you don't even need to tell people you have registered, they can just enter your name online or ask in store and the list will come up. They deliver all the gifts in one go after the wedding (we were moving house and they held them all for us for 4 months till we were ready to house them).

A number of people gave us cheques and we also received a lot of non-registry gifts, but I had to update the registry FIVE times as we kept running out of things on it! We don't have showers in the UK so it's normal to get towels, sheets etc as the wedding gift. Money is not that common a gift.

I would look at a registry as a chance to upgrade to the sort of things that would be a bit special and that normally you wouldn't go out and spend the money on. Then you can donate the old stuff to charity (we kept our old house and turned it into a furnished rental property so it meant we didn't have to go out and spend money on plates/glasses/cutlery/saucepans/small appliances etc as we just left the old items there.)
 
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