The Great Wedding Registry Debate

Last night I settled down at the computer to buy a wedding present for a good friend. He and his fiance are registered at Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Fifteen minutes into this search, I was simply overwhelmed (it’s a good thing Twitter was there to hear me rant). It had nothing to do with this particular wedding registry; rather, I’ve perused my fair share of registries, and this one provided the tipping point. There are so many items on registries that (a) are ridiculously overpriced and (b) will hardly ever be used.

You're really going to use this goblet? Really?

How do any of these gifts represent the strongest legal union of two people? Does a $170 gravy boat say, “We’re madly in love with each other”? Does a $225 saute pan say, “We’re in this for the long haul”?

The number one justification I’ve heard for all this stuff is: We’re never going to buy this stuff ourselves, so the wedding is the one time to get it.

That logic seems inherently flawed to me. Just because you have an opportunity to get gifts doesn’t mean that you need all those gifts. Does anyone really need good china? How often does it get used? Isn’t it more of a hassle than anything else?

Granted, some of the stuff looks useful. Even some of the more expensive appliances like the blender. Nothing wrong with a good blender.

The problem with those items is that they’re pretty expensive. I could contribute to those items by giving a gift card to one of those stores. The risk, however, is that the gift card will be used to buy Vera Wang china. Again, I want to contribute to a strong, loving union. Smoothies made in a blender could contribute to such a union. China that gathers dust and creates a hassle when moving, I believe, will not.

The other solution doesn’t exist. I wish there were a way on these registries to pay for part of a gift. I think is aiming for something like that, but currently not with registries (and I think there is a surcharge). But on Macy’s website, I’d love to pay for part of the blender, but I currently can’t do that.

I’m curious about your thoughts on my little rant. Also, I’d like to hear what you think about wedding gift-giving standards. My rule is that I have to travel to get to a wedding, I don’t have to give a gift (past girlfriends scorned this policy). Again, I think being witness to a loving union is much more important than giving a gift, and shouldn’t my $300+ airfare and hotel room count as that gift? I don’t consider myself “cheap,” but I just don’t think I should be expected to pay for travel and lodging and a gift on top of that.

I hope you do whatever works best for you. I don’t want to impose my opinions onto you. But in truth, I think the current practice of wedding registries is a little…dare I say…greedy? It’s like the greedy, grabby little kid comes out in people when they have that registry gun.

The best wedding registry I’ve ever seen was focused on the couple’s honeymoon, not material items. The couple was going to vacation in Hawaii for a week following their wedding, and there were a number of activities they wanted to do–ocean kayaking, hiking,Β para-sailing, romantic dinners, etc. On their registry, they listed all these bonding activities and let you give any amount you wanted to help make them happen. Compare that to an $30 goblet and tell me which gift feels more like a blessing to the new married couple.

What do you think? Also, any guys here? Read up on my tips for how to be a great wedding date.