Pretend shopping is so much fun

Look away if you're of the "registries are unseemly" school of thought, like Miss Manners. Dan leans more that way than I do ("it's presumptuous to register for wedding gifts"), but I am:
  1. Practical
  2. Picky
  3. Pretty fond of making prioritized lists
I guess my position on registries is a bit like my position on signing a prenup agreement. I'm not registering us for stuff because I am expecting gifts (Miss Manners had quite a few sizzlers against people who treat weddings as a "time to pay up!"), just like I don't think prenups are about expecting to get divorced. It's just more like, well, if it happens, good to have a plan. 

Incidentally, Dan and I had talked about going through the process of signing a prenup, but we decided against it because we're pretty open with each other about our finances already and the brief research we did into them suggested they are rather expensive given our lack of large assets--even the online DIY kind, since you have to get a lawyer involved at some point to make them legally binding. There is such a thing as postnup agreements, though, so if somehow one of us wins the lottery or comes into a huge inheritance from a stranger, we can always figure it out later.

Anyway, since we're the first among our peers to get hitched, we haven't gone to any weddings as adults responsible for considering and selecting a gift. I've heard enough complaints and horror stories secondhand about the costs associated with just being a guest to a wedding, though, so it's a big goal for us to minimize that as much as possible. 

You should know that if you've been invited, it's because we would like you to be there. We're grateful for your having even just made the effort to get there, and I promise I won't care about what, if any, gift you bring, as long as you do the same for choices we've made that you may disagree with (i.e. no sit-down dinner, or whatever else). That was kind of the whole point of planning an affordable wedding, not a blowout fundraiser. 

Plus, we've been living together for over a year now (!) and clearly anything we really need, we've already procured (though shoutouts are in order to my parents' basement and Dan's relatives for providing so much seed furniture and Bed Bath & Beyond goods to get us going).

If I were designing the whole system, I'd have an algorithm that takes into account considerably more than just a per person estimate (single, single+guest, family, etc.), which is my current understanding of how people usually figure out what to give. It'd be a sliding scale that would consider your travel costs, your current status in life (grad student vs. top executive at a company...though I don't think anyone we're inviting is a top executive, actually), how long you've known us, how close we are, and the thought you've put in. But as Dan often has to remind me, I can't make the world be more practical and logical in the way that I want it to be.

Well, hopefully that preamble's long enough to convince people that I really am being sincere (really, I am, I just think I have to talk a lot to convince people of that, especially when it comes to something that can be as fraught with unspoken resentment like gifts). Now, onto the actual registries themselves.

I decided to register us on Amazon and at Bed Bath & Beyond (hereafter referred to as BBB), instead of something like Wishpot. I didn't really look into other online registry systems very much and I just figured Amazon is convenient for everyone, especially with its universal registry feature. The universal registry allows you to add items from other websites to your Amazon list and it does this nice thing of pulling a photo from the page as well. People can then look at your Amazon list and mark off certain items as "reserved", meaning they'll purchase it from the other store or any place they can get a better price for it. This saves you from the trouble of creating registry accounts at a ton of other stores (I've been working on an audit of all my various online accounts, and good god I have so many! ugh).

Mama G had recommended also registering at a store that would be easy for people to get to in-person if they didn't want to buy stuff online, and Dan agreed (still with the "registries are presumptuous stance"). I'd considered Nordstrom because that's my favorite department store, but their home goods section online isn't very extensive and you can't manage a wedding registry there online either. Then I considered Macy's but I gave up quickly because I find their site too busy and annoying to look at.

After that, Dan suggested good ole BBB. Most of the kitchen things I'd added to the Amazon list (from my existing extensive and ranked personal Amazon wishlist for cooking stuff, ahem) were also available at BBB. BBB tends to be slightly more expensive, but people can use the 20% coupons (I try never to buy anything at BBB without a coupon of some kind, even if it's like $5) and that's the tradeoff for the convenience for people who don't want to buy stuff online, I guess. Also, I liked that while they asked me whether I wanted to be contacted by a "registry consultant," I could choose to just ignore that and do everything online. I'm not quite sure about the flatware and tableware I picked out--BBB's site has some reviews but not very many--but it should be fine since BBB has a forgiving return policy.

Still, Amazon's list has better features even outside of the universal registry thing, which I guess isn't too surprising. Amazon will let you group by category or by price range ($0-25, $25-$50, etc...they recommend getting in stuff mostly in the $50-$100 range, but evidently I'm a $0-$50 or ~$200 kind of shopper :P). You can also leave comments, so I've put in some comments for certain items on where else they might be purchased for cheaper

Best of all, you can set priorities of "Love to have," "Like to have," and "Nice to have." I've left most of them as just "Nice to have" (small kitchen gadgets, stuff from the Moma and CB2 stores) but the "Love to have" items for me are like a food processor, a West Elm carpet, a Roomba, and anything from Heath Ceramics. Once my mom gets back to me on her preferred brand of vacuum, that's definitely going on as a "Love to have" too because our current vacuum is terrible.

True story: Amazon was playing around with redesigning their personal wishlist design and took away the prioritization feature for a bit, and I sent them not just one, but two panicked emails asking for it to be reinstated because it messed with my rankings, and I got a response from them assuring me that they'd put it back, and thanks for my feedback. Like whoa.

Most of the other kitchen stuff I would really love to have (I know I'm not the only one who didn't grow up not dreaming much about my wedding day except for getting a brightly colored KitchenAid stand mixer) is on the BBB list, but ultimately everything is really just a nice to have anyway, like wine glasses. I'm still close enough to college only to be slightly ashamed by drinking (and serving) wine in mugs, but I haven't been able to justify buying any real glasses since Dan's allergic to sulfites and therefore I usually only buy wine when people come over, which isn't that often either. I picked out a couple of the stemless ones from the Riedel O series, the reviews seem to be pretty good.

I am pleased with myself for thinking of a vermicomposter to add to the Amazon list, though, as it's definitely in the category of "probably too expensive and unnecessary for me to purchase one myself, but would love to try it." Dan is not as pleased.

Putting together the registries was more fun than I had expected. I mean, shopping for yourself usually is pretty fun, this just exceeded my expectations still. I had been saving it for after I got some more actually necessary wedding planning done, but since the save-the-dates have been ordered and I've made a rough project timeline for the remaining 150+ days until the wedding, I let myself indulge and got quite into it last night.

For background: I have spent quite a few evenings adding to and arranging and rearranging to put on my various personal wishlists, just for the pleasure of organizing and researching reviews and having A Plan for what things I want to spend money on. I find it therapeutic even when I stop short of actually spending any money, so imagine the fun for a wedding registry when the likelihood of getting stuff is non-zero! I highly recommend it.

Well, this is probably enough indulging in materialism. If you need help figuring out what to put on your own registry, this is what I used:
The native fun of registering for wedding presents can swiftly devolve into confusion, or even distress. This is largely because people are apt to Have Opinions. Which they will want to tell you...I can help with opinions like, "You MUST have formal china," or, "But dear, that is not the Done Thing," or, "Everyone always registers for crystal." Because High WASPs (my culture of origin) invented the Done Thing, and, although disappearing from earth in alarming numbers, we stand on our authority in the world of china, glass, and silver.
That said, I recommend you furnish the life you will lead. Rather than collect goods. Life is short. We have to eat, and over the years you will be putting a lot of food into your mouth. With any luck people you love will be eating with you. Maybe around a table, maybe at a kitchen counter. Buy plates for those moments. Imagine where those plates will be kept, where they will be used, how on earth they will get cleaned. Same goes for glasses, forks and knives, table mats.* Household good have lives. The lives you give them.

You are not registering for objects. You are registering for use. Not stuff, but the backdrop to memories you will look back on down the decades. I know. Time. Your family. The values you will work so hard to establish and pass down to children, if you have them. It happens while we eat.


Anonymous said...

Great post! As you might have seen, we just started working on our registry (also on Amazon) and it's been a headache for us. Love the resources at the end of the post! Thanks!

Post a Comment