Monday, August 6, 2012

Stick to the list: registry advice for every couple

Although few may admit it, most couples fantasize about creating gift registries.

Creating a registry is equivalent to buying new household goods for free. Couples are able to select anything they want, but the cost for the item falls to guests. Don’t worry, creating a registry is not greedy; guests like giving gifts just as much as couples like receiving them. Giving a gift allows guests to show their appreciation for being included in your celebration and support for your relationship.

Registries developed in the 1920s, when the department store Marshall Fields in Chicago (a place this author visited regularly throughout her childhood) created handwritten lists of a bride’s china pattern, flatware and glassware selections. The purpose of these lists was to guide guests in their gift choices. (That china department was amazing, although as a 6 year old I probably didn’t appreciate it at the time.)

See…it’s tradition to give gifts.

Today, registries have – of course – gone high tech. Most are digitized and use a (very fun) UPC scanner for their creation. New registry types have also evolved, with charitable donation, home savings and honeymoon fund registries available to modern couples. Emily Post (see here for how much HJ loves Emily Post) approves of these registries, stating that, since the purpose of a registry is to purchase items the couple wants, non-china-focused registries are acceptable.

Some couples choose not to register. That’s just fine. However, a word of warning from a former bride and wedding planner: you will receive gifts nonetheless. No matter how strongly you indicate that you do not want them or how many times you mention the name of your favorite charity for donation purposes, guests will give you gifts.

Not registering means that guests are on their own to determine what to gift you. It might also make it more difficult to return a gift you don’t like it or increase the chances that you receive multiple of the same item (a common event after a bride or groom’s slightest mention of needing something; recently I chatted with a bride who received five sets of pots and pans!).

Okay, so now you know that it’s okay to register for whatever you want (new lawn mower, hubby-to-be?). However, what you might not know is that it’s NOT OKAY to tell any guests about it. Yes, it seems totally backwards and the opposite of the statement that guests like giving gifts, but its etiquette (Emily Post again!).

It is impermissible for couples to share where they’ve registered. This means that this information cannot appear anywhere on the invitation or other notification about the ceremony and reception. Why? While it’s customary to give gifts, it’s not customary to expect them. You don’t expect guest you invite to you house for dinner Friday night to bring you a gift, do you?

Again, though, don’t worry. You or anyone else can share this information verbally after being asked. This is how most registry information is shared amongst guests.

The exception to the rule (and there always is one), is on bridal shower invitations. This exception exists because the purpose of a shower is to “shower” the couple with gifts. Therefore, at these events, gift giving is expected.

So go ahead and register away. Whatever type of registry fits your needs or personality, guests will appreciate you providing them with direction.