Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #9: The Registry

Regardless of whether anything is actually purchased off it, setting up a wedding registry really is fantastic fun! Having my very own barcode-gun-in-hand-moment was definitely in the top five of wedding planning experiences that I was excited to have. And when we saw that O.live Chemistry of Living was one of the stores that the Bespoke Wedding Registry worked with we immediately knew that we wanted to register with them. Not only were the items that Laura from Bespoke Wedding Registry showed us stunningly beautiful, but the ‘contribute towards’ feature that they offer on the website that they set up for you allows people to spend any amount they like whilst contributing to bigger ticket items. So we were able to choose freely, even putting things like an ice-cream machine and a Kitchen Aid grain mill on our list. :) And as it turns out, I am a gravy boat person. Since registering I have, on more than one occasion, found myself falling in love with all different kinds of beautiful gravy boats. Gravy boats, Mason Cash mixing bowls, Egyptian cotton sheets and singing kettles now make me excited in the way that stationery excites those people you see smiling at the all the books and pens in CNA (Justin). And Laura is AMAZING. She was able to find everything we asked her about – taking on new suppliers to make sure our gift registry was just perfect for us. Don’t these just make you so happy?

Sources: Spode gravy boat; Mason Cash mixing bowls; Le Crueset kettle; Mungo Design apron

A little registry research online enlightened me to the idea, however, that the topic of registries is one hotly debated, and is perhaps the angriest wedding topic I have ever come across. Registries, as it turns out, are socially tricky things and there are numerous different and rather strong opinions on the topic – message boards filled with sneering and snarky commentary.

To some the very idea of a registry offends greatly. Tacky, in bad taste, greedy, crass, and obnoxious are some of the descriptions I have seen by these internet users who suggest that the idea of asking for or referring to an expectation of gift giving is child-like and assuming. The opinion is that a registry implies disrespect for the guests taste or judgement; that one’s affections for the guest are not sufficient to make any acquisition on the special occasion meaningful, and display a lack of regard for the guests own thoughts and feelings on the topic of what gift they would like to give. For others a registry is considered perfectly wedding appropriate, but the method of how one communicates this registry to the guests is what determines the level of class of the hosts. And for others still – it is the nature of the actual gift requested that declares the acceptability of the registry.

In my short research on the topic I seemed to find a fair amount of convergence on the idea that word of mouth is considered the most acceptable way to communicate one’s registry and that it is also generally considered acceptable to include one’s registry details on a wedding website or blog. On the other hand, a rather serious faux pas would be to make any reference to the expectation of a gift on one’s invitations or stationery. Guests who choose to seek out this information may be allowed to find it by asking one’s parents or bridal party, or by searching the wedding website at their leisure, but this information is never to be offered without having been sought. Regarding the nature of the gift – requesting money or any non material proxies for money (honeymoon registries for example) it seems is still completely off the table according to mainstream etiquette, with the discussion of money and costs at all being regarded as taboo.

The other side of this debate mocks the etiquette which requires a guest to bring a gift to an event, and then requires the host to fane ignorance that any gift might be forthcoming. They appear to consider the practice disingenuous and find the roundabout route of finding helpful information both unnecessary and frustrating – preferring upfront honesty from a couple as to what they actually need. For this side of the debate the inclusion of a registry is considered helpful and considerate and a way for guests to feel good about being a part of the couple starting their new life together. It is a way for those who enjoy giving gifts to know that they getting the couple something they actually need or at the very least would really love. On this side of the pond monetary requests are deemed understandable, expected even, for a young couple starting out – and many are happy to be a part of helping them start their lives together in this way.

So essentially my research concluded that when it comes to registries you cannot really win. It appears to be one of those topics in which one is simply best led by one’s own feel of the situation to make the judgement call that you feel most happy with. Go with your gut, with what sits best with you, and with what works best for you and your guests. Deviations from any one person’s opinion may set criticism raging on the internet, but the people who matter – the ones actually coming to your wedding – are the people who love you. I simply can’t imagine these special people being too overly fussed by the do or do nots of registries as long as they are treated with respect and love, as ends in themselves, and not as the means to the acquisition of anything.

I love buying and making people gifts. Gift giving has always been very special in our home and I think I enjoy giving gifts a fair helping more than the next person because of it. I try and take note of every “ooh I love that” and verbalised wish and get all sorts of joy out of searching for the perfect thing or creating something that I know will make someone I love feel special. Some people like to bring gifts and find it helpful to be guided. But we are under no illusions that travelling to our wedding is without its costs and the last thing we want is for people to feel burdened by the thought of having to spend more. On the contrary, we would like all our guests to feel happy, loved, welcome and catered for. And so what we have tried to do with the registry section on our blog is to simply provide some information. What would be helpful, what we would enjoy, what we would like – in forms that cost money but also in forms that cost thought instead. We also have tried our very best to communicate to our guests that no gift is greater than their presence at our wedding. What we would love most would be to see them at our wedding and for them to share in our joy – to be able to look into the reception and thank them in person for their presence in our lives. A moment to treasure, and no small gift in itself.

Where do you stand on the registry debate? Let us know in the comments! Next time, Candice is dreaming of her honeymoon…
The series so far: The Proposal | The Inspiration | The Venue | The Cake | The Flower Girls | The Dress | The Details | The Rehearsal Dinner