Skipping The Money Laundering Step

by admin on June 23, 2010

I just received a wedding invitation in the mail that directed guests to check the couple’s wedding website for updates and details. Hmm, OK. Some wedding websites include cute stories about the couple or photos, so it’s worth a look.

I go to the website, and it contains a “Registry” section. Not my fave, but fine, let me see what the bride and groom are asking for…perhaps they’re asking for an item I planned to buy them anyway. “We are registered at DenseJungle.com, BedroomandBathroomCrap.com and BoxandBucket.com; click here to view the registries.”

When I clicked on the registries I was taken to the typical registry pages generated by these respective retailers. I think we all know what these website registries look like. For each item the bride and groom request, there’s a small thumbnail image of the item, the cost, the “Quantity Needed” (for example if they want bath towels, they might ask for 8), and then a tally of how many they’ve received so far, to avoid duplicates.

But to my surprise, the only item listed for purchase at all three retailers was a gift card! So, rather than walking through the big box stores and scanning in sheets, towels, dishes, etc, the couple has opted for the ultimate combination of greediness AND laziness by providing a single entry at all three sites: “$50 Gift Card; Quantity Needed: 20.”

All three sites have a big fat ZERO listed under “Quantity Received,” so apparently I’m not the only person who’s appalled.      0608-10

Well, at least they are not fooling people by registering for gifts they do not want so they can be returned for cash, i.e. registry money laundering.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

josie June 23, 2010 at 7:10 am

While I think this couple is incredibly tacky in their request, I do believe LAZY is the key word. They obviously want merchandise from these stores or they would of just asked for cash. So they must think people are too stupid to be able to purchase the exact periwinkle set of bath towels that they want. Or maybe they are being concientious and saving you the trouble of shopping/wrapping/transporting the gift. Hmmmm, maybe I’d save them the trouble of a thank you note and skip the gift. Tempting….

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jenna June 23, 2010 at 7:38 am

See, I read this and honestly felt a return of the old “no matter what you do, someone is going to be offended” trope.

Some people get annoyed by “cute stories and pictures” and think couples should have business-only websites that post important event information. Others think that they’re only “worth a look” if they have cute stories and pictures.

Some people get annoyed by registries. Others get annoyed if you don’t register. Still others think you should register but only put stuff that people “traditionally” ask for (even if you don’t want it). Some people are annoyed by the lack of originality in such traditional items. Still others just don’t get it that you may not register because you actually do not want anything, or you really do just need cash but have enough stuff (as long as you don’t ask for cash, but simply do not register and tell people you have everything you need so please just come and enjoy the day, I think this is fine), or get offended somehow if what you want is cash, as though they can dictate what you should want.

Maybe the couple really has odd taste – I like mismatched Japanese-fired dishes (you know, brown on the outside, brightly colored translucent finishes on the inside, or odd drippings or swirls – but the key is I like them MISMATCHED – different shapes, patterns and colors). You can’t really register for one of each dish – well, you can, but most places don’t even sell such dishes, and people would probably be annoyed by it. So for someone like me, a gift card really would be best. Maybe the couple is the same way. Not all of us want matchy-matchy stuff.

(We didn’t register – we live abroad and…well, long story. Basically, we live abroad and aren’t settling down anytime soon, and anyway we live together and have what we need).

So, honestly, yes, it does seem kind of rude at first, but I can’t really feel any ire toward the couple. I feel bad for people who are pushed into registering for stuff they don’t want because people are getting all offended that they didn’t register.

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Alexis June 23, 2010 at 8:59 am

Good Lord! I hope the response to this as-yet-unanswered money grubbing teaches them a lesson about manners and greed! However, I’m guessing they’ll miss the implied message and complain how no-one got them anything on their registry.

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Lizajane June 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

I think it would have been better not to register at all. Registering for gift cards is just strange.

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kingshearte June 23, 2010 at 10:46 am

When we registered, the first item on our list was a gift card. Not because we wanted any; but because it was automatic with that company’s registry system.

Maybe this couple really just likes those stores, and would be happy with anything from them, and so registered there, but didn’t specify anything, and the gift cards were automatically added? Although if that were the case, I would think they could just state that they’re particularly fond of these stores, and not have registries there at all… I don’t know; my Libra self tries to give people the benefit of the doubt even if I have to reach for it sometimes.

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LauraK June 23, 2010 at 11:42 am

This is why my fiance and I decided not to register. There are too many ways to offend everyone, and it just feels like I’m expecting gifts and don’t trust the taste of my family and friends (which I don’t, but whatever).

That being said, I agree that registering for gift cards is ridiculous.

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mommaknowsbest June 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Do people even really bring gifts anymore to a wedding? I rarely see anyone carting anything around anymore except cards, which I assume contain cash/checks/gift cards. personally I like the idea of a gift that was thought about before purchasing, but I think lots of people don’t want to bother with getting a real gift and would rather give money or gift cards anyway. heck, I think that’s what xmas is all about nowadays too—just little gift cards in cutesy little boxes under the tree. so really, in this day and time, asking fo ra gift card is quite common and not even thought about much.

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Andromeda June 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I’m not a fan of registries, but then I thought, what if my parents have friends who don’t know me well? However, I thought registries were for things like towels, coffee pots, and useful things. I don’t think gift cards are unuseful, but 20 giftcards at $50 does seem greedy and excessive.

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Candra June 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I have to say, I agree with jenna. Good grief, you were annoyed that there was registry information on their wedding website? If you haven’t checked, that’s where all the “wedding gurus” are telling you to put it nowadays. Sure, registering for gift cards is strange, but it’s certainly not appalling and at least it saves the trouble of wrapping and shipping. Or maybe they just hadn’t gotten around to registering for other items??

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admin July 10, 2010 at 8:59 am

This wedding guru advises her brides, and everyone reading this website, that it is OK to register for wedding gifts but the link on the wedsite should not be glaringly obvious. For example, a small icon of a wedding bell in the corner of the page that links to the registry information. It’s there if someone asks for your registry information but it is not plainly obvious that you are equating your guests’ attendance at your wedding with the receipt of material goods and money.

Registry information should always be “pull” information, i.e. your guests ask for it, and never “push” information, i.e. putting in front of your guests whether they want to know or not.

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Colleen June 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I can’t imagine heading to a store with a $1,000 in GC in $50 increments. Actually I can’t imagine being the poor cashier handling that check out.

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Barbara June 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I know I’m hopelessly old-fashioned, but I personally think it’s terribly tacky to mention gifts /registry whatsoever in an invitation.

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Liz June 23, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Ok, I agree that registering for gift cards is rather odd. I was taken aback when I saw that as an option on the usual registry sites. But being someone who is planning their wedding right now, I’d have to agree with jenny, we just can’t win. When I was young (about 5 I think) I remember seeing a list of items, a soon to be married couple needed to complete their home, pinned up on a bulletin board. I thought that was terribly tacky and didn’t understand how you could possibly request certain things for your gift. A gift is a gift, you’re supposed to be thankful for whatever you get. That was 20 years ago, and now I understand the reason for registries (albeit, times have changed a bit and they have become more common place…or expected even).

One of the first things people asked me after “when’s the date?!” was “WHERE ARE YOU REGISTERED?!”. So now I’m confused…was I not supposed to register? Is it selfish to register? Am I breaching etiquette by registering? BTW, there needs to be a book on etiquette for weddings if there isn’t already. I was SO lost before I found this site (LOVE IT)! Rest assured, we’ll be thankful for whatever we receive, and never under any circumstance is a gift required to participate in our wedding.

We have one of those websites. It’s main purpose is to give people more information on the wedding location. Lodging, direction, things to do in the area, that sort of thing. But yes, we have a registry page, and yes, there’s links to 3 registries. So here again…am I breaking etiquette? Is it wrong to give people a list of items that would be useful to you if they want to give you a gift (wait…isn’t that was we did as kids wrote our Wish Lists around Christmas time)?

I did discover from this website that it is rude to put your registries on/with your invitation before it was too late and for that, I’m very grateful! I ended up being far more clueless about wedding etiquette than I thought!

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LovleAnjel June 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Liz– there are TONS of wedding etiquette books– head off the the weddings section of your local mega-bookstore. As for wedding websites, we never linked to registries, we just listed stores (this was after a hurried disagreement between my future husband and I about whether we should list them (him) or not list them and wait until someone asks to let them know (me)). Compromise is the soul of a happy wedding.

My husband’s family is one of those which gets offended if someone doesn’t register. In fact, some of them were offended that I didn’t include those horrendous registry cards with the invites! (And some of them ignored the registries anyway and got us awesome gifts we never thought of!)

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Erin June 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Actually, it probably means that they haven’t gotten around to registering yet, but set up an initial account online. Until the couple actually goes into the store or sits online and adds stuff to their registry, all it will show is a gift card. (When my now husband and I registered, we signed up online first to make it easier when we went in. Of course, when we did that, all that showed was a gift card since the stores add that automatically.)

They probably should have checked that before they sent out anything with their website on it, but unless it ends up really close to their wedding, they should still be given the benefit of the doubt on this one.

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Chocobo! June 23, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Barbara — it wasn’t mentioned in the invitation. It was mentioned on the wedding website, which was mentioned on the invitation “for more information” — the website often contains hotel rates, local attractions, more detailed directions, and other extra information that may not fit in a single invitation envelope.

Personally I don’t see any problem with listing the registry information on the website. It’s not directly on the invitations, and not everyone has to go to the website if they don’t want to.

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Nicolette June 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Isn’t $50 quite a lot to be asking each person to spend? I mean, shouldn’t their contribution be up to their discretion? However, I do think it’s very smart to just request cash..but there’s a right and wrong way to go about doing so. I am in a bridal party, and the bride created a cash gift fund on MyRegistry.com. I thought it was a very tasteful way of saying “hey, let’s be serious…the only thing I really want is $$$”.

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gramma dishes June 23, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Liz, I think times have changed a lot since the fifties and sixties where most weddings featured a bride and groom who had lived in the area all their lives. They were also likely to be quite young and to be moving directly from their respective parents’ homes into an empty apartment together. Hence, they needed EVERYthing!!

It’s different today with most couples marrying slightly older and also having lived independently (away from Mom and Dad) or even together before the wedding. So they’ve accumulated some stuff — sometimes two of many things — “his” and “hers”. ;-)

In addition, many people who love the couple and can hardly contain their joy over the wedding about to take place live far away and have absolutely NO idea what the couple really still needs!

So I think registries are great! They enable the people who love the bride and groom to find things they know the couple not only actually need, but will also like. And most registries are very careful to included items from all financial categories, i.e. a $5.00 salt and pepper set all the way up to some things that may be a lot pricier for those who want to go that direction.

Registries were INTENDED to be useful and helpful. I’m grateful for them! I know that I can have the fun of selecting a gift within my price range which is not only appropriate, but truly wanted. It’s much better than having the new couple have to choose one of fourteen lovely toasters and having to go through the trouble of sadly returning the others.

So, as other posters have mentioned, some people like to gripe about registries, but others of us are delighted with the idea!!! Whichever way you choose to go, there will be those who will think it is wonderful and there MAY be a few people who think it’s tacky. You can’t please everyone. So please yourselves!

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kero June 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Am I the only person who does not find this tacky/greedy/rude/lazy/thoughtless? Honestly, I would be quite delighted to get someone a gift card instead of a gift, even for a special occassion like weddings. There, I said it.

What if they only wanted a living room set that cost $$$$$? Obviously nobody is going to get it because it’s too expensive. But if they pooled all the gift cards together so it makes $$$$$ then they can get their couch set. I’m not offended if they do this–it is better than the pretense of liking my gift but then returning it for money. However, this is a no win situation as people have different views on gifting.

I don’t know what they want or what they have, I don’t know their style–gift cards save me the trouble (and money) of buying something stupid they pretend to care about. And I think it evens the field for everybody because if there were registries which pointed out what they wanted, all of the affordable gifts would already be checked off and what is left are the expensive gifts. At least that was in my experiences. In that case, do I really want to risk it on something not on their registery that they won’t even like? I don’t think it is greed but rather convenience for themselves and for the guests.

A gift may be “thoughtful” but if it is “useless” then…..well, it’s going to go to the garage or donation box from me. Like the pile of teddy bear I once had……I hardly think it’s sincere since it is almot like the “go-to” gift. Gift cards, in my defense, can be considered a thoughtful gift (as long as it is for a place they actually like).

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Dina June 23, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Registries on the wedsite is kind of de rigeur these days….

I’d be curious to see where they were holding the wedding. If they’re having a destination wedding or a wedding in a far-away hometown of one or both parties, I could see asking for gift cards because they’re a lot easier to transport… My partner and I in a similar predicament (which is pretty much unavoidable as I’m an American expatriate living in Australia… having the wedding in Australia means I don’t want people to feel obliged to carry gifts with them, having the wedding in the States means it’s nigh impossible to get them back home without excess baggage fees) and we’re probably going the honeymoon registry/charity registry/alternative registry route.

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Shayna June 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I had a registry, at two different stores. One was a little more higher-end, while the other was more low-budget. We didn’t want anyone to feel as though they were “required” to buy us an expensive gift. We did NOT advertise our registry in the invitations. We decided to go ahead with a registry because one of the most commonly asked questions about a wedding/birthday/Christmas is always “What would you like?” or “What do you need?” Most people also don’t want to end up giving you a duplicate of something that you don’t need a duplicate of (ie. a toaster, coffee maker, etc.) So to help our friends with that, we did the registry. Most of our guests gave us cash. Those that didn’t gave us something from our registry, or an item similar to one on our registry, purchased from a different store.

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PrincessSimmi June 23, 2010 at 5:57 pm

My aunt and uncle are getting married soon and chose not to register. They prefer money, gift cards, because they already have almost everything. And no, I’m not giving them money. Why? I want to give them something personal, something they will remember. I’m giving them a Waterford crystal picture frame with a photo of them kissing at their engagement party. Is this their faux pas for not registering? No. Is it my faux pas for giving a gift off the registry? No. It only becomes a faux pas when the couple comes to you and says “our gift registry is at ______ and we still need _____ can you get it for us?”

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Me June 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm

The gift conundrum isn’t really that difficult – a wedding isn’t Christmas and getting married doesn’t automatically qualify you to receive thousands of dollars worth of gifts. Of course you’ll have the guests who insist upon giving you a gift so when they ask you can say, “Oh, we’re registered here,” or, “Well, we really need linen,” or even, “We don’t really need anything but a small cash gift or gift card would be appreciated”, and that’s okay because they’ve asked – you’re not presuming that every single guest is going to give you something and therefore they need to be instructed on what to get. This becomes especially tiresome when you have to travel to the wedding or buy a costume (yes, I’ve had to buy costumes for themed weddings), and the couple still expect a gift – yeah, the $500 I shelled out for plane tickets makes my presence your present.

I actually set up a registry for my engagement party – it’s the tradition on my dads side of the family (there’s 7 of them) to pool their money and buy one big item, such as a full crockery set, so we kids always get together a gift list for big events like milestone birthdays, engagements, etc. I never intended for any of my other guests to know about the registry, but I had to bail on a night out with my bridesmaids to set it up so I had to tell them what we were doing. They ended up buying from the registry themselves, and telling our friends about it, so this is proof that even when a registry isn’t advertised, it still works!

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myfamily June 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Or, they could have set up the registries and not had a chance to put anything on the registries; all those sites automatically put gift certificates on there. I know a friend of mine had started her registry at Target but hadn’t put anything on it yet; she didn’t go back for a few weeks and only went when she heard that people had found her registry on-line and it looked like all she had registered for was gift certificates.

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Wilson June 23, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Most registries give guest the option of giving a gift card in any denomination. This makes it easy for guests who are unsure of what to get or prefer not to carry an item to the wedding.

Not registering for actual gifts is very odd, but setting a specific denomination for the cards is just plain rude.

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PrincessSimmi June 24, 2010 at 2:40 am

Actually, can I just add, when you know someone- really know someone- you should be able to pick a gift that would be appropriate and within your price range. There just isn’t enough communication nowadays.

For example, certain family members love flowers. Nan loves swarovski crystal. Dad loves anything with cars or motorbikes involved. Grandad loves liquer chocolate. Ok maybe not the best examples but you get the idea. Or ask someone who knows them. My Mum Deb would tell anyone who asked: “buy something for Simmi that involves cats and she’ll love you forever”. Maybe talk to the mother of the bride or groom, OP, as you may find they just haven’t had time to register properly as a previous commenter stated.

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SHOEGAL June 24, 2010 at 8:11 am

I registered – and was sort of strong armed into it by my mother who thought it was a good idea. I married a man who like myself, had lived independently for quite some time. We didn’t need or want anything to set up a home. I found it to be rather difficult – walking around picking items I didn’t really need or want – and then discovering later that I was criticized for the prices of the items I chose and the items themselves. I really wish I didn’t ask for anything because as I found out later – there were things that I needed and wanted when we moved in together after the wedding. I wish I would have had the cash to run out and leisurely go shopping and eventually pick out something I’d like. I usually shop at unique stores that don’t have registries – and would have found something I really loved and wanted then when I acutally knew what that was. How was I to know what that was beforehand??? I agree with Jenna – this poor couple was doomed if they did and doomed if they didn’t. You just can’t please everyone.

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Meg June 24, 2010 at 8:32 am

I have a registry linked to my website. As far as I can tell, that’s the purpose of a website…give directions, times, things to do in the area (linked to golf courses, zoos, museums in my area) and hotel information (we have a set of rooms set aside for my party) and my registries. I am registered at two places. I will not include any registry information in my invitation, as etiquette demands (and it’s super-tacky), but I want my guests to have an easy way to access my registries.

Having said that, I think it’s weird that they only registered for gift cards. Either don’t register or put gifts on there. They might not have had a chance to get registered yet. When we registered at a home goods store, they put on gift cards. I think there might even be a $200 card on there. Not sure. Anyway, I think most people are going to give registry gifts at the bridal shower. Trust me, people want to know what you want.

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gramma dishes June 24, 2010 at 10:52 am

Is there even the remotest possibility that the couple DID in fact choose some items, but didn’t know they had to turn it in at the registration desk after making their selections?? Just a thought.
I’m guessing the stores themselves began the list with the $50 gift card entry. Too bad they didn’t make other denominations available too. ($10, $20, etc.)

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Bint June 24, 2010 at 11:19 am

Asking for three grand’s worth of gift cards does sound greedy to me but perhaps they have a lot more money and think this is normal.

I don’t think anyone has the right to be offended if you have a registry and/or would prefer money, as long as *you wait to be asked what you would like*! It isn’t rude to have a preference, and it isn’t rude to set up a gift list. The only rudeness is in telling guests what you want before they’ve asked you (note: clicking on a wedding website’s giftlist information counts as asking).

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Xtina June 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

A wedding website isn’t a bad idea, as long as it contains useful info about directions, locations, events, and stuff about the B & G…not just a registry listing, I mean. I don’t have a problem with registries; I had one myself because I got married not long after college and I truly didn’t have anything….husband didn’t have much either. Plus, my family is traditional and they expected to buy us gifts from a registry, while my husband’s side mostly gave us money. I never advertised the fact I had a registry unless someone specifically asked about it. I had no complaints whatsoever about anything we received and I was quite happy to have gotten anything at all, and some of our most memorable and cherished gifts were things that were “off-registry”. I appreciate people’s efforts and collective tastes in gifts–life is boring when everything is completely matchy-matchy!!

Anyway…back to the topic at hand. I wouldn’t have bothered to regitser at all if there wasn’t something specific I needed. All those requests for gift cards was indeed rather tacky (especially stating a specific dollar amount and number of cards they expected to receive!). In this day and age, seems like most people go the easy way with gift cards or cash anyway–probably having no registry would have served about the same purpose in conveying that message.

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NotCinderell June 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

What’s the point of having a wedding website if you don’t include registry information on it? If registering isn’t rude, how come disseminating the information of where you’re registered is rude? I realize that it’s a bit much to include the info in your wedding invites (though I find it less offensive in shower invites) but I think this is getting a bit ridiculous. Either we need to declare the registry rude in and of itself, or we need to make it easy for people to get the info about it.

I didn’t register for my wedding or for either of my children’s births, but I do appreciate, if someone *is* going to register, that they make the information on where they’re registered easily accessible to the people that they’re inviting. I always buy from the registry for weddings (and almost never do for babies) and I like to know what people are asking for.

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TheBardess June 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm

@mommaknowsbest- In my experience, no, people do not bring gifts directly to the wedding, at least, not large ones. Generally, if one brings a gift to the wedding itself, it is something small and unobtrusive- a card, check, etc. If one buys the couple a larger gift, such as something off the registry, that is generally not brought to the wedding, and is instead sent directly to the couple either before or after the wedding date.

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Meredith June 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

While registering for gift cards may be a bit strange, I agree that is a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation for the couple. I recently got married and set up small registries for guest convenience (included on website not invite) but kept get asked to register for more stuff when they started to run thin. But I refused to register for random items I don’t need just to fill out a registry – we had a variety of items at all price points (some less than $10).

Besides, I don’t think $50 per guest is an unreasonable amount to register for. Any guest could choose to give a check or a gift card of lesser amount if they want and you don’t automatically deserve gifts. But we had many guests at our wedding (close friends) who drove less than 10 miles to get there, got drunk and had filet mignon at our expense, drove home (unfortunately, because of the drunk part) and didn’t even get us a card! So don’t say “our presence is your present” – if you are close enough to the couple to be invited, then you should give something, even something small. If you can’t or don’t want to give any gift (even a $10 spatula), you should refuse the invitation.

People talk about bridezillas these days but there are many guestzillas – people who bring uninvited children (we had 3 of these, no other children there), people who don’t give any gift even a card, people who feel slighted if a certain level of hospitality is not offered (open bar, sitdown dinner, breakfast the day after, accomodations for uninvited friends/dates/etc).

Give the poor stressed couple a break – your $50 gift probably does not equal the amount they spent on you but they invited you because they loved you and you’d be angered to have not been invited. Try to be generous with your thoughts at least rather than looking for faux pas and slights all around – after all, most people who get married do not have experience with coordinating a formal party for 200 and errors are to be expected!

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Brassmouse June 30, 2010 at 1:08 am

I think that the whole issue of gift giving/registry needs to be rethought. We almost always give cash now for a couple of reasons. A) All our intimate friends are already married. You know, the ones whose tastes we know well enough to buy a thoughtful gift for. Which means that we’re now on that magic list of “people we have to invite so we don’t offend mom/ dad/ grammy and grampa/ whoever else is shelling out large amounts of cash for this shindig.” B) With the economy the way it is, what I’m hearing more and more often when I ask the parent or member of the wedding party is: “Well, they’re registered at a couple of places, but they’re really hoping for enough cash for a down payment on their (insert large ticket item like condo/house/car).” I would FAR rather contribute to that than buy some tacky little knick knack that they’re going to admire for five minutes and have to dust for the rest of their lives. It tends to eliminate those annoying contribution drives at the reception as well. Haven’t seen one of those since the early ’90′s.

My two cents.

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marylouw July 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Color me old fashioned, but registries that include everything from wastebaskets to oriental rugs just seem tacky to me. When I got married, a bride only registered for china, silver and stemware. If any of those were out of the budget of the gift-giver, then you gave candle sticks or picture frames. A guest was supposed to know you well enough to know your taste, or know your mother well enough to ask her what color your bathroom was. To specify a particular item, like Frette 1000 thread count sheets in ice blue basketweave sent a clear message of a spoiled brat.

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Simone July 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Why would someone get offended by the content of someone else’s wedding website? Why would someone be annoyed that you didn’t register? Are these people so full of self entitlement that they think you should call them about every detail? I can’t be bothered to ask what you might like, why haven’t you told me yet?! Should you also pick out their outfit for them?

I accept that there is always a certain amount of angst surrounding a wedding with differences of opinion etc but as long as you are well mannered (and Me summed that up nicely) then hold your head high and let the rest of ‘em go to heck.

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peter July 6, 2010 at 2:30 am

My guess is that the couple wants to buy a few big-ticket items and they figure they can do it if people buy them enough gift cards in small increments to add up to one fat total.

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TheBardess July 6, 2010 at 8:56 am

@ Meredith: “if you are close enough to the couple to be invited, then you should give something, even something small. If you can’t or don’t want to give any gift (even a $10 spatula), you should refuse the invitation. ”

Really? Seriously? Honestly, I think you will find that that kind of entitled attitude does not get you very far here at EHell. Believe it or not, NO ONE is OBLIGATED to get you a gift for your oh-so-special wedding. Not even a $10 spatula. It’s nice if they do, but not wrong if they don’t, and I really hate this attitude that if you are not able/willing to give a material gift, you should stay home. It is selfish, materialistic, and prioritizes things above people. And would you really exclude someone who wanted to wish you well and share in this important occasion with you from your celebration because they were financially UNABLE to give you a present? “Sorry, Aunt Doris, I know it’s important to you to be there for the wedding of your only niece, but since you literally cannot afford to honor me with a gift, I’d rather you stay home?” Nice.

Guess what? At my wedding, there were several people who did not give my DH and I gifts. And you know what? I couldn’t even tell you which of my guests those were, because I simply didn’t care. We truly did invite everyone we did for no other reason than that we loved them and wanted them to share with us in our joy as we started our life together. We honestly did value the “presence” of each or our guests more than any “present” they did (or did not) choose to give us. It would never once have occurred to me to tell a guest that, since they did not bring us a gift, they should have just stayed home.

And of course they had filet mignon “at your expense.” You were the host! That’s what being the host means- that you provide other people with food and entertainment AT YOUR EXPENSE, and with no expectation of being “reimbursed,” either with money or presents.

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Lisah July 7, 2010 at 10:18 pm

@ TheBardess: Beautifully said.

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Liutgard July 23, 2010 at 7:52 am

I kind of have a quandary myself- when is it appropriate or not to register, and what is it appropriate to register for? I’m 45, long divorced, kids are raised. My fiance is 46, grad student, no kids. We each have a set of china (mine was from my ‘hope chest’, his was part of an inheritance), I have family silver, we each have a mish-mash of crystal. We don’t really have ‘stuff’, but we do have a fair amount of kitchen equipment (both foodies). We could use towels and bedding though. And I’m always desperate for bookcases (I’m a historian) and quite a number of linear feet here where I live now actually belong to my roommate.

My mother says that registering is for young couples first starting out, as we are adults and have been for some time, we shouldn’t register. Grandma (who used to work in the china department at May Company) says registering is for China, Crystal, Silver. Period.

Our friends are after us to register, and several of them have said that really, we shouldn’t be shy about wanting to have nice things, as we’ve gone for years without (me from being a single parent, him from years in underpaid educational jobs and now grad school). I would never ask for gift cards. But our friends want to give us thoughtful gifts.

Are we too old and does a previous marriage (long ago) preclude registering for stuff? Is it selfish or money-grubbing? Is it really ok to want towels to replace the threadbare ones?

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Simone July 25, 2010 at 1:20 am

@Liutgard – I’m certainly not Miss Manners, but fwiw I think if your friends have been ASKING you to register then you are definitely into the safe “pull” territory Miss Jeanne mentioned above.

Perhaps you could register for a few nice things and the next time your friends ASK, say “Well actually, since you mentioned it earlier, we did register at such and such if you think that is something that would help you” or something along those lines. If they don’t ask, don’t tell.

Or, again if they ASK, just say “Thanks so much for wanting to buy us a gift, but what we really want is more bookcases, perhaps you could club together/ build us some/ give us a contribution towards them. It would really help make our house feel like a home if we didn’t have teetering piles/boxes of books everywhere”.

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Michelle Prieur August 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Liutgard, if you are both in your forties and he’s a grad student and your kids are grown, I don’t see any reason why you can’t afford new towels on your own. NO one is entitled to new stuff at any wedding, let alone a second one after you’ve established a household long ago. Yes, new things are nice, but your family and friends are not obligated to provide them. Woe is me, we’ve gone years without them, waaa waa waaaa.

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Princesssimmi August 16, 2010 at 4:34 am

Can I just ask, where would you find a $10 spatula anyway? I thought they were all $2-$3.

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HannaLee August 22, 2010 at 2:11 am

The latest wedding I have attended offended me by their registry. I understood that both the bride and groom came from families that were not poor by any means, but also not rich. The groom was 19, a college dropout and about to leave with the army; he was also my best friend. The bride was 17, hadn’t graduated high school yet but was planning on college. The couple had been dating less than a month. I was not in agreement with the wedding being so fast, but it wasn’t my place to judge so I accepted the invitation and followed up looking at the registry. The couple had registered for 30+ items, but NOT ONE ITEM was priced lower than $200. I love my friend dearly, but I am a college student working 2 jobs and BARELY making it by. I told him before the wedding that I was not going to be able to afford anything on the registry and he told me that it was fine, that any present/donation was welcomed. I found a mutual friend (who is in a worse financial situation than I) and bought a nice card, included $50 each and a hand written letter (each). I felt like it was more than generous. Apparently the groom’s family did not agree.

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gramma dishes August 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

HannaLee — the joint gift with your friend was perfect for the occasion you described, even perhaps a bit overly generous and shame on the groom’s family. They were rude to express disappointment.

Luitgard — while I would NEVER disagree with your Grandma (and I believe that at one time she was right), many newly married couples today don’t even WANT china, crystal or real ‘silver’ware! They need practical stuff and that’s what is generally on their registry lists. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. (And it enables them to add things like cute salt and pepper shakers they’d really love for about $10, enabling those like HannaLee to find something the new couple would really like that’s actually affordable for the giver.)

If I were invited to a wedding and knew the bride and groom (whatever age) really needed towels, I’d be overjoyed to get them some towels. My only question would be “What color is your bathroom?”

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lkb August 23, 2010 at 5:42 am

I “get” the controversy over registries. In the OP, I was only offended by the request for 20 cards at $50 each. I was married more than 20 years ago and wedding websites did not exist then (though we did have indoor plumbing! LOL!) but I’d be appalled if I thought a bridal couple were checking off how many cards they had received. I envision the following scenario. “Look dear, we got a lovely ________ (worth more than $100).” “Yeah, honey, but we only got 12 of the gift cards we specifically asked for.” If the gift card request was automatic by the store, wouldn’t it have been set to 0 or 1 (Again, I’m ignorant ), but 20 doesn’t seem to be an automatic number.

Princessimi: As far as I know spatulas are only $1 or so. But I remember seeing in Real Simple magazine an article on ice cream scoopers “you must have” and one or two of them were something like $25. (How is THAT making life Real Simple? But I digress, sorry.)

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Dazee September 18, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I am always torn when it comes to registry issues. To registry or not to registry. Pretty much it boils down to people don’t like being told what to do, especially when they already have an idea of how it ‘should’ go or how they want it to go. But it’s not always possible to do so. And when you tell them whatever it is doesn’t fit into those expectations it’s offense abound, usually for both parties involved. The gift giver doesn’t like being told what to give and the gift getter doesn’t like being told that they can’t ask for what they want.

I, personally, have no problem with the idea of registries and take them more as a ‘wish list’ then a requirement. I can be bad (or awesome.. there seems to be no gray area for me) at knowing what to give someone for a gift and I would feel horrible if I gave them something they turned out to really hate (even if they never let me know, it’s a thought that haunts). If you don’t believe in registries then don’t have one when you get married and don’t look at them when you’re invited to someone else’s and get your own gift. With that though, you do run risk of getting them something they’ve already gotten, something they don’t need, or possibly something they don’t want. Yes yes, they should accept it gracefully either way, it’s the thought that counts, but it’s still money wasted that could have gone toward something else.

I, myself, don’t care for gift cards as a gift.. when I give one, I feel like I’m saying ‘I don’t know you well enough to know what to really get you, so here.’ but I don’t feel that way when I get one… unless it’s to a place I don’t like… For this specific situation, there’s too many ‘perhaps’. Perhaps they weren’t sure what they wanted and felt gift cards would give them the option to decide later. Perhaps they don’t need little things like towels and plates but bigger things like sofas and dinning tables and the gift cards could be put toward that. Perhaps they wanted people to avoid over spending on a gift and felt this was a thoughtful gesture (whether it was or not is a completely different point). Perhaps they are just completely uncouth and don’t care. The list of arguments and counter arguments could go on forever.

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CherryBlossom October 3, 2010 at 7:44 pm

@Meredith ~ You aren’t by chance the author behind the post ‘Maybe They Should Stay Home… Far, Far Away From the Ungraciousness’ are you? If not maybe you two can get together and commiserate. I believe TheBardess neatly summed up the reaction you’re likely to get from everyone else. Also 10 miles is a very short distance to travel for a wedding, chances are that in just showing up many guests do spend more to see you than you spend to feed and entertain them.

@Liutgard ~ Oh let your friends buy you some gifts, and don’t give a hang what anyone else thinks! They’re ASKING, so obviously you’re not pushing it on them, I think it would be unkind to refuse a gift from someone who genuinely wants to give it. If it’ll make you and your friends happy then I don’t see any faux pas, and congratulations!

Personally I’m with those who say the retailers throw the gift cards into an otherwise empty registry by default, I’ve seen that done before, though one wonders why the link to the registry was on their website if they had not filled it. I do think that collecting a few gift cards to purchase an item that would otherwise make an unlikely gift (a sofa, for instance) is a clever idea, but only if other options are available as well for those who want to give something more individual and would be offended by the giving of anything else. Nothing but gift cards does hint at some laziness.

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Kai October 4, 2010 at 6:06 am

Michelle Prieur, I’m a little surprised by your hostility towards Liutgard. She said in her post that it was her friends who were insisting she register, not that she was the one who wanted to. She was asking if it was alright to do so since her friends are trying to push her into it. Yet the way you spoke to her implied that she is trying to harass people for gifts.

“Woe is me, we’ve gone years without them, waaa waa waaaa.” That comment seemed quite insulting and even childish to me. As said, from reading Liutgard’s post, she only ever said ‘we could use a few towels and bedding’ not that she was demanding others buy them for her.

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Adica November 17, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I really don’t see why there’s all the controversy behind registries. I mean, first someone says that registries are only for china, silverware, and crystal *only.* Then another person gets upset because the china, silverware, and crystal they happen to like is out of their price range, and OMG how selfish could a person be not to include every price range?! So then the person registers for all sorts of things to accomodate every pocketbook, and another person complains, “How could they register for so much stuff!? How greedy and rude for them to dictate what people should buy!” And then God forbid if you put a labelled link on your website to any registries without them having to beg the bride’s mother for the secret code to find the link (nevermind if you’re the groom’s relative and barely know the bride’s name, let alone her mother’s–no one ever seems to mention that scenario; the groom gets to invite his family and friends, too).

Plus, everyone agrees that you’re not required to get something off the registry. So why do people who believe that also get so worked up when they don’t find what they want to buy on the registry? Just buy something you want to buy that’s off the registry. No big deal. No one’s forcing you to look at it. Yes, we’ve read about some couples who use registries as a “Get me only this, this, and this” list and throw a hissy fit when they don’t get exactly what they want, but it’s not the registry that causes that. They’d be just as selfish without a registry.

As far as the OP goes, maybe that couple, like others, was pressured into registering and just couldn’t think of anything specific to register for and just decided that gift cards were generic enough (or any of the other scenarios listed above). Perhaps the OP should have called the bride’s mother and asked if they wanted anything other than gift cards before jumping to conclusions. I’m sure if the website had said, “These are just ideas of stores we like,” the OP would have posted about how rude it was for them to think that they were even getting a gift!

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