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Wedding Wednesday – The Tackiness of Gift Registries Has Invaded India

With sadness I must report that the uniquely greedy, ungrateful US wedding practice of controlling the gifts a wedding couple believe they are entitled to receive has migrated to India. Weep with me fellow Ehellions.


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  • Mustard March 15, 2017, 7:37 am

    I’m surprised that so many guests went along with this! An expensive ad. for wedding registries.

    • Kat March 15, 2017, 4:30 pm

      I’m 100% certain that the entire “wedding” was scripted fiction.

  • stacey March 15, 2017, 8:15 am

    There are already problems of a more serious nature. Brides are sometimes marginalized or threatened with violence if their families don’t provide acceptable dowry. This facet is sad, but hardly the pinnacle of offense.

  • Anonymous March 15, 2017, 8:36 am

    Another way to “avoid useless wedding gifts” is to simply not have a big wedding, and go shopping instead…..with your own money, that you would have spent on the wedding.

    • keloe March 16, 2017, 11:52 am

      I don’t think it’s really an option in India. There are a lot of traditions about weddings there and they are not the same as European or American – it’s really hard to compare and definitely pointless to just judge a single aspect by how it appears to _us_.

      • koolchicken March 19, 2017, 7:06 pm

        Can I second this? Not every culture has the one day thing with ceremony and party all at once. For some, it takes days. That’s a huge expense for the couple and their families. Not only that, they may need to comply regardless of income. Just look at the book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Weddings, like those in the book, actually happened. It took days to get through the ceremony and the family was expected to provide many gifts and food. Some of these customs have continued to modern day. I know someone who’s wedding took three days. At one point the guests left to go take naps and get a bite to eat at home/their hotel rooms.

        I eloped. I feel lucky that was an option for me. For my wedding I’d have been required to get a second dress and do a tea ceremony (husband is Chinese). As I’m very tall and have broad shoulders renting a dress wound’t have been an option. Skipping the ceremony would not have been an option either (if we had a wedding) and all these “little things” add up!

  • Dippy March 15, 2017, 8:42 am

    I for one, love wedding registries. I don’t want to have to guess what you want. Makes it so much easier for the shower.

    For weddings where I live (Chicago), a cash gift is the norm.

    • AnaMaria March 15, 2017, 3:59 pm

      Maybe it’s different for midwesterners, but I cannot figure out how wedding-gifting would work without a registry. A newly married couple have enough to do without having to return useless wedding gifts, and how are guests supposed to know what to buy unless they are exceptionally close to the bride and/or groom and know their tastes, decorating schemes,etc? Not to mention, how are they to know what the couple already has so they don’t end up with a pile of duplicates?

      • Dee March 15, 2017, 10:47 pm

        A wedding does not require guests to give gifts. It’s simply a ceremony where two people legally join together. Gifts do not need to be mentioned because they are not to be expected. If a couple is “gifted” with presents they should be grateful for whatever it is, just as they would be if it was any other occasion (that is, if they aren’t the entitled sort already). There is no need for guests to worry about duplicates. It is not the guests’ job to worry about gifts and it is not the couple’s job to worry about guests giving gifts. The minute a registry is compiled is the moment gifts are expected. That’s tacky and totally rude.

        • Willynilly March 16, 2017, 10:09 am

          This might come as a shock to you, but some guests *want* to give couples wedding gifts. And they want those gifts to not just be appreciated because they were gifts, but because they were actually items the couple want and will use. I love to give a wedding gift – it makes me feel like I am investing in their family’s success.

          I did not care at all if I got gifts at my wedding, our goal with the wedding (as opposed to our marriage goals) was to host an awesomely fun party, not cash in on gifts. Of the folks who did give us gifts (for wedding or for shower), I was truly touched by everyone’s generosity, but I most appreciate and remember the items I use or display… not the stuff I ended up regifting or returning or have left, years later sitting in a box (because what does someone do with a clear crystal tray etched with and image of the wedding invite?)

          A wedding registry is not a demand list. Its simply a tracking tool to help guide the guests who would like some guidance.

          • Dee March 16, 2017, 11:44 am

            You and I are mostly in agreement – I, too, want to give gifts for the people I love, gifts that they will enjoy and use. We also did not care if we got gifts at our wedding, and were very grateful for anything that was given. We didn’t make a registry because it would have been rude to even suggest that our guests give gifts, and so we had a lot of duplicate/triplicate gifts to return to the stores in the days after the wedding. Certainly not a burden. The gifts that weren’t to our taste were mostly still used – brown bath towels dry as well as blue ones and if Great Uncle Toby thought we were in need of a crystal mantel clock in our cheap rental home then so be it. Looking at the clock out of place amidst the cast-off furnishings was the perfect reminder of a sweet gesture from a sweet man.

            The only reason we even knew who had given gifts was because we needed to keep things straight for the purposes of writing individual thank-you notes. Otherwise, we’d never have known if someone hadn’t given us something. One of our gifts was a cheap lottery ticket. I thought of it being given in the same spirit as the expensive bone china. Our guests were not at our wedding for what they could do for us, rather the other way around.

            A wedding registry is, indeed, a demand list. If guests need guidance all they have to do is ask the couple or people close to the couple. And if a guest is not close enough to the couple or the parents or other friends and relatives enough to enquire about the couple’s tastes/needs then it can only be assumed the reason the guests were invited is to contribute to the haul.

        • Nicolek March 16, 2017, 12:52 pm

          Yeah, all the advuce columns say gifts are not required but in real life it looks weird if you do not give a gift at certain events,including weddings

  • AS March 15, 2017, 8:58 am

    I am not even sure why the company would think that having a gift scanner, and insulting guests would be a good advertising strategy! It is hard to watch, and I’d never register (even if I wanted to register) at a company with such lousy advertisement.

    India has a huge wedding industry. It is considered a snub if any acquaintance of the couple or the couple’s parents is not invited; and hence the huge guest lists. Add to it the huge internet-savvy populating, and it is a gold-mine for companies like these. Luckily, the costs aren’t hiked for weddings, as it is often the case in the US, and I hope that it will not become that way.

    That said, I am personally not against registries. But I don’t appreciate forcing them on the guests. Also, I think the existence of registries discourages people from giving something personalized, like hand-made or heirloom items.

    • Dippy March 16, 2017, 10:26 am

      I disagree. My family is NOT crafty, they bought off the register for my shower. My husbands family? They’re the crafty ones. I got holiday ceramics, hand made quilts, wall art, etc.

      I loved and appreciated all of it.

      • AS March 16, 2017, 10:55 pm

        @Dippy- disagree, with what?

    • Devin March 16, 2017, 10:38 am

      If/when I have a life event that typically involves gift giving, i hope my friends and family would know that gifts aren’t the reason for the event but if so inclide to be generous they would know (or know to ask) what sort of gifts I’d perfere. I am someone who is not sentimental and has a very (very) small living space. While I would be greatful for the gestures of hand-made or heirloom items, I would have to donate the items, because I would not feel it necessary to rent a storage unit to house ‘things’. Even things that were handmade or heirloom.
      There have been posts on here discussing what to do with unwanted gifts and the resolution is once it is gifted the recipient can do with it as they wish. And people stating they give towels if they think the reciever is ungreatful. Well I’d much rather have new towels than an old family clock or a stack or hand knitted doilies, at least if i didn’t need new towels my local womens shelter could put them to good use.

  • Elle March 15, 2017, 9:56 am

    I actually like wedding registries. If I’m going to spend $X on a wedding gift, I want it to be something that the couple will like and use; plus it’s more fun to give an actual gift than money. It’s a lot of pressure to pick out something for someone’s home when you don’t know their decor, what they already have, their tastes, etc.

  • JD March 15, 2017, 10:25 am

    Ohhhhhh Noooooooooo!

  • DGS March 15, 2017, 10:58 am

    Actually, that is not a new practice in India. In 2005, a dear friend of mine who is from the Indian province of Gujarat originally, was getting married stateside. On her wedding invitation, which was sent to her and her then-fiancé’s family and friends in the US, the UK and in India, there was a statement “No Boxed Gifts”. When I inquired as to what meant, I was informed that that is the way to say, “please, give me checks or cash rather than a hand-me-down that you are re-gifting or something you have picked out yourself”.

    She also had a registry (and her family in India and the UK were aware of that a registry was) that was included in her shower invitations that we, her girl friends, had sent out, and her family abroad was fully cognizant of how registries worked and purchased her selected gifts for her.

    Is this a slightly tacky practice? Absolutely. However, it is pervasive.

    • AS March 16, 2017, 9:59 am

      The reply is not necessarily typical though. You were probably a close enough friend that they could tell you honestly what they wanted. I know a bunch of Indians who live abroad (myself included), and boxed gifts can be a pain to move around. As one of my friends said, she and her husband had gotten several boxes of crockeries! There is no way you can comfortably transport even 1 box of crockery set on a flight, let alone all the boxes!

      I had a friend who was getting married, who also had the “no boxed gifts” on their invitation. When I called up, he said that they are moving soon and boxed gifts would be extra things to move. When I asked what they needed, he told me that they don’t really need anything, and it doesn’t matter if I didn’t get them a gift. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the wedding, but gave them a gift card the next time I met them.

      I had another friend who I asked what she wanted. She said that to tell the truth, they are saving for a house, and would really appreciate money. When you are close to someone, you can actually say things that you really need without feeling bad about it.

      When we got married, we didn’t have any registries. But given that both my husband and I are from different countries, most people gave us money anyway.

      • Maria March 16, 2017, 5:23 pm

        In the United States, stores will hold your gifts for a year until you are ready for delivery so there is no issue if the couple is moving. You can still send thank you notes right away bc you can see what was purchased. Advising no boxes, or mentioning anything involving gifts is very tacky, under any circumstance.

        • AS March 16, 2017, 10:59 pm

          @Maria- I was talking about at traveling to a different country. Not all stores in the US (or most other countries) would deliver to a different country, and even if they do, it will be only a handful of countries.

  • livvy17 March 15, 2017, 11:26 am

    Yikes….the lead up is a joke…how rude to critique gifts! But the end point is – avoid being rude that way, do it THIS way!! ugh, it’s like they missed the point of their own joke.

  • Nicole March 15, 2017, 11:29 am

    I have always been a fan of registries as long as they are not pushed on people. I like the idea of being able to get a not-so-close family member something they really want and need. I have a decent sized set of cousins, my mother had a few siblings, and while I am not close to them we still support each other and would not miss a wedding for the world. I happily dish out for graduations, weddings, and other important lifetime milestones and am happy to have an idea of what they will actually enjoy receiving! I admit I go off it if I know something else, but I usually use it as a good map for making them happier yet!

  • Dee March 15, 2017, 12:06 pm

    Yep, greed is universal. Why didn’t any of the guests walk away, taking their gifts with them? It’s almost as if they are expecting to be treated rudely, as so many guests are treated now in North America, by the wedding couple.

    As a guest, my feelings change immediately upon realizing I’m being invited for the gift I will be giving. I now decline such invitations because the whole show becomes so tainted that it’s a waste of my time to attend. I want to be able to give warm and sincere wishes to the couple, not wonder how my (non-registry! gasp!) gift will “rate”. I also then decline further invitations for “gift” events (baby showers, etc.), even if there is no further mention of a registry, since I already know the couple is greedy and that the only reason I’m being invited is for the gift I’ll provide. Why a couple would want to affect their reputation for the sake of not receiving duplicate toasters is beyond me, but we must be breeding a particularly stupid bunch of humans these days.

  • Pat March 15, 2017, 1:01 pm

    I like registries. They make it easy to get something you know the bride or mother to be needs and avoid duplicates. That is not to say they are not sometimes abused.

  • PJ March 15, 2017, 1:03 pm

    The whole bit about scanning the gifts was kind of funny, IMO.

    The tagline at the end about doing away with “useless wedding gifts” was just sad.

  • stacey March 15, 2017, 5:05 pm

    There was a story on this site that outlined the origins of wedding registries. It seems there was a bride who was preparing to marry (nineteenth century) and she had the practical wisdom to go to local vendors and direct them to steer her friends and family towards gifts whose taste aligned with her own. It was written up in a newspaper and from there, the rest is (at least apocryphally) history. Gifts in different cultures and times have had elements of being “exacted” on some level. At one time, American society prided itself upon having a more independent and egalitarian ethos. But if this is the culture that we are exporting, we have lost a significant amount of any purported exceptionalism we may ever have tried to claim. Registries aren’t (necessarily) tacky. I don’t like them, personally, but I can work with them. Just (please) don’t specify things like “no boxed gifts” or include cutesy poems about how cash is what you most need towards your honeymoon, household finances or dream (car/ boat/ college fund/ student loan repayment). And (please) don’t include your registry details along with the invitation. One or two contacts can be left with the list to disseminate to interested parties (admittedly my preference) or the data can be included on the wedding website or enclosed with other miscellany to be separately mailed (to those who have accepted or who are actually inquiring about gifts. But I have to admit…. it is charming to be asked rather than to profer this information. It is even more charming if there isn’t a registry and the couple is merely grateful for the company of their nearest and dearest and the gifts they care to select.

    • o_gal March 16, 2017, 7:16 am

      The history of the registry is not that a bride went to vendors in the 19th century and then it got written up in the newspapaer. They are much more recent than that and were invented *by the stores* in the 1920’s. Wikipedia says Marshall Fields in 1924, but other sources say Macy’s (Marshall Field’s was eventually bought by Macy’s so maybe that explains the discrepancy.) Personally, like other people, I prefer a registry or to give cash – that way I know the couple will get what they really, really want.

      • Dee March 16, 2017, 11:28 am

        Most other wedding “traditions” are fabricated, too, by industry and retailers. Paying two (or three, or …) months salary for a diamond ring, the diamond ring itself even, is not tradition, it’s just marketing. The white dress, destination weddings, you name it. Most modern weddings are just one, big commercial and not particularly romantic. It’s too bad because a wedding from the heart is a joy to attend.

  • Ellie Little March 15, 2017, 11:48 pm

    …Registries are bad? This is the first time I have ever heard that.

    When I got married last year (super-small wedding in his parents’ backyard), co-workers and extended family were actually bugging me to make a registry. Saved them the trouble of having to come up with gift ideas, I suppose. That’s also why I love Amazon wishlists and the like…I have such a hard time figuring out what to buy people.

    Sure, the commercial’s obnoxious, but I’m admittedly a little weirded out to see wedding registries described as tacky/greedy/etc.

    • admin March 16, 2017, 8:47 am

      They become tacky and greedy when used to manipulate guests into believing that the only good gift is one from the registry.

  • Aleko March 16, 2017, 1:28 am

    If that was the least of the problems of greed with Indian weddings……!

    For decades the expectations of lavishness in Indian weddings have been ruinous; quite ordinary middle-earning fathers are obliged. Kept only to come up with a big dowry but to lay on a jamboree for hundreds of guests that would put a Hollywood wedding in the shade,,for which the entire family may have to have saved since before their daughter was born. But it gets much worse than that. It’s not unusual for the groom’s family to blackmail them by threatening a day or so before the ceremony to call it off unless the bride’s family add substantially to the already-promised dowry – a car, say. And if the wedding does go ahead, and the groom’s family aren’t happy with the amount of loot the bride brought them, it’s a totally normal practice to bully their son’s new wife into swallowing bleach, or of she won’t do that, to arrange for her to burn to death in ‘an accident with cooking fat’.

    In the light of this, for you to whinge about the ‘greed of wedding registries is grossly insensitive.

    • admin April 3, 2017, 7:44 am

      You do realize that the problems you have detailed all boil down to a greedy expectation of receiving an amount of “loot” at least one side of the family deems to be appropriate and that gift registries definitely feed that expectation? The underlying context of the registry advertisement could be, “You had better get a damn good gift from the registry for the newlyweds lest the groom’s family has a fit resulting in the injury or death of the bride”. All the more reason to reject registries as a tool for greedy people to get exactly what they believe they are owed.

  • Barbarian March 16, 2017, 10:55 am

    I knew the script had to be fiction because any couple with a wedding like that might get gifts but have no friends or family after the wedding.

  • Ashley March 16, 2017, 11:04 am

    Well, registries take the guesswork out of it.

    I’d way rather be able to refer to a registry and get something the couple will actually want, than go off what I think they might like and wind up getting asked for a gift receipt because it doesn’t fit in with their decorating scheme.

    Please note, I am NOT saying gifts are mandatory or whatever. Just that registries remove the guesswork.

    The commercial posted here though was a bit heavy handed about how registries are helpful though.

  • Cat March 17, 2017, 9:42 am

    I must be very intrusive because I would have missed the celebration in order to stand there just to see the reactions of people having their gifts scanned-and to see what they were giving the happy couple.
    It’s like the Mafia organized the gift scan in place of the bridal purse seen in “The Godfather” when one had to place the money in a purse the bride carried.
    I am more convinced than ever that I am “owed” a great deal of money/gifts from my friends because I don’t celebrate birthdays, never married, never had children and thus spared them from many gifts they never had to give.