It Finally Registers That Registries Can Be Greedy

by admin on March 11, 2010

I’m not a natural salesperson.  I’m very frugal, far from rich, and have a hard time convincing others that they need things they can’t afford.  However, the job market was slim last year so I got a job as a Sales Associate at a well-known high-end store in a not too high-end community. (Half our elementary kids are on the free lunch program and we have a stock car racetrack.)

So, I’m in the china department one day and three customers walk in. Mom, Daughter (20ish) and Daughter’s Guy Friend.  Their mission:  Get wedding gift for Mom’s niece/Daughter’s cousin.  Guy Friend is, of course, unenthusiastic and just there to hang out and see a movie later (he seems nice.)  Mom and Daughter print registry and corral me to ask about this item or that.  I show them the place settings: $165 each, couple requested 12.  Mom doesn’t want to insult me (though, frankly, I agree with her more than the store) and just quietly asks about something less expensive.  Maybe glassware?  The couple has selected 12 pretty flutes, 12 white wines, and 12 red wines that are $45.  “Is that for a set of four?” Mom asks me, hopefully.  “No,” I say, “each.”

Guy Friend speaks up: “What are they going to do with all this stuff? Do they really need thousands of dollars in dishes?”  Mom and Daughter nod in agreement.

I’m not a natural salesperson.  I agree also.  (Eh, it was minimum wage.  I go in, I get paid, I go home.)  We wind up having a friendly conversation about registries being ‘guidelines,’ and not ‘commandments’ and I show her some nice kitchen basics (not on the registry) that I wish I’d had in my first kitchen.  I help Mom buy a few kitchen must-haves for a novice cook (which the bride is, Mom and Daughter tell me) and they throw in a little gift card and some gift wrap.  So, it turned out to be an okay sale.  Hope the bride likes it.

My point is:  If you are one of the few people anymore who actually hosts formal dinner parties frequently and loves serving your dozen beloved friends great wine and great food, then by all means, register for great wineglasses and great plates.  You deserve it, you generous hostess, you!  But if you’re like most of us and didn’t know what a ‘charger’ or ‘fingerbowl’ was until the helpful china salesgirl insisted you register for 12, and you listened to her, then you have some serious self-contemplation to do, my friend.  You’ll never use them!  And so many brides believe that marriage will suddenly transform them into whole new, French-cooking, Martha-Stewart people!  You’ll still be you!  Register for a popcorn maker and a new DVD instead and start your hostessing career with a Blockbuster-potluck party. Or go bar-hopping or bowling, if that’s your thing.  To thine ownself be true, or something.  You’ll like it, your friends will like it, your guests will like it, and your HUSBAND who fell for YOU which is why he’s MARRYING you will still RECOGNIZE you under all that tulle.  Isn’t that nicer than plates?  0921-08

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie March 11, 2010 at 8:52 am

I agree about the outrageousness of some registries (televisions and stereos? seriously?) but I have to argue back a little bit about china. Granted, I didn’t register for chargers or finger bowls, but I did register for fine china and crystal, service for 10, and I love it. We’ve been married 11 years now, and have 3 small children who have taken over what was once our dining room and made it their playroom. We only break out the good stuff 2 or 3 times a year, but you know what? A special meal DOES seem more special when served on beautiful china.

We were blessed with friends and family who gave us much of these things, and we bought the rest ourselves afterwards. Giving up the traditions of china and crystal isn’t required to be a reasonable bride, so please don’t imply that anyone who wants these things is deluded and hopelessly old fashioned. The key is being reasonable about what you select, and being sure that your registry includes things at a variety of price points.

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NotCinderell March 11, 2010 at 10:45 am

As someone who had an informal wedding and didn’t register, and who DOES cook and invite people over, I have to agree. Besides, I think most of us have mothers and grandmothers who have china that they’re no longer using who are willing to give it to us. I stand to inherit at least three sets. (No, I’m not exaggerating)

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Asharah March 11, 2010 at 11:45 am

While I recognize that many people register for over-the-top items for their wedding gifts, I think “You’ll never use them!” is a bit ridiculous. How do you know what the couples circumstances will be in 10 or 20 years? The husband might become a successful businessman who brings clients home for dinner often. A wedding is probably for most people the only opportunity they think they might have to get some nice china and crystal without having to spend hundreds of dollars themselves. Even if the china & crystal sit around in storage for 10 years before the couple uses them, the odds are at some point in their life, they will host an event where they will be glad to have nice dishes for their guests. Baby christening, milestone birthday party, anniversary party for their parents, holiday family gatherings.

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Sarah March 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm

That drives me crazy too when couples register for everything under the sun. It makes it hard as a guest to know what they really want when they have so many items on their registry. I have a friend who registered for a a fine china set and a set of everyday dishes. They ended up with only about 1/3 of each set, and ended up returning the fine china altogether to purchase the rest of the everyday dishes. I think a lot of couples think that they should have brand new EVERYTHING right when they start out. A lot of it just isn’t necessary. I think it’s a good idea for couples to look over their online registry once they’re out of the store and think- ‘would someone want to buy this? Would it make a nice gift?’ People do want to buy people things that the couple will use and treasure.

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Louise March 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I thought that last paragraph was mean. The bride is a novice cook now, but she might be very keen and planning to become a wonderful cook. We were all novice cooks at one point. “Register for a popcorn maker and a new DVD instead and start your hostessing career with a Blockbuster-potluck party.” Does anyone else find that sentence snarky? You can’t start hosting however you like.

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Louise March 11, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Er, I mean you CAN start hosting however you like.

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Sensible Shopper March 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I agree that it’s nice to have the china, even if you don’t use it often. But $165 per place setting? Buy the less expensive china, please. Poland is well-known for its white-clay porcelain products. The white-clay is nice quality, but it’s just SO abundant there that china collectors don’t value it. The dishes, however, are just as nice as the more expensive stuff.

You can get an entire dinner service for 8 for a few hundred dollars TOTAL. I know. That’s what I did, and I love my “fine china dishes.” And when the cat killed 6 of my teacups, I replaced them all without flinching, because I could afford it, easily. Granted, there are no fingerbowls, but truly, if I ever host a dinner that is formal enough for fingerbowls, it will be formal enough to hire footmen to serve it and RENT the fine china. Meanwhile, my pretty porcelain does just fine for Christmas dinner, and leaves money in the budget for Christmas presents.

Incidentally, if I ever feel that I simply MUST drive a fancy car for a special event, they rent those, too.

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Patty March 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm

As someone who didn’t register for her wedding and has china bought from the flea market. (it’s a beautiful 80 piece set from Poland that DH got for $80) ….I have to agree. But, I’ve done retail for many years and I probably would have done the same as the OP, without the conversation. BUT! It’s not up to anyone but the bride and groom what they register for. It’s up to YOU (general you) to purchase what you feel you can afford.

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DGS March 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm

While I can certainly imagine that everyone has different financial circumstances, and I can appreciate wanting to help the Mom and daughter, who seem like nice people and direct them to purchasing a present that would fit both the sentiment and their budget, I have to disagree about your global statement about china and crystal. Certainly, there is a lot of excess on many wedding registries (people who register for TV’s and furniture are, in my opinion, incredibly tacky), but both china and crystal, as well as certain kitchen appliances (a stand mixer, a food processor, etc.) are very traditional wedding gifts and lovely presents for a young couple starting their lives together. It’s quite presumptious to assume that young couples don’t entertain or won’t entertain, or that they are never going to use those presents – if they selected them, they might have some inclination on what they might use them for, although you are certainly not obligated to purchase them. In fact, when crafting our wedding registry some years ago, I was mindful of including a range of lower-priced items, such as towels and cooking utensils on our registry so that those guests who wanted to give us a present but did not want to or were unable to spend a lot of money.

We were truly fortunate in that we did receive every piece of bone china, crystal stemware and appliances that we had registered for due to the generosity of our friends and family, and we have already put them all to use entertaining self-same friends and family. We have hosted multiple holiday dinners, and we are both enthusiastic cooks, all while still being pretty young (30 and 33). And we know that we will cherish these items in our home for many years to come and use them a-plenty.

And by the way, not all of us have mothers and grandmothers who can pass the china on to them (my grandmothers were too busy trying to survive the Holocaust in Auschwitz to try to pass their china on to me, and any of their valuables were pilfered by the Nazis), so another erroneous assumption right there. Finally, if you ever tried to rent china, you would be astounded by the mark-up – it would end up being much more costly than actually purchasing a service for 12.

The bottom line is, a registry is a list of items that the couple might like, not a shopping guide. Buy what you are comfortable with buying and by all means, spend what you are comfortable with spending, but don’t assume that the bride is someone who neither cooks nor entertains.

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Chocobo March 11, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I agree with the fact that if you don’t feel you will ever have any use for china, you’re better off not bothering. Why make people pay so much for something you don’t even really want?

Me, I grew up with china and silver on certain Sundays and all the holidays. Using special china was and continues to be major part of the holidays. Therefore I registered for a set of my own, that I could mix-n-match with an inherited set, as well as a simple stemware. But I didn’t register for the wholly unnecessary (and obvious money-gougers) “accent plates”, finger bowls, or other things I knew I would never, ever use.

When I started looking into registering, my families had the opposite reaction as the author and several of the other posters: they told me to register for more things, not because I should expect to get them all, but because people want choices and don’t want to end up with the dregs of the registry with napkins and paper towel holders. It’s a hard balance to strike because I know my family would be angry and frustrated if I didn’t register, but I’m also concerned about looking greedy. Still, I refuse to register for anything that wouldn’t be well used.

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PhDeath March 11, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I had no intentions of registering, but yielded to pressure from my now-husband (who was yielding to pressure by his mother and her family to create a registry at a specified, high-end store).

After 15 minutes of arguing with the “Registry Consultant,” who was pushing me to add to my list things I knew I would never use (shrimp forks?!?) and items that I felt were far too extravagant to expect our guests to buy, the RC called me “uncooperative” and stalked away. She refused to answer the few questions I did end up having, which, in the end, cost her store potential revenue.

I commented on her behavior on a survey I received after registering, but never heard anything back from the store. I consider the entire experience two of the most wasted hours of my life.

And the kicker? My now-husband’s family, whose squawking was the sole reason I went through this, didn’t purchase one. single. item from the registry.

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Anonymous March 12, 2010 at 2:11 am

I agree with most of the other posters. While I had a very small wedding and didn’t register, the gift I value most is the stand mixer my parents gave me. It was terribly expensive, I can’t use it much now (our kitchen is too small to set it up), but I know in the future it will be very busy. Some of those higher-end items really are wonderful treats that the couple just may not be able to afford themselves, and I don’t think it’s rude to add them to a registry, provided there are a number of less expensive items on there as well.

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Bint March 12, 2010 at 4:18 am

I get the feeling that the main objection to the registry is the cost. Note the bride’s aunt is shocked at the price of everything. $45 for a wine glass? $2000 worth of china? The family clearly isn’t expecting this, and can’t understand why the couple would register for something so incredibly expensive that they’ve never shown any interest in. Nice china, yes. Beautiful handmade china, yes. China at $165 a setting with fingerbowls? They’re smelling the greed.

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Mechtilde March 12, 2010 at 5:19 am

There is nothing wrong with registering for expensive items, as long as you understand that people will also want to purchase lower priced items. I do think that if a person does have a registry that it would be considerate to include lower pirced items on it as well, but equally we should also remember that there is no obligation to buy items on the registry and that the donor can buy whichever gift they see fit.

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Katie March 12, 2010 at 7:09 am

I don’t think the poster was implying you shouldn’t register for china or crystal – they are fantastic wedding gifts to both give and receive, but I think her point was more that choosing a place setting at $165 or a glass at $45 is unnecessary and somewhat greedy. I have been to weddings where the cheapest thing on the registry was (UK)£50 for ONE glass and it does leave a nasty taste in your mouth because you feel obligated to buy at least two!

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Wendy March 12, 2010 at 10:23 am

Registries are just ideas about what the happy couple might want, not requirements, so I don’t see what’s wrong with the bride and groom registering for what they want. Nobody is required to buy anything off the list.

Also – why does the bride always get the blame in everything wedding-related? The OP doesn’t know the couple, but is making some pretty big assumptions about the bride. The last paragraph strikes me as rather sarcastic and nasty.

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Christy March 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I do agree that couples should register for household items that they will actually use, in a variety of prices. And I can even understand why people register for high-end items – many registries now will offer any unpurchased items to the couple at a discount. In my opinion, registries should include household items (such as kitchen goods, bathroom accessories, bed linens, dining items), small decorative items (such as frames, vases, rugs), small tools (such as hammers, drills, electric screwdriver, etc), outdoor goods (such as gardening tools, pots) and some family-oriented entertainment items (such as board games or camping equipment). As I mentioned, I can understand putting a tv, large appliance or furniture big ticket item on the registry if it’s communicated that you don’t really expect someone to buy you a refrigerator, you just plan to take adantage of the discount. I don’t think it’s proper to register for DVDs, video games, novels, individual hobby items (like golf stuff just for him or scrapbooking stuff just for her). What’s the difference from a DVD and Monopoly? Both are entertainment items but board games promote interaction, engaging both people. DVDs, even when watched together, don’t really call for family members to talk to each other, just the opposite. Gifts for newlyweds are about helping them start/build their family together, not about getting more individual items that are more appropriate for birthday gifts.

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Moby Jane March 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

As a long-time reader who loves this blog and who has just gone through the whole registering process, I have to de-lurk to comment! The Dude and I ended up registering at a major dept. store which has online shopping: ideal, since my best friend and all my family are in Europe and wanted to be able to shop without worrying about lugging stuff overseas. We’ve both been living on our own for some time, so we have the basics, but don’t have things like hand mixers or serving dishes. The Dude has only 1 set of quite threadbare sheets for his soon-to-be-shared queen bed, and he’s been using the same towels for the past 20 years… so they are more hole than towel. Ergo, towels and sheets are definitely on the list, as are flatware and stoneware. All of his everyday dishes are chipped, cracked and not really serviceable… and I only have about four mismatched, chipped plates, so we are looking forward to a fresh start with new things that match. Like DGS, we tried to create a sensible price range that didn’t have outlandish heights and was equally accessible to impoverished grad student friends and financially comfortable relatives alike. We were lucky enough to snag our china at a deep-discount warehouse sale: eight 5-piece plain white Wedgwood settings… for under $200 in total. That way, we didn’t break the bank, and we’re all set to start having people over.

Where I think registries go horribly wrong is the entitlement factor combined with the seductive ease of having a scanner in hand – and, sometimes, the pushiness of registry consultants (although ours was really nice). I can’t think of any context in which shrimp forks would be an everyday necessity – and if you move in the circles where they are, then chances are good that you’ll be delegating someone else to buy your shrimp forks for you. Some people completely take leave of their senses when they register for things, and I think it’s a shame, because it leaves guests wondering what else you’ll be shaking them down for – and what precedent you’ll be setting for the start of married life…

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Cebollita March 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm

AMEN. Some people want and use china sets and crystal glass sets, but some of us don’t. I am just not that kind of person. If I got all this stuff, where would I put it? I’d have to get some cabinetry to hold it. When I have people over for dinner, I have funky/colorful table settings from Ikea, and some odd pieces that I just love that I have picked up over the years. When I tried to explain to family, when I got married, that I didn’t want to register for that stuff -because I don’t want to receive it – they acted like I was breaking some law. I registered for place settings, but they were every day ones (I loved them, but in 12 years, have since broken them all…), picture frames, kitchen gadgets I’d actually use (liquidizer, things like that). The whole point is – it’s up to the person getting married if she wants this kind of stuff. If she doesn’t, she doesn’t have to!

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Brenda March 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I worked in the housewares department of a high end department store many years ago. We were right next to the china and crystal department, and I occasionally helped out there when they were busy. One of the things I saw, that has become very common, is for the married couple to return the high end china and crystal for cash. They had no intention to keep or use it, it was simply the fastest way to get money to pay for the reception.

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Xtina March 12, 2010 at 4:17 pm

As a ‘traditional’ bride who registered for china and glassware, I see nothing wrong with it, if it’s what you really want, but I would never dream of registering for things that I didn’t truly want (so people would give them to me and I could return it for stuff I “really” wanted; that’s deceptive). While I agree that there are some outrageously expensive items that scream tacky and greedy (TVs, furniture, etc.), one should not let worry over what their guests will think of their choice of registry items determine what they register for. If you want expensive china, register for it. I knew going into it that I would probably end up buying most of my own china and was pleasantly surprised that people did give me more than I had expected. And yes, I do use my fine china every day…no sense in having it and and only pulling it out on special occasions.

People can choose whether or not to buy things from your registry or not, and in this day and age, gift cards to stores are a very common gift in lieu of an actual item.

The point is, hopefully you’re inviting people to your wedding who really know you, and by that token, also know that you don’t expect anything extravagant from them if they can’t afford it. Likewise I hope that they know I’d be happy to receive a present at all, and what they pick out is fine with me; the thought is what counts.

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Emmy March 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I do agree with the OP that if you plan to use fine china and fancy crystal, go ahead and register for it. However, I am sure the majority of young couples really don’t have a need for it and don’t have an abundance of space to store a bunch of china, fancy silverware, crystal, and shrimp forks they won’t be using anytime in the foreseeable future. Even if the couple will have a use for china several years after they are married, I hardly think it is worth it to store something for that long (and move it around if the couple moves), especially if it is something that you don’t know if you will ever have a use for. I kept the china and crystal off our registry and registered for more practical stuff I knew that we could use (we already had a matching set nice everyday dishes). A couple can always buy china if they reach a point in their lives where they will use it.

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Fanboy Wife March 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I think this is some good advice. With how clumsy my husband and I are, I’m glad we don’t have super-expensive dishes. (We got a set from Target after we got married.) We’ve broken a few plates and bowls over the years, but it won’t cost a fortune to replace. We also have the smallest kitchen right now, and I’m glad I don’t have a bunch of expensive dishes crowding my coveted cupboard space!

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Allison Ekstrom March 13, 2010 at 12:43 am

I think one thing to consider with registries is that if you are going to register for fine China that is pricey don’t be surprised if some people scoff. No matter what each person believes in regards to registries economic times have bee so tuff in the last year that it’s hard for some people to buy a glasses that cost $45.00 a piece and place settings that cost $165.00. It was hard for my husband and I just to afford a $10.00 gift and $4.00 card for our friends when they got married last year right after we had our baby. I’m just glad we could get them anything at all and that they sincerely like it.

China I can still see being put on registries; but I am horrified when I see tv’s, stereo’s, and gaming systems. Those I personally feel are things a couple should get for themselves if they really want them. But that is my opinion, and I think some of today’s brides shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t get some of the china they register for. The unfortunate reality is that right now a lot of people can barely afford to put food on the table.

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Laura March 13, 2010 at 12:51 am

Yes I had everyday dishes and china, both from Wal-Mart. Fifteen years later I have very few glasses, plates from either set.

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Amava March 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Laura: that is a sign that they have been well-used! :)

Me, I am fine with couples who put expensive stuff on their registry, as long as they also put some cheaper stuff on it.

And Katie, I strongly disagree with this: “I have been to weddings where the cheapest thing on the registry was (UK)£50 for ONE glass and it does leave a nasty taste in your mouth because you feel obligated to buy at least two!”
I absolutely don’t feel obligated to buy two 50 pounds glasses. If that is the cheapest thing on the registry, then the couple will not receive anything from the registry from me.

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hannah March 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I get the impression that the OP might be implying that the price of the china that the bride was asking for was out of sync for what she assumed to be the socioeconomic status of the bride’s family/friends. (Whew, that’s a mouth full.) The faux pas wasn’t that the china was itself expensive, but that the bride was asking for something that was simply out of the price range of her guests.

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PrincessSimmi March 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I can completely agree with some of the comments here. Times are certainly tough, and I have a tiny kitchen. When I bought my unit, I asked my dad for some basic corelle plates/bowls for my unit. He not only bought me a proper 4-piece place setting for 4 people, but also my stepmum gave me 6 beautiful crystal wine glasses that she received from their wedding that they had never used, and they also gave me a tv! And I didn’t even get married!

The only complaint I have with this is that set he bought me is extremely heavy. Unfortunately my unit has all the cupboards up high and I’m short so I worry that I’ll drop it on my head. Never mind.

Generousityis a beautiful thing, but the most important thing is that you always ask for what you NEED and greatfully accept anything extra. My grandad bought me a fridge, my older sister gave me her old couch, my nanna paid for my microwave. Nothing matches. This is not some fancy-pants home, this the the unit that love built.

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ZHall March 14, 2010 at 4:23 am

When I was a student, a couple I knew registered for a range of items. Her parents’ friends wanted to be able to buy large sets of high-end stuff; I and others were relieved and pleased to find that they’d registered for useful things we could afford. I bought an ice-cream scoop and a pizza cutter, two things I’d seen them use often.

I registered in order to get the post-wedding discount that one chain offered on registry items not received as gifts. Didn’t tell anyone about it. My parents turned the reception into a collective reception including my sisters who’d married in the grooms’ hometowns, so the people they invited were under pressure to buy THREE sets of presents. Really not what I’d had in mind; it was very casual and I’d hoped people would just have fun. Ended up with LOTS of candles and photo albums, from families who could have used that money for groceries, gas etc.

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Amanda March 14, 2010 at 5:36 pm

When we got married last year, we registered for 12 sets of china that was $100 a piece. We are a young couple (25 years old) and I am a novice cook. However, we use the china all the time. We usually only use 7 – 8 pieces of it, but I know that will expand as others in our group get married. I am so happy that we recieved as much as we did, we still bought 4 – 5 sets I think. We had tons of things on the registry that were less expensive, but to be honest, some of that stuff has already broken. The china will still be used in 20 years, long after the popcorn maker has died (it died last week!!).

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Moby Jane March 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

“This is the unit that love built” is the very best thing I’ve read all day. Thanks, PrincessSimmi. :)

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Susan March 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Also, while everyone here has reinforced that the registry is for *suggestions* of things to get the couple, we forget that there are brides (and grooms) who consider it a shopping list, and honesty expect to get everything on the registry. One couple I know — who could be the subject of so many entries on this site — registered at FOUR places, and missed no opportunity to remind everyone they knew of the fact. (True story: I am at the bride’s apartment for coffee a few months before the wedding: “I’d love to make a pot of coffee rather than instant, but our coffeemaker’s on the fritz. We registred at Bed Bath and Beyond for the new Krupps with the built in grinder, and since we’re sure someone’s going to get it for us, we’re just waiting. Oh, ignore the ratty handtowels in the bathroom. We registered for some of the new organic ones at Target, and since we’re sure we’re going to get them, we haven’t replaced them…”) When they received any gift that was not from their registry, they complained about how “insensitive” the guest had been to “ignore what we said we wanted.”

I purchased something off the registry. 6 years later and no thank you note.

I skipped the baby shower they held with three registries, at an expensive restaurant where I would have had to buy my own lunch. (Though they did assure me that I was welcome to come and not eat, if I could not afford a present *and* lunch.)

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Amy March 16, 2010 at 3:51 am

I gotta tell ya that I received a very nice set of “everyday” dishes, (plates, bowls, coffee cups, and salad plates) I received 3 boxes of these…..a set f0r 12 people. I opened only 1 set (4 of each) and haven’t opened the other 2 boxes……why? I don’t know. I have been married for 11 years. I cook for family and friends often, yet I haven’t opened the other 2 boxes. Isn’t it really about being together and enjoying a meal……does it matter the plates don’t all match? Nobody has ever asked me “why doesn’t all your settings match”…..probably because it doesn’t matter………

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Chocobo March 16, 2010 at 10:15 am

Susan — your friends sound super tacky!

The problem with registries is that while they do serve a good purpose as a suggestion list (especially if the couple wants china, there’s really no way to get the word out which set to buy nowadays), how do we tell the difference between couples who consider it obligatory and couples who consider it a suggestion? As a future bride (October ’10!) myself, I often worry that people will see the pricey things on my registry and think that I feel entitled to it.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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Nina March 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Chocobo – I totally agree! I’m getting married in a few months and we have registered. Not because I really wanted to – in fact I think the gifts that people themselves come up with are often the best – but because everyone expects you to. Very few people actually THINK about wedding gifts anymore. And I’ve also heard that not registering somehow sends the message that you want cash. So I really agree, damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

I’m finding it really hard to register – I’m awfully practical but most of the typical wedding gifts (like china) tend not to be. And a lot of people (perhaps rightly so) don’t want to buy you “practical” they want to buy you “special.” So we’re trying to compromise with some of each category.

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AS March 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I agree that some couples register things expecting guests to buy costly items beyond their budgets for them. I surely do not support that. But sometimes I like to buy things together with other common friends/family of the bride or groom, and in that case we look for slightly costlier items. They are starting off a new life, and it is nice to give something that is not too easy to buy on your own (but I’d not spend much on someone who I know for sure is greedy!). On the other hand, I’ll surely be quite irritated if I see nothing cheaper than $100 on the registry whether or not I am buying with someone!

That said, I would like to state that I don’t agree with the last paragraph the poster posted. The registry you are talking about seems that the couple registered only for high end items (or the cheaper ones were already bought by other guests). I empathize with the mother and daughter not being afford something out of the registry. If most of the bride’s guests are in a very modest income range, she should have included (more number of) affordable things. But I don’t agree when you say that a couple will not use fancy china. I don’t host too many formal parties, but I had bought myself a corral set when I first moved into my (rented) apartment without roommates. I have used them maybe 3 times in 2 years. But those 3 times, had I not owned the set, it would have been a very uncomfortable situation for me (my parents are of the opinion that you should not invite guests for formal dinners, and serve them in disposable plates; that has rubbed off on me too). When a couple gets married, especially after the first time, the expectations from them are higher than what it is when they are single. It is up to them to decide what kind of crockery they want to have in their house. Blockbuster parties may not an option for most married people except in very few cases. Your leading the customer to buy some “must have” household items was a good idea; on the other hand, a gift card from you shop might have been a nice idea too, so that the couple can buy what they want.

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Susan March 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Chocobo, you have *no idea* how tacky these people are :) If they weren’t otherwise very supportive and longtime friends, I’d have cut them loose *years* ago.

And I empathize with those of you who are struggling with registering. It’s hard to communicate that the registry is there just as a suggestion, or as a convenience for those who live out of state or might not know what you need — especially since it’s the height of tackiness to mention presents or registries in invitations, it’s not like you can say, “The honor of your presence on our special day is gift enough” or “Please do not feel as though you have to buy a gift off the registry.” (That would SURELY earn you a place in a quiet corner of Ehell, right?) When I got married, I quietly told my attendant (who was the point person for most stuff) that if she got questions about where we were registered, she could just tell the person where (1 place) but also that they did not need to buy off the registry, or at all. Most of our close friends knew that we valued handmade gifts or help with our simple wedding (flowers, etc.) above any storebought gifts, and that what we really wanted was just for people to be with us on that day. But out of state family, etc., were different.

If I ever get married again (or when I throw myself a “Got Rid of the A*shole” party when my divorce is final) I don’t know if I’ll register…it really is a minefield. (Filled with china and crystal mines…)

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Sue March 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

I think I’m with the ones that agree that the OP isn’t really saying don’t buy china..btw..I’m one that inherited my china….and I had no control over what or what not my grandparents had to endure…just a fact of life.

It was the cost involved. My registry (many many years ago) had something in all price ranges at two different store as I knew that my guests were from different income brackets.
And I really appreciate when others do the same.

I also didn’t add stuff that I really wouldn’t use.

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Amanda March 24, 2010 at 10:20 am

I’m getting married in a few months, and I had trouble deciding whether or not to register for fine china. My fiance and I both cook and we love to entertain, so that wasn’t the issue. For me, it was tough to register for something that was just so expensive. (As one friend put it, when you go to registries you realize what the couple think you should spend on them, and it can be disheartening, to say the least.) I’m in the stage of life where a lot of my friends are getting married, and it is extremely frustrating when you’re already stretching your budget to attend a wedding and you go to a registry to find that the least expensive item is a $100 platter. (It’s even worse when you’re an attendant!)
Still, in my family, getting married is almost equated with having a fine china pattern, so I felt like I should register for our pattern.

In the end, my fiance and I created two registries — one where every single item on the registry was less than $50 (with many items under $20), and a second registry of only fine china. For the fine china registry, I skipped the department store that charged $270/place setting and found the online seller with the lowest prices for our pattern ($90/place setting). When asked about a registry, unless asked specifically about a china pattern, I direct people to the less expensive registry. We do not expect to get ten place settings of our pattern (in this economy, one or two place settings would be nice). My fiance and I look forward to slowly building our china set over the first years of our marriage.

The bottom line is that the most important thing is that we’re getting married and we want the people we love to be there. We’ll love them just as much if they’re empty-handed.

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Saitaina March 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Hmm, I have to disagree with this entirely.

Maybe it’s just the family I was raised in, but my grandmother, my mother and myself each have three ‘sets’ of dishes, everyday, holiday and formal, some of which (in my grandmother’s case) was bought for her wedding, back in the day when weddings were usually when women left their parent’s homes.

Thankfully, my mother and myself both left home before being married and bought most of our own sets, but some of the pieces I would have probably registered for if I were getting married as it’s a nice ‘us’ thing, something we can look at on those special occasions and share that moment of joy and love.

Now a’day’s, most couples have the everyday items they would need, because most couples get married later then previous generations, thus, the slightly more extravagant lists in some cases, after all, you only need so many space heaters and microwaves.

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Bee April 6, 2010 at 11:17 pm

My cousin and her now-husband had a registry for their engagement AND wedding. I don’t know if that’s against etiquette, but it seemed a bit “gimme-ish”. But I digress…

Apparently when the registered at their high-end department store, they were actually encouraged to have expensive gifts, like a $3,500AUD plasma television! I found out some time later that they were told if they managed to get everything purchased from their registry, they’d receive 10% of the value of the list in gift vouchers from the store.

Strangely enough, I never received a thank-you for the engagement registry gift, the wedding registry gift or the baby shower gift. Oh, and when I was invited to the baby shower, I asked about the registry, only to be told by mummy-to-be’s sister, “Oh, she doesn’t really need anything, we’ve pretty much got everything she needs.” Ummm, then why the baby shower???

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kingshearte April 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s simply no way of winning with everyone when it comes to registries.

Register for the traditional items, and some people think that’s silly because you won’t need them (frankly, including myself, in many cases.). Register for non-traditional items, and people think you’re being greedy, because that’s not what the registry is for.

Don’t register for very many things, and you’re not giving people enough choice. Register for too many items, and you’re being greedy.

Don’t register at all, and it makes it hard for some people to buy for you (I know this from experience. I had a very difficult time picking out a present for one of my relatives when she got married. A registry of some sort would have at least given me a clue as to their needs/wants, tastes, etc.). Register anywhere, and some people will interpret it as a gift grab.

You just can’t win.

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livvy April 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm

This is why I always give cash.

Registries are fine, as long as you don’t advertise them, or begrudge people for not buying exclusively off the list. If the things on the registry are out of the price range of the buyer, and they don’t know the B&G well enough to get something they think the couple would like or need on their own, cash is always appreciated. Always fits, never has to be returned.

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Jilliana May 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Just found this site and have been reading back through posts and found this one, and I have to agree with the OP. Putting china on a registry may be traditional, but I have a feeling the couple wouldn’t be willing to spend $165 per setting and $45 per glass if they were buying it themselves, so why is it fair to ask their guests to spend that? Also, it’s bad registering form to not give people any sort of alternative to the super high-end things, and is really the couple’s way of begging people to disregard it.

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Jillybean July 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Ah…registries…so many offenses, so little time. :-) It’s all definitely a – you can’t win no matter what you do – scenario.

I’m getting married in August, and we have not registered. I’ve never been a fan of registries to begin with, but will typically buy something off of the registry of friends and then build a gift basket around those items (recent example: bought 4 coffee mugs for friends and built a gift basket with various teas, coffees, cocoas, biscotti, etc) – allows me to get something they’ve requested, but still put my creative stamp on it. But overall, I’ve never really been a fan. My feelings about them only got worse when a work friend got married in June and I watched while she asked for expensive items that she then returned (I hadn’t really been familiar with the “money laundering” aspect of registries until then, was more in tune with the “upgrade everything we own” aspect). A young cousin is getting married later this year – neither she, nor her future husband have ever lived outside their family homes – they are, essentially, the type of couple registries were invented for – the couples that need everything. Yet, their registry has things like – towels – at $40 each. Um…seriously? What’s that towel made out of?

I got a lot of flak about not registering. My mother truly doesn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to upgrade stuff. I had to remind her that I’m her daughter that had the TV she and my dad gave me at age 16 until I was 35, even though the people were green and I had to hook it through my stereo to get sound. It still worked, so I couldn’t see replacing it. Finally did when someone upgraded their TV to a flat screen and offered me their old set. :-) I ended up compromising, and went the old fashioned route of giving my sister and mother a small list of suggestions for anyone who needs one. I didn’t necessarily want a shower (we really don’t need much, though I’ll be thrilled to celebrate with my friends and family), but I know my girls are throwing me one. Word has gotten back to me that my 15 year old cousin has made me a gift that I will positively LOVE, and I will be shocked if it doesn’t end up being my favorite gift of the day. :-) So much better than a gift I picked out just for the sake of picking something out.

As for the wedding – anyone who has asked us has been told that gifts are absolutely not necessary. We have everything we need and simply want the pleasure of their company on our happy day. That said, we will certainly graciously accept anything our guest may choose to give us.

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Jan74 August 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Many years ago, a friend of my husband’s invited me to his wedding ceremony. He was a childhood friend and not that close anymore, and it was an invite for a very close date, and literally just the ceremony – no water or anything, as they had, as I was told, “rented” the church decorations from the following bride so they’d have pictures with a lavishly decorated church, but nothing else.
I didn’t really know the bride, but regardless, I wanted to get something from their registry. The alarm bells went off when the registry card came with the invite, and that it was to the most expensive store in town, but I still want to get them a gift. So I go to the store. The cheapest thing on the registry was $200. The china etc. was only sold as a full set for 12 people, at $800 for the pattern she’d registered for. It is 2 days before the wedding and there are 2 items on her registry purchased so far (the ones nearing $200).
Now, this couple was going to live in the groom’s studio apartment. I understand that a 12 piece dining set is aspirational and what if she wants to use it 10 years from now and all the arguments used here, but I know that the groom only has plastic plates (the washable kind), as I’ve been to his place, so I’m picturing this poor bride eating on the plastic plates as nobody will buy her the $800 dining set. I found, with the help of a salesperson, a set from the same brand’s “casual line” in an extremely similar pattern (small yellow flowers like the one she wanted), and a 6 person set is $140. That is more than I wanted to spend since I tend to budget “twice what you’d give as a birthday gift” for that stuff, but knowing that they really have no plates, I go for it. I buy the 6 person set.

Not only did I never get a thank you, the bride was so mad that I got something not on her registry that she never spoke to me again. The groom only spoke to my husband and I again aside from a furtive email sent from work after they got divorced, 2 years later. So I guess the moral here is, no good deed goes unpunished. If she was gonna get that mad at me breaking the bank to give such a nice gift, I might as well have gotten her a salad bowl from the dollar store.

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Lenera August 17, 2010 at 5:50 am

If/when ever I get married, I do intend to register, but I will *not* be including the details in the invitations. A dear friend has graciously volunteered to keep track of RSVPs, and she – along with the wedding party – can let people know serruptitiously where we have registered.
“Why,” you might ask, “are you bothering to register at all, then, if you’re not going to advertise the fact?” Well, to be honest, I have absolutely no objection to being given something that wasn’t on my registry. I intend for the registry to be a guideline as to my taste and that of my husband-to-be. It will then be obvious what colors we prefer in decor, and what sort of general things we stand in need of. And as my sisters and I all have completely different ideas about style, I can only imagine how different my taste might be from those of my SO’s second-cousin. We will, of course, be registering for a wide array of price ranges, since it is tacky to presume to know what a generous guest can afford. (Any gift, after all, is generous).
While I will frequently pitch in with others to buy something out of my limited price range, if it’s someone I know well, I like to put together a “Housewarming Basket.” It contains all the little things you don’t think about when you first step over the threashold of your new home: a roll of toilet paper, some dish soap and sponges, paper towels, a washcloth, some toothpaste and toothbrushes (I’ve known too many people who forgot theirs back at the Honeymoon suite), and a few other such odds and ends all tucked neatly into a new laundry basket. Total cost is around $10-$20, and it’s always been a hit.

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Amber August 29, 2010 at 1:21 am

I’m really torn on registries. On the one hand I hate the sense that I’m supposed to get something from this list to give as a gift. When I got married I wasn’t going to register but my now inlaws insisted that I HAD to, and I had a terrible time trying to decide what to put on it. I don’t like the idea of saying to people “I want a gift and this is what I want you to give me”. I didn’t include registry information with the invitations, just gave it when people asked. On the other hand I’m somewhat grateful for them when we receive invitations from my DH’s vast extended family (literally dozens of cousins) and sometimes I don’t really know who these people are nevermind have a clue what to get them. Which leads me to the following 2 anecdotes:
1) One of DH’s many cousins sends an invitation to their wedding, complete with multiple registry cards falling out of it. Looking at the registries we notice that they’ve registered for several different china sets. At each of 3 or 4 different stores they’ve registered for one or two china patterns, full sets and services of each. And we’re talking expensive, designer name sets. Where’s the sense in that? To me that’s greed. And just plain silly.
2) Another of DH’s many cousins was getting married and sent out invitations to the family. Except for us. We live in a different country so they apparently (as we heard from the inlaws) figured that we wouldn’t come anyway so there was no point in sending an invitation. But we were also informed by the inlaws that the cousin was very upset that we didn’t send a wedding gift. I’m expected to send a gift to a wedding I wasn’t even invited to?
3) Similar to the last one, another of DH’s many cousins was getting married and sent out invitations. DH and I didn’t get one. His parents got one addressed to “Lastname family” and we were told by them that it was supposed to include us as well. Hmmm, gosh DH has been out of his parent’s house for 15+ years, and we’ve been married for a while now, I’m pretty sure he counts as his own person. DH gets stubborn and says he’s not sending a gift (we couldn’t go to the wedding anyway) unless he actually gets an invitation. Cousin doesn’t send an invitation, DH doesn’t send a gift, cousin is upset.

I kind of have to agree with DH on this one. I think if you’re living on your own, especially if you’re married, and if the sender of the invitation can get your address with virtually no effort, then shouldn’t you get your own invitation and not continue to be lumped in with your parents for decades to come? Should HCs realistically expect to get gifts from people they couldn’t be bothered to actually invite?

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CherryBlossom October 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I hear what everyone is saying about registries being a no-win situation, really I do, but think about things guys – this is an etiquette-oriented site, and WE’RE the people who frequent it. Do you really think the average Joe or Jane out there is going to be more likely to evaluate the manners of others than we are? I’m not saying we shouldn’t each strive to be a paragon of exemplary behavior, just that what we see as a nail-biting, no-win scenario probably seems pretty harmless to potential wedding guests. It’s really not worth excessive worry.

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LadySnowblood November 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I don’t see what’s so wrong about registering for china or expensive items as long as there is a very good variety of items in all different price ranges. A lot of times, couples have some people in their family that want to drop some serious dough on a gift. When I got married, we had a few of our family members inform us that they wanted to get us a really, really nice gift and wanted to know what to get us. We did not want china because we have already inherited a few sets. So we included some items on there that cost a pretty penny, things like a counter top mixer, a nice coffee machine, expensive high count sheets, comforters, etc. But we also made sure that most of the registry were reasonably priced items.

I also don’t think having a large registry is greedy. We put as many things we could think of that we would have liked to receive as a gift. Did I expect to get all of that stuff? Hell no. I only did that because I wanted to give everyone the option of choosing a gift from whatever price range they wanted. As a procrastinator myself, I know what it’s like to be left scratching my head in the store at the last minute because the couple was modest with their registry and I was left with only the high price items after most people already bought their gifts.

What I do find greedy is if the couple only registers for expensive items. Or if they include their registry info with the invitations or solicit them in some other way.

I wonder if the OP’s store was the only place the couple registered. People usually register at more than one store. Sometimes people will register for only china at one store, and register for everyday items at another store. If that was their only registry, then that was rather inconsiderate of them.

And if all else fails, just give the couple money. Most people do that anyways (or at least around here they do). Personally I prefer to do that myself. Call me lazy but I don’t see the point of trying to figure out what to get someone when most people prefer to receive money anyways (let’s get real, who wouldn’t?). They will know exactly how much money you spent even if you bought off the registry.

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