Creating Wedding Registries

My fiancee and I have very different views on creating gift registries for our wedding. My fiancee has the much more traditional view - enjoy your opportunity to get swept up in the "money is no object" experience and scan in everything that looks remotely exciting.

To her credit I don't think she has gone overboard by any means, but I think very differently. As we go through the store at look at items I try and put as much effort in ever decision to scan as I would if the money was coming out of my own pocket. I look for the value in consideration of the cost of the item as well as its relative cost compared to the item at different stores.

Naturally this quickly created a heated conflict when we went to create our first gift registry. I challenged almost everything she wanted to scan into the registry. She got so frustrated because the experience turned from a happy joyful experience to the normal practical pain in the rear purchase process. We left the store frustrated and angry with each other.

After some reflection I concluded it wasn't worth pissing her off and ruining the experience for her especially since it wasn't even our money. After all she wasn't going crazy -- she was only adding the "normal" things on the gift registry. Our second store registry was a much better experience. I only protested a few items and we both enjoyed the experience.
Now I realize why "cash" is a much better gift than one from the gift registry.

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Comments (14)


Every year I have at least 3 weddings to attend. This year was the first year that I looked at a registry and thought, YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME! Most of the items on the registry were extremely expensive and totally out of the price range that I was willing to spend. I was extremely disgusted and frustrated.

From what I know from friends, in the end it doesn't really matter as you can just exchange everything later. That said, I think it's good to try to be considerate to your guest in picking good values. You don't want guests to picking up outlandish tabs for items that could be had cheaper. Only the store benefits...

My wife and I saw the same problem approaching when we registered. So ahead of time we just said to each other that we can put anything we want on and we don't have to worry much about justifying it. We put some pretty wacky things on in the "that looks cool" vein. But in the end we returned several of those really odd items. But we got a hoot out of who gave them to us.

I apologize for laughing while I was reading your post. I can relate all too well. The final resolution for me was to let my wife (girlfriend at the time) do all of the registering with my mother-in-law.

Actually, having just gotten married last month, I think cash is worse then asking for items. Cash is good and all, but once you have it, then you really will be treating it as your money.

Where as objects, it's easier to say "if someone wants to pay $200 for a water pitcher... let them... we need one anyway".
Sure, maybe you could argue that if you picked out a $20 pitcher they'd also get you the $35 pot but in reality they'll probably just end up picking someone in the range that they want to buy in and end you getting you the $150 vacuum cleaner leaving the pot and pitcher for someone else.

I did what you did, which was to just object if it was silly or to say "would you really want someone to buy you that but not get you ". Granted I got no tools out of the deal but it is rewarding to have a well stocked kitchen now, and as a bonus she's more likely to cook!

2Mil,

As I was reading your post, I couldn't help but think that you summarized the exact experience that my wife and I went through when we were engaged just over a year ago. In fact, after reading your post I had to run and grab my wife to show her as well! We both began to laugh because she was very much like your wife and I was very much like you.

When we were scanning items, my wife was happy and content to scan anything in sight that thought she needed/wanted. I, on the other hand, was treating the least as if it was my own money as well. I wanted to maximize the value of the items and wouldn't put items on the list that I felt we could get for less elsewhere. Our happy moment also turned into debate and frustration ---- it turned out to be my least favorite experience of our entire wedding planning process. :)

My wife still does not understand my point of view on the subject; and this is over a year later! I ended up compromising on many items for her benefit and she was kind enough to compromise on a few items for my benefit. Of course, I look back now and laugh. In the end, it didn't real matter.

Kudos to the topic and your story. My wife and I certainly enjoyed (and very much related)!!

-Net Worth
http://www.networthchallenge.com

I discussed this post with my girlfriend. We both agreed that we'd ask guests to give money to charities (maybe we'd supply the approved list) or give us cash if they really want to.

It is amazing to me how different things are in other parts of the country. I live in Boston and money is given by almost everyone that attends weddings. From reading the post and responses I guess this is not the case in other parts of the country.

I just give money now; it saves me a trip to the store and it is guaranteed to be used! Plus money seems to have a biigger "impact" and can go towards the honeymoon, or some big item they are saving for. or help them pay off the wedding!

I was lucky - my husband let me do the registering BUT I think I was reasonable about it. For example, he thought we didn't need china - I said we did and I got my way. But I only registered for one set (not the "traditional" two) and the set was a practical plain white and relatively inexpensive (about $50 per place setting, if I remember correctly). I think the best thing you can do is make sure that everything on the registry isn't expensive - I know I'm not the only one who finds it off-putting to look at a registry and see that the only thing within my $100 budget is one wineglass.

Cash is the given thing in Ireland too, I've never seen a registry at a (real) Irish wedding, and that's what we got from the vast majority of our families.
As far as your registry, it may depend on the guest list too. Your close friends and family members will no doubt be happy to gift the more expensive items, but less close guests like co-workers, guests who will be incurring travel costs to attend and people with the "wedding fatigue" we often get in our 20s or 30s will really appreciate cheaper options.

We had a different experience. We are both very frugal types, and initially went to Target to do a registry. But we felt silly. It felt like giving people our grocery list. The kind of things that we were putting on the registry were necessities.
I think the registry depends on a lot of things--are you and your friends middle class, rich, poor; what are your customs--in my family requesting cash would be seen as very tacky. We ended up at Crate and Barrel, resisting the $40 towels, but picking the kind of things that we would be happy to have, not the kind of things that we would buy on a strict budget, but not totally crazy. It's for your wedding. People in my family want to buy something nice for a wedding gift. If the stuff you pick is way out of line for your friends and family (and this should not be hard to guess) then they can always ignore your registry. It is just a suggestion to let people know what kind of things you need.
What I think are more prone to abuse are baby registries. Anyone with me?

I'm getting married next week so I can sympathize with all the wedding situations you've blogged about for a while now. I also had the same reaction you did to the price of wedding gifts. We registered for a bunch of mid range price items and also a few cheap ones and a few expensive ones (like blenders, a coffee table, etc...). At first I was hesitant but you have to look to history for what the actual meaning of a gift registry is. Classically, the registry is there so the guests can reimburse you for your wedding costs. When it comes down to it, you are paying hundreds of dollars per person for the wedding. If you factor in only the cost of the reception and catering (which is reasonable considering you're throwing a party for them) for a mid sized wedding you're look at about $80 a person. So, the average price of your registry should be $80. This means you register for about 20 things less than $20, 100 or so between $20 and $100, and 10 or less above $100.

I still cringed a bit when adding something more than $80 to a registry but to my surprise people were snapping up the expensive items and choosing to ignore traditional things like china. As long as you're not registering for plasma TVs I think you two will be fine =)

Hey, I am getting married in a few weeks and I had the same experience too. My fiance even put a $179 trashcan on our registry that I ended up taking off. He has been pretty mellow but he was going for the more expensive items. He even thought that we could profit from our wedding, which I thought was pretty hilarious. The same kind of conflict arose when we went to buy something for another couple. I said that $100 for a trashcan was way too much, and he practically accused me for being stingy in the store. I do think that cash is the best gift and all my Chinese relatives seem to understand that.

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