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The scourge of wedding registries
June 10, 2009 6:53 AM   Subscribe


 
"I know what you will say, reader. You will say that I am jealous. "

well, yes, yes we will...
posted by HuronBob at 7:00 AM on June 10, 2009


She must be a MetaFilter luminary, because boy can she over think that plate of beans.
posted by oddman at 7:01 AM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


and... is she married to Choire?
posted by HuronBob at 7:01 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I was in high school and working at a pizza place the bosses invited me to their wedding. I was the only employee who got him anything (a casserole) and although I attached a card, they never mentioned it. We did drink a lot together at the afterparty, though, so I'm not holding any grudges.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:02 AM on June 10, 2009


"You HAVE to see my wedding video!"

Oh yes, I'm sure it's riveting. Let me use the washroom and make a sandwich so that I can see the whole thing without interruptions.
posted by autodidact at 7:03 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


First Choire Sicha. Now this?

Come back David Foster Wallace. You've left us alone with monsters.
posted by felix betachat at 7:04 AM on June 10, 2009 [16 favorites]


Ah, it must be June! The annual ritual begins: columnists complaining about how ridiculous weddings are. GOSH SO ORIGINAL NOBODY HAS EVER HAD THOSE THOUGHTS BEFORE or written that exact same column.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:06 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]




implication is: your friends and relatives are morons, and are incapable of getting past the insurmountable hurdle of making sure the loving couple do not end up with more than two Eva Solo Drip Free Dressing Shakers

My friend's wedding, which I bought a very nice hiball glass for, has as invitees people from her university marching band (hi!), program at school, friends from her high-school era, friends from her post-university era, and family. And then her fiancee's side, which is probably similar. We don't need to be morons for the hurdle to be insurmountable, we just haven't all met / been in constant communication.

And yes, I expect that they will use the glasses (and most of the other gifts on their registry) to entertain. Good! This way they will have a nice set of everything when they have company over, and I see no problem with that.

If you don't want to buy a gift, don't. But there's no need to trumpet your disdain.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:08 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I went through this whole list making process (because it turns out people really do want to see a list), and the end of it, I was so drained it was unbelievable. It took me several weeks to get over it.
posted by dhruva at 7:11 AM on June 10, 2009


Dear Tanya Gold. Marry me? We will make magic with our new melon baller...
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:11 AM on June 10, 2009


If you don't want to buy a gift, don't. But there's no need to trumpet your disdain.

At this time of year, the out-of-ideas columnist has either "I HATE WEDDINGS" or the fake Commencement speech to choose from. Ideas are hard, yo.

Also, some people confuse reflexive contrarianism with originality. Most of those people are fourteen years old, but a lot of the rest of them seem to go into journalism.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:11 AM on June 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


"Everywhere is metaphor."

Wow.
posted by adamms222 at 7:12 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


implication is: your friends and relatives are morons, and are incapable of getting past the insurmountable hurdle of making sure the loving couple do not end up with more than two Eva Solo Drip Free Dressing Shakers

Yeah, friends and relatives, it's really simple. What you need to do is make a centralized list of who is getting what, a "registry" if you will.
posted by DU at 7:12 AM on June 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


I was rather enjoying the loopy anger of the piece until she wrote: But I will not touch the spoons. I will take my friend out for dinner for her wedding gift. Although I suspect she will probably stick the cutlery in her bag and take it home.

Seems oddly hostile to invite the bride-to-be out on her own as a wedding gift.

Sure, new couples can be insufferable and creepy. Avoid them like the plague, if you must. But "Let me invite you out minus your partner to celebrate your marriage" is a bit wonky.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:12 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: There's no need to trumpet your disdain.
posted by benzo8 at 7:13 AM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


This article did ring true for me ... wedding lists always seemed a bit obscene but I hadn't fully processed why. I liked:


Let me be more accurate. She used to be a friend, but as her wedding looms she has been replaced by a shape-shifting, John Lewis-icking monster. She wants ice-crushers and cookbook holders and spoons. Give them to me, she squawks through her John Lewis proxy, because I am in love - and that means I get consumer durables for free!


and

The message is - your input is not required. Kill your imagination. Destroy your sensitivity. Give us the spoons.

posted by memebake at 7:14 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Er, didn't we give up on single-link OpEd FPPs back in '03?

Why doesn't Tanya just go out & get some friends that she likes? Also, why go the Guardian reading classes need to be reading stuff that makes the Daily Mail look happy-go-lucky?
posted by i_cola at 7:16 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seems oddly hostile to invite the bride-to-be out on her own as a wedding gift.

Not to mention the "your gift shall be an evening with MOI!" If you want the wedding gift to be dinner out, give the two of them a gift certificate. Same price and far more appropriate.
posted by DU at 7:17 AM on June 10, 2009




The last wedding I went to I ignored the wedding list and got them something from goodgifts.org
posted by memebake at 7:18 AM on June 10, 2009


Not to mention the "your gift shall be an evening with MOI!"

Yes, the spoons look awfully good in comparison now, don't they?
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:20 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe she should have a Hitler wedding? That would be original!
posted by Artw at 7:20 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


awesome link flashboy, I hadn't noticed the comment. Ouch.
posted by memebake at 7:22 AM on June 10, 2009


Yeah, where does she get off being a columnist talking like this about a friend's wedding? Did she not expect the friend to read the article and be fucking livid?
posted by dunkadunc at 7:25 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


There is something so prosaic about a spoon that to request one for any reason is outrageous.

Obviously she's never tried to buy spoons. Not a forks, knives and spoons set, mind you, but just spoons. Try it sometime.

protip- junkies have already got the ones at the dollar store...
posted by Uncle Ira at 7:34 AM on June 10, 2009


My wedding registry tip: Give cash or a gift card for the store where the couple is registered.

I started doing this after I found out that couples get a discount on items on their list that were not purchased. I asked a friend who got married recently and she said she got 20% of things on her HBC list if they weren't purchased for her and she wanted to buy them herself.

So I can buy her $100 worth of stuff off the list or I can I give her $100, and she can buy $125 worth of stuff.

(Yeah, I don't like registries in theory, but in practice it's easier to sit at my computer, check some boxes and enter my credit card number and know it will be delivered straight to them than to figure out what to get someone, run around the city finding it and then have to lug it home, wrap it and lug it to the wedding)
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:34 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty certain Tanya will be spared the agony of being invited to many more weddings....
posted by HuronBob at 7:34 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Guardian smugness ("There are two things about the smug middle classes - that is you, Guardian reader, and me, Guardian writer - that I most despise") is oh so entertaining. Not quite so entertaining as Times of London smugness or Telegraph smugness, not quite as "surrey with a fringe on top" as New York Times smugness, but still, very entertaining.
posted by blucevalo at 7:34 AM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I didn't mind wedding registries too much until I was reading over a friend's recently and saw a Panini Press on there.

I realized that I'm two weeks away from turning 30 and single as can be and he wants me to buy him a gadget that will help him and his wife enjoy delicious grilled cheese sandwiches every night for the next year?

Fuck it. Meet me in the beer and wine aisle, Tanya.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:36 AM on June 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


Weddings and gift lists are just two more parts of daily pop culture that I just don't *get.* I don't comprehend them. I completely agree with the writer.

I mean, first off, I don't get who wants a thousand dollar plate set. Second off, I don't know who the hell *buys* one. My girlfriend's stupid sister got married a couple weeks ago, and her registry included stupid ass crap like a $200 garbage can.

Seriously?

I can understand baby showers. I can understand giving the new couple some bread to help cover the cost of their marriage. Here's what it comes down to for me:

If you can't afford your own american dream, then it's not up to us to buy it for you.

Also: nobody needs that crap. Nobody.
posted by TomMelee at 7:37 AM on June 10, 2009 [17 favorites]


Yeah, where does she get off being a columnist talking like this about a friend's wedding? Did she not expect the friend to read the article and be fucking livid?

If I get the point of the article, the writer seems to think that weddings should be about the guests, not about the married couple. Fuck their wishes, desires and needs, they should get what the guest think is right! And the guest is so awesome, so special, so much of a unique snowflake that the bride should be beside herself with happiness at receiving the gift of the guest's company for an evening.

Gotta agree with the bride, maybe the writer has no business being at that wedding after all.
posted by splice at 7:38 AM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


The author mentions "Eva Solo Drip Free Dressing Shakers" three times, including price. Either she was attacked by an Eva Solo Drip Free Dressing Shaker as a youth, or she's being paid to advertise them.
posted by xingcat at 7:41 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


My wedding was a time when I wished I had no friends or relatives. It would have made everything much, much easier. (Also, I'd have enjoyed the occasion a lot more. No offense, friends and family members, but arranging a registry and a hotel and dinners and all that crap was seriously off-putting and distracting.)

Maybe I'm just a misanthrope at heart. The whole experience left a very sour taste in my mouth. I'd rather have had me, my spouse, two random strangers for legal witnesses, and a priest/justice of the peace to perform the ceremony. Instead, we had this... event... thing, and went home loaded up with a bunch of household objects which I neither wanted nor needed. (Spouse, who periodically enjoys complicated kitchen gadgetry, was happier with the objects than I was, but we still had nowhere to put them, and I'd wager we STILL have some we've never used.)
posted by Scattercat at 7:41 AM on June 10, 2009


I can't understand the moral rigour that people on Mefi have when it comes to weddings. Mention, in an AskMe post that "my friend asked for - gasp - MONEY for his wedding gift" and people fall over themselves to be outraged. Outraged! Scandalous! 'I chose to donate a beautifully crafted, hand made vase that we baked in pottery class, because I could not bring myself to handing over my precious money to the wedded couple, and lo and behold, they cried that they had never seen an object of such purity and beauty before', is an answer that you might find on this very Metafilter Network LLC without too much of a search.

The truth is thus: weddings are expensive, and there is almost no way to escape from the horror of a classical wedding. Because that's how the wedding party industry is organized. They won't have it any other way. They will tut-tut politely when you mention things like: loose gathering of friends. Bring our own deejay. They smile indulgently, and tell you that whatever you do, they will charge the deejay. And the lights. The music tower. Will you be having a light sorbet before dessert? A midnight snack perhaps for the revellers? On goes the charging. I would guess that the typicall middle class wedding comes to about 80 to 150 $ per guest. Easily. Of course you get the jaded critiques of your Guardian writer friends, but that can be had on the cheap, as we can witness here.

Yes, you can have your wedding on a sunny beach and DIY. Guess what: that's even more expensive, because you have to spend a year planning it. Or, if you happen to live in a not-so-sunny place, it would involve getting everyone on a Ryanair flight. Expensive. So you end up in a dedicated "wedding place", doing the four course dinner with dance & drinks afterwards.

So, what a lot of people do is: ask money, use it to give a hell of a party and send everyone home drunk at about sevenish in the morning. It should be somewhat of a zero sum game in the end (that is to say, almost, because you will notice that more than a few of your friends and the vast majority of your acquiantances are cheaper than you thought).

So our friend the columnist is finding all sorts of pretty reasons to be miserly ("0 £", as she so eloquently lists after each item), and wearing it on her shoulder, chip style. Good for her. Maybe she should refrain from attending the event.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:42 AM on June 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


I asked for a dolphinarium when I got married. The look on Flipper's face when I had to tell him we were splitting up haunts me every night.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:42 AM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


She's already penciled in the "I hate couples who are having babies" column for early 2011.
posted by briank at 7:43 AM on June 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


I have no problem with wedding lists because I'd rather buy my friends something that I know they want, as opposed to giving them some well-meaning gift that they probably don't.

But one thing I'll never get? The engagement party. Seriously, what kind of bullshit yuppie accoutrement is this? I have to buy you presents TWICE now?

Bah.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:44 AM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


If/when I get married I'm going in front of a JP and no big fucking deal ceremony. Maybe go out for a nice dinner with friends that I'll pay for. No gifts.

Of course I'm a guy, so my wedding ideas are entirely irrelevant.
posted by SirOmega at 7:44 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just a misanthrope at heart. The whole experience left a very sour taste in my mouth. I'd rather have had me, my spouse, two random strangers for legal witnesses, and a priest/justice of the peace to perform the ceremony.

Yep, that's what we did. Only without the random strangers, because the JP and his wife were the witnesses. He was also a photographer, so we got our picture taken at the same time. Planning took maybe 3 hours of time spread over a couple of weeks, the wedding took about 20 minutes. Cost us...$300? Just a guess.
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


And no, this wasn't in Vegas.
posted by DU at 7:49 AM on June 10, 2009


OFFS! Or, what Sidhedevil said...

Sometimes I buy stuff off a registry because I don't know the couple extremely well. Sometimes I just get them a gift card. At my own wedding, we had no registry (and requested no gifts at all), and got a tremendous amount of pushback from 100% of the guests over the age of 30 (i.e., my aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents). We didn't cave in, but I can imagine that other couples who don't care as much as we do would do so.
posted by muddgirl at 7:50 AM on June 10, 2009


Artw: "Maybe she should have a Hitler wedding? That would be original!"

I see what you did there...
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:52 AM on June 10, 2009


As someone who recently got through the wedding bonanza (now onto the baby bonanza, which is another rant all together) of 5-6 weddings a year, I like registries. They make it easy. The couple gets something that they actually want, and the guest can get something for them that they actually want. Especially if you have relatives and friends flying in from out of town, who may not have been over to your house and noticed that all your drinking glasses were stolen from the local pub.

Nobody who has been on the receiving end of well-meaning, expensive, impractical and un-returnable gifts can hate the registry.
posted by sauril at 7:54 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


She's already penciled in the "I hate couples who are having babies" column for early 2011.

To be on the safe side, she's also written one titled "I hate people who get married just to split up the next year."
posted by daniel_charms at 7:54 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shorter Tanya Gold: "My friends suck. I deserve them."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:56 AM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm guessing she's not going to write the 'I hate myself' column until she runs out of ideas and has to fall back on reality.
posted by i_cola at 7:57 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The engagement party.

My brother is getting married next month and holy Christ on a pogo stick it has turned my entire family into nutcases. My mother's always been a bit penny-wise-and-pound-foolish, but the amount of crap they're putting into this wedding has been ridiculous. My brother's even been going over the edge, dictating every last detail he's allowed input on. This so-called "small wedding" is going to include 200 of their closest friends and family at a country club. What the hell?

At least there will be an open bar. That should make my best man speech interesting enough (with included PowerPoint presentation and guitar solo! They're so lucky.).
posted by backseatpilot at 7:58 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since this is essentially the same column as the last time this person was linked to on the blue, I will just recycle my comment from that thread:

Shit like this makes me hate the written word. She said absolutely nothing in that entire article. "Something annoys me. []" If you can't be bothered to communicate anything of substance whatsoever in a piece of writing then just paint a fucking picture instead and save everyone the trouble.

What on earth makes anyone think this column, or the last one for that matter, was interesting enough to make for a Metafilter post?
posted by ND¢ at 8:00 AM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Seems like there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to wedding lists.

Mrs Mutant & I are both non materialistic, and when we got married we already had absolutely everything we needed. And we didn't want any crap that we weren't gonna use, and might have to retain for an indefinite period simply because "someone gave it to us".

So we posted a wedding list to Amazon where everything we asked for cost less than five pounds.

We actually got static from some of our friends, asking that we list some real gifts. I just didn't understand that attitude; after all, we both wanted and would put to good use everything we'd listed, but some folks clearly wanted to show off and toss money around and ignored our list.

Well, for years I've made a point of throwing out at least one item every day, and some of those overpriced things that we couldn't use and wouldn't ever use disappeared pretty quickly after the wedding. Myself, I like throwing stuff out in general, and it felt damn good tossing out overpriced crap that we didn't want to begin with.

Some folks are just too darned materialistic and status concious these days.
posted by Mutant at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I am officially adding Tanya Gold to my "Shut Up" list where she will proudly reside next to other boorish people who market their disdain for others, like Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Grace, and Ayelet Waldman. Well done, Tanya!
posted by jeanmari at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2009


This so-called "small wedding" is going to include 200 of their closest friends and family at a country club. What the hell?

This is exactly what I meant. The entire industry, indeed the very architecture of the wedding party sites, is geared towards 200 person weddings. Try as you might, it's hard to find wedding accomodation that's not made for (at least) 200 people.

Also, counting two extended families and two groups of friends, 200 people is just not that much. On average, it is estimated that every person knows 150 people fairly well (the tribe). So you'd have to cut 100 people out of your wedding before you're even started. For these, the wedding industry has the Tasteful Outdoor Reception (in the beautiful garden, yes, we provide flowers at a premium). The TOR is geared towards groups of 300. It's the 100 people you cut out, plus another 200 "oh what the hell, invite them" people, mostly friends of your parents.
posted by NekulturnY at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure, new couples can be insufferable and creepy. Avoid them like the plague, if you must. But "Let me invite you out minus your partner to celebrate your marriage" is a bit wonky.

I thought it was kinda restrained myself. Some women of my acquaintance would be inviting the husband-to-be out to dinner sans partner to celebrate their wedding -- on the grounds that they clearly don't suffer from commitment-phobia, and they haven't actually tied the knot yet, so they're still fair game.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:06 AM on June 10, 2009


De Beers is hard at work on manufacturing a tradition involving all wedding guests purchasing a diamond for the happy couple; the bigger the diamond, the better your position in the reception seating plan.
(Well they got away with making up the materialist nonsense about men spending X months' salary on a diamond engagement ring)
posted by malevolent at 8:07 AM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'll say one thing for the "smug middle class" readers of the Guardian: their comments on online articles are delightful. So much more intelligent and deliciously snarkier than somewhere like the CBC.
posted by pised at 8:08 AM on June 10, 2009


The truth is thus: weddings are expensive, and there is almost no way to escape from the horror of a classical wedding.

The truth is, this just isn't so. Seriously. And I'm not talking about a Justice-of-the-Peace non-event either.

I've worked in the business (DJ, videographer etc), so I've attended way more than my share of such events. I would distill a good wedding down to two basic things.

1. an exchange of vows between two people who genuinely want to commit to each other

2. a group of friends and/or family who are essentially there to say, "We hear you, we support you, your commitment has our blessing."

Everything else is extraneous. I was attempted to include "bullshit" there but that's too nasty. The pomp, the circumstance, the food, the booze, the decorations, the unique cultural rituals that make for a "classical wedding" can all make for a fabulous and memorable event ... but my general experience is that they don't. Some of the dullest, most uptight, most obnoxious, most despairing social events I've ever been subject to have been big deal weddings.

As for the article, I think Ms. Gold is mostly spot on and hilariously eviscerating.

Wedding lists were designed to help a young married couple build a home, in the days when everyone got married aged 12 and a half, and were totally spoonless. But today, you are not buying your friends a new life. They are 30 years old and rotting. They have wrinkles and Botox and they sag, like dying balloons. You are buying them an upgrade.

Who needs coffee to start the day?
posted by philip-random at 8:12 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, has anyone ever noticed that airline food sucks? Just sayin'.
posted by unSane at 8:13 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


weddings are expensive

No, they're not. Not inherently so, anyway.
posted by grubi at 8:15 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


My misanthropic feeling about weddings is that nobody's "wants" matter beyond the bride and groom. That doesn't allow for them to be dicks of course, it just means that I don't give half a flying flip what the MIL wants or the BFF wants, assuming it's not what the bride and groom wants.

Wedding invites should be for people you love. People you'd give a kidney to. When the bride and groom have to be INTRODUCED to people on their own "side of the family", those people shouldn't be there.

If I don't know you, I'm not going to your wedding. Probably not going to your reception either, unless my ladyfriend knows you and thinks it's important. If I don't know you, I'm not getting you a present, and if I DO know you, and like you, I'll be able to think of something to get you---even if it's a pat on the back and a sly "nice job, buddy."

(and you won't care, because the experience is for you to publicly declare your love and dedication to another human, to revel in companionship, and to share festivities with the people you care about. Not to get some tupperwarecuisinartkitchenaidfeatherdownchinabullshit.)
posted by TomMelee at 8:15 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


What the fuck is wrong with you people? You spend $120 at Crate and Barrel and all you have to do is go online, and click the first thing that comes up that's not really lame. The store takes care of it all. I don't care if I'm buying infanticide cream, it takes 10 minutes, and a month later I have to sit through a 15 minutes wedding followed by a pretty good dinner, an open bar and a 50% chance of having sex with one of the 23 year old sister of a college friend who knows no one else at the wedding. If anything just forget the registry all together and let me swipe my credit card at the door.
posted by geoff. at 8:16 AM on June 10, 2009 [36 favorites]


I realized that I'm two weeks away from turning 30 and single as can be and he wants me to buy him a gadget that will help him and his wife enjoy delicious grilled cheese sandwiches every night for the next year?

A few years from now, he won't be able to remember when he last had ANY kind of grilled cheese sandwich, so have some sympathy and buy the damn thing.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:18 AM on June 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm against wedding gift lists because they serve as a way to request, without shame, things that if you bought for yourself would deeply embarrass you. At one point in your life did your conception of the kitchen become so crassly aspirational? I think it's an unhealthy tradition, where people (and by people I really mean women) are manipulated at a very personal and vulnerable moment.

Look if you are really into all manor of ostentatious domestic bric-a-brac that's a decision that isn't any dumber than the vast majority of the ways that people spend money but, don't you think if you were that kind of person you would have shown some interest in that sort of stuff prior to getting married. I doubt very much that on your wedding you will be so transfigured that your previous correll ware will be suddenly inadequate. It's not so much the crass commercialism that I have a problem with, we live in the first world damn it and it is just profoundly abnormal to spend the lion's share of your money on helping other people in need (this is said with no arrogance, in this moral failing I am a coconspirator), no, what raises my dander is the sort of narrow focus that this sort of commercial signalling is allowed to take. So it is with much care, thought, and consideration, that I have purchased for you and yours a VHS copy of House Party 4. I know how much you like parties and even though House Party 4 contains neither Kid nor Play, I am sure you will enjoy it. It is due back to the video barn in two weeks.

Best Wishes,
Michael J. Foody
posted by I Foody at 8:19 AM on June 10, 2009


We signed up for a gift registry against our better judgment. Today, 25 years later, I don't remember who bought me the cuisinart (which I no longer have). But I remember that KK bought me the beautiful artist-made quiche pans (not on the list), and that Holly got me the nesting lacquer trays (not on the list), and that Dave got us a coffee table (not on the list, though desperately desired who knows why) because he heard us talking about it.

Gift registries are for the aunt in Philadelphia that you haven't talked to in 7 years, the parents of the girl you used to babysit for, and your parent's friends who knew you in grade school. Everybody else, get something meaningful for your friends and stop complaining about gift registries.
posted by nax at 8:21 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Try as you might, it's hard to find wedding accomodation that's not made for (at least) 200 people.

I DON'T EVEN KNOW 200 PEOPLE I LIKE. This is a stupid idea and I blame two types of people: the wedding industry folks who sell garbage thinking like this and the insecure fools who buy it.
posted by grubi at 8:23 AM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Is this writer mad that she is not married or has something against a set list of things to buy? Also I have never been anywhere where someone compared their silverware set to my mix and match hand me down set and said that they were a better person because of that. Ever. This lady needs to get married and have several people buy the same gift. Then she'll be writing another story on how annoying the same gift is and how great registries and cash are.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:25 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is just Tanya Gold's attempt to get into Private Eye magazine's 'Me and My Spoon' column.
posted by jonnyploy at 8:26 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


What the fuck is wrong with you people? You spend $120 at Crate and Barrel and all you have to do is go online, and click the first thing that comes up that's not really lame.

It's not the gifts I have a problem with; it's the notion people SIMPLY MUST have a wedding the size of Queen Victoria's coronation.

I don't care if I'm buying infanticide cream, it takes 10 minutes

Well, I *do* care if I'm buying infanticide cream. I don't know anyone I like enough to buy such a horrid thing for.

Oh, you made that item up, didn't you? Ah...
posted by grubi at 8:27 AM on June 10, 2009


A few years from now, he won't be able to remember when he last had ANY kind of grilled cheese sandwich, so have some sympathy and buy the damn thing.

Wait, I'm confused. Are we talking about grilled cheese sandwiches or 'grilled cheese sandwiches'? Because if there's a gadget that gets you more of the second kind, I'm v. interested.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 8:27 AM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


But today, you are not buying your friends a new life. They are 30 years old and rotting. They have wrinkles and Botox and they sag, like dying balloons. You are buying them an upgrade.

"But seriously, you two make a beautiful couple. Don't they? Thanks again for inviting me to your wedding, even though I wrote that atrocious article. I thought it would be edited down to something less scathing, but they ran it! The whole thing!"

Anger at crass materialism, meet a generalized reality: weddings can often spiral upwards, especially if you involve parents or you yourself want to invite more than your closest friends and relatives. So your Aunt Bettie doesn't really know you, but she has fond memories of when your family visited hers that one summer, so many years ago. And she has no idea what you have in your silverware drawer or on your mantle. Maybe even your best friend didn't know your Significant Other has always wanted a good set of plates, because your S.O. has always wanted to have the option of throwing a really nice dinner some time in the future. But you have no idea how much anyone wants to spend on you, and you'd feel crass mentioning it to them, or worse, having your mom drop subtle hints to everyone on your guest list. The stage is set for the wedding registry.

You and your S.O. can now look at your accumulated stuff, think about what you two want to upgrade, what you're missing, and what you've always wished you had. Your plates clash with theirs, and between the two of you, you have place settings for 6.5 people (you lost some spoons in the last move). Instead of mashing your collections together, you can start anew, or get something fancier. Bully on you, you're moving into the next phase of your lives! And while you're at it, you've always wanted to be able to juice a carrot in 2 seconds, to add the MegaJuiceMonster on the list. Sure, it's $500, but it's a wish list, not a list of demands for a captive audience.

See, some people feel like they can make up for years of not getting to know you by splurging on your wedding gift. Or, they have money and realize you two have been skimping for years, trying to pay off your college loans. Or maybe they remember someone getting them a really great item at their wedding, and want to pass along that feeling of gratitude. Regardless, they don't have to worry that the newly-weds will end up with 3 juicers, 100 spoons and no forks.

Registries make it easy for everyone. Yes, they can seem like crass displays of material values, but you're not buying the items without thinking of the couple. If you think they'll never really make yogurt in their new yogurt maker, don't buy it. Or you can be a rebel, and buy them a croquet set.

Protip: some people feel odd just giving money or gift certificates instead of something physical. Even if you run out of ideas, you can stock up the wedding registry with items you may not want, and return the items that you realize were above and beyond what you want, and you can get what you now realize you need. Or you can purchase the less-than-exciting 100 rolls of toilet paper you didn't want to add to the list, but realize you'll eventually need.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:29 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought it was kinda restrained myself. Some women of my acquaintance would be inviting the husband-to-be out to dinner sans partner to celebrate their wedding -- on the grounds that they clearly don't suffer from commitment-phobia, and they haven't actually tied the knot yet, so they're still fair game.


PeterMcDermott

I was just thinking 'god, I actually know one of those women' - then I remembered the obvious movie, My Best Friend's Wedding!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:30 AM on June 10, 2009


Oh, for Christ sake, shut the fuck up and decline the invite if it fills you with so much goddamn rage.

But no, then you wouldn't get to tell the world how much you hate stuff.
posted by bondcliff at 8:30 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


decline the invite if it fills you with so much goddamn rage.

Ha ha! Yes! Because you can only disaprove of things that are directly related to you! Brilliant!
posted by grubi at 8:43 AM on June 10, 2009


Maybe a case of always a pisser-and-moaner, never a bride.

Taking a person out to dinner for a wedding present is really crappy for a number of reasons. First of all, the gift should be for the wedding couple, not just the bride. In which case she should be taking out both the husband and wife. Secondly, I can't think of any time in the bride's life (other than when she is having a baby, perhaps) that she would be more busy, and your gift to her is "I take up your time!" She's either just had or is about to have a wedding with a catered meal. It's not like getting tasty food is a rare occurrence. Thirdly, taking someone out to dinner is not a gift, it is a celebratory action. When you find out someone is getting married, that is a good time to say "Congratulations! Let me take you out to dinner." Taking someone out to dinner is something that friends just do from time to time. It's not generally considered a gift in and of itself. Finally, how on Earth is this an appropriate present for someone you have no respect for? Yeah, I'd really love to spend an hour who thinks I am a greedy, present-grubbing thief. If she really still wants to get a gift to her friend but loathes the thought of giving her something permanent and asked for, she should offer to take care of the couple's dinner needs for a week: either cook or order whatever they want, then deliver it to their house. A quick "Hullo" and a peck on the cheek, and then get the heck out so they can have time to themselves.

Christ, what an asshole.

This so-called "small wedding" is going to include 200 of their closest friends and family at a country club. What the hell?

Look, not everyone has the luxury yes luxury of having a wedding with just a few dozen people, someone's backyard, and a potluck or something. I wanted, longed for a small wedding, outside, with all the decorations handmade by us, and with me making some or all of the food (the last one I pretty quickly conceded was totally unworkable, especially with the number of guests and us living a 5 hour drive from our hometown where the wedding takes place). But reality happened. I have a large family, she has a large family, and I didn't want to exclude any of them, or the family friends I'd grown up with. A backyard wedding was nixed, not just because of our size but also because we needed to consider older members of our family who couldn't get around very easily.

These things happen. Do they happen because we are smug, greedy middle class twerps who really, really wanted a Cuisinart and a few nice things? Maybe, a little, but mostly not.

PS: Although we did include a flatware set on our registry, I don't think we put any spoons in it. [NOT SPOON-IST]
posted by Deathalicious at 8:43 AM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, am I really the only person in here who likes getting presents? So many people here are acting like wanting presents is morally equivalent to beating up baby seals.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:48 AM on June 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'd like to thank Tanya Gold for writing such an "insightful" deconstruction of wedding traditions, because it inadvertently led me to the link in the sidebar about the Burger King franchisee in the US South who is putting anti-global warming messages in the space on his outlets' signs where it'd usually say "2 Whoppers, 2 Bucks!" Global warming denial as the value-menu junk food of popular discourse - that there's a nifty little metaphor.

As for Ms. Gold herself, I think her stunning skill with trendspotting and pop sociology was amply covered the last time she showed up on the blue to explain how decades-old TV shows indicated a sudden maddening rise in Nazi kitsch or something. She's like the idiot love child of Jean Teasdale and Jackie Harvey, ferreting out non-trends to fail completely to properly apprehend (let alone insightfully analyze).
posted by gompa at 8:49 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


flashbang, thank you so much for pointing out that comment--that was the perfect schadengasm to accompany this schadangbang.
posted by Decimask at 8:53 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mrs Mutant & I are both non materialistic, and when we got married we already had absolutely everything we needed....Some folks are just too darned materialistic and status concious these days.

Excuse me if I'm not remembering correctly, but aren't you preposterously wealthy?
posted by Deathalicious at 8:53 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


The wedding registry is an institution that makes perfect sense for the typical wedding of yesteryear but makes almost no sense for many weddings today. The writing in the article is hyperbolic, but the key element isn't that registries are ridiculous in general, it's is that the older the bride and groom, the stranger having a wedding registry becomes.

For a young couple just getting started in the world, who may still be in school or who have just begun a career, there's really no second-guessing why they might be asking for expensive spoons and china on the list. The couple is likely to be combining a set of junky K-Mart or thrift store pots, pans and plates, so standard wedding registry fare can fill a genuine need in their life, and the list allows them to get a complete matching set without overlap. No problem. I would gladly buy this hypothetical young couple some spoons of their choice.

But when there are couples getting married in their mid-30s who have been in a career for over a decade, have been living with their partner for years already, and might even own their own home? The registry can come as a rude awakening, as you see things that you know they already have and of which the purchase would only be incrementally better. You also see things that, knowing the couple, seem out of place on the registry -- like the aforementioned panini press. These registries come across as being either greedy or wasteful, and often seem out of line with your perception of the couple. Many couples seem to ask for these things just because it's expected of them, even though it will serve no tangible purpose; it ends up being a wasteful display of symbolic materialism.

It's not the registry by itself that's the problem -- it can be a helpful tool for some people. But when it's used blindly out of tradition, and that tradition just ends up making waste without providing some type of tangible benefit to anyone involved, it's time to rethink whether the tradition makes sense in that scenario.

I also think it's time to rethink whether giving cash as a wedding gift is tacky. While couples in their 30s are likely to have the "consumer durables" they need, they're also likely to be knee-deep in student loans or household debt, and are likely to be taking on even more debt with the wedding or honeymoon. We're living in a strange time where small household luxuries take a much smaller bite out of the budget than before, when housing, education and health take a much larger bite. Cash may not be romantic, but my feeling is that it's more likely to be what most couples truly need and more likely to be genuinely useful or appreciated.

(Full disclosure: my wife and I didn't have a registry or request gifts when we got married in our early 30s, had a small, lovely, inexpensive wedding, and it was fantastic. My wife also has an excellent knack for skirting or subverting registries with gifts that will be genuinely useful and surprising. No matter how much you're told that a wedding needs to be this big, expensive, nervewracking thing, they really don't have to be that way.)
posted by eschatfische at 8:56 AM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


My bride-to-be and I did not originally want to have a gift registry, but were requested to put one together by many of our relatives and friends who said it would make it easier for them. So we went nuts in Target with the registry-gun thing for a couple of hours and now, four years later we have a nice cheese grater. The fancy kind that will grate cheese into little pieces and big pieces, with a slicer in the middle. Also, we have a waffle iron. Mmm...waffles. So, in the end we are glad we changed our minds and made a registry, because now we can have waffles. And grated cheese. And without the registry we might have TWO waffle irons and NO cheese grater. Or vice-versa. Have you ever tried to grate cheese with a waffle iron? Or make waffles with a cheese grater? Neither would work, I can assure you.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:57 AM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Tanya Gold is the worst.
posted by minifigs at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2009


Oh, and as Decimask said, good catch there flashboy. Not only a great rebuttal, but also itself weirdly indicative of a social milieu I'm ecstatic to not be a part of. "I do have a wedding list at John Lewis which I can appreciate is bourgeois . . ."

Bloody hell, do people actually still fret about whether they're coming off bourgeois? Is there a more Marxist-Leninist registry? A Trotskyite faction in the housewares section of Marks & Spencer? Is this kind of pointless pedantry all that's left to pass the time once the Empire's dead and buried?
posted by gompa at 9:03 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dunno Deathalicious. I actually DO NOT like getting presents. If there were a phobia of present giving/receiving, I'm sure I'd manage to fit the diagnostic criteria. It just makes my skin crawl and makes me want to die inside.

That's where my feelings about bridal registries come from - for some reason, I can muster the courage to give a "gift" if I am being truly helpful to the person. But that's all predicated on need, not want. Want freaks me out. A nice briefcase for a college grad? Edit your resume? A business card holder? DONE.

But a decorative throw rug freaks me the fuck out.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, am I really the only person in here who likes getting presents? So many people here are acting like wanting presents is morally equivalent to beating up baby seals.

Deathalicious,

Weddings are meant to be for grown ups. Actively wanting presents is meant to be for eight-year-olds:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:06 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Holy shit people, it's a tossed off little humor column. Unclench.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:10 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


So many people here are acting like wanting presents is morally equivalent to beating up baby seals.

It is and you are going to LOVE what I got you for Xmas!
posted by DU at 9:13 AM on June 10, 2009


The truth is thus: weddings are expensive, and there is almost no way to escape from the horror of a classical wedding.

Mine was $65. $85 if you count the all you can eat buffet afterwards (and we even got soda, extravagant!).

My feeling is that wedding anxiety primarily comes from the fact that all the people involved feel stuck between convention, what they want, and what other people tell them that they should want and they see no easy compromise. I love AskMe, but I feel that it makes the problem worse not better because people really get in with the eye-rolling sometimes ["Don't even BOTHER to go to the WEDDING if you're not going to BUY A GIFT"] and for a lot of people who are at least a little socially awkward (including myself here) there's a certain amount of random-rule-following that you feel that you have to do to fit in.

With weddings and other Big Social Occasions, there are many strong opinions on what those rules are. It sucks. (the same is true about teaching and learning technology, for what it's worth) There are also many people who are quick to jump in with "ur doing it wrong" and I really feel that we're in a place of so much fluidity as to what "doin it rite" looks like that no one really has a stronghold on the right way to do this stuff, much less the moral high ground. So, you muddle ahead doing some things the way you think you're supposed to and then someone comes along and tells you that not only are you not doing it correctly you've actually pissed them off by not doing it correctly and now there's A Thing and what are you going to do about it? You point to the rulebook you're following and they have their own rule book and they're diffrent. Joy!

With weddings the best you can hope for is that you and your intended are at least on the same page so that you can suffer all of this horribleness together and still manage to have a good time and be as gracious as you can to the other people who have a different idea of the way to get married. If I'm invited to your wedding, there's a good chance you're getting a half gallon of maple syrup, pancake mix and a nice spatula for a gift if I bring you anything at all. Knowing that, if you choose not to invite me, I'd understand.
posted by jessamyn at 9:13 AM on June 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Oh, FFS.

Look, the registry is, or should be, there to HELP. It's not a proclamation. I know that when I go to a wedding, sometimes I have no idea what to get the couple, in which case it's great to have a guideline. Particularly if I am not overly close to them. Other times I know exactly what to get.

It was kind of weird making ours when we got married because there was not a lot of *things* we needed, I had no interest in silver or china or whatever, and we live in NYC, so don't have a lot of room. Nonetheless we came up with a list of useful things, and some people gave us gifts off the list. Others used it as a jump off point. Others didn't look at it at all. It was all good.

When you announce your wedding, one of the first things that many people ask is "where are you registered?" They WANT to be helpful and get something that you want. I know I do.
posted by gaspode at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


....You know, it is acceptable to ignore the registry if you really hate the concept that much.

I've been to six weddings, one bridal shower, and one baby shower, all of which used pre-arranged registries. I was in varying degrees of connection to the recipients -- everything from "friend of friends" to "my kid brother" -- and there were all different price levels on the registries and on the gifts I got.

...And I'm not seeing what the issue is. The registries are just suggestions, if you think about it. Want to get them something not on the registry that is smaller but more meaningful? If you know the couple that well, great, go nuts (I knit baby-sized Red Sox stuff for the baby shower because I knew my brother would get a kick out of it). Do you not have a lot of money to spend? Great, find something cheap and be done with it. Do you feel cheated of the chance to use your imagination? Get something small from the list and flesh it out with more stuff that goes with it, the way I did when I bought the wok from the wedding registry and then went to Chinatown and got a whole bunch of small fun things and then a cookbook to make a whole "Chinese cooking" theme gift basket out of it. And I got a pound of Dunkin Donut's coffee to go with the French Press coffee maker from my sister-in-law's bridal shower.

...Or maybe is it that some people are jealous that other people are getting all this cool stuff and you're not? I can empathize with the jealousy -- hell, I've been jealous too ("...aw, jesus, they're getting a full set of All Clad Pans? Shit, I want those!"). But your jealousy is not their problem, and staging a Protest Against Materialism because you're just jealous is really tacky.

Or do you think THEY'RE tacky for getting all this stuff? Well....then, they're tacky. What's wrong with taking the high road and not raising a snit about it? Just find the cheapest thing on the list, get them that, and be done with it. They get the egg timer and you can feel smug in your moral rectitude, and everyone's happy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


The comment from the bride referred to in the column is schadenfreudelicious!

Usually I know the bride and/or groom well enough to understand what their tastes are, and so I ignore the registry. My standard wedding gift is a hand-knitted afghan in a colour to suit the couples' home décor. I usually see it in their home years later looking much-used, which is all the thanks I need. But sometimes I don't have a clue what the bride and groom would like, or maybe just have no time to make or shop around for a gift. In such a case I ask for ideas and am very glad to be referred to a registry.

And, thank God, NONE of my relatives or friends have ever been in the least greedy or grasping about presents. Sometimes I don't think I appreciate them enough.

And the tacked-on dinner party complaints were a bit odd, as though she didn't have enough complaints for a second column and so squeezed them in at the end of this one. Moreover they seemed to boil down to "a couple of people have said rude things to me at dinner parties and thus dinner parties suck"!

Again, not a problem in my life. I'd say Tanya perhaps needs new friends, but then maybe she already has the friends she deserves.
posted by orange swan at 9:18 AM on June 10, 2009


If you're going to whine about someone's wedding, please stay home. It's up to the couple to celebrate in whatever way they wish. It's up to you to participate or not. If the bride/groom is acting like an entitled bitch, it's likely that s/he's an asshole the rest of the time, too, which begs the question - why are you friends with him/her anyway?

Anyway, if you won't stick to the registry, and you're not absolutely certain what they would want otherwise, just give them money. We had a few very well-meaning guests just "wing it", and their gifts are in the back of our cupboard because we don't know what the hell to do with them. (Example: absolutely hideous hand-painted wine glasses that don't match our decor at all.)
posted by desjardins at 9:36 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't see how the columnist is any different from Andy Rooney, except that he's been milking this schtick for my whole life- I hope that Tanya can get a grip and aim a little higher.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:37 AM on June 10, 2009


weddings are expensive

everyone says that until they get divorced
posted by pyramid termite at 9:38 AM on June 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


After reading this:
If you're going to whine about someone's wedding, please stay home. It's up to the couple to celebrate in whatever way they wish. It's up to you to participate or not. If the bride/groom is acting like an entitled bitch, it's likely that s/he's an asshole the rest of the time, too, which begs the question - why are you friends with him/her anyway?
reading this is pretty funny:
We had a few very well-meaning guests just "wing it", and their gifts are in the back of our cupboard because we don't know what the hell to do with them. (Example: absolutely hideous hand-painted wine glasses that don't match our decor at all.)
Who says irony is dead?
posted by grouse at 9:40 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actively wanting presents is meant to be for eight-year-olds

Horsefeathers. I love getting presents, and I love giving presents and seeing the happy look on the recipient's face. I hope to feel this way until the day I keel over (hopefully in several decades from now).

I think the problem is that people associate presents -- giving and getting -- with materialism precisely because the industry pushes materialism down our throat. You know, there was a time when we liked having and getting things because those things were useful and wonderful.

Nowadays, you can buy into this materialism bullhonkey and believe that owning material possessions makes you better than people who do not possess what you possess, or you can buy into the materialism myth (while claiming to deny it utterly) and believe you are better than others by eschewing those things.

OR you can retain that eight-year old's sense of wonder and delight, and really appreciate and enjoy and love getting presents because you love the person who is getting you the present and you know that they are getting you the present because they love you and are celebrating the occasion with you.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:41 AM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


On postview:

If I'm invited to your wedding, there's a good chance you're getting a half gallon of maple syrup, pancake mix and a nice spatula for a gift if I bring you anything at all.

Make it Grade B and you are so invited. Already have kickass spatula.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:46 AM on June 10, 2009


Life is what you make of it. Good job, Tanya.
posted by oddman at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2009


Excuse me if I'm not remembering correctly, but aren't you preposterously wealthy?

Excuse me if I'm not reading correctly, but isn't asking that sort of question considered rude?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2009


OR you can retain that eight-year old's sense of wonder and delight, and really appreciate and enjoy and love getting presents because you love the person who is getting you the present and you know that they are getting you the present because they love you and are celebrating the occasion with you.

So you're self-servingly in awe of the loving esteem in which you are held by the person who gives you the present?

(just teasing, Deathalicious!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:56 AM on June 10, 2009


Preposterously rude.
posted by ryanrs at 9:56 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actively wanting presents is meant to be for eight-year-olds

Horsefeathers. I love getting presents, and I love giving presents and seeing the happy look on the recipient's face.


That's how I feel too. It's okay to love getting presents. Overt and crass greediness is wrong. Just don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

There are 33 gift-giving occasions on my 2009 gift list. It's a lot, but then everyone I know decided to have a baby this year. And I do really enjoy preparing gifts. It's so rewarding to give someone that perfect gift that they never would have thought of asking for.
posted by orange swan at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2009


We signed up for a gift registry against our better judgment. Today, 25 years later, I don't remember who bought me the cuisinart (which I no longer have). But I remember that KK bought me the beautiful artist-made quiche pans (not on the list), and that Holly got me the nesting lacquer trays (not on the list), and that Dave got us a coffee table (not on the list, though desperately desired who knows why) because he heard us talking about it.

I really do appreciate that sentiment. But in the same vein as Mutant ("throwing something away every day", which I can admire but unfortunately not fully emulate), I do try to keep my material goods down. And this means that well-meaning friends buying cool stuff that I didn't ask for more likely than not are going to have to face the fact that I may be giving said stuff away, as I don't need nesting lacquer trays no matter how exquisite. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the gift, but you run that risk when you buy a gift. I've tried hard over the years to remember that a gift does not put an onus on me to keep it.

I still remember fondly the givers of our completely utilitarian glass mixing bowls, our saute pan, our steamer...all on the registry. I'm sad to say I'm not really in contact with many of these friends anymore, but I think of them almost every time I'm cooking.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2009


Crap, this reminds me I'm supposed to start calling caterers.

I DON'T EVEN KNOW 200 PEOPLE I LIKE.

Do you know 100 people you like? What about family?

My fiancee had a venue she wanted already picked out, and it holds a maximum of 150 people, so our size is limited by that. At first I thought that was a ludicrously large number of people, but after we listed out everybody we wanted to invite plus the family that we were obligated to invite, we had to trim down. Keep in mind that each person you invite counts for two people. Obviously sometimes you know both people in a couple, or somebody might not bring a date, but in general you have to account for double the number of invites.
posted by kmz at 10:01 AM on June 10, 2009


Ugh, I hope she didn't receive the wedding list *from* her friend, and I especially hope it wasn't included in the invitation. Yucky yuck yuck. That aside, though the list is only a collection of suggestions guests can use or not, I do think registries can get a little excessive. It always drives me a little nuts when the couple is using the wedding list as a means to upgrade all of the perfectly nice things they already have. It seems sort of wasteful somehow.

That said, my husband I specifically didn't register for anything, asked for charitable contributions to my favorite no-kill animal shelter, and received gobs and gobs of cash as a result. We used it to pay the closing costs when buying our house. Everybody wins!
posted by Never teh Bride at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2009


When you announce your wedding, one of the first things that many people ask is "where are you registered?"

This, which is why we had a charity registry, because we really preferred that people not spend money on us unless there was something specific they really wanted to give us.

Also, my wedding was awesome and fun and relatively cheap, and I'm glad Tanya Gold was not invited.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:11 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that each person you invite counts for two people. Obviously sometimes you know both people in a couple, or somebody might not bring a date, but in general you have to account for double the number of invites.

You only have to invite "and guest" when your original invitee is in a long-term relationship, living with a partner, or married. Otherwise, one is under no obligation to allow invitees to bring dates. If the bride and groom want to do so, that's a different story. But it is perfectly easy to have fun at a wedding as a solo.
posted by Never teh Bride at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2009


When I got married my bride-to-be and I decided we didn't want to register, because:

a) our apartment was already too full of stuff as it was and we didn't need or want any more,
b) we're not big fans of the whole wedding registry concept in general, and;
c) we were pretty sure a part of our souls would have withered and died away as we walked through a department store, scanners in hand, zapping lemon zesters, gravy boats and bathroom towels.

Instead we encouraged guests to donate to a couple of charities in our name. However, only about 10% of the guests did so; almost all of the rest (a few of whom were perplexed bordering on *angry* that we had gone down this route) gave us cash. This cash pretty much covered the rest of the cost of the wedding after our own money and assistance from our parents was factored in. So, it was win-win-win; we weren't weighed down with a bunch of stufff we didn't need or have room for, we more or less broke even on our wedding, and a couple of highly-deserving charities made a few bucks.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:25 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is illegal for me to be married in my state. :(
posted by hippybear at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Instead we encouraged guests to donate to a couple of charities in our name. However, only about 10% of the guests did so; almost all of the rest (a few of whom were perplexed bordering on *angry* that we had gone down this route) gave us cash.

So why didn't you donate all that cash to charity? You wanted them to give their money to charity, but once it was yours, you kept it?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:31 AM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


What she's saying about people wanting/expecting an upgrade is true. I know this, because I secretly fantasize about it myself.
posted by hermitosis at 10:32 AM on June 10, 2009


eatyourcellphone: Is this what you are looking for? (NSFW)

Interview with the inventor, for those who care.
posted by hippybear at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are two things about the smug middle classes - that is you, Guardian reader, and me, Guardian writer - that I most despise.

Funny how often the bourgeoisie suffer the worst indignities at the hands of those detestable bourgeoisie.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2009


hippybear: I remember them talking about those things in Wired Magazine back in 1997, except they were supposed to be connected to the Internet. They called it "cyberdildonics".
Funny how that never took off.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:41 AM on June 10, 2009


I guess it was a good post if it engendered over a hundred heartfelt comments. There must be a felt need to discuss this sort of thing, at least to some degree.

Secondly, while it might be considered rude to ask if someone is wealthy under normal circumstances, it seems quite acceptable to make the point in response to someone decrying the materialism of wedding registries. I mean, it does rather place into context the statement. And moreover, presumably the information has already been offered, else how would the asker remember being told?

Anyway, I've been to a number of weddings but have never bought off of the registry. I almost always give a check. It may not seem "classy" or "creative", but my impression is that right after a massive weeding, it's the gift most needed by the couple.

Of course, as a bachelor, I'm somewhat grandfathered in to the whole cultural view that kind of infantilizes me in family social settings, anyway. I'm thus somewhat insulated from some of the more traditional social gathering expectations. I'm not expected to bring hot food to church potlucks or family reunions, for example. Something about not having a wife who presumably be expected to do the cooking, I guess. When I do take a hot dish, I usually get the kind of reaction that's 1/2 mistrust and 1/2 astonished amazement. As if because I'm a single man, it's a wonder that I could start the stove without blowing myself up, so I must have cheated somehow.

Of course, being a gay man for whom marriage is illegal makes going to all those lovely puff-pastry weddings something of a mixed blessing, but I do love my friends and am overjoyed to see them making a wonderful life for themselves. I just don't think I'll be buying that cuisinart-thingy anytime soon...
posted by darkstar at 10:42 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


> So why didn't you donate all that cash to charity? You wanted them to give their money to charity, but once it was yours, you kept it?

That was our original plan, but when some of our older relatives and friends of my parents found out that we were planning on giving all of it to charity they...were not pleased. I had to promise my folks that we would keep at least some of it. All in all our wedding was a relative breeze to organize, but we experienced a surprising level of blowback when it came to this stuff.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:42 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I personally found the response from joholland to be pretty hypocritical.

I do have a wedding list at John Lewis which I can appreciate is bourgeois but we decided that it would be practical, though by no means compulsory. The irony in all this is that I really, really don't care about gifts

If she truly didn't care about gifts, why is she requesting them instead of asking for donations to charity in her and her husband-to-be's name? For example, the Heifer Project has their own gift registry where the gifts go to others. Or she could request a bunch of spoons be sent to the local homeaid.
posted by hazyjane at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2009


That was our original plan, but when some of our older relatives and friends of my parents found out that we were planning on giving all of it to charity they...were not pleased. I had to promise my folks that we would keep at least some of it.

Seems like a perfect example of a problem with charity registries- once you make charitable giving a public thing, you've invited everyone to have an opinion on what is, IMO, a private matter. If you hadn't registered for charity gifts and just accepted whatever came your way, no one would have asked what you were going to do with the money after the wedding and you could have given it all to charity as you originally planned.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:48 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my experience, most people wildly overrate their skills as gift-givers (actually, wasn't there a study about this a while ago? It turns out that random strangers perform better at choosing gifts than your nearest and dearest.) I think there's an extraordinary egotism at work in the way a lot of people seem to think about wedding gifts, and I'm not talking about the people making the helpful registry lists. What the whiny reporter in the linked column is really upset about is the idea that her inspired abilities as a gift-giver are being implicitly doubted by being presented with a list of things that the couple actually want.

Either you want to give this couple something they'll be happy to receive or you want to give them something which will make them admire your amazing creativity and your extraordinary insight into their personalities. If you want to give them something they'll be happy to receive, a registry list is a godsend. Going down the second route is largely egotism disguised as generosity (a thoroughly Maussian approach to the gift, of course). The problem, of course, is that people who choose the egotistical route will nearly always receive positive reinforcement, unless their friends are amazingly blunt. "Oh, that's lovely, that's exactly what we wanted! Aren't you clever!" their friends will say--before shoving whatever it is to the back of a closet--only to be dragged out and displayed whenever their oh-so-insightful friend is coming around to visit.
posted by yoink at 10:48 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"When I got married my bride-to-be and I decided we didn't want to register, because..."

We had to register. We had no choice. Not only because we owned practically nothing (we lived like sewer rats for a couple years even after college), but also because neither of our families would permit it to be otherwise. We wanted this to be a real wedding didn't we? Registering for all the trappings of domestic life was just what you did, end of discussion. It was as much a matter of custom as necessity. Impractically, we ended up with three identical coffee grinders.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just got married and we went the cash please route. Politely of course. It was a bit easier because my wife is of Chinese descent so we just stuck these traditional little red gift envelopes (hong bao) into the invites and mailed them out without further comment other than pointing people to our wedding website for registry information. There we explained that we didn't want to do the registry thing since we basically have most of what we need and that people could just give us cash gifts in the hong bao if they wanted to and that we'd donate 10% of the total to 2 charities of our choosing.

Doing it that way resulted in nobody being offended or feeling pressured as far as we can tell, 2 charities getting a nice contribution and us being able to offset part of the cost of the wedding. Not everybody gave us gifts, some gave us gifts anonymously, some with a note and that's exactly the way we hoped it would be. We never expected anybody to give us anything but we made sure that the party was great with good food, a good open bar and good music. For us everybody being able to actually enjoy the wedding with us was the most important so we didn't want to be cheap. Getting cash gifts helped.

Still, some of her relatives insisted on giving us non-cash gifts. For some reason all but one of those turned out to be mostly useless "decorative" crystal objects so unbelievably ugly it hurts my head just to remember them. But, of course, it's the thought that counts so we send them thank you cards anyway. Even if in one case the thought clearly seems to have been: "We hate this ugly crystal photo frame we got from someone else last year so let's get rid of it by giving it to them!"
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, you know, my mother-in-law bought us painfully expensive china when we got married. I didn't want it, my wife liked the idea but knew we didn't need it. Nevertheless, mom wanted to buy it so we picked out something we loved and she bought it.

Then, within the first year, when money was painfully tight and we couldn't make rent, we returned it to the store and used the money to get by until things got better. Let me tell you, getting the china in the first place made us feel grown up, but having the gift receipt was the best gift of all.

(and for the record, yes, she knows we had to return it.)
posted by davejay at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


By the way, one problem about listing charitable donations instead of or as part of your wedding registry, is that for a lot of people it ends up being implicitly "as well as" a wedding gift rather than being the wedding gift itself. People don't like to show up to a wedding empty handed. A receipt from Your Favorite Charity doesn't feel like a suitable thing to place on the gift table.

I see nothing wrong with asking for cash, however, and then spending that cash on a charity of your choice.
posted by yoink at 10:52 AM on June 10, 2009


> Seems like a perfect example of a problem with charity registries- once you make charitable giving a public thing, you've invited everyone to have an opinion on what is, IMO, a private matter. If you hadn't registered for charity gifts and just accepted whatever came your way, no one would have asked what you were going to do with the money after the wedding and you could have given it all to charity as you originally planned.

That's a really good idea. We did discuss a similar arrangement when we decided to forgo a registry, but nixed it because we also felt a bit weird about the idea of asking guests to restrict themselves to cash gifts. We were, looking back, a bit naive in terms of peoples' expectations.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:55 AM on June 10, 2009


Anyway, if you won't stick to the registry, and you're not absolutely certain what they would want otherwise, just give them money. We had a few very well-meaning guests just "wing it", and their gifts are in the back of our cupboard because we don't know what the hell to do with them. (Example: absolutely hideous hand-painted wine glasses that don't match our decor at all.)

Huh. I actually think this comes off as a little uncharacteristic wedding-induced greed, which undermines your claim that people who are that way about weddings are that way in general. Do you really think that way normally, that someone needs to be "absolutely certain" they know what you'd like before giving you a gift you haven't specifically asked for, and if they mess up by giving you something that doesn't match your decor, it's a mockable offense?

I think no one needs to stick to the registry, whether or not they're absolutely certain that the couple will like the gift. Give what you want to give, and if it sits in the back of the cupboard, well, that's the nature of gifts; some sit in the backs of cupboards.
posted by palliser at 10:56 AM on June 10, 2009


I still remember fondly the givers of our completely utilitarian glass mixing bowls, our saute pan, our steamer...all on the registry.

I remember who gave us what from the registry, too. I'm not sure whether that makes us extra-materialistic or extra-grateful. But I'm sure someone's about to tell us.
posted by palliser at 10:58 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


A cautionary tale:

We didn't have a registry. In fact, our wedding invitation stated we didn't expect our guests to bring us anything at all - we were about to move abroad and didn't want more stuff to lug around (and asking for money would've felt too weird).

And... so many of them brought gifts anyway. Horrible, horrible gifts. Dainty silver bird-shaped salt shakers. Matching nightcaps. A golden rose with a silver stem. (My kids found it last year and occasionally use it to hit each other in the head, so it isn't as mindbogglingly useless as I used to think. Only hideous.) A coffee maker (we already had a better one). A second, even smaller coffee maker. Weird table cloths that didn't go together with anything else in our home (or, really, on this planet).

Now, you may think you know just the right gift for the couple without a registry, but believe me, Uncle Fred and Auntie Millicent have no clue. The amount of completely useless junk people would receive without these lists would be staggering.

Sure, skimming through a wedding registry makes me cringe sometimes, but they simply make life easier for everybody. And since when did a moment of smugness hurt anyone? Just check the box for the goldfish tanning bed and have fun at the party.
posted by sively at 11:00 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


If I'm invited to your wedding, there's a good chance you're getting a half gallon of maple syrup, pancake mix and a nice spatula for a gift if I bring you anything at all. Knowing that, if you choose not to invite me, I'd understand.


Adds jessamyn to guest list. You can even sleep on our couch. And then make us pancakes the next day. The more I think about it, the more awesome this will be.
posted by spinturtle at 11:00 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


i seriously considered having an un-reception in my late 20s. i'd been through plenty of weddings, been *in* plenty of weddings, started down a VERY long baby-shower path, and quite frankly, i was tired of buying gifts for people who were almost to-a-couple living much better than i. buying gifts was seriously cutting into my ability to pay my rent & utilities, let alone feed myself. (thankfully, most of my friends knew my financial position & were very gracious with whatever small offering i could manage.)

i'm in a MUCH better financial position these days, one where 'you can spend $120 at Crate and Barrel and all you have to do is go online, and click the first thing that comes up that's not really lame.' but god help me, if that's the point, i'm just not interested.
posted by msconduct at 11:02 AM on June 10, 2009


Middle class indeed, even bourgeois. The proper wedding gift is sterling silver.
posted by Cranberry at 11:22 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Take that, Tanya.
posted by Cranberry at 11:23 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Only one item is going on my registry.

One can never have too many baby robot dinosaurs.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:31 AM on June 10, 2009


Maybe she should have a Hitler wedding? That would be original!

Oooh, that Tanya Gold. I thought the tone was familiar. The Guardian's resident troll.

I don't think the "wedding industry" FORCES couples to spend lavishly by any stretch of the imagination. That is, if you don't have any imagination and swallow the recommendations of self-interested caterers, jewelers and planners wholesale, surprise! You're going to get fleeced. I've attended the standard church + reception hall with buffet and band weddings, but I've also been to outdoor affairs in public parks under large rented tents with a couple dudes playing guitars and had just as much fun. I think most people are just happy to be invited to share in your blessed union.

And the whole gifts anxiety Gold brings up perplexes me. Follow the couple's recommendations; it's their day. Not a time for protest gifts. Unless you can't afford what they've asked for, in which case, I think if you get them something they can tell is sincere they're not going to stop talking to you or something. Crikey.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:36 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oooh, that Tanya Gold. I thought the tone was familiar. The Guardian's resident troll.

I think she may have actually been Julie Burchills understudy or something. Unless they are bitter enemies, which is equally possible. Could be both.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on June 10, 2009


I think she may have actually been Julie Burchills understudy or something. Unless they are bitter enemies, which is equally possible. Could be both.

Yeah, I think it was both. And after Gold wrote the Too Much Hitler piece, she CC'd it to Burchill with the header, "Looks like the master is now the apprentice!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:55 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just got married and we went the cash please route. Politely of course.

The more I think of it, this is the only thing that really makes sense ... if the goal is to actually help the newly betrothed get on with their lives. And it's worth noting, this is pretty much the rule in any number of non White-Anglo-Saxon cultures.

Give the kids cash. Suffer the high end retailers and their precious registries.
posted by philip-random at 12:03 PM on June 10, 2009


Our wedding was $50, complete with Universal Life Church minister and passer-bys as witnesses. It was great. We specifically eloped to escape the white-dress-my-special-day* insanity.

* "my" in this phrase almost always refers to the mother of the bride.
posted by maxwelton at 12:15 PM on June 10, 2009


Excuse me if I'm not reading correctly, but isn't asking that sort of question considered rude?

Yeah, sorry, it was actually a rhetorical question. I know with certainty that Mutant is very well off (or extremely good at cultivating the persona of a knowledgeable financier).

I just think there is a difference between saying, "I am not materialistic because I live in poverty and own practically nothing," and "I am not materialistic because I do not find myself wanting to acquire more things, and by the way I have plenty of money so already probably own most of the things I need or want".

His comment set off a trigger in me, because in all honesty I know that I am far wealthier than most of the world (I'm in the top 4.9% globally) but at the same time, I want things. I'll probably never face real hunger, never have to choose between heating, medication, food, or my children's education. I have a laptop. I have a job that pays okay. I have no reason to want for anything. And yet, I do. In the context of my middle class existence the things I want aren't really extravagant...perhaps the most decadent would be to replace our old smallish TV with a larger flat screen.

So perhaps the more mature response to his comment would have been:
When you say "materialistic", are you referring only to people who have plenty of things and simply want more than they need or could reasonably want? Or simply people who want things? Because it sounds like you are saying you don't understand why people want things, and that may have to do with your own life experiences.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:17 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


we were pretty sure a part of our souls would have withered and died away as we walked through a department store, scanners in hand, zapping lemon zesters, gravy boats and bathroom towels.

For the record (and with an embrace of bourgeois bohemianism so full I fear it might actually justify David Brooks' whole neologism-spouting career), there's more to the modern bridal registry than useless housewares. I'm invited to a wedding next month where the primary registry is at Mountain Equipment Co-op, for example.

Which either means that the tradition of giving a new married couple a helping hand with their material circumstance is more versatile than our disdain for antiquated notions of proper housekeeping, or that the climbing hammer is the 21st C. lemon zester. (In either case, Card Cheat, you'll get my citrus zester when you pry it from my cold dead hands . . . which will have been saved from permanent knotted disfigurement by having discovered how to cut the prep time on a Thai curry practically in half with one simple tool.)
posted by gompa at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2009


I thought the point of the registry was so a ton of people didn't get you very similar gifts causing a lot of hassle of returning things\etc later.

It's really not a big deal. I always end up giving cash though.
posted by zephyr_words at 12:24 PM on June 10, 2009


Well, given that my own wedding was a $3000 affair (including the hall and food), I can't agree that a wedding has to cost a mint. My father-in-law's advice was to spend more on the honeymoon than on the wedding, because you actually remember the honeymoon. He was right, wedding day was a blur.

I can also see where the author is coming from regarding gifts. My wife and I registered at Target, for cripes sake, and kept the list at items priced around $20-$30 because we knew damn well most of our friends and family didn't have a lot to spend. We needed stuff for our home - we were college students in our twenties and didn't have much - but even now, ten years later, I still just don't understand the idea of registering for $250 place settings. If I can't afford anything on your list, guess what - you aren't getting something from me that is on your list.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2009


People don't like to show up to a wedding empty handed.

Oh, but they should. The best thing to do is send a gift just before or just after the wedding so the bride and groom don't have to worry about figuring out how to (or who will) get those gifts home after the reception.
posted by Never teh Bride at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2009


...or bride and bride or groom and groom, of course. Add brides and grooms as necessary.
posted by Never teh Bride at 12:51 PM on June 10, 2009


It is a big deal if you can whakka-whakka-whakka out a few hundred words in time for your dead line, get paid and generate a boat-load of comments to keep yer editor's finger off the fire button.
posted by i_cola at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


> In either case, Card Cheat, you'll get my citrus zester when you pry it from my cold dead hands...

Ah, don't get me wrong, gompa, old boy...Mrs. Card Cheat and I are, as you know, not exactly Buddhist monks sitting in our empty cave with our begging bowls. There's plenty of Stuff we're happy to own. Talking about the prospect of our souls withering as we wandered throughout the mall was probably laying it on a bit thick, but we do find malls and department stores rather extremely dispiriting.

However, if it would have been socially acceptable to register at Soundscapes and Romni Wools, we would have done that and told the charities to take a hike.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2009


I thought the point of the registry was so a ton of people didn't get you very similar gifts causing a lot of hassle of returning things\etc later.

That is, of course, the real reason, but acknowledging it would leave precious little room for people to rant on the internet.
posted by GeekAnimator at 1:56 PM on June 10, 2009


Seems like a perfect example of a problem with charity registries- once you make charitable giving a public thing, you've invited everyone to have an opinion on what is, IMO, a private matter.

The advantages of the charity registry are that a) the giver can take the tax deduction, and b) the recipient doesn't know how much the giver contributed.

Also, yes, I am an uptight WASP and the concept of people giving me money for my wedding freaked me out because of my cultural baggage.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2009




Why is everybody so upset about the cups spoons?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 3:12 PM on June 10, 2009


wtf was the point of this?
yes, i think you're jealous.
yes, i agree that disposable kitchen appliances are a blight on our culture.
yes, i think your friends are jerks.
anything else?
posted by Capt Jingo at 3:18 PM on June 10, 2009


I will never disparage the wedding registry since moving to Japan and seeing the cash gift system at weddings here. It's very simple: you pay the happy couple cash. 20,000 yen (about $200) minimum. Minimum. If it's an expensive wedding, you're talking 40,000 or 50,000 yen. No exceptions. No begging off. No explaining that you're a little short right now, and let me take you guys out to dinner sometime later. Nope, you pay, because of the social embarrassment of not paying is so important.

In the west, and I think especially in America, you can (though folks try not to; social embarrassment plays a role there too), you can just look at the registry, find the cheapest few things on the list and bam. Done. It's a much better system and benefits those friends who don't have much money. A few years ago my wife was invited to four weddings in the same year and it put a big dent in her bank account.
posted by zardoz at 4:55 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


zardoz, I'd love to have seen your registry.

Guns -- has (2134) -- wants (lots; at least a solid mouthful)
Penises -- has (2) -- wants (0)
Dead brutals -- has (1) --wants (all of them)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:49 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I haven't got a problem with registries in principle, although I almost never purchase gifts listed on them. I just feel like it's profoundly uncreative. If I know the couple very well, then I would rather find something suggestive of that, and/or useful.

If not, and sometimes even then, then my standard wedding gift is a really nice hardcover cookbook. I think that every couple needs to have a cookbook they can turn to that will help them cook a Thanksgiving dinner (or, horrors! a dinner party) from start to finish. My mother had one, and when I struck out on my own, I started collecting them, so I have a variety of suggestions based on how much someone cooks, and how good they are at it.
posted by honeybee413 at 6:25 PM on June 10, 2009


I highly suggest that anyone interested in how to get around all these difficulties read the practical and delightfully snarky Miss Manners, the section on wedding presents in her "Guide to Excrutiatingly Correct Behavior"

In a nutshell:
If you go to the shower/engagement party/wedding, bring a gift
No, it is not alright to request cash substitutions
The happy couple is not allowed to suggest specific gifts, unless asked directly, or through such things as gift registries.
Gift registries are tactless but ubiquitous and even useful, but please be discreet and circumspect (in other words, don't ask for the $1,100 coffee maker and don't print the registry info on the invitation). This was a major concession for Miss Manners, who used to demand the immediate end to all gift lists and registries.
The happy couple (formerly just the bride, thank g*d for the 21st century) must write a prompt, like same day you got it, thank you note.

Miss Manners could teach Tanya Gold a thing or two about scathing sarcasm. You don't even feel the cuts until you see the blood.
posted by nax at 6:56 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just get them booze. Seems to work.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:19 PM on June 10, 2009


Oh my, people who feel obligated to buy wedding gifts certainly can bitch and moan about them.

Let me tell you, as my own wedding approaches, I am amazed to find that it's no fuckin' picnic on the other side of this gift-equation, either, except that the recipient doesn't have social license to bitch about the whole mess.

Here I go anyway.

People go absolutely bugnuts crazy about weddings, and I do not mean only the bride and groom.

My partner and I are marrying in just a few weeks. For several months now, I've been seeing the social anxieties of some of the guests played out through gift-giving.

We've been quite vocal and sincere about our dearest desire: we hope our friends and family will show up and let us cram them full of cake and booze (or cake and juice, or mezze and seltzer, as various dietary rules dictate). Beyond that, we have no expectations or hopes, except that our loved ones not go broke trying to give us stuff.

Many people flat-out do not believe this, and keep asking what we'd "really" like, when what we'd really like is simply to have a wedding with our loved ones there. Several of our siblings have offered to tackle aspects of our wedding: a sister is giving us our cake, a brother is providing the wine, a brother is taking some photographs, a sister is performing the ceremony. These gifts are both more lavish and more loving than anything you could buy at Tiffany's.

Dissuading people from structured material gift-giving has been virtually impossible. We have not registered, we have not asked for anything, and we aren't hinting around for anything.

And y'know, I'm no saint: I'll take a gift if someone wants to give it! But while we're only too happy to accept our friends' good wishes and generous impulses, I'm not interested in directing people's generosity. This reticence is apparently unacceptable to many of our guests.

And frankly, some people use gift-giving as a way to express their annoyance or dominance or outrage. At a small celebration this weekend, a specific family member will almost certainly bring a big splashy gift, even though I explained to her gently but firmly that it's a party to honor my friends and family, not me, and that gifts would embarrass me and, more importantly, the other guests. My Best Woman is on alert to greet her at the door and spirit away any gift into the other room.

Another guest simply refuses to believe that I'm not having a bridal shower, despite having heard me say it myself. Today I got a bridal-shower check from her along with a (somewhat sarcastic) note imploring me to have fun at my super-secret bridal shower. How the hell do I write that thank-you note? (The only correct answer: promptly.)

People insist upon their rituals, new or old, well-established or made up on the spot. When those rituals clash, it gets messy.
posted by Elsa at 8:02 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nax makes a great point about Miss Manners, which leads me to wonder: if the sight of a wedding registry so fills a guest with spittle-spilling loathing, why bother to look at it, anyway? If the expense of a lavish gift is a burden why not give a modest gift? Do people forget that a gift is a gift, something given voluntarily and freely?

The happy couple may prefer a gift from the registry, or a check, or a contribution to their honeymoon fund, or a goat from Heifer International, or a share in a snake farm. That doesn't mean that's what you must give them.

Preferences are just preferences. We would prefer that our gifts come from the thrift store, or be handmade, or be consumable, be books, or be incredibly personal and thoughtful, or be really small for easy storage. That doesn't mean we won't get a large wooden banana stand, a crystal bowl too big for any of our tables, a Kindle, and a(nother) fondue pot. And we'll be grateful for them, too, because it's the thought that counts. Hey, that's catchy; I oughta write that down.

The wedding registry is an institution that makes perfect sense for the typical wedding of yesteryear but makes almost no sense for many weddings today. The writing in the article is hyperbolic, but the key element isn't that registries are ridiculous in general, it's is that the older the bride and groom, the stranger having a wedding registry becomes.

I would argue that it actual makes great sense for some older, more established couples. My partner and I have a tiny kitchen but a whole lot of kitchen gear, a tiny closet but a lot of towels and sheets, a tiny study but some glassware on the shelves in there. I'm sure our friends and family would love to get us a few small but suitable tools, towels, or glasses for our wedding next month, but the few things we need are so absurdly specific that no one could possibly guess what they are. A registry would make perfect sense.

We're still not registering for gifts, though. And this:

I mean, first off, I don't get who wants a thousand dollar plate set. Second off, I don't know who the hell *buys* one. My girlfriend's stupid sister got married a couple weeks ago, and her registry included stupid ass crap like a $200 garbage can.

is why. The Fella and I had caved in to the notion that we had to register, for the convenience of guests who would like to buy us a gift. I even made up a preliminary list of things we might like: a modest assortment of good but inexpensive kitchen tools and household goods. A (normally level-headed) loved one looked over the list and said, "Well, it's a start, but you need some nicer things on here. No one wants to buy you this piddling little stuff." A couple of family members agreed.

And I get that. I understand that, if someone is buying a gift to celebrate an important event, they might want to make that gift a bit extravagant. But we don't want anything expensive, we don't need anything extravagant, and we wouldn't ask anyone to buy us something lavish. So, wait, what would be the point of registering?

We made the decision not to register and not to request anything, and we've stood by it in the face of surprisingly powerful pressure from extended family. If we were younger or more yielding, I think we would have caved by now. Good thing we're old and stubborn!

So, if you see crazy expensive sheets or fancy-ass porcelain a $200 garbage can on someone's registry, keep in mind that they may have been hounded to request "nicer" things.
posted by Elsa at 8:12 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


If we were younger or more yielding, I think we would have caved by now. Good thing we're old and stubborn!

This is true. I was 21-22 when planning the wedding, and I caved to everything demanded by the older generation (mostly my mother-in-law; spouse is an only child, so I felt somehow obligated to let her have her one "real" wedding). It makes me wonder how old those upthread commenters are who said weddings "had to be" expensive because of all the things you "have to" do at one. Now, almost ten years later, I think I would be better equipped to insist on a less paint-by-the-numbers, more modest wedding.
posted by palliser at 9:49 PM on June 10, 2009


What is this bullshit about weddings having to be expensive? At our wedding my husband wore his ceremonial dress uniform, I had the white traditional dress, I arrived in a Daimler, had the flowers, and a professional photographer. We just didn't have guests - they day was about us, so we made it about us. Because of the law in Australia we needed to register our witnesses ahead of time so one was the chauffer of the Daimler, one was the woman working at the gallery where we were married. Of course we didn't have a registry - his parents gave us some money, my mother sent me flowers, and a lovely neighbour gave us a photo-frame and a silver jewellery box. If you think that there is some reason you HAVE to have a big/expensive wedding, you are obviously brainwashed. If it is what you want though, all power to you.
And no, I didn't have an engagement party or a baby shower.
BUT - that is us. We have been to weddings with gift registries, been cool with that and chosen what was left on the list. We had friends who asked for cash at their wedding, which I feel a bit squick about, but we went with their wishes (and my husband also took photos, had them framed and we gave them as a gift later). I love buying presents, but if there is a list I will go with that.
The only thing I won't do is hen's nights. And never will I pay in for the weekend away at a spa, shell out $1K for the privilege idiocy.
posted by Megami at 12:33 AM on June 11, 2009


My standard wedding gift.

Every married couple needs a good two-player board game.
posted by rifflesby at 12:49 AM on June 11, 2009


No matter what you do, someone is going to moan and bitch. Tell them firmly to STFU.

That said, we had a tiny wedding with 40 people and told everyone repeatedly "no registry, no gifts". We told them personally. We fielded phone calls asking again. We put it in bold type on the invitations, the map and followup emails.

They ignored us and we got cash, some gift-vouchers and this...
posted by ninazer0 at 2:54 AM on June 11, 2009


My son hates having stuff. My daughter loves having stuff. I think the entire thread contains both of my future wedding journeys in a nightmarish nutshell.
posted by nax at 4:50 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


just got married.
We didn't need much, so we didn't do a list. I was kinda bummed when we mostly got cash (like 99%). Not that I'm not grateful that we can now easily afford oil heat and to go to college in the next year thanks to our wonderful and generous family and friends. I was kinda hoping for some groovy gifts from our wacky guests, tho.

themadjuggler, of course, came through with an uber-cool heart-lamp. Always, ALWAYS invite mefites to your weddings.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:59 AM on June 11, 2009


maxwelton: high 5! paid $25 for the license, bought dinner for my best friend, and there you are. (we actually got married to get mr. epersonae's wisdom teeth out, but that's another story. can haz universal health care plz?)

"If I'm invited to your wedding, there's a good chance you're getting a half gallon of maple syrup, pancake mix and a nice spatula for a gift if I bring you anything at all."

we're thinking about a huge freaking party for our 10th anniversary next year, in honor of having skipped the whole wedding thing...there would be much (additional) celebrating if the party involved maple syrup. :)
posted by epersonae at 3:22 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was kinda bummed when we mostly got cash

We got a few cool gifts - a quilt from Aunt R., a giant impractical tapestry from gay Uncle J., a scrapbook of my parent's wedding that my grandmother made. But yeah, we mostly got cash, and I admit that we did not donate much of it to any charities :)
posted by muddgirl at 3:38 PM on June 11, 2009


Scattercat said: Maybe I'm just a misanthrope at heart. The whole experience left a very sour taste in my mouth. I'd rather have had me, my spouse, two random strangers for legal witnesses, and a priest/justice of the peace to perform the ceremony.

Yeah, when our wedding turned into a 300 person guest list and started nearing the 50K price point because we *had* to invite the babysitter of a 3rd cousin on your grandfather's side, we booked airline tickets to Vegas for us and 4 of our best friends and eloped. (I took the cupcake dress with me though...which was lovingly referred to by anyone who had to carry it, as The Beast.)

I know our parents were disappointed, but I think our friends were all relieved. We had a huge party when we got back and told everyone who felt obligated to get us a gift, to instead make a donation to their charity of choice, since we really didn't have room for more stuff. We had too much stuff already. Give it to people who don't have stuff.

And best of all, there was nobody there who had to be introduced to us...which I've seen happen at weddings. Why the hell do you invite people you don't even know, unless it's a purely mercenary event?

Frankly, I think the article was poorly written and badly edited, but with the sentiment, I heartily agree.
posted by dejah420 at 5:20 PM on June 11, 2009


Just a quick point: general wedding costs are a numbers game. Pretty much everyone above whose wedding was cheaper than $100 probably did not have more than a small handful of guests.

Once you get past a couple dozen, options like backyards and potlucks become less feasible. At that point, you run into real costs.

With a few exceptions, people who said "It's easy to have an inexpensive wedding" probably had few guests. People who said it's hard had many.

For some people, weddings are intensely private. For them, it barely makes sense to have anyone else there. For others, weddings are about the life they are chosing for themselves. For them, they are going to include friends and maybe some family members. Finally there are chumps like me. Our wedding is a family and community affair, which means that, yes, there will be some people on my side of the family that I don't know (my fiance, on the other hand, is awesome at knowing her family and can keep track of everyone, all their names, what they're doing, where they live, etc).
posted by Deathalicious at 5:13 PM on June 12, 2009


So I wonder if there is a charity for wedding gifts the way there is for business attire? Where you buy the wedding registry gift for some low-income couple who really can't afford it?
posted by nax at 8:36 AM on June 13, 2009




....What on earth does that have to do with wedding registries, Artw?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:54 PM on July 9, 2009


Check the bylines.
posted by Artw at 7:33 PM on July 9, 2009


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