Unconventional Wedding Registry

lady_laineOctober 4, 2006

Has anyone ever heard of unconventional wedding registries, especially for those couples who don't need the usual stuff (ie, china, stem ware, flat ware etc.)

I want to know how guests respond to such registries. An example would be gift cards to favorite furniture store.

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As a guest, I would find a registry for gift cards to be in bad taste. Way too much like asking for cash.

If you don't need anything, then why register at all? Let people surprise you with things you may never have thought of, or don't anticipate you will ever need (but they may know better). If you don't like the gifts, you can sell, exchange, donate, or give them away. And many people will give checks.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 6:08PM
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I agree; no gift card registries. If I received an invitation suggesting such an item, I would give only a card, assuming that the couple really doesn't need anything. However, there are unconventional wedding registries. For instance, you can register at sporting goods stores and at some Home Depots. If your family is very generous, you can register for a refrigerator or a washer or dryer at Sears. You can also register at department stores for things like luggage, electronics, or even lingerie - the choices are great.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 8:57PM
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You can also plant some hints, or maybe even with your very favorite aunt flat-out tell her, that what you'd love is for some people to go together to help you buy a new sofa for your new house.

Idea being that perhaps someone will take the hint and organize it, in which case, they'll get you a gift certificate.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 11:20AM
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My good friends who already had an established home registered at REI. They got a new tent, new camping gear, a new kayak, all sorts of fun stuff. My other friends who just got married this summer registered for a new washer and dryer, and everyone donated to their washer and dryer fund. After they bought them, they sent out really cute little thank you cards with them and their dog posing in front of the washer and dryer. (They did not put the washer and dryer fund in writing anywhere, they included no registry info. It was all word of mouth.)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 5:38PM
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When i hosted my sisters shower she was in her late 30's and a homeowner. She did not want or need the traditional registry gifts. Her and her soon to be hubby wanted giftcards from Menard's and Lowes to improve the home that they would share. I was not comfortable writing that on the invitations. So my DH actually thought how i could word the invites. They read "No Registry--Hardware Store Giftcards Welcomed." I wanted the guest to know what she wanted without feeling obligated to buy the giftcards. Half the guest bought giftcards and the other half bought great and thoughtful gifts. Your guest shouldnt feel obligated to buy something that they dont want to buy. Hope this has helped!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 3:09PM
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My fiancee and I already own a house and have many (if not all) of the items a traditional registry offers from the obvious well-known vendors (Target, Walmart, Sears, etc.). I think realistically nowadays, there are quite a few couples that host the weddings themselves without the aid of family; and in those situations, it becomes more economical to accept some form of monetary gifts.

Balancing a mortgage payment + wedding + honeymoon is a huge financial burden for any two people to carry. What my fiancee and I are ending up doing is setting up a registry for our honeymoon! I think that is the compromise of asking for just money verses asking our guests (if they choose to of course) to pitch into the honeymoon.

However, I do want to mention that in other cultures minus American, accepting money is a perfectly acceptable (and preferred) gift. This is such the case in traditional Chinese weddings. The U.S. being a melting pot of cultures, it sometimes shocks me that this custom is often shunned and treated as 'tacky'. Realistically, this can potentially work out better for the couple...and bottom line, I am all for making the couple happy in their new life together and any wishes they may have; it is their day.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 3:48PM
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"However, I do want to mention that in other cultures minus American, accepting money is a perfectly acceptable (and preferred) gift."

It is unacceptable to accept money as a wedding gift in America? That is news to me. Cash is a common wedding gift here, and I don't know anyone that's ever turned it down or sent it back! In fact, many years ago I went to a wedding in New York (I'm from New England) and they didn't even have a gift table. I asked where it was and they looked at me like I had two heads, telling me people only give cash. I was pretty surprised, and had to hold onto the gift I brought. At one point the bride actually walked around collecting envelopes from people in a "money bag", a mythical thing I had only heard of and never seen.

At our wedding we received about 70% cash, 30% gifts (percentage by guests, not value).

I don't know anyone who has done an unconventional registry, but I've heard of vacation and furniture registries. A trick will be letting people know. Most people I know just look up Macy's, Williams-Sonoma, etc., looking for the registry. You can't put it in the invitation, after all.

"...tell them how much you want and ask everybody to contribute the same amount..."
Spam. And completely inappropriate.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 4:23PM
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Wisheo, read the rules of this forum. Your post is nothing but an advertisement for your registry site -- which, by the way, would appall me if some bride and groom referred me to it.

gradea, there is nothing at all "unacceptable" or "tacky" about ACCEPTING gifts of cash.

What IS both unacceptable, in terms of etiquette, and tacky, in many if not most people's opinion, is ASKING for cash. And I think you know that -- I"m guessing that's why you can't quite bring yourself to write "ask for" instead of "accept." But that's the only way your post even makes sense -- who would refuse to accept a gift of cash? -- and I think that is really what you are talking about.

Flat-out asking for anything is unacceptable -- and that includes putting registry information into an invitation. Does it make you a little less likely to get your preferred gifts, cash or otherwise? Maybe -- well, too bad; gifts are voluntary in the first place, anyway. But anything else is (1) anticipating your guests' generosity, (2) directing how that generosity is to be expressed, (3) communicating that you connect wanting them to be at your wedding with the idea that they will give you a gift -- all of which are not only forbidden by etiquette, they are rude, and they make the couple look greedy.

Register for some items if you wish -- not honeymoons or mortgages or other things that really just boil down to offsetting your own cash expenses -- and don't distribute the information to anyone unless and until they ask. If you want cash, then let your families and close friends spread the word when people ask, and don't register many items; people will understand then that you don't need much and will be much more likely to give you cash.

You can rationalize it any way you want about mortgage payments, other cultures, etc. in your own mind, but you can't control what others will think, and a brief look at any forum like this one will show you that most people think it's awful. So if you send out registry cards or somehow "register" for cash or large group purchases like wisheo's terrible idea (or a honeymoon; sorry), believe me, whether or not you agree, and whether or not they tell you so, many of your guests are going to laugh at you or think you are tacky/or greedy. Is that what you want?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 4:37PM
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gellchon: In no shape or form am I asking for a forums approval. I do not need a virtual consensus to tell me what is right or wrong, when it is really the family's (both bride and grooms) approval that is needed.

As what I can gather from other threads , you think it is wrong to deviate in any shape or form from conventional Western wedding. Reality is that things change and there are different cultures with different beliefs. Yes, some people (assuming they are not accustomed to a certain culture) will find it rude, but that is their problem....I guess they shouldn't have been invited.

The FACT, whether anyone believes it or not, is that it depends on the context of your situation.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 8:30PM
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While I know that in Asian and some other cultures cash gifts are the norm, I had no idea that it was customary for recipients of gifts to effectively say to their guests, "Give me cash only," instead of being charmingly surprised and delighted when they receive undemanded (but not unanticipated) gifts of cash.
Thanks for clearing that up, gradea.
And as for SPECIFYING the amounts, as wisheo suggests, for me that's the quickest way to get no more than a token. I don't like it on charity donation letters and even less on wedding invitations.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 10:16AM
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tell them how much you want

Um, no.

(and actually, wedding gifts are NOT voluntary; every etiquette book says that wedding-invite recipients must give a gift. And if you ATTEND the wedding, it is extra rude not to give the bride & groom SOMETHING. But it should be something you can afford. There is a mutual fiction about wedding gifts; everyone pretends that the bride & groom are not expecting gifts. But if a guest doesn't give one, they've sent a really powerful message--one that says they are a "taker" and they are not interested in "giving" to people whose food they have eaten and whose emotional regard they have taken for granted)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 6:46PM
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Talley Sue, are you sure that even if you don't attend, you must send a gift to everyone who invites you? I know that at least Miss Manners doesn't say that. She says that if you don't attend, you can just write and express your good wishes; if you do attend, a gift is still technically voluntary, but if you care enough about people to want to attend their wedding (and drink their champagne), you are supposed to want to express your warm feelings with a gift. I.e. -- a "voluntary" gift is "required" if you attend.

I agree with her, and I couldn't afford not to agree -- as my husband is clergy at a big congregation, can you imagine how many invitations we get, including from people we barely know? We don't go to all of them, of course, and I'd go bankrupt buying all of them gifts. But I do buy a gift the same as any other guest if we do attend (or if we can't attend, but it's a friend and we would have gone if we could).

But now that I think of it, that is a special case, and maybe an exception could apply for "courtesy" invitations like that (think how many the president gets). It pretty much amounts to the same thing for "regular" invitations, because presumably you only get those from people you care about enough to want to attend if you can, so you'd send a gift anyway.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 11:43PM
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Thumbs up to Talley Sue. According to the Emily Post Institute:

3. Send a gift.
If you are invited to the ceremony and/or reception, you should send a gift, whether you are attending or not. Generally, gifts are sent to the bride in advance of the wedding. In some localities, gifts are brought to the reception and placed on a special table. If you hear from family that the couple would prefer a charitable donationÂas in the case of an older couple or an encore wedding Âplease respect their wishes. If you receive an announcement after the wedding has taken place, you may send a gift if you wish, but you have no obligation to do so. It is nice to acknowledge the announcement with a card or a note expressing your best wishes.

The "rules" regarding wedding gifts are pretty passive/aggressive when you think about it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Emily Post Institute - You're Invited, Now What?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 9:05AM
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That's a pity, I think. Not for the invitees -- I mean, even if that's the rule, as I wrote above, presumably they feel close enough to the couple or family to attend if they can and to WANT to give something anyway if they can't, rule or no rule. If not, they can simply send a very small gift or make a donation to charity in honor of the marriage. I presume Emily would count that as a gift.

So the thing I don't like about this rule is not that it changes anything for the invitees, but that it does so for the HOSTS. I wouldn't like to feel I was obligating anyone to give me (or my child) a gift just by inviting them.

And in any event, I beg for an exemption for those of us who get courtesy invites to zillions of events!

By the way, hearing that this is a rule at least in some etiquette references makes me think it is even MORE important not to include registry info in an invitation -- it would make it almost like an invoice. I want my invitations to be opened with pleasure, not dismay.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 3:42PM
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I guess Miss Manners disagrees with Emily. Yesterday, her column included this reply to someone who asked if she had to send a gift to her ex-boyfriend, who had invited her to his wedding:

"If everyone who received and declined a wedding invitation were obliged to send a present, greedy couples would be blanketing society with invitations to people they hardly know.

"And come to think of it, some of them are.

"The recipient's basic obligation is to respond quickly."

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 12:53AM
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I feel like most places have some kind of gift registry online nowadays. If you already have everything you need for the house, why not register based on a hobby you share? We actually registered for a tent and backpacks at REI. I've also heard of people registering for luggage (to travel), sports equipment and even photography stuff. Think about what the two of you like to do and register accordingly. You don't have to stick to the traditional china and crystal!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:31AM
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Here's what Emily said in her 15th edition (which is the one I have on my desk):

"It used to be considered obligatory to send a gift, even though you could not attend the wedding. This is still true when the principals are friends whom you see from time to time, or who live nearby. In the days when that "rule" was made, people di d not move aroudn as they do today, and invitations were sent ONLY to those within a reasonable distance. Today people often send invitations to their entire list of acquaintances..., not thinking about the obligation they impose. So if you live in California and receive an invitation to a wedding in New Jersey from people ou haven't seen in ten years, don't send a gift. If you are customer, a client, or a patint of someone you meet only professionally, an dyou have never met the bride or groom, don't send a gift. ..
This does not mean that you should not send a gift to a bride whose family you will see in the near future, even though youa re at a distance when the wedding takes place. For example, the daughter of people you see every summer at your vacation home, who has grown up with your children, gets married in December. The fact that you are hundreds of miles away does not relieve you of th responsibility of sending a gift, if you receive an invitation to both wedding and reception. If you don't, you will surely receive a cool "reception" yourself when you meet next summer.

(italics hers, bold is mine)

Basically, if you are not close enough that you'd spontaneously buy them a gift, then they shouldn't be inviting you. If they invited you and you aren't close enough to ever consider going to the wedding, then you don't gift them a gift.

Brides are supposed to be keeping that obligation in mind, and are supposed to be keeping their guest lists conservative.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 4:53PM
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for the couple who already has everything, i've gotten invites that say "in leu of gifts, make a donation...ect."

when i went to register, the lady at the store said register for twice as many gifts as guests, because everyone will buy you a wedding gift, and a shower gift. this simply isn't true. i'm not expecting anything from at least 1/3 of my guests i'm inviting. and i DID make gift gards available because sometimes you need to pick up a last minute gift and a gift card is the simplest thing. a bride and groom should not ASK for ANYTHING. wedding ettiquette says NOT to send information about your registries in the invitation. it's tacky, and seems like you expect a gift. the purpose of inviting people is because they mean something to you, and you want them at your wedding...not their gift. if they want to know where you are registered at, they will ask. they will call around, and your bridesmaids can start spredding the word. *on a side note, wedding ettiquette does say that you can send out registry info w/the shower invites, since it isn't generally the BRIDE doing her own shower.

if you're offended at the registry on a wedding invitation, something i have done before, is simply a card with well wishes, and nothing else. i agree that it is selfish to ask for gift cards from a certain store, and cash is unacceptable.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 5:05PM
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"... the lady at the store said register for twice as many gifts as guests, because everyone will buy you a wedding gift, and a shower gift."

Did the lady at the store expect that spouses would send separate gifts? That every guest would be invited to a shower? That a family of 5 would send you ten gifts?

I wouldn't want a clerk that poor at math to make change for my purchase!

Good for you that you saw through that nonsense.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 3:05PM
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