January 29, 2009

Registering and Buying for the Bride & Groom

I have a friend who went to a high-end wedding (more than 4 days of festivities). she was very close with the bride. well they had been close. they grew up together and were estranged for a few years until she got a call from the bride announcing her engagement and they immediately became buddies again.

this friend went to the high-end store where the couple had registered and browsed through the selections. with the assistance of the shop clerk she soon realized the least expensive item on the register was $350. it was one soup spoon. not a serving spoon, an individual's soup spoon. (also important to mention, this wasn't a second wedding where people undoubtably have more money, this couple was in their 20s). they were asking for 16 (who has 16 people for a dinner party where soup will be served... that tells you something about the bride, and their dining room table!!). 

this friend was quickly reminded why their friendship had lapsed. she didn't want to be rude, she had the money to buy them a nice gift, but she felt morally opposed when she learned it was assumed that all guest would spend a minimum of $350. she felt like it was a cover charge. "if you can't afford a $350 soup spoon than don't bother coming." she particularly hates these types of people. so instead of buying them the $700 gravy boat she actually liked, she opted to buy a single soup spoon.

was this rude? i say no. 

i think it's absolutely absurd to have an outrageous registry, especially in this economy. so was this friend sending a slightly hostile message via her gift? probably. but honestly, i kind of love it. sometimes the best thing to do is play by the rules, but change them to fit your liking. that's what she did.

at the end of the day wedding gifts are a gesture of gratitude. they're the guests way of saying thanks for inviting me to the celebration of the next chapter in your life. i want to thank you for including me by giving you a gift that i hope will help you in this next chapter. normally you'll pick something from the register, but often if you really know the person giving them something really personal is also ok and can be really special. 

i always keep in the back of my mind one of parents favorite wedding presents: A beautiful salad bowl. they still have and love it. they didn't register it. it's made from a single piece of wood. you don't wash it with soup. the oil from the salad soaks into the wood, changing the color and texture. my mom has gets apoplectic if anyone goes near it with soap -- the soap dries out the wood and can cause cracks and hardening whereas the oil darkens the wood and makes it stronger. i especially love this gift because it ages with the couple. it needs care and love. you can't quickly clean it like everything else, you have to scrub it with a green scubber and while you do this you think about the care it requires, which is not that dissimilar from a relationship. the point is they didn't ask for this bowl, but it's become a favorite. this november they will have had that salad bowl for 50 years. 

so when it comes to registering, think about the things you want and need, don't be gauche by setting the price points too high -- you might end up with cheaper gifts. and don't forget to leave a little room for those who may have a better idea of what's important 50 years later. 

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