(Disclaimer: For a blog entry about wedding gift registries, the following spends a surprising number of words discussing hatchets.)
I take it back. All those time I privately thought to myself, “Why are these people making wedding planning so hard?” I take it all back. Wedding planning is hard, and not just because you have to remember to figure in the 18 percent gratuity to your catering budget*. But there’s one area that I thought would be blissfully simple and nothing but fun: gift registry. Turns out, even that can have its moments of bewildering frustration.
On the surface, it sounds like heaven. Walk into a store, grab a scanner that makes you feel like you’re on Star Trek, and just zap every little (or big) thing in the store that you could possibly want. It’s like being a kid in a candy store, except you can tell people you’d like 23 pounds of green M&Ms, and the gals on the fourth floor at work will go in on it together and actually get it for you. But grab your hand-held scanner and strap in, because this is where etiquette questions, guilty feelings about greed and Megan’s high-dollar taste in vacuum cleaners come into play.
First off, let’s just acknowledge that this is a weird thing. If you’re getting married, you’re (presumably) no longer a six-year-old making a wish list for Santa. (Show of hands: who here circled pretty much the entire Toys-R-Us Christmas Big Book?) I don’t send out birthday party invitations each June telling people that I’d like x, y or z, so why is it OK that we do this for a wedding? Is it that we are adults, and that makes us hard to buy for? I don’t think so. If you care enough to come to our wedding, odds are you know us just as well and you would have when we were eleven, and my Grandpa Guy** didn’t need four different online registries to know that a hatchet would be the most amazing gift for his 11-year-old grandson.
I have a vague feeling that the idea is to help get the newly married couple off to a running start, to equip them with the material odds and ends that make a house a home. The problem here is that by the time we tie the knot next June, Megan will be 26 and I will be 31. We’re not exactly moving out on our own for the first time, and we both own (multiple) shower curtains. Though, if I’m being honest, that one downstairs really should be replaced, but that’s beside the point. You see it’s a really unique design that I’ve only seen at… never mind. Where was I?
It’s here that we begin to feel guilty. Since we both have our starter silverware and Wal-Mart clearance toasters, we’re registering for higher-end items. It’s a little splurgy, but we want the super fancy knives that will slice both tomatoes and leather work boots. My hatchet just isn’t getting the job done any more on the tomatoes. Megan and I both have cheap-ish vacuums that sort of suck*** most of the time (SUCK!! GET IT?? PUNS!!), and if we’re going to get a new vacuum, we’d kind of like it to be a nice one. But is registering at Target for $399 Dyson really kosher? Maybe I’m just cheap. Actually, yeah, that probably is part of it. It’s not just that I feel like we’re shouting “WE’RE IN LOVE; BUY US STUFF,” it’s “WE’RE IN LOVE; BUY US EXPENSIVE STUFF.”
For example: Did you know Dillard’s sells a $400 comforter set? It’s not even signed by Elvis, nor has it been slept on by Abraham Lincoln. Nope, it’s just a bedspread and some pillow cases – very soft and pretty ones, to be sure – in a store that is only yards away from Orange Julius. Lest you think I’m picking on Megan’s choice of a vacuum, I added a $299 table fan (also, coincidentally made by Dyson) but in my defense IT IS THE COOLEST FAN EVER!! Have you ever seen one in person? They’re amazing! (Side note: the very first time Megan came to Jefferson City, I took her out to eat then – no lie – took her to Best Buy to demonstrate the Dyson table air multiplier.)
All the wedding registry info online says it’s OK to shoot for the moon, but also suggests adding some less costly items for your guests that
don’t love you as much make less than $6 million a year. Supposedly, the more things we ask for, the easier things are on our guests. On a tight budget? There are plenty of goodies on our list that cost less than $20. On an even tighter budget? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered: we’re also registered for a 12-pack of Diet Dr Pepper and a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. I’m not joking either. I will be quite sad if we don’t get both.
It kind of seems expected that you’ll register for crock pots and linens (Megan already has a large, very nice crock pot, so sorry). But why shouldn’t I add other, less traditional items***? I mean, I’ll probably draw the line at asking for ammo, but if Megan wants a China hutch, why shouldn’t I ask for a gun safe? One friend of ours registered for Reese’s, and got ’em. Sounds like a winner to me!
There’s also the idea that registry updates itself so you won’t get four of the same $399.99 vaccuum, or 14 of these awesome tea kettles. Actually this function sounds really handy and useful. Moving on.
I guess the real issue is we feel rude “asking” for this stuff. Especially considering that I haven’t even glanced at my friends’ registries and blazed my own path when it came to gifts for their weddings. (Dang it, is the problem here that I’m simply inconsiderate and a bad gift giver? It’s all becoming clear, now.) The Knot, the wedding website, says it’s as traditional as cake and punch, so I guess I’ll just have to be OK with it all (seriously, go look at their list of articles dealing with just registries). I also think it’s hilarious you’re allowed to make this request, but it’s considered bad form to include the info an invitation. How does THAT make sense?
All that to say that gifts are great, but Megan and I will be pre-occupied with starting our new lives together to really be that offended if you don’t get me that Dyson “Air Multiplier” or if you bought the wrong color of tea towels. It’s cliché to say that “gifts don’t matter,” that “it’s the thought that counts,” and “your presence is present enough,” but despite the awful, awful pun, they’re all true. If you want to get creative and go outside the registry limits, well by golly I hereby give you permission; we could use a few good macaroni frames. And if you really feel the need to give us a gift but still can’t think of any ideas after perusing our registries or flexing your creative muscle, just go ahead and get Megan her own hatchet. Don’t worry about “our colors.” We’ll mix and match.
* It really irks me when mandatory extras are not included in the published “cost.” You know you’re expecting it, and you know I’ll pay it. Just raise your prices by 18 percent – heck splurge and go all the way to 20 – then use your booth at the bridal shows to loudly trumpet “The chicken may be dry, but at least we won’t charge you an 18 percent gratuity like the other guys!” Your frankness and honesty will win me over. The best part about this pricing model is that Great Aunt Mildred will probably feel bad we’re not paying an 18 percent gratuity (not a visible one, at least) and she’ll cut you a check on the spot. Everybody wins! Also, I think I’d like to cancel the chicken and go with the beef.
** Hatchet is also the title of an adventure novel that would also make a great gift for an 11-year-old grandson. Anyway, Grandpa Guy has a long track record of dangerous-but-awesome gifts. One of the worst cuts of my life happened moments after I opened my 13th birthday present (Swiss Army knife). I love that on the “Is he old enough for this?” scale, a small axe came nearly two years before a pocket knife. Semi-related: It took me years to figure out his actual first name was “Guy.” I thought we were just calling him the equivalent of “Grandpa Dude,” or “Grandpa Man.” I mean, it did seem a little impersonal, but he didn’t seem to mind so I just went with it. Yeah, I may not have been the sharpest tool in the shed. Nope. But my hatchet was!
*** No lie: somehow a baby’s car seat landed on our Target registry. Whoops. Megan caught it before it was published online, thank goodness, but yeah… that could have been awkward.