Give guests options to get good gifts

An individual going by the mysterious moniker of Again recently shared some nuptial gift-giving wisdoms over at Teeny Manolo.

If they registered only at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, well, sometimes I feel a bit touchy about that. Unless you (or their friends generally) are of more liberal means, this always strikes me as rather graceless (but what do I know?). If you can’t afford anything on the registry that is not a single fork or the like, buy them something they would have registered for if only they’d thought of it (a pretty vase, a picture frame in the style of those they did register for, a kitchen gadget which you have discovered and swear by).

Either their other acquaintance are all affluent and will buy the registry out, or nobody can afford it and they will be justly repaid for being inconsiderate to their guests. You are not required to sacrifice your groceries for the month for someone else’s occasion and it is NOT good breeding to imply the contrary. If you are invited to a wedding that will OBVIOUSLY be so expensive as to demand a present you could not afford, I personally think it would be better to find a polite reason to decline.

As tempting as it is to scale up without limits when creating your registry, do give a thought to both those people who may not be particularly well off and those people who are attending your wedding as guests of your guests or even guests invited by your parents.

A little of this and a little of that

Your tastes may be grand, and you may see the occasion of your marriage as the perfect opportunity to introduce a little more silver, crystal, and china into your kitchen. Nonetheless, courtesy demands that you append all that high-class swag with a few inexpensive wine stems or a pretty porcelain sugar bowl.

What it comes down to is that you’re vastly more likely to get gifts you want and like when you stock your registry with things from the high end of the spectrum, the low end of the spectrum, and everything in between. Some people–perhaps those who’ve hit a rough patch or those you don’t know terribly well–will spring for the sugar bowl. Others (usually moms and dads and grandparents) will present you with the professional grade deli meat slicer you’ve been salivating over.

Finally, for the love of all things matrimonial, please do not whine and carry on when certain guests give you gifts not on your registry. My stance may be a somewhat unpopular one, but the fact of the matter is that guests are under no obligation whatsoever to look at your wedding registry much less buy something off of it. People managed just fine before the Marshall Fields department store invented registries in 1924, and one would hope that those who know you well presumably have some notion of your taste in housewares.

17 Responses to “Give guests options to get good gifts”

  1. Kate says:

    It seems to me that even at some of the higher-end stores, you can still register for smaller items that don’t cost much, i.e. a bud vase, a rolling pin, etc. It’s also possible for someone to buy you just part of a set, i.e. two items from a bathroom accessories set, which is usually a modest expense.

    It is important to include gifts at a variety of price points so that all your guests will be able to afford to buy something off the registry. Of course, some guests like to get creative and go off the registry. I did this myself when my sister got married – after the wedding, I bought three frames and placed some wedding photos I took in them. My sister seemed to really love it, and I felt happy to give her a personalized gift.

  2. Melissa B. says:

    “Finally, for the love of all things matrimonial, please do not whine and carry on when certain guests give you gifts not on your registry.”

    Amen! On the flip side, if you choose not to register, do not complain if you receive six toasters and the “wrong kind” of coffeemaker. Your guests couldn’t have known that you wanted the Cuisinart coffeepot, not the Mr. Coffee, or that five other people also got you a toaster.

  3. C* says:

    While I agree that it’s rude to complain about gifts that are not purchased from the registry, I really think if you choose to purchase a gift that is not on the registry it would be in good taste to include a gift receipt. We ended up driving to 7 stores in our area trying to return a slow cooker we didn’t register for. The people who gave it to us didn’t include a receipt and we purposely didn’t register for a slow cooker because we already had 3! We ended up finding the store it came from in the end, but we spent an entire day calling and driving to stores, which was a major PITA.

  4. Never teh Bride says:

    Too true, Kate. It reminds me of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in a way.

    Right you are, Melissa B.! Though The Beard and I found that we ended up with a great deal of cash after not registering for anything other than charitable donations…

  5. Twistie says:

    Mr. Twistie and I only registered at Macys. There are plenty of things there at lower price points. I know. We registered for mostly low to mid range things with a couple splurge/fantasy items thrown in for good measure.

    We got a lot of great, practical stuff from that registry that we’re still using nearly fifteen years later, and still love. But we also got a lot of wonderful things that weren’t on the registry. The original painting of a polar bear in the snow, the left-handed bread knife, the cute little glass fish-shaped plates that have turned out to have a million and three uses, the handmade quilt that keeps us toasty warm in the dead of winter…I’m glad so many of our friends and family members thought outside the registry box, too.

    I do, however, have to quibble with Again on one point:

    //If you are invited to a wedding that will OBVIOUSLY be so expensive as to demand a present you could not afford, I personally think it would be better to find a polite reason to decline.//

    There is no such thing as a wedding that demands a present the guest cannot afford. Dame Etiquette does not demand a wedding gift at all. It is a purely voluntary thing. That’s why it’s called a gift and not an entrance fee. When given, there is no minimum price limit, either. ‘Cover your plate’ is not good etiquette, but bad greed used by the ignorant and insufferable to squeeze the impecunious.

    Would I ever attend a wedding without sending or bringing a gift? No, I probably wouldn’t. If I love the bride and groom enough to attend, chances are I want to give them some token of my good wishes and happiness for them. But I am well aware that I’d be absolutely polite if all I did was send them a congratulatory card.

  6. Bridey says:

    I must beg to differ with the wonderfully monikered Again on one point: That there is such a thing as a wedding so expensive that it “demands” a present within a certain price range.

    If people want to and can afford to have a vast, wildly expensive wedding, I’m all for it, and more power to them. But what the happy couple chooses to spend on their own wedding has no connection whatever with how much those who wish to give them a gift should be spending.

    After all, a wedding isn’t a show, and a gift is not a ticket of admission that must reflect the cost of the entertainment. I’d hope a couple would be delighted that their friends and relatives (even the poor ones!) cared enough to come to the wedding, and honored by and grateful for any more tangible recognition of the occasion.

  7. Abby says:

    But I think we can all agree that few things are more romantic than a deli-grade meat slicer.

  8. RZS says:

    I know this will be an unpopular opinion, and I feel graceless saying it, but the fact is, the worst, most useless, space-sucking gifts we received were the ones not from our registry. We received one beautiful, thoughtful, touching gift, two useful ones, and a bunch of what we now know (through various relatives) were regifted items. My husband and I considered our registry VERY carefully. We had every price range, and as we are both older professionals, we really only needed specific items. We also told people they didn’t need to bring a gift; just bring themselves. We also live in a very small space, and the end result was that, when people sent us gifts off the registry that we a) couldn’t use b) didn’t have space for and c) didn’t like, we sent of sweet thank you notes and then donated them to Goodwill. We appreciated the thought, but sometimes the thought that resulted ws “what the????”

  9. Twistie says:

    RZS, you handled things correctly. You offered suggestions in a variety of price points, didn’t push people to give beyond their means, accepted all gifts with a gracious attitude, and were discreet in handling the disposal of gifts you disliked/couldn’t use.

    Bridal couples are obligated to be polite about all gifts, they are not obligated to love them all. And some people are better at choosing gifts without guidance than others.

  10. Regifted, RZS? Eek. The thing is that people are under no obligation to buy gifts off the registry or even to bring gifts at all, but those people who do choose to bring gifts should think of the couple and their needs.

    I second Twistie’s commendation of your handling of the situation. You overcame the bad gift givers’ lack of gifting know-how without hurting anyone’s feelings or causing offense.

    The sad fact is that some people will be clueless about gifts no matter how many hints, guides, and registries you throw at them!

  11. Jennie says:

    When all else fails, a gift card to a local home center is usually appreciated. Most couples are going to paint, repair, plant, decorate. If they have lived together for a while, there is still going to be household needs. I would rather have some spare coin at a paint/hardware store than a silver plated, apple shaped gravy boat that I never use!

  12. RZS says:

    Well, it’s nice to know we did the right things by people. I still feel badly that I didn’t like everyone’s gifts, and especially that we had to give some of them away almost immediately because of space constraints. But we did try to be gracious in our thanks to people and to take a moment to appreciate what they were trying for with the gifts. Some of them, though… Well, we still don’t know _what_ they were trying for.

    NTB, we were DEFINITELY regifted. One woman (a cousin who has been married for years — her oldest is 10) told my husband’s aunt that she was just going to re-tape the box on a vase she had received as a weddnig gift that she had never used, and that’s exactly what she did.

  13. JaneC says:

    We wrote polite thank-yous for all of our gifts, but many of the off-registry ones were awful. We ended up with something like twelve picture frames, most of which lack attachments for hanging on the wall (they have to sit on a table or shelf, which we have little space for in our apartment) and most are not to our taste. I have no idea what to do with them–I don’t need to have twelve huge wedding photos on display in our little apartment, they are obviously wedding-ish so will not be suitable for pictures of kids, etc. in the future, and there were no receipts so they can’t be returned.

  14. Toni says:

    Especially if I’m going to a local wedding, and therefore don’t have to schlep or ship my gift long distance, I often find a bunch of under $5 items (usually kitchen items) and make up a gift basket. Or, if it’s a wedding where other friends will be attending, I’ll try and coordinate everyone to go in together towards a larger ticket item.

    At my wedding, two of my aunts went it together on my kitchen aid mixer, and I am every so grateful.

    The gift that confused me the most were all the people that gave us towel sets, and no not the towels from our registry. What are the chances of those matching our bathroom decor? Thankfully one set was white, the second doesn’t completely clash with the bathroom color, and the third set turned into kitchen towels. The bath towel is now what we set our dry dishes on. I mean, would you just buy someone random pillow shams?

  15. Chloe says:

    One of my favorite wedding gifts was something we hadn’t even registered for – so no complaining from me 🙂 I definitely think it’s worthwhile to register for lots of different price points – we had everything from $10 spatulas to well… more expensive things 🙂

  16. JaneC says:

    I should have added that though many of our off-registry gifts were awful, one of them was the best, most thoughtful gift we received. My husband and I, because of our work situations, have to live in different cities for the next year. His aunt, knowing this, gave us airline vouchers–enough for two visits. I cried when I opened the envelope.

  17. amy says:

    related – write thank yous even for the smallest gifts. i had to spend several hundred dollars to travel to a friend’s wedding, so i bought two small and inexpensive items off of the registry that i knew would be used every day. i never got a thank you and that makes me feel a little wretched, as if my gift (though inexpensive) was “cheap” and unappreciated, and not a product of their expensive destination nuptials.