Every year thousands and thousands of couples head down to their favorite retail stores and take advantage of the bridal registries. Macy’s or Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target or your favorite olde gifte shoppe, chances are that if you’re getting married soon, you’ll be filling out a form or zapping goods with a little ray gun scanner in hopes that your friends and families will give you items you can actually use and that you will actually enjoy in your married life.
Into the fray leaps Yahoo headlines.
The article on things few couples register for that are seriously useful starts off fine. A good vacuum cleaner, organizational items like garbage cans and storage bins for things you need but don’t want underfoot, and high quality kitchen knives are all excellent suggestions. Fun things like board games, blu ray players, and movies are more controversial but a good idea. After all, the latest in home entertainment paired with the couple’s favorite entertainment in the new technology is something you can pretty much guarantee the happy couple can use… unless they’re complete technophobes, in which case that shiny new Monopoly set that isn’t missing eight hotels, two community chest cards, and the little top hat character piece will probably make them very happy.
The honeymoon registry is a problem on multiple levels, though. Most honeymoon registries charge anywhere up to ten percent of what you give as an extra charge, so what you put in the kitty doesn’t buy your friends as much as you might think. Also you may think you’re buying your friends the couples massage experience… but the money doesn’t necessarily get divvied up that way. Unless everyone gives to the honeymoon fund, it may wind up that the money you meant to fund the glass boat tour has to be spent on air fare or the hotel room for a honeymoon that the couple can’t afford anymore since nobody else chipped in.
The absolute worst suggestion, though, is the one that comes after the honeymoon registry: your wedding costs.
For couples willing to press the issue and test guests’ comfort levels, Naylor suggests asking them to chip in and cover wedding costs as a gift. Couples can announce on their personal wedding Web site’s registry page that they welcome gift cards to their photographer, videographer, floral designer and beauty salon. Whether this gambit actually works and reduces the cost of the wedding by any degree is in question, but you don’t get an open bar tab covered without trying.
Seriously? And the article goes on to say that since asking for guests to pony up for their own entertainment won’t offend anyone since it’s just part of the regular registry information on the website, anyway.
I’ve said it a bazillion times before, and I’ll say it a bazillion times again, hold the celebration you can afford and only the celebration you can afford.
If you don’t have the money to pay for an open bar, serve a more limited selection of alcohol or go dry. Hire professionals in your price range or come up with alternative, DIY options. If there’s something that’s absolutely vital to your happiness with your wedding that you can’t afford, either sell your cherished collectibles, get a second job, or postpone the wedding. Or, you know, learn to live without it.
It’s one thing if someone you know and love offers to help you pay for some aspect of the wedding. Feel free to accept the offer if it appeals to you. Spontaneous outpourings of generosity are never inappropriate.
But if you ask for it… that’s a whole different ball of wax. And if that’s what you ask for and all your guests either get so offended they disown you, or they find the idea so tacky that they all get you symbolic garbage cans instead, the one upside for your wallet is that you probably won’t have nearly as many mouths to feed at your reception.
Remember, the ceremony is the wedding. The reception is a party. Asking guests to pay for the party you throw to entertain them is so many shades of tacky I can’t even begin to fathom them. It’s one thing to ask if a friend will bring along her famous potato salad to an informal backyard barbeque. It’s another entirely to ask people to buy their own catering for your wedding.
I’ve gone on record over and over again against couples asking other people to pay for their weddings. Whether it’s a fundraising website, corporate sponsorship, or a registry list, it’s still just about the tackiest thing you can do in planning a wedding.
Better hot dog casserole and ginger ale in your own backyard given with love than filet mignon strong armed from the people you’re feeding it to.
Make your reception generous… but not on the backs of your generous friends.