Do you realize that creating a gift registry is probably your first official act as a married couple?
The ring, the dress, and the thousand details of your wedding are all for The Big Day. With the gift registry, though, you’re telling the world jointly how you plan to live after you get married. Unfortunately, it could be hard to see that far ahead.
Here are some common wedding gift registry mistakes we’ve seen, and how to avoid them:
1. Not Setting Up a Wedding Gift Registry
Does Aunt Nellie love to knit scarves and give you one every birthday, holiday, and just about any time she thinks of you? Do you want her to spend ten hours knitting you another scarf? Just so you could add it to your drawer full of them?
It actually is better for us, your guests, to know what you’d really like — so we don’t run around looking for The Perfect Thing. And you don’t have to wonder what to do with it — for the next 30 years.
Once you have a gift registry, just put a link to it on your wedding website. That advice about “not publishing your registry and keeping it word of mouth only”? So pre-Internet, it’ll make your mother-in-law think you’re old fashioned.
2. Asking Just for Cash
I once went to a wedding where the couple registered for only cash contributions, for everything from cooking classes to a $10 million island in the Caribbean. Seriously, guys?
Now, we know it’s The New Thing to register for cash so you could use it to remodel a bathroom, pay vet bills, or just get some groceries. But after a while it does reduce your wedding to a financial transaction: Hmm, four of us are going, so let’s give 4 * $75 = $300. This makes your special occasion, if not crass, definitely forgettable.
It’s nice to register for some gift cards for distant acquaintances. Those closer to you, though, would want to play a bigger role in your future life together. So give them a chance to be a part of it: think about how you’d like to live with your gift registry.
3. We Don’t Need Anything
Yeah, you’re not getting married at 18. You already have towels, dishes, glasses, furniture, maybe even a rug. But believe it or not, your life will still change a lot in the years to come. Those IKEA dishes are probably not going to cut it when you’re hosting your fellow partners, investors, or (gasp!)
campaign contributors in-laws a few years down the road.
It’s impossible to know what the future holds, but you should still plan for it. Besides, it’s fun to dream about the future — together!
4. Showing Off
Yes, you really have come a long way since the days when you mowed the lawn for Uncle Ned or went to the mall with Aunt Peggy and her brood. But don’t try to wow them even more with a registry full of gold-gilded this and crystal-encrusted that.
It’s more important that you get what you really love. Otherwise, wouldn’t Uncle Ned and Aunt Peggy still be calling the shots?
5. Not Planning the Same Lifestyle
Is one of you planning to jet off to Pierre Gagnaire’s latest, while the other already looking forward to Thanksgiving with kids and all the relatives?
That’s OK — it’s not uncommon for two people to have different ideas. Even long-time married couples do. A planning exercise, like creating a wedding gift registry, would be a great way for you to discover what each of you is looking for and find common ground together.
6. Not Creating a Common Style
Maybe men are from Mars and women from Venus, but do you have to do track-suit-meets-Versace for the rest of your lives?
How we design, decorate, and entertain says a lot about who want to be. In your early days together, differences might seem unimportant relative to the big events of the first date, moving in together, engagement, and The Wedding. They might even seem cute — “Aww, he really must like this UFC thing.” — “Huh huh, I can’t pronounce any of these words on her clothes.”
But eventually, a couple would have to merge their tastes to create a common style, or one day you’ll get a “Honey, you know that —- thing you like?” Registering for china patterns, flatware, and household goods is a good first step to coming up with an “our style.” So don’t just think it’s her thing or his thing. Take it seriously and work on it together.
7. Not Using What You Register For
There is something truly sad about finding a complete dinnerware service at a thrift store, unused and in perfect condition. What happened to those people . . . and their dreams?
Don’t think what you register for is too nice to use. Don’t let the years just pass you by. Dream of a better life, and then go live it. Celebrate with the best that you have.
Getting married is a big milestone (congratulations, by the way!) It’s also just a step to much bigger things ahead. Take a moment to think about the life that you’ll be creating. Make your first decision together thoughtfully.
We recommend that you work backwards with these steps:
You’ll probably even find it fun with all the crazy planning for The Big Day!
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