for release Friday May 28, 2004
by Melodie Davis
Shopping for Weddings: Brides and Loot
My daughter has been working at a chain store that promotes a bridal registry department. She is always amused, amazed and a little taken aback when relatives of the happy pair come in, look at some of the choices that the bride and groom haven chosen for their married life, and pronounce the china (or whatever) “Absolutely dreadful!” –and refuse to buy it.
She wonders what is going on in such a scenario. One day the mother of a bride, who seemed in a very bad humor, didn’t like anything her daughter had chosen. I bet the wedding planning there is just moving along wonderfully.
Whether we like the choices of the bride and groom (and let’s be honest, this is mostly bride loot; my daughter wonders why the home improvement stores don’t start groom registry departments) is beside the point. Apparently some folks think they know a couple’s tastes better than the couple themselves do.
I’ll confess I haven’t always been a fan of gift registries. It looked to me like a way of asking for a gift: and not just any gift that you fancy to give me; it is like saying, “get me these things.” There is entirely too much emphasis on things anyway, such as invitees trying to figure whether the wedding reception will be a $15 or $50 per person affair, and calculating how much you should spend on a present accordingly. How crass, of course.
Then my daughter revealed to me part of the training they received in learning how to set up registries. They are encouraged to help the bride and groom select two to three times as many gifts as the number of households they’ve invited to the wedding, such as if there are 150 invitations sent out, then select 300 items for the registry. The rationale is partly that because couples also put into their registries many shower-sized gifts beginning at a few dollars apiece, many customers buy more than one thing. Of course it doesn’t take an economics major to figure out that this is also good for business for the store.
The clerks are told to have couples register plenty of gifts because all too often wedding guests dash in between the wedding and reception and hope to grab a gift. And when all or most of the items in the registry have already been taken, the guests get mad! (How inconvenient that someone hasn’t catered to their negligence by making sure there are plenty of gift selections left even after the knot has been tied!)
Now, I’ve wrapped gifts or bought cards on my way to a wedding already, but I’ve never purchased one between wedding and reception!
We celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary this May 29 and we still have many of our wedding gifts, none of them pre-selected by us. We did receive an extra, unwanted crock pot (which we exchanged, and the one we kept still works fine), and too many towels. But a number of the towels are still functional if not plush. I still have an afghan my now-deceased aunt made, and a candle from her. We’ve burned the candle many times but it just keeps going. When I repainted the kitchen recently, I took down one plaque which we enjoyed for many years. The couple who gave it to us are also now both long gone—and in retrospect we only knew them a few short months.
I’m always struck by the fact that the people who were in our life at the time we got married and who attended and gave us very nice gifts, are no longer in our lives, and now we know lots of different people—who never gave us wedding gifts! The fact that people who’ve moved away were part of our community of friends always reminds me of the symbolic importance that showering the newlywed couple with gifts represents: the community surrounds and blesses the new couple on their way.
There’s something nice about original, unregistered gifts, too: my husband used to give handmade cutting boards. Once we gave a wheelbarrow. Another time a spade. I also like to shop at Ten Thousand Villages http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/ shops or places like that with handmade gifts sold through “fair trade” arrangements eliminating huge profits for middle handlers. Then our gifts serve multiple purposes.
If you have any weddings coming up this summer, maybe this will give you some creative ideas, and you will feel less put upon by a huge list of gifts waiting for your purchase in someone’s registry. But if your own ideas run out, it is nice to fall back on a registry.
For a free booklet, “Creating a More Loving Marriage,” write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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