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Aside from determining the guest list, registering was one of the most uncomfortable and awkward parts of the wedding process for Matt and I. When I was younger, I would write up page-long Christmas lists and distribute them to family members. I did this in part for the obvious reason, which was the fact that I was hoping to find the items off the list under the tree each year, but also because every year that I didn’t do this, I was inundated with people asking me what I wanted and I wanted to simplify the process by telling them ahead of time. This, coupled with the fact that I’d often get most if not all of the gifts that were to be found on those pages, gave me somewhat of a reputation of being spoiled. I might’ve been. I might be. I feel like the title of “spoiled” relates more to your expectations of others, as well as the appreciation (or lack thereof) you have when receiving a gift, but all the same, it’s definitely something I’ve developed a complex over because of the accusation of being spoiled. Couple that with the fear of the dreaded bridezilla modern brides (even those of us that reject the existence of the b-word) have shoved down their throat throughout the planning process and the idea of registering becomes a total nightmare.
Despite any “nightmares,” I have to admit, that’s a pretty sweet spread behind us!!
Personally, I really like when other people register when they’re getting married or having a baby. I love buying people gifts in general, but rarely do because I’m broke and I’m perpetually afraid that what I think will be perfect for someone might not actually fit what they’d like/need. When you’re broke, every dollar counts so spending money on something someone doesn’t want or won’t use is just a waste. Buying something someone will actually use and enjoy would probably be a big deal for me even if I wasn’t broke and I second guess myself like crazy when it comes to this kind of thing. When people actually register for things, you get a list of items you KNOW someone wants and they usually run the gamut of affordability so even my broke-ass can find something that works. I love the idea of giving a gift that will become a part of a couple’s marriage. I’d like to think there are gifts that people receive on their wedding day or at their shower that they will enjoy throughout their marriage and remember the person that gave them it as they enjoy it. I know there are items my mom would point out as I was growing up like this. For me, every time I use an item from our wedding, or think about a gift we got, I also think of the person (or group of people) that got it for us and smile.
A balloon and flowers I got from a co-worker at the shower my friends from work threw me! I still have the balloon and teapot that the flowers came in. This was a beautiful day!
So despite my misgivings about it, I knew that registering was a good idea. We knew our bridesmaids were likely going to throw us a wedding shower (which they did in a completely epic fashion) and our guests were going to want (or unfortunately in some cases, feel obligated) to get us something. Some would know right away what to get without any help from us and give us thoughtful, awesome things we love. Others would help us pad our bank accounts for the big day and after … and still others would fall into the same boat as me and want a guide to be sure what they were getting was just right. Every gift we got has special meaning for us, no matter how our guest arrived upon the decision to give it to us. The nerve-wracking part was leading up to the shower/wedding and trying to figure the whole thing out. Seriously, this is just a tiny snapshot of the beautiful things they put together for us for our shower.
I think one of the hard parts about creating a registry is that it does make people feel as though they are obligated to give something. I know there are unspoken rules that say you’re “supposed” to pay for your plate with your gift or something along those lines, but truly I don’t believe a wedding guest (or even a shower guest for that matter) is obligated to give you anything. You are not inviting them to help you pay for your wedding or give you gifts. You’re inviting them to celebrate your love and a life-altering event. If they can’t afford to pay their way, do you really want them to not show up in lieu of being part of your day?
It’s hard to really express that to guests though because 1. Guests who WANT to and are excited about buying you a gift might feel alienated if you say “no gifts please”; 2. Talking about wedding presents out loud is tantamount to using the name Voldemort instead of He Who Shall Not Be Named, unless you’re a super ballsy savior figure or a clueless muggle who was raised outside the wizarding world/Wedding Industrial Complex and you’re fearless; and lastly 3. (this is the still very much spoiled part of me) gifts are cool and maybe it’s nice to have them even though it feels completely uncomfortable to ask for them/you don’t want anyone to feel like they HAVE to do anything special for you.
You can’t change how somebody else feels about your registry (or lack of one if you decide to forego one for that matter) no more than you can change what they think of any of your other wedding plans. This isn’t a conclusion I came to easily. I stressed about what people would think about me for having a registry, and about what they would think about every little item I put on there. I was a very guest-oriented bride in that it was a really big deal for me to be sure my guests were comfortable at my wedding. I didn’t so much subscribe to the idea that it was “my day or the highway” the way that brides are often encouraged to. Your registry is different though. Aside from trying to be accommodating to a number of different budgets, what you are putting on that list is ultimately just for you and your husband. You are the only ones that will ultimately get the use out of what you register for.
All of this comes up now because Matt and I have decided to start a baby registry. We have no expectation of a baby shower or anyone buying us gifts for our baby (although again, it would be nice, because gifts are cool), but we decided to start a registry all the same. What’s the point, you might ask? The nice thing about registries, aside from telling people exactly what you want, is that they can come with a lot of perks such as free gifts when you register, completion gifts and coupons and the ability to earn points toward a gift card we can use after the baby is born. This was the nice thing about the wedding registries, too, and when all was said and done with the wedding, we used the registries we had established for it much the same way we plan to use this one. For at least a few of the items that were left over, we bought them for one another for the holidays.
For the baby, our plan is to use the registry as a place to keep track of what we’d like or need for the baby and purchase items as we go, getting the registry benefits. I won’t lie though, when we made the trip out to the store, all the same insecurities resurfaced. I worried about what people would think if they found our registry. I worried about people who found out we had created one feeling forced to do something for us when that’s not what we’re looking for at all. I worried about picking the right items to suit our baby and the baby’s needs. In the past year, I’ve had three new babies enter my life (not counting the one that’s currently taking up residence inside me) and only one had a baby shower prior to it’s arrival. For the other two, every time I would buy them something, I would go crazy with worry that their moms weren’t going to like what I got them. For the baby with the shower/registry, I was able to get her a few different things and one of those weird booger sucker things (partially as a joke, partially because it was on the registry) with the comfort of knowing I was actually contributing something that the baby’s parents wanted and needed. I’m grateful that she had one set up so I could do that. Even if my intention is that the registry is mine alone to use, I’m glad I’m giving people an option and I’m happy I did for the wedding too. I’m also happy that people gave with their heart and didn’t worry that I would be upset if they went off-registry and got me something that made them think of me. If people do decide to buy us items for our baby, I look forward to pointing the items out and letting the baby know who was thinking of it before it even arrived. When all is said and done, I know Matt and I are both spoiled not just with the gifts we received, but with more love and friendship than we could have ever asked for or expected.