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A Registry Rant

July 8, 2010

I don’t consider myself particularly enlightened when it comes to material things. Like most Americans, I am a consumer. I’m not going to lie – I like stuff. At the same time, I recognize that too much stuff is not a good thing, and I admire those who are able to reduce the amount of “stuff” in their lives. I wish to “simplify, simplify, simplify!” in the words of Thoreau. The wedding industry would have it otherwise, however.

According to various books, magazines and websites, as well as stores themselves (no surprise there), a couple should register for roughly three times the amount of gifts as the number of guests they are expecting. THREE TIMES. In our case, this would mean 600 gifts. I’m sorry but – are you f-ing kidding me?!?!

I see the value in registries. Guests, myself included, enjoy buying a tangible gift for the bride and groom. It’s nice to think that the platter you bought will be used at Thanksgiving dinner each year, or that your frame will hold a cherished wedding day memory. Tangible gifts allow the guests to make a connection with the bride and groom, and allow the bride and groom to build a home together. I get it, and I’m on board with it.

What I don’t get, and what really bothers me, is the notion that one should register for everything in sight, or for a set number of gifts. I understand the need for choices, but how much stuff do you really need? Maybe it made sense to register for 600 gifts back when couples moved straight from their parents’ houses into a new home together, but this is becoming less and less common. Many couples, Mr. Jellyfish and myself included, have lived away from home for years, and have accumulated quite a few things on our own. We simply don’t need 600 new things.

“Oh, but you do,” says the wedding industry. “You can upgrade all your old things!” I understand that point, too. We are upgrading our pots and pans, because frankly they’re old and scratched up (Mr. Jelly likes to use knives to cut things while directly in the pan/pot. Don’t get me started.) But some things would simply be wasteful to upgrade, when we’re perfectly happy with them. Take for example, our Corelle plates. They aren’t fancy, but they’re super lightweight and they don’t break! Why would I register for “everyday china” when I can just keep using my trusty Corelle that I bought at Walmart? I digress.

I have to admit that when we first started registering, I was a little scan-happy. But my mom and Mr. Jelly brought me back to reality. Over the last few months, I’ve been editing our registries so that only the items we truly want or need – the ones we would happily purchase ourselves – remain. A good test for me in deciding whether something should stay on the registry is to picture receiving it – would I be thrilled, or would I be sort of “meh” about it? If my reaction would be the latter, off the registry it goes.

Right now, we are registered for 159 items at 4 stores. While the wedding industry might say this is far too small a number, I can’t imagine getting anywhere near their recommendation of 600 gifts. And that’s fine with me, because when all is said and done, I’ll be thrilled to receive any one of those gifts.

What’s your take on the “recommended” number of gifts on a registry?

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