An Open Discussion On: Gift Registries
I have two friends getting married this year – I’m a bridesmaid in one wedding and a sorta-kinda-honourary bridesmaid in the other (really, a sounding board for any meager wedding insights I can provide from my own wedding experiences). It’s been awhile since weddings have been a big part of my life, but this year has reopened all the fun (and mini freakouts) that can come with being part of a wedding party.
One topic that’s come up here and there amongst the brides, bridal parties, and surrounding friends and family members? Wedding gift etiquette. More specifically, in terms of registries. Today I’m writing the ultimate guide to wedding registries in Canada.
On a background level, here’s what I’ve surmised:
- With more and more couples living together before marriage, the idea of registering for household staples is a bit outdated. Many couples bought a toaster when they moved in together…three years ago.
- Most couples would prefer presentation, for the sake of either paying off their wedding, putting toward their honeymoon, or investing in a more intangible, ‘bigger’ cost, like a down payment on a home or a renovation project.
- Registries do have a place for showers in particular, where it’s a bit more ‘gauche’ to ask for money. They’re also good safety nets for people who simply don’t want to hand over cold hard cash; it saves you from what I call the ‘flamingo lamp’ conundrum: If you don’t give people an idea of what you would like, you are giving them free reign to buy you a hideous flamingo lamp.
- Registries are also an opportunity to upgrade things you bought when you first moved in together. You don’t know how much you’ll use that immersion blender or rice cooker when you first move in. If it’s something you use daily, take your registry as a chance to get that luxury edition you might not otherwise splurge on for yourself.
Now let’s talk about some of the stickier questions (and some possible solutions) that have come up with the registry.
What if I really don’t want a traditional registry at all?
As I mentioned above, some people just really don’t need a single thing for their homes. But I’d suggest to any brides and grooms out there that some people also really don’t want to just give you cash. A happy medium is to allocate that money to a specific expense – and make it known. While I wouldn’t recommend saying you want money to pay off your wedding, it’s totally acceptable to highlight you’re saving for a big experience or investment. There are even sites that specialize in hosting cash registries. Try:
These sites are particularly useful at the shower stage of the wedding. While it’s quite common to give strictly money at a wedding, it’s less common to do so for a shower. Collecting funds online can help eliminate any awkwardness.
What if I want things that fall outside of a typical registry?
There are many folks that fall into an in-between space of maybe not wanting one giant pile of money, or maybe still wanting a few things for their home. Or perhaps they want to try out some experiences, or the items they want aren’t available at a store that does gift registries, or they don’t want to go to the hassle of setting one up if they really only want one or two items from a store.
Several of the sites you see above allow you to create a web-based registry, grabbing specific products from different retailers (like MyRegistry) while still giving people the option to contribute cash. GiftSpaces, for example, lets you create a Pinterest-style board where people can ‘fund’ different wants.
Another option to keep in mind? Many charitable organizations are happy to set up a gift registry for you – in lieu of gifts or presentation to the happy couple, you can ensure any contributions will go to a cause you support.
All these alternatives are great, but what if I really just want a regular registry?
Oh yeah. I’m not forgetting you folks either. While a site like MyRegistry lets you aggregate products from multiple retailers, sometimes it’s simplest to just sign up for a regular wedding registry. This is particular useful if your wedding spans multiple geographic regions. If you’ve moved and most of your guests are in one city, or you’ve got lots of out of towners coming in for your wedding, a nationally-supported registry can be a useful way for them to celebrate your nuptials with a gift.
Conversely, if your wedding is primarily local folks, I’d suggest checking with some local retailers and gift shops to see if they do in-house registries.
Now what national wedding registries exist in Canada? Here’s a short list of a few of the biggest, most accessible wedding registries in Canada:
- Hudson’s Bay / Home Outfitters
- Urban Barn
- Bed, Bath & Beyond
- Crate & Barrel (and CB2)
- Pottery Barn
Again, this is somewhat scratching the surface. Check locally or do some research – you’d be surprised what retailers (including bizarre specialty ones) will host registries if say, you’ve got a shared passion for fitness, outdoor experiences, or even art.
How do I tell people where I’m registered?
Ah yes. The tricky part. Many couples I’ve known have fretted over telling people where they’re registered, because then it looks like you are ‘expecting’ a gift. In actuality, the majority of wedding guests not only expect to gift you with something, they want to. Not including details about where you’re registered can be annoying both for you and the guests. Your guests will have to take an extra step to ask around and figure out where you’re registered. And if they don’t bother to do that (maybe it’s a former coworker that doesn’t know anyone in your life but you, for example), you’re setting yourself up for the aforementioned flamingo lamp situation.
Your best bet is to include a simple note on your invite or evite. Start by including a message that highlights their presence is indeed the only present you need, like:
We are delighted to be sharing this special day with you – your presence is a gift we will truly treasure.
Then follow it up with a simple note about your gift desires / presentation situation, such as:
Should you wish to present us with any gifts, we welcome monetary contributions to help us <Insert Specific Item> (or something to the effect of ‘Help us start this next chapter of our lives together as husband and wife’).
You can also insert a note about where exactly you’re registered (if anywhere), like:
If you wish to present us with a gift, you can find ideas for what we’d love to start our lives together from <Insert store or registry link>.
And hey – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply asking for presentation for your wedding. If that’s really what will have the most value for you, just keep it simple and direct in your invite. This post is really designed to help everyone out that wants to avoid the ‘flamingo lamp’ situation I’ve alluded to several times – creative ways to make cash, experiences, and traditional wedding gift registries all work in harmony (like your marriage!)
Now it’s your turn! What do you guys think about wedding registries? Cash registries? People asking for presentation? The floor is yours – just please be respectful to others’ opinions!
Share your thoughts with me in the comments below to earn an extra entry into this month’s senz giveaway.