Sunday, March 09, 2008

The wedding registry: what's a gravy boat and do we actually need one?

People have started asking where we're registered.

Initially I was not going to register anywhere. We've both been living alone for a long time. We both have stuff. Why get people to buy us presents?

I sort of feel the same way about the wedding as I do about my birthday. I like throwing my own party, I like treating people, and I really don't need presents. I mean this completely.

So I told Nick that I wanted to pick a charity, and ask that in lieu of gifts, donations be made to it.

"No way," he said. "I want a waffle maker."

Now, this wasn't enough of an argument for me. His birthday is coming up, and his parents or I could certainly get him a waffle iron. I was pretty adamantly against registering.

Two people changed my mind.

One was my friend Tejal, who got married last summer. She said that her cousin had opted to ask people to donate to a charity in lieu of gifts. And here's what happened: people bought them a whole bunch of expensive stuff anyway. Stuff they couldn't begin to imagine how to use. Like a fiber-optic peacock statue.

She said people really, really want to buy you gifts to celebrate your marriage. And they get annoyed if you don't let them. She said guests are going to spend the money and give you things, even if you tell them to donate it to charity.

The last thing I want is for loved ones to buy expensive things that we don't need.

And then Nicole and I were emailing about cake, and she asked about the registry. And said that if I had any questions about Williams-Sonoma products, I could feel free to ask her, as when she worked there she loved registering people. She finds the registry process fun.

So I wrote back and said I was hesitant about registering, mainly because we are old and honestly, what do we need?

And here's what she said, thus providing my second excellent reason for registering.

"Yes, you've lived alone for awhile and have everything you "need," but there's really no other/better time than a wedding to get everything you WANT for your life ahead. The sentiment that I've heard most frequently from people in that second category is along the lines of 'but we have everything we need! Isn't it wasteful/selfish to ask people to spend all of this money on us?" And the first piece of advice I give them is: NO. You're getting married! Who cares that you're in your 30s and not your 20s? Who cares that you already have a lot of stuff? Get new stuff! Get stuff you've always wanted but could never justify! Get matching stuff!'"

I asked her if she'd make suggestions on products. Because how can you have access to a food studies major, someone who loves food like crazy, and, on top of that, offered to help with something that I find incredibly daunting and not take her up on it?

Because truthfully, tasks like this are not fun for me, and not my strength. I look on these sites, and there are 83 choices of each product. How the fuck to figure out which one of anything?

I've realized that it's not just want - which assuages my guilt about being wasteful. Growing up in India, Bangladesh, Egypt, you realize how much you have compared to others. I definitely didn't grow up with a disposable mentality. You use something till it just doesn't work anymore.

But we do have some actual needs.

Because look at our stuff. Some of my towels, for example, we had in the 70s. I remember them from my childhood. These towels - some of which are hideous - are a good reminder to get things you like, because they sure can last and hang around forever.

And my blender? Used to belong to a friend of B's. Who gave it to him years ago when she moved overseas. And he passed it on to me. I could, without guilt, pass it on to someone else and get a new blender.

And Nick's favorite Pyrex pot? He found in the attic of the house he moved into after law school. A zillion years ago. And I have some from my parents. But we need more than a couple old pots. And we don't actually have a decent knife between us.

So yes, we have plenty of stuff. But clearly there are household things - beyond a waffle maker - that we could really use.

Now we just have to figure out what they are.


  1. A gravy boat, FYI, is essentially a Nordic longboat (complete with mermaid up front) in which a nice man takes you down a chocolate gravy river...

    Wait, no, that's not quite right.

    But yes. You'd much rather have that lovely bright red pasta maker Williams-Sonoma sells than, say, thirty cross-stitched pillows in lovely combinations of ochre and chartreuse which are expected to be on display at all times.

    Did I mention best wishes? :o)

  2. I will totally second the whole "register for what you want so you don't get stuff that you don't want".

    Think of it as giving your friends and family a material way to express their love for you guys. While you'd love to have them express their love by helping some charity out, frankly, they want to show YOU how much they love YOU, not some starving kid in Africa. And if you don't register, you WILL get some crazy, crappy stuff.

    Get your friend to help you out--it can be a scary process, but it can also be a lot of fun. It's sort of like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach: you have to be careful, or you'll wind up registering for stuff you don't necessarily want, but you'll also register for stuff you DO want but would never buy yourself. Go to town!!

  3. Oh, Dag - I don't think I've told you yet (this weekend, anyway) how much I adore you. I love that definition - it combines my Viking ancestry and my love of chocolate!

    Sarah - Ha ha ha - yes, I think that is a good way to think about it. Was there anything you got for your wedding that you are so glad you got? Anything you wish you'd registered for? Or that you asked for that you didn't get? I am open to any and all suggestions.

  4. We got some truly hideous orange placemats and matching napkins made of the roughest material on earth. And about 5 sets of salad serving tongs. Since there's only two of us, we usually just make 2 small personal salads. So we have a large derth of salad tongs. Some in unusual and non-functional sets.

    Hrm, want some salad tongs as a wedding present? JK!!!

    Our favorite registry things turned out to be our food processor, the automatic coffee maker (takes care of that whole needing the coffee to make the coffee, at least when we remember to set it), and our kitchen knives. We also got some really nice things like a calphalon pan or some crystal bowls and candlesticks. The crystal stuff will be beautiful some day in a real house. I also got a TON of baking stuff, since I love to bake, and it was so nice to replace all my old beat up cookie sheets and things like that.

    I definitely suggest going to wander around and look, and maybe taking a quick peek through your cupboards before you go to get an idea of what you have that is still functional but old, like your blender.

  5. Yes! Tejal's point is always the second part of my argument when people are hesitant to register. Not registering = getting lots of shit you don't want/need/like.

    Um, I'm so excited to help you with all of this! I'm in the process of getting over death-illness, but once I'm back to regular levels of consciousness, I'm all over it.

  6. can you register for a pony? or a puppy?

    Because I know Lisa wants one of those.

  7. Sarah - Thanks - I really am curious about what other people feel like is useful and not. I wish they weren't the roughest material on earth - orange is the best color! I love to bake, too, so baking stuff would be really good. We will probably have to do a cupboard inventory. Tedious but very useful. Thank you!

    Nicole - I am so excited to hear your thoughts! But FIRST you definitely need to recover from your dread illness. Get better! Big hugs!

    Slightly Disorganized - Hilarious! This morning Nick suggested that perhaps I could register for a puppy. I DO want one so!

  8. It was right at the end of your second paragraph that I thought, "Knives. Definitely knives." Very few single people who haven't been to cooking school have a decent set of knives. And there's a world of difference between a decent set of knives and a first-class set of knives, in ceramic, say, or -- yum -- damascus steel. A good set of knives will last decades.

    Do register -- if only for the knives.

  9. It was right at the end of your second paragraph that I thought, "Knives. Definitely knives." Very few single people who haven't been to cooking school have a decent set of knives. And there's a world of difference between a decent set of knives and a first-class set of knives, in ceramic, say, or -- yum -- damascus steel. A good set of knives will last decades.

    Do register -- if only for the knives.

  10. Have fun registering! W-S is the best - quality products and friendly service. I recommend registering for China as well. Even if you don't have room for or think you'll need China - it's well made and is one more thing which makes your house together a home.

  11. Just so you know, we didn't register and didn't get any random stuff, actually. But I do hear stories like that. Some people DO want to buy you things to celebrate your marriage, so we asked for art from artist friends and things lke that.

    Our friends Sarah and Rob in London registered at a sort of central wedding registry in which they actually had chosen things like original pieces of art they loved. I thought that was a great idea, because that way you don't offend anyone by getting some original piece that you wouldn't really want. I can find out about that if you don't already know of it.

  12. I really thing that weddings are 50% for the couple, and 50% part of a mutli-century experience cycle for the attendees. Registries are an important part of that.

    You just gotta do it for history.

    Plus, mini-cuisinarts can be very useful.

  13. Hell yeah! Get matching stuff!!

    Remember all the wedding and baby gifts you've bought over time? It's your turn now!!!

  14. If you get an extra ice cream maker, I'm calling dibs! I'll repay you with pints of creamy goodness (that sounds a little pervy!).

    But you should totally register. It makes it so much easier on the folks who want to honor you with gifts.

  15. Yes, you need a wedding registry! make easy on your guestes and you get what you like.
    I think we never met before but I hope you don't mind, you are been tagged:)

  16. I still feel a twinge of guilt about registering, but overall I'm happy we did it- we'd both just moved out of roommate situations so we had some really weird holes in our household stuff.
    Happiest: The nice basics from Williams Sonoma- White dishware, plain flatware, Kitchenaid Mixer. Macy's giftcards to help buy a sofa, Homedepot Giftcards so Dan could buy a hedgetrimmer. Beautiful Shower curtain that spruced our bathroom up.
    Not happiest: Strange stuff I should have thought harder about from Target. I should have worked harder on my low cost items.
    Guiltiest Pleasure: the $300 Waffle maker. He wanted it, I thought it was a bad idea- and his lovely sister shelled out for it. Now I'm a convert, when people come over for brunch it is SO FUN to take that bad-boy out and make monster Belgian Waffles. Timers thermometers, 2 sided. We can feed an army of waffle eaters with that thing.

  17. Mark - That is super helpful. I had the feeling we should get decent knives, and you totally confirmed it. Thank you!

    HKW - I have only bought gifts at W-S - I feel like it's too spendy for my regular shopping. But I am totally excited to register there!

    Janie - Thank you for the thought. Just emailed you!

    Rich - Yes, you are right - it's not all about us, and that's important to keep in mind!

    Valerie - Ha ha. We probably won't actually get matching stuff. Unless Nick agrees it can all be ORANGE. :)

    Kerrie - Um, totally sounds pervy. But I know exactly how you meant it! :)

    Italian Bird - Yes, exactly! Ha - thanks for the tag - I'll have to give it some thought! :)

    Mary - Oh, that's SO incredibly helpful. Thank you! I really appreciate any and all advice on this, as I do feel a good deal of angst about choosing the "right" things.

  18. You should register... otherwise, I'll get you something obnoxious looking... and I'll expect to see it every time I visit. :-P

  19. I just helped my roommate register and it was SO MUCH FUN. I'm in culinary school so she asked me to come along to weigh in on cookware, knives, etc. Anyway, if you're looking for things you don't yet realize you need, I'd like to suggest All-Clad pots and pans (stainless steel), one -and only one- good non-stick pan for eggs, a Le Creuset dutch oven (that thing can do anything and is almost foolproof), Henckels or Wustoff knives, and a nice blender that will crush right through ice (maybe a 2-in-1 that also includes a food processor). Of course there's a bazillion other things that you might find useful but those are the ones that I would hesitate to spend money on for myself and would much rather allow others to insist on purchasing for me :) Happy registering!

  20. VVK - That's a frightening threat, actually! :)

    Tamale - Those are awesome suggestions. Thank you so much!

  21. Just catching up on my blogs now. The whole need thing is what worries me too -- I've lived by myself since I was 20, and never had a roommate, so basically means I have EVERYTHING already. Though tons of it were hand me down stuff, in the last few years I've been replacing it with the good stuff, like new bedroom set, new set of knives, great pots and pans, 800 thread count sheets (if you don't have them, register for them!)... So not much I'd need. I have too much stuff as is.

    But then of course, before worrying about this, I need to find someone who wants to date me first :)

  22. So, this really has nothing to do with your post, but you're famous! I was sitting on the Metro today (self-imposed Metro boycott is over) and was doing that thing where you read the paper of the person sitting next to you out of the corner of your eye...anyway, it was the Washington Post Express and there's a section they do everyday where they have quotes from blogs, and the big one, in huge letters, was a quote from this post about registry stuffs!

    I read it and was like "that seems so familiar"...and realized it was yours, with your little web address listed and everything! I feel like i know a celebrity!

  23. Lisa: Every newly married couple needs a Large Marlin Wall Hanging... don't they?



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