Rejecting The Demonization Of the Non-Registery Giftgiver

by admin on April 2, 2013

I’ve been turning this one over in my head since I received the Save the Date, and would appreciate your insight and that of the EH community.

One of my good friends from college recently became engaged to her boyfriend of 7+ years. Though not surprised given the length of their relationship, I was thrilled for them to be starting this new chapter of the relationship and will be happy to join them in celebration. “Lucy” and her fiance have been living together for the past few years and their home is mostly set up. Accordingly, they have “registered” for contributions to their honeymoon. One can purchase “a meal at a nice restaurant” for $50, etc. with monetary contributions delivered through PayPal. For those who prefer to purchase more traditional gifts, there’s a registry at Macy’s.

My dilemma is this. Before learning of the “honeymoon registry” I had intended to purchase a physical gift for Lucy and her fiance. However, I know that given the economy and our age bracket (we’re all in our early to mid 20’s,) monetary gifts would be more appreciated by the soon-to-be-newlyweds than a piece of china. Is it rude or selfish of me to ignore the fact that money is what Lucy and her fiance would make best use of because of my principle that the “honeymoon registry” is an abhorrent idea? I would hate to enable this behavior but at the same time, a gift, if given, should be given with the recipient in mind, not the giver.

My mother would keel over- and perhaps exile me to the woods behind her house to live like an animal until I remembered I’d been raised to behave like a person- if I ever did something so crass as to “register” for money. Lucy’s mother is still in good health so I am assuming no one has suggested to Lucy that she consider other options. 0329-13

We need to put to death the fallacious notion that failing to give a gift from the registry marks you as a bad, selfish, rude guest.   Couples should not have an expectation of receiving gifts and what gifts they do get should be welcomed as expressions of kindness, generosity and blessings. We will have reached a sad state of the culture if the crass heathens of the world succeed in demonizing giftgivers who don’t acquiesce to greedy demands for material and monetary asset accumulation.

Registries are only suggestions of what to give.   They are not mandates and any engaged couple that believes their guests are obligated to only utilize the registries is seriously headed straight for Ehell.

I assume that since registries are supposed to be “pull” information, meaning I, as the guest, search for that information on my own initiative, that I am free to choose whatever gift I deem appropriate if I have not chosen to “pull” and seen the registries.    In contrast, too many couples “push” registry information on guests whether they need help in choosing a gift or not.   So give the gift you originally intended to give.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo April 2, 2013 at 7:47 am

The gift may be about the recipient but it also traditionally says something about the giver.

Also keep in mind that wedding gifts are not charity.

I understand the mentality that people who are starting out appreciate gifts of money. (I sure did, though I wasn’t rude enough to ask for that when I married) But I can tell you that I remember the physical gifts I received and can put them to names. Whereas all that cash we got from kind relatives? I couldn’t personalize that as a memory. The money went to help pay off our debt so it was much more useful. But the beautiful hand-me-down china from an aunt sits on our shelf so we can always think of my husbands family when we see or use it. What amount of money could replace that?


Kai April 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

I don’t remember many of the physical gifts we received – because chances are, in the 3 years since, we’ve gotten rid of them. When I married, we were both living on our own, with houses full of house stuff. We had to purge things to move in together – the last thing we needed was more stuff. The vast majority of people, recognising this, gave cash or similar (we had no registry, and when asked, encouraged people to dispense with gift-giving entirely, and simply attend the day with us).
If I had received hand-me-down china, I would have tried to pass it on to someone else in the family, because it certainly wouldn’t have sat on a shelf in my house.

The gift reflects on the gift-giver, but the best thing a giver can do is think about what the receiver is like, how they live, and what they truly need.


bloo April 2, 2013 at 9:32 am

I’m assuming OP knows Lucy’s personality.

I wonder if this would even be a dilemma for the OP if she wasn’t, on some level, realistically afraid of Lucy’s reaction to receiving OP’s intended gift.

I’m feeling snarky and cynical this morning. Maybe OP is genuinely confused about registry etiquette.


Hannah3 April 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

The last few weddings I have been to I honestly have not even seen any “real” gifts, only envelopes. Do people even give gifts anymore at the wedding?


Kai April 2, 2013 at 11:17 am

As I understand it, gifts, especially physical gifts, were never supposed to be brought to the wedding, but rather to the home of someone involved, so the couple does not have to wrangle a stack of presents home at the end of the night, and they do not sit out at a reception where things could happen to them.
Plenty of people do bring gifts to the wedding, but perhaps the ones traditional enough to prefer physical gifts are still traditional enough to not bring them to the wedding?


Bint April 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

Yes, lots and frequently. Hence the enormous popularity of wedding registries.

I don’t understand the OP’s dilemma if Lucy also has a Macy’s registry. This clearly shows Lucy is happy to receive physical presents, although I think two registries reeks of greed.


VM April 3, 2013 at 1:22 am

As a guest I’ve always liked having more than one registry provided. Unless I’m extremely close to the marrying parties I prefer the reassurance of choosing a gift off an approved list, but the task of whittling down one store’s log can have a dull dutiful feel about it. Having a choice of place, even if just a token choice, feels better to me. So I decided to have two registries myself. One of them was for Target – widely spread and inexpensive, an option meant to reassure that you didn’t have to fuss (or spend) much if you wanted to give a gift. Did I do bad?


admin April 3, 2013 at 7:12 am

Did you push the information of your registries on your guests or did they pull the information that you had one from you? Former – bad. Latter – good/OK.


LovleAnjel April 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I had more than one registry because my husband’s family lives in a different region with different stores – there is no Target for them to shop at. The stores they have, are not in my family’s hometown. In addition, his family gets upset if you don’t have a registry, I’m not sure why. Leaving a registry card out of the invitation envelope is seen as bad as not including directions to the church or the hotel information. If the purpose having multiple registries is to make life easier for you guests, then I see no problem with it.

(I did not include registry info in the invites for the wedding, and at least on my side they weren’t on the shower invite either. We compromised by having a wedding website with the registry info at the bottom of one of the pages.)


Kirsten April 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Yes, but lots of people buy from registries and the shop delivers everything to the couple at a convenient time. It’s much more convenient than having to arrange to have presents conveyed from the wedding venue to the house.


Michelle C. Young April 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Traditionally, wedding gifts were delivered to the bride’s home before the wedding, and the couple’s home after the wedding. Also, friends and family have one full year after the wedding to provide a gift, if they choose to do so (I think that is where the downright felonious notion of the bridal couple having a year to write their thank-you notes originates).

Now, think of all the stories you have seen on this site alone about wedding guests (and even family members!!!) stealing the gifts from the wedding.

The best thing to do is to deliver the gifts prior to the wedding. And if you order from a registry, you can often have it delivered.


spyderqueen April 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Ugh, I hate when people “register” for money/gift cards. It’s even worse when they just push a regular registry on you. “We want stuff, but in such a generic sense we can’t even tell you what we want. Give us money!” Ew.

I still love that my sister didn’t tell people about her registries (which she only made because my BILs family insisted). If they wanted to know, they could check with BIL’s grandmother (who had the info because she insisted) or they could check the registry section of stores and check the names (my sister does not have a common name, finding the registries was easy without help). She didn’t even use the word “reception” on the invites because a) it wasn’t really; it was a celebration party held a month after they got legally married and b) she didn’t want people necessarily associating it with gifts. It’s kind of a shame that in her age group that’s the exception more than the rule.


Allie April 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Oh my goodness, how many times does this need to be said?: the choice of gift is entirely at the option of the giver. Period.

You don’t say how you “learned” about the registry, but I am going to assume the worst, i.e. this information was foisted upon you. I believe it is acceptable to suggest cash or point someone toward a honeymoon registry set up with a travel agent IF the gift-giver asks. However, it is not acceptable to suggest ANY gift unless asked, whether it be a traditional registry or a cash-grab.


Kai April 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

It is entirely up to the giver.

But a giver who is giving for the right reasons will give something desired by and useful to the receiver. Not just something the giver wants to get.
Surely you too have that one aunt/uncle/whatever who always gives you something she’d put in her own house but you would never put in yours? Not the best of givers.


Allie May 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I know my reply is a bit late, but in case you sometimes read through old posts as I do, I thought I’d post it anyway. I take your point. I am one who agonizes over what to give and always tries to choose something that will be appreciated and useful to the recipient. And I have no hesitation in giving money, which was considered crass by my grandmother, but which is standard operating procedure in the culture into which I married. I find it a restful custom as it takes a lot of pressure off by removing the uncertainty involved in choosing an appropriate gift. I find I agonize over what to get even when there is a registry. I know Admin will condemn me to e-hell for this, but I do not mind when registry information is included with a wedding or shower invitation, as long as it is in small print at the bottom or on the back of the invitation (placed so that one has to read the invitation carefully to find it). It saves me the time and trouble of having to pull it.


AMS April 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm

From what I am understanding, the OP was going to give a physical gift, also knows that money would probably be highly appreciated, but doesn’t want to condone the honeymoon registry by giving them a gift that way. I find the idea of honeymoon registries abhorrent as well, and under no circumstances would I ever give anyone money through one. My suggestion is, if you know that the couple probably needs and would appreciate the cash more, just give them a nice card with a check with whatever amount you were planning on giving. That way, you avoid the registry and you give them a gift you know they can use. Just because the registry exists does not mean you have to use it.


Carrie417 April 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I went through a similar situation, a college roommate/close friend was marrying her long-time boyfriend. The wedding guest list was small and mostly family (save for myself and another roommate and some of the grooms friends). There was no registry, so we asked what she would really want and she (slightly shamefully) said that she and her fiance had a honeymoon planned to Disney world but no money to spend there on meals and souvenirs. She acknowledged that it wasn’t traditional but it was what she and her fiance wanted that they didn’t have. Being college students we generally don’t have much spending money, especially at a place like Disney World where souvenirs can be expensive. So, I (and the other roommate) gave her and her fiance spending money and they had a blast and was so appreciative about giving her spending money for her honeymoon. My point is that cash gifts are not always impersonal and can have good intentions behind them.


Michelle C. Young April 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

See, here, it’s alright to request money, if the giver specifically ASKS “What do you really want me to give you?” However, it is wrong to request it up front. No cutesey poems about how we don’t want a toaster, give us money, instead.

Likewise, it is best to have the registry information something the givers have to “pull,” as well. “Are you registered anywhere?” as opposed to opening the the invitation and having a registry card (or five) fall out.

I agree with your friend about the Disney honeymoon! That is what I would choose, as well. And she did it right. She waited for you to “pull” the information from her. Well done, all around!


The Elf April 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I don’t see any reason not to give the cash you were originally going to give. Just don’t do it through the registry.


Cat April 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I had a similar situation recently. A dear friend’s step-mom passed away at the age of 90. The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, one donate to a charity which they specified in the obituary.
I don’t believe in donations in memory of someone unless that person had a deep and personal connection with the charity. In this case, there was no connection at all. I ignored the suggestion of a donation and sent flowers to the funeral instead.
I received thank you notes about how beautiful the flowers were and how much they appreciated them. One note came from the dear friend and other from a family member I had never met. The depth of appreciation convinced me that I had made the correct decision.
So, I agree. Send the gift you intended.


Kai April 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Or the people are gracious gift-receivers and thanked you for your gift whether or not they enjoyed it, and did the best they could to enjoy it in the spirit it was given, whether or not they wanted it. That’s wonderful of them, but not necessarily proof that the flowers were desirable.


Shoegal April 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

The couple should not expect a gift from anyone. If this is the reason they invited people to their wedding they already deserve nothing. Perhaps they invited you to share in this important event of their lives then the registry is simply a guide to gift buying if that is something you wish to do. It is a guide not a summons – you are not required to buy from those lists – it is simply there to help. Asking guests to pay for any part of their honeymoon is extremely tacky and I agree, on principle I’d give nothing to that Honeymoon fund. Gift giving requirements for weddings are only to give something you want to give and what you can afford so that can mean nothing at all. So whatever you choose to give will be appropriate – they should be thrilled that you thought of honoring them with a gift in the first place.


Stacey Frith-Smith April 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

No registry is ideal. Discreet registry is fine. No cash solicitation, ever. If parents or close friends give a gift, whether cash, china, or just a token, it’s a gesture of affection. It’s not a ticket to the reception, a certification of standing in the family, or a debt of honor owed by those in the HC’s orbit. Even if you don’t want the gift, don’t need the gift, don’t like the gift, or would have preferred anything from another gift to no gift- you don’t have the standing to dictate the actions of others in matters of gifting. You can decline a gift, of course, although it will chill or kill the relationship. In extreme cases, it is an option. But wanting money for the honeymoon? Preferring not to find room for physical gifts? Disliking the color or the style or the type or the price point? This is not a reason to attempt to dictate the actions of others whom you supposedly love, when affection would tend towards the expression of gratitude for their having taken time to honor you with a gift.


InNM April 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm

So we are having a family only wedding. We purposely did not put any registry info in the invitation packet because we are requesting their presence (whew, almost had a bad pun here) not their wallets. However, in my culture, friends and family members give gifts to help start the home. When we announced our engagement, a number of our friends asked us for some information so they can send us some token or gift. The fiancé and I decided that we would limit any registry items to what we could use for the house, selecting items that received good ratings online, most of them inexpensive or reasonably priced. We also both agreed that the existence of a registry would only be brought up if someone asked us explicitly. Otherwise, the blessings of our friends and loved ones would be enough.


Vermin8 April 3, 2013 at 8:03 am

I completely understand a wedding couple not wanting physical gifts because they have too much already – I was in the same position myself when my now husband and I combined households and had so many goods the apartment looked like a thrift shop. Physical gifts are counterproductive in that case.
The logical progression in thought for most brides in this case is that cash or gift cards is the only way to gift.
I’m sorry but this shows a greedy mindset. You are rejecting what I consider to be the most logical solution – when asked, you reply that no gifts are necessary – the best present is for the wedding guests to share in your joy.
When you consider the fact that wedding gifts are too help a young couple who are just moving out of Mom & Dad’s house get set up in a household, this is the only logical solution.


WildIrishRose April 4, 2013 at 9:38 am

I loathe registries and never use them. Oh, I look at them, but I’ve yet to see one with a single item that fit my budget. Seriously. I try to find gifts that I think fit the recipients’ personalities to some extent, or that I would like to receive myself. I NEVER give money. In my mind, giving cash is lazy, but that’s just me. As for registries for things like the honeymoon, all I can do is shake my head. I would love to have had a lavish wedding and honeymoon at other people’s expense too, but to ASK for that just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. The wedding industry has ruined weddings, in my opinion, by turning brides and grooms into the worst kind of gimme-pigs: People who demand that others foot the bill for things they want but cannot afford.

OP, give the gift you want to give. If the recipients do not appreciate it, then that says a hell of a lot more about them than it does about you.


salsera April 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm

I deeply regret not having given a physical gift to my friend Anne when she got married. Her husband is a little more tactless than she is, and they ended up registering for furniture.

Someone else got her really cute china with buttons on it, which she loves, and I would’ve got her similar, if I thought I was allowed.

We got married a year ago today, and we had no registry. Most people’s taste is fine, and there was only one gift we exchanged. I didn’t mention that it was exchanged, because the people who gave it were old college friend of my husband’s who live abroad, and I didn’t think they needed to know. I just thanked them for their generosity.


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