It’s Not A Wedding So No Registry

by admin on November 28, 2011

My fiancee and I had eloped a few weeks ago, due to complications from my pregnancy. We had an elaborate wedding planned for March, but have nixed that in favor of a brunch for our families at the same venue. We feel that this would be a nice way for our families to meet each other and have a relaxing meal. We are not creating a registry or asking anyone to bring gifts. Is this an etiquette faux pas? We just want to keep everything simple and I need to keep my stress down. I have already had a few family members ask me why there is no registry and think I’m nuts for not creating one or even wanting one. Thanks.  1122-11

*sigh* Your plans sound so lovely.   There is nothing wrong with hosting a brunch for all the family members.  No one will misunderstand it to be a wedding or wedding reception and therefore the usual trappings of a wedding shouldn’t be expected by guests.  Gently tell guests that inquire about a registry that this is not a wedding.  “Thank you for asking Aunt Midge but this isn’t a wedding at all so wedding gifts are not needed!  Come and enjoy our family and meet my new in-laws!”

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Maribeth November 28, 2011 at 5:31 am

Or you could just say “We don’t have a registry.” and leave it there.


anonymous November 28, 2011 at 11:14 am


I am not against registries, but I really hope that some day it becomes more widely accepted in the USA that even if the event *is* a wedding, you don’t *need* a registry. They are a useful tool that work for some and not others. They are not a requirement. In fact most things – I dare say almost all things – that people think are necessary for weddings are not requirements.

We *did* have a wedding, and no registry (GASP!). When people asked, we said “We’re not registered”. We had some reasons why – not that important here but they worked for us – but we didn’t really volunteer them unless someone very close to us, not inclined to judge others, asked.

The world did not end. The sky did not fall. It’s really NOT that big a deal.


Just Laura November 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

^ Love this. ^
I was married earlier this year, and had no registry.


Wim November 29, 2011 at 5:00 am

My fiancé and I are getting married in September 2012, and we will not have a registry either… we’ve been living together for two years, having both lived alone before that, so you can imagine we already have our fair share of plates, wine glasses, cutlery and kitchen utensils.

We won’t be asking for or hinting at any sort of gifts in the invitation – as we believe that’s not what weddings are for. However, if people ask – and I can imagine some people will – we intend to let them know that a small contribution towards our honeymoon would be appreciated. And if any of our guests take the initiative to buy whatever gift they deem appropriate, we’ll happily and gratefully accept it.


anonymous November 29, 2011 at 9:22 pm

For us, it’s not that we didn’t need or want the new items we’d get off a registry: actually we could have really used some nicer sheets, towels, wine glasses, juice glasses and cookware.

It’s that we live abroad. You can’t generally easily fit that stuff (especially glassware) into suitcases along with what you need to travel, plus I always go shopping when we’re home as the local clothes etc. don’t fit me well. Don’t even ask about shipping prices – sometimes they double the cost of the item! It’s not unusual to pay $50 to ship even a smallish box if it’s heavy. There’s no realistic choice locally for buying items online. So physical gifts were really NOT a possibility for us.

People asked and I did say “oh, just come enjoy the day – we don’t need gifts”…but mostly they just gave money (which we didn’t ask for – it was their choice). That was perfect because unlike a set of fluffy towels, we had a realistic way of getting it home!

We did get some gift cards and recently used them to buy sheets and towels for the apartment we’re moving into next week. The shipping on those simple items would have come to $150, plus one store we got a gift card to doesn’t even ship abroad. Fortunately my in-laws are willing to receive the items and consolidate them into one large package, and sending it to us is sort of their Christmas gift (it should reduce the shipping charges, too).


bloo February 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I’m planting the seeds of ‘no registry’ in my teens’ heads already. I’ve a list of do’s and don’ts I’ve culled from this site and Miss Manners to help shape my kids into creating a (hopefully) drama-free, tack-free celebration when the time comes.


Ami November 28, 2011 at 7:04 am

Finally, a party following a real wedding, that doesn’t try to pretend it is also a wedding. I know several people who have gotten married at the town clerk or eloped, then came back and invited everyone to their big white wedding in which they trooped down the aisle in wedding clothes, said the vows and had the preacher pronounce them married, and had a huge reception. This event sounds wonderful!


Just Laura November 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

What a wonderful OP. I’m sure her family will get her wedding/baby presents anyway, and feel very good about doing so.


twik November 28, 2011 at 10:02 am

It could be a formal wedding the size of Will and Kate’s, and it still wouldn’t be rude not to have a registry.

However, you might want to practice what to say to people who are, no matter what, going to get you a present, just because they care about you. Something like, “No, Aunt Margaret, we don’t have a registry. You really want to get us something? Well, we could always use (insert small but useful thing). But anything from *you* will be special anyway.”


Wink-n-Smile November 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

Sounds ideal, to me.

And anyone who wants to give you a gift, as an expression of love, probably knows you well enough to choose a gift, themselves.


Chocobo November 28, 2011 at 10:14 am

OP, I think you’ll be happy to know that registries are barely considered appropriate at all, even for a typical wedding. You’re doing nothing wrong, congrats on having more sense than many.


Cat November 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

Well done. I would not want wedding gifts either, but it would be nice if those who want to do so would host a baby shower for you when the time is right to do so.


Lola November 28, 2011 at 10:33 am

My husband and I didn’t have a wedding registry either (although we did have a wedding) — yet not one person had given us a hard time about it. Some gave us lovely presents they picked themselves, others generously donated to causes we care about, and yet others gave us the only gift we’d asked for — their presense on our special day. Maybe we’re just good at picking friends 🙂 Which is to say, don’t worry yourself over the opinions of those rude enough to pronounce you “nuts” over something so insignificant and enjoy your celebratory brunch, which sounds lovely.


Jay November 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

We had no registry for our small (30 person) wedding. Nobody really looked for one 🙂 We told anyone who asked that we didn’t need any gifts, though did get a few physical presents that were very nice 🙂 This certainly doesn’t sound like an etiquette problem to me. How could NOT telling people what presents to get you be a faux pas? 🙂


AS November 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

I don’t see why one should have a registry even if it was the actual wedding. It should be up to the B&G to decide whether they want t a registry or not.
OP, your plans sound wonderful. Just say that you don’t have a registry if people ask you. That should work. Tell them that it is a celebration and you are already married, if you want to make it clear to them. If they insist on registry, just say that you don’t want to have one, and gifts are not necessary. There is no reason for guests to insist on a registry.


The Elf November 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

OP should probably expect people to bring gifts anyway and they should have a response prepared. “You shouldn’t have! Thank you!” (puts present aside until later) is always good.

I really like this idea. They had the venue anyway, might as well use it. A brunch so everyone can meet the other side of the family sounds like so much more fun than a traditional wedding!


Ashley November 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm

OP, your plans sound lovely, and I hope everything turns out beautifully! I wouldn’t have made a registry in this situation either, because, well, it’s not a wedding. You had your wedding, and even though it wasn’t a big affair like you originally had planned, you still wound up married to the man you love, so yay for that!

Wedding gift questions are obnoxious, since it’s so hard to please everyone. You can’t outright ask for gifts, because then you seem greedy, but then this story proves that there are people out there who will think you are crazy if you DON’T register somewhere….oy…


Hemi Halliwell November 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

My husband and I did something similiar. We got married at the courthouse by a judge on Thursday afternoon and had a luncheon with our families on Saturday.
When asked about a registry, I simply stated that we did not have one as we had been set-up in our home for 2 years already but if they would like to give us a gift, they should choose something *they* thought we would need or like. I received some very nice gifts and promptly wrote thank-you notes.
I think Admin’s advice is spot-on. If you have a family member who insists on a present, simply say that you would glad to accept anything they choose to gift you with.


Lucky November 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Mixed feelings on this (in general).

Just because it wasn’t a wedding wedding doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to give them a gift if they were receptive to it. Since all of my family and most of my emotionally-closest friends live quite a distance away, I am not at all sure what they might want or need for their homes so, yes, I would ask if there was anything they wanted or if there were a registry. If the answer was “no”, I’d send a card and not give it a second thought. Not my wedding, not my call.

It was still a wedding, after all, even if it wasn’t a formal one. You still got married. Some of us would like to get you something if you needed it simply because we like you and wish you well, not because we think we owe you something. Heck, the more I like you, the more I’d look forward to getting you something you either really liked or really needed–what is more fun than being of use to a good friend, even if it just means treating them to a set of really nice towels?

I am perfectly happy not to get people something if they do not wish it, but I also don’t like the tone of holier-than-thou high-horsedness that sometimes creeps into the “we don’t have a registry” declaration. I’ve never yet been invited to a wedding whose gift list looked like a blatant attempt at gift-sponging, so I have no reason to resent registries. I also deeply resent the “anyone whom you would invite to your wedding would know what you liked/wanted” attitude: I live almost a thousand miles from my nearest relative, and almost as far from my nearest dear friends. Yes, I can pick out things they might like for birthday or Christmas gifts but I do not know what they might want or need for their homes, especially if the items should really be of use to both spouses and not just the friend/relative directly known to me, since I don’t see their homes very often and may not know the person they are marrying very well.

A sensible gift registry is a Godsend to some of us. Sure, I could call and ask what you need, but why do that when you can save both of us the guesswork and phone-tag by choosing it and telling me where to find it? Ultimately, what’s the difference??

(For the record: There is a very good chance I wouldn’t have a registry, either, if I did get married because there is very little I need, but I would also expect to, repeatedly and graciously, explain that to my entire extended family. Because people are gonna ask.)


Maribeth November 29, 2011 at 4:05 am

Stating “we don’t have a registry” is just fact. There’s no holier-than-thou inference.

Lots of people don’t have registries. People just pick out thing they think they will like, or just give cash.


admin November 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I had a quasi registry. I made a list of items I needed to start my home but kept it very generic with no brand names. The list looked something like this: strainer, rolling pin, measuring spoons and cups, bath mats (bathroom is blue), flannel sheets (king sized), cookie sheets, 6-quart crock pot, hand mixer, etc. The list was the given to a bridesmaid who had volunteered for the duty and if guests asked what we needed, they were referred to the bridesmaid who kept track of what was purchased. Worked great.


MellowedOne November 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

Lucky, I appreciate your attitude to give someone a gift as a way of well-wishing. But as pertains to this story, this is what is happening:

OP eloped
OP having a brunch for family members
OP does not expect brunch guests to bring gifts, just their presence
OP has family who would like to bring a gift to wish them well (perhaps like you might do in this situation)

Creating a registry sends the message that gifts are expected. Because seriously, if you really don’t want gifts, why supply a list of things you’d like to have? If you don’t want gifts, why not just tell guests who ask, ‘you don’t need to bring a gift, we just want your presence’, and then if they insist let THEM select the gift?


JS November 30, 2011 at 8:29 am

This is the OP. My husband and I really want nothing, just the presence of our family. I have repeatedly stated to my family that we don’t have a registry and only want them to show up. This is somehow getting interpreted by them that I want them to give us money. Nothing farther from the truth. We have been living together for quite some time, so a registry to us seems pointless.


anonymous November 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

Sometimes it’s not about “oh people should know what we could use if they are close enough to us to attend our wedding”…

For us anyway it’s because we’re expats and the logistics of packing or having gifts shipped (minimum shipping charges start at $26 and quickly go upwards of $50 even for a sheet set) over to where we live (there’s not much you can order online locally, and basically nothing if you can’t read Chinese) was so heinous that having a registry was just plain a terrible idea. Sure, maybe some guests would have appreciated it, but when a godsend to them is a nightmare for us, we have the final say. It had nothing to do with expecting people to know what we might like.

In the end people did know: we got LOTS of cash (which we did not ask for), some gift cards, some charitable donations, some cards, some people who graced us with their lovely presence, and a few small, portable gifts. Pretty much perfect.

It’s true that people are gonna ask, but as I’m sure you know there are plenty of good reasons not to register. Our reasons are just one of the multitudes.


WildIrishRose November 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

You’re doing just fine, OP. Personally, I think people who insist that they MUST have a registry from which to shop are just too lazy to pick something for the honorees without help. But that’s just me. 🙂

Congratulations on starting your family out with common sense and the love of those who are important to you!


Gee November 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Awesome. Far too many people elope, and then have a party later as a gift grab. It’s nice to see a couple who isn’t expecting gifts, and just wants to have a nice get together with loved ones.


Emmers November 29, 2011 at 1:03 am

I never plan on having a registry at my wedding. Ever. Unless it’s for something extremely important that must clearly be plastered on the forefront of my life, and as of yet I cannot possibly imagine such an item existing. Perhaps if I could clone myself a Dragon to solve all future transportation issues then I shall add him to my registry.

I agree, your plans do sound wonderful. Pleasant and casual. Do not let the onlookers force you into things, not now and not ever. Folks often get very heated when the ‘norm’ is questioned and changed and will try to validate that need by forcing others to kneel down to it.

There is no ‘should’, only what you would like.


Cheapie November 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I think your plans to celebrate your union sound wonderful! Having no registry is just fine and I’m sure your families will come up with great gift ideas should they decide to bring one.

My hubby and I lived together for six years before marrying. We just went to the courthouse with our best friends and got married. We had a restaurant dinner about three months later so the the “senior” members of our families could meet … it was important to his family. Honestly, a registry never occured to me because I wasn’t even thinking of it as a reception … just a large dinner party. I didn’t want a wedding because I’m not the type that can do that kind of planning anyway. So, when my Mom said some aunts were asking about a registry and bugging her about it quite a bit, I gave her a list of colors that some of my rooms were done in. We mostly got money, but we also got towel sets (always needed) and some homemade afghans also … in the perfect colors. Coming up with a list of colors was all my aunts needed to give them ideas for presents.


TOLady November 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

My DH and I had a lovely family only (with my MOH, BM and their partners) wedding at our local registrar’s office and later that evening a party for all of our close friends and the family that attended the vows (about 80 attended the party altogether) at the place where we had first met. On the invitation, it was an invitation to a celebration of our vows and that we requested “best wishes only”.

We had been together for many years before getting married and wished only to have our nearest and dearest around us to celebrate – not give us gifts (and yes – we did pay for it entirely ourselves). We knew that some of our friends would not financially be able to and would never wish to put them in a situation where they might feel obligated.

Shortly thereafter, two of our friends in the same situation did pretty well the same concept, but registered at several locations, had numerous showers and stag and does, and had their parents pay for the lion’s share of the event. I still receive comments that ours was a much classier way to proceed. It’s a celebration of your vows – not a fund-raising event.

You should be applauded!


BH November 30, 2011 at 9:22 am

I registered at 3 different big name department stores. 2 smaller registries (20 items max on each) I did on my own because family pressure to do a registry before we moved in (I put them on a popular wedding website( and 1 big registry with over 300 items because my now husband (6 months before our wedding) and were told by the guy at the store we pick anything we might need within the next 5 years (including 5 shower curtains) (this rediculous registry never made it to because I had forgotten about it)
It was exessive, we knew, we also did not EXPECT anyone to use it – it seemed gready to me from the begining.
When my sister-in-laws planned my Surprise bridal shower, they went on that website to find out where I am registered (not looking at the actual registries) and put both stores on the invitation (yes etiquette faux-pas but our family thinks its weird if one is registered and its not on the invite)
My co-workers threw me a surprise bridal shower and looked on as well.
Most of the guests at BOTH bridal showers said when they went to the two stores with the smaller registries most of the items were bought…
Of the big registry we only received a handful of items.
We were grateful for EVERYTHING we received, and find the whole registry thing a joke (in a good way) I liked the items we did NOT pick out on our own more actually- people put more thought into it. 🙂


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