What does the couple who has everything register for?
September 19, 2012 5:23 PM   Subscribe

We live in a tiny Manhattan apartment and have everything we need. What do we register for?

I am getting married in April (yay!) but I am not sure what to do about wedding gifts. We do not need household things. My fiancee and I live in a small Manhattan apartment which is already stuffed with stuff (as is our storage unit). For the last few years, we've asked our parents for nice kitchen stuff for Christmas and birthday presents, so we have nice knives, towels, sheets, All-Clad pans and so forth and don't need "upgrades." I made an Amazon registry but it has five things on it and we have 150 guests.

The obvious answer is cash gifts, but there's no polite way to state that and I think most of our friends would be uncomfortable with that as registries are very much the done thing among our friends. While I have had friends set up honeymoon funds and house funds, I think they seem tacky (this seems to be a sentiment shared by most people on wedding boards) and most of them take a percentage of the donation. Even if we ask for charitable donations or no gifts, I am absolutely positive people will buy us things and I would rather not receive a chilli pepper tea cosy or a crystal vase that we will just immediately donate to Goodwill.

So: What should I do? Please do not answer "it is tacky to ask for any gifts" as 100% of the 50 or so weddings I've been to in the last ten years had a registry of some sort. It may be tacky, but it is also normal. Many of our guests don't know each other, and very few of them know my family, so I can't have people "spread the word" that we want cash.
posted by alicetiara to Society & Culture (37 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Two of the weddings I've been to used honeyfund to let people donate towards specific parts of their honeymoon. It still felt personal though in effect it was cash.
posted by brilliantine at 5:28 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Along the lines of the honeyfund, could you register for experiences? What about lifetime passes to museums, theater tickets, art and cooking classes?
posted by pickypicky at 5:33 PM on September 19, 2012 [15 favorites]

Are you into wine? You could register at a good wine emporium for a variety of wines. Assuming gifts of $50-$100 valuation you could get yourself a super collection. The store salespeople would be thrilled to help you assemble the list, knowing there's a pretty guaranteed sale coming down the pike. They might throw in a few years of storage in case you don't have room for it. Your guests would know it's something you want and need, which is pretty much the point of registry. Besides the immediate post-wedding thank-you notes, you could send notes again when you consume the bottle someone gave you, or you could ask them over to share it. This place in the Bronx offers registry service plus cellaring. This place in Manhattan also has registry service.
posted by beagle at 5:37 PM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

My wife and I were like you three years ago. One bedroom, late 20's early 30's, lots of stuff, lots of nice stuff. So what did we register for? 1) China - yeah we use it three times a year, but people wanted to buy it for us, its nice, its a luxury we wouldn't have bought ourselves, etc, etc. Same goes for Silver, although really silver is so expensive these days I didn't want to register for it. 2) Things the wear out/break. Sheets, Towels, Glasses etc. Put nice ones on there, things you wouldn't buy yourself 3) Random things that seem "registery" in a variety of price points - including "showery" price points. These will be immediately returned for credit so you can buy bigger ticket items you want to upgrade. We put them towards a couch.

But yeah, you sort of have to have a registry. I fought my wife on it, and she was right. People just want to not think about what to buy, and some folks don't like giving cash. Also its useful for shower guests more than anything else.
posted by JPD at 5:38 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've done the thing of buying specific bits of the honeymoon. I think I bought them dinner on a beach, and they were nice enough to send me a photo of the occasion. In the end I though it much better than most wedding lists.

If you reject that, I think you're looking at a wedding list of virtual things

Get people to buy you "experiences" - dinner at a great restaurant, a sky diving trip, classes (pottery, cooking, swordmaking, whatever), lecture series, walking tours, massages, spa trips, theatre tickets, library memberships, a box at the opera, a tattoo, etc.

Or media

The 1000 greatest books of all time on your kindle. The best films, tv shows, documentaries, etc. Subscriptions to magazines.

Or small but expensive consumables. Cigars, wine, whisky, a monthly delivery of fine cheese, caviar, charcuterie, etc.
posted by Touchstone at 5:40 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Zabar's has a registry.

We registered for charities, and received only a few gifts, so don't discard that as an option!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:47 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I mean, only a few gifts other than the charity gifts, which pretty much everyone sent.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:48 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Register for:

Movie tickets
Theater tickets
Museum memberships
Health club memberships
Day spa / massage gift certificates
A CSA membership
Gift certificates to upscale wine or food shops
posted by erst at 5:54 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing the experiences. Hopefully they won't expire.

And wine.

Maybe some more sets of sheets? The ones you have won't last forever. And it doesn't take up that much more space.

What about services? Can you 'register' for a housekeeper? You may already have one, but getting it prepaid would be awesome.
posted by k8t at 6:05 PM on September 19, 2012

An account at Zabar's, Fairway, etc.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:15 PM on September 19, 2012

You can register at a place like Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, putting down all sorts of things you don't need, like cutlery and kitchen stuff. Ideally, have it shipped to a home in the suburbs (parents'?). When it's all in, return it all for a gift card. The gift card, now worth $1000 or more, can be traded in for a couch, or used incrementally on gifts for other weddings, holidays, new babies.
posted by xo at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is there a place you can register and return for cash, or at leat gift cards you'll cut ally use at some point?
posted by raccoon409 at 6:18 PM on September 19, 2012

I know you said you don't need upgrades, but unless you have crazy luxe stuff like 300 (or 1000) thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, maybe spend a little time revisiting the possibility of getting some upgrades? It is just not the same as merely "good quality" stuff.

I also would totally put Chantal cookware on the registry, no matter what else is in the kitchen currently. I did not learn to like cooking until I had Chantal cookware. I had it on some imaginary wishlist for a few years and figured I would be much older before I got any. I was thrilled when fate decreed otherwise. It transformed my relationship to cooking and I no longer hated "being chained to the stove". I not only willingly and happily cooked more, the quality of cooking was far superior to what I had been able to achieve with other cookware.

posted by Michele in California at 6:25 PM on September 19, 2012

We were in your same circumstance and registered for China.

I wish we did't now since we have this huge china set we never use but have to devote a large % of our storage space in our house now.

The best thing we asked for was a set of cheap but nice "everyday" dishes and glass pint glasses which we have used every single day since the wedding.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:28 PM on September 19, 2012

art work
posted by violetk at 6:30 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nth-ing the "register for experiences" idea.

Check out knackregistry.com, myregistry.com, and simpleregistry.com for build-your-own registry sites. You click to the bookstore, restaurant, museum, symphony hall, etc that you would like to have someone buy you a membership, tickets, or gift certificate for, and then just use the tools to create an "item." It tracks what's fulfilled.

I would do all the awesome restaurants you've wanted to eat at, cooking classes, a rock climbing gym (and equipment), ski equipment and season lift passes, a night at a bed and breakfast within driving distance of the city, CSA membership, sailing lessons, etc.
posted by amaire at 7:01 PM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

Things you may not have thought about: beautiful wall art, camping gear, board games, clothing (for the bridal and groom showers) like a really really nice pair of leather boots or gloves or a beautiful coat, personalized stationary (as a couple or individually), engraved money clip/watch/cufflinks. A monthly fruit or cheese or wine club. Beautiful wooden hangars. Replacing your towels or sheets with ones you would never splurge on yourself.
posted by amaire at 7:05 PM on September 19, 2012

Magazine subscriptions
posted by bq at 7:08 PM on September 19, 2012

If you're looking for items to add to your Amazon registry, there is a toolbar to install so you can add items from other websites. The registry sites above may do that too, but I have no first hand experience with them. And Amazon sells SO MUCH these days - you don't have to register for household items. I knew a couple that mostly registered for games, movies, and action figures. Want those cookies you had while traveling in Europe? Add them to your registry. Grapefruit marmelade? Done. Replacing your old VHS tapes with DVDs? Go for it.

I've also heard good things about Bed Bath & Beyond being good about returns from registries (maybe cash, but could now be gift cards), so they might be worth checking out.

Failing any registry to cash options, gifts to charity would be a good suggestion. But if you went no registry all together, I'd probably give money. You'd have to gauge how your guests would possibly react though.
posted by youngergirl44 at 7:37 PM on September 19, 2012

We registered for some traditional housewaresy things and a list of charities. A lot of people donated to the charities, which made us happy.
posted by magicbus at 7:44 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You've been to a wedding every other month for a decade?! Impressive.

How about asking for no gifts at all? You don't need stuff, so why not just let your friends and family off the hook? It would be pretty easy to put a note saying "In lieu of a gift, please take yourself out to dinner or treat yourself to something nice." They can either do that or not, but the message that you need nothing is clearly sent and done generously.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:36 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I like blaneyphoto's idea. Ask everyone to take themselves out to a nice dinner and send you a photo from the experience. Put it all in a photo album. I think it would be fun for everyone, plus they would really have to go do it, so they can send you the photo.
posted by Vaike at 9:09 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you direct people to buy things for someone else who needs them, or tell people in advance that that's where they'll go? I'm not sure exactly how this would translate wedding-wise, but with baby gifts I've seen people announce that they don't need anything and that any gifts will be donated to a women's shelter to mothers who do need things.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:22 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I agree that the honeymoon and house fund ideas are tacky, but only slightly more tacky than any other type of registry list. That being said, I see two options:

1. Send out the wedding invitation without any specification about a registry. Your guests can then decide to give you cash, give you nothing, or give you a gift of their choice. So what if it's not exactly what you wanted or you get 3 irons. You can return what you don't want or need for store credit or make a nice donation to a local school, shelter, etc.

2. You can send out the invitation with an enclosed card stating "Your presence at our wedding would be a wonderful gift to us. We have not registered because gratefully, we have more than we need. Please enjoy the wedding!"

Now, some people may ignore it or be freaked out that there is no registry (sky is falling, OH NO!) but it'll be just fine. My friend got married last month in a very low-key ceremony with about 20 friends and family in attendance. Her invitation stated that their apartment was cramped and they couldn't possibly fit any more stuff in their space, so please, no gifts. Nobody was freaked and nobody brought a gift. It was the loveliest wedding I've been to yet.
posted by Sal and Richard at 11:54 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

For us, most of the gifts came well before the wedding. At the wedding itself, only two couples brought gifts; the rest left a card, with or without cash/check. I wouldn't be surprised if most people's experiences are similar. Note that even if you manage to avoid the whole engagement party and/or wedding shower bit, some people will probably still send you gifts, unasked for, as a way to offer their congratulations. I know that's not an answer to your question, but it might affect your approach.

Anyway, we were in a somewhat similar situation with regards to already having everything we truly needed (although maybe not of the ideal quality), so for our registry we went the upgrade route. So, now rather than mismatched dishes and old, mediocre sheets, we have a lovely matched set of dishes (no china; ugh) and new, high-quality sheets. The old stuff, where appropriate, was passed onto younger folks, Freecycled/Craigslisted, or else was tossed (no one wants our old sheets, after all). Yes, it was a little wasteful in some cases, but it also gave us the opportunity to have some nicer things that we would have never gotten for ourselves otherwise. In our family, I don't think the "don't get us anything" bit would have worked very well, although we certainly considered it.
posted by divisjm at 12:41 AM on September 20, 2012

Donations to charity in your name. No point in coming up with stuff you don't need, but if you say "Please don't get us anything", people will just buy random articles you neither want nor need but will feel obliged to keep. Donations to charity let people feel like they've marked your wedding in the way you want, so they don't have to go buy stuff. And some charities will do this in a way that means that at the end you can find out how much was donated in total in your name, and write thank you notes that say "Thanks to our very generous friends, we raised $xxx, which will pay for xxx", so there's a sense your wedding gifts were more meaningful than people just throwing a few dollars in a hat.
posted by penguin pie at 6:02 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only gifts I've ever seen at a New York wedding are envelopes.

A honeymoon fund is just as tacky as registering for anything else, especially when you don't need any of it.

Ask people to donate to a charity in your name. If they buy you gifts anyway and you donate them to goodwill, that's more charity. Also--just because you register for items doesn't mean everyone who buys you a gift will stick to the registry and you won't have anything to donate or return.

And don't have a shower, because that's a gift-giving occasion. Although I went to a (smaller) bridal shower once that asked for gifts to "pamper the bride" so she got lots of fancy spa-like stuff and lingerie instead of household items. Or people could bring their favorite cookbooks and recipes as gifts, or everyone brings photos to make a big family/friend album in lieu of gifts.
posted by inertia at 8:12 AM on September 20, 2012

Too bad you've already upgraded all your stuff, that's the easiest thing to do with a small apartment, and what we did.

As others have notice, you could use the "off-site" registry option on Amazon to "register" for museum memberships, theater tickets, etc. I like the idea of being able to start a wine registry at a place that will cellar it for you.

Are you outdoorsy or want to be? You could register for camping or recreational equipment at REI or similar.

Do you ever do small home repairs or put together flat-pack furniture? I personally believe everyone should own some basic tools like a cordless drill, and you can register for those via Home Depot or Lowe's (or Amazon)

If you like art, there are some services (ArtWish and ArtStar come to mind) that allow you to register for artworks.

The option of last resort, of course, is to register for a bunch of random stuff at someplace where you expect to spend money in the future and return it all for a large gift card.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:35 AM on September 20, 2012

Same situation as you. We decided to setup a paypal donation account and asked everyone to contribute to our honeymoon fund. Tacky? Dunno. Regardless, in 72 hours we'll be in Africa enjoying our honeymoon instead of trying to figure out how to program a bread machine we don't need. I suspect the entire bread machine/ice cream maker industry is floated by weddings. I hate that its socially acceptable to buy people random appliances quickly destined for a landfill because it fits our consumerist mindset, but somehow there's something "odd" about donating to what could be an incredible experience.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:20 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Be a trend setter.
Check out this TED show.
Ask for gifts for others!
posted by lake59 at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2012

I haven't been to a wedding with a registry for years. The big thing for my friends now is asking for donations to a charity of their choice or for a honeymoon fund. I'd much rather people enjoy my gift than end up saddled with more clutter.

One set of friends asked for donations towards lifetime couple membership of the National Trust (UK heritage organisations - owns a lot of the historic properties) and that was an amazing gift because it was about them as a couple and is something they could keep coming back to for years.
posted by kadia_a at 9:55 AM on September 20, 2012

I agree that asking for cash is tacky in the U.S., but if you and most of your guests are in the New York area, I'm of the understanding that there, a lack of a registry will be understood as "give cash." Even if your guests aren't, that's a pretty well understood wedding convention. The prominence of registries actually works in your favor - so many people have done them for so long that if there isn't one, most people will be afraid of you ending up with the stereotypical five fondue sets and won't risk it, giving cash instead.
posted by jocelmeow at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2012


Having a registry isn't tacky. Having a registry and sending the registry information in the invites is tacky.

So, register at three or four places, including Amazon and Macy's, and let people ask your Mom where you are registered.

Also, there is no reason you can't buy good china and use it every day, as long as it is dishwasher safe. It is sad for nice things to be locked away in closets.
posted by bq at 11:28 AM on September 20, 2012

Perhaps I'm clueless, but can someone explain what the difference is between registering for actual items (i.e. a traditional registry) versus registering for something like the honeyfund (i.e. experiences) with regard to what's tacky, and what's not? I don't understand how a traditional registry is considered less tacky than registering for experiences which (to me, at least) are more meaningful because of the memories associated with the experience.

Mr. Luciddream and I are currently asking ourselves the same question. Personally, I'd go for the experiences. I love the picture idea that someone mentioned as part of the thank-you.
posted by luciddream928 at 1:04 PM on September 20, 2012

Agreed that inviting people to contribute to your honeymoon is not tacky (or at least not any tackier than the traditional registry). I was recently delighted to pay for a night for my friends in a safari lodge, rather than buying them salt and pepper shakers.
posted by benbenson at 2:29 PM on September 20, 2012

People in NYC will mostly give cash for a wedding, they'll use the registry mostly for the shower.

A honeymoon registry in a part of the world where cash is the most common gift is a little pointless.
posted by JPD at 4:17 PM on September 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your answers. I counted up how many weddings we've been to over the last few years and I was wrong on 50; it was actually 41 (!). Almost all had registries; one had a honeymoon registry, one a 'house fund' and one a list of charities. I am not surprised to learn that many people think cash is a standard gift at NYC weddings, as that's what I experienced growing up in the 'burbs (my fiance is Jewish and thinks this entire thing is absurd as he's used to giving cash too). But in my group of friends, who are from all over the country, cash is not so standard. I'm heartened to learn that many people think it is, which may solve the problem.

Luciddream928, I don't really get the whole tacky thing either, but the thing I don't like about honeymoon fund companies is that they take a cut of the cash and they sometimes do not mail the check out to the couple until a few weeks after the wedding, which sort of defeats the purpose. Sadly, I have learned during wedding planning that people have VERY STRONG OPINIONS about what other people do or don't do with their weddings (as you can see a bit in this thread).

Anyway: we decided to upgrade what we can and add a few unconventional items like art and weekender bags (which we need anyway). I hope that people do give us cash after the registry is maxed out, but if they give us things we don't need, I will charitably give them to charity. Also, I am not having a shower, but my bridesmaids are throwing me a "trousseau" shower where they are buying me clothes for the honeymoon, which I guess is a very very old-fashioned custom which I think personally is awesome.
posted by alicetiara at 8:30 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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