I don't want a wedding list/gift registry!
November 1, 2006 11:06 AM   Subscribe

How do I avoid a "wedding" list (or gift registry as they're called here) without upsetting people?

So my partner and I are going to get civil partnered when we move back to the UK in about a year's time. The ceremony itself won't be for almost 2 years, but true to my usual form, I am worrying about the organisation a long, long way in advance.

We're keeping the ceremony and reception simple: no speeches from family members or best friends, no cake, no flowers. We want our guests to have fun and for it to be beautiful, but we want to keep hassle to a minimum. The way we see it, civil partnerships are new and exciting and we don't have to stick to the traditional etiqutte associated with straight weddings. We're likely to have the ceremony and reception in East Sussex (on the South Coast of England, near where we live in Brighton), which is already a bit of a journey for most of our guests. Most of our friends live in London, but our families live further North and everyone will probably have to stay over in a hotel, making it a moderately expensive do for them.

We are very uncomfortable with the idea of people buying us gifts to celebrate our partnership. We see our decision to get partnered as our own (we'll be paying for the ceremony and reception ourselves) and we don't need help to "get started in life". By the time of the ceremony we'll have lived together for 6 years, so we don't need any new household stuff. In our eyes, people making the effort to come is present enough. An additional factor is that the contents of most wedding lists seem extraordinarily banal: and are not personal to the giver (as another poster put it "Congratulations! Here's a mixing bowl! I know you will cherish it forever and rember us always when you use it."). So we're thinking of asking people to not give us gifts.

However, pretty much everyone we've discussed this with has been horrified. Objections are either practical or material: ie
EITHER people will want to buy you something (and you won't dissuade them), so rather than end up with 40 carving sets, give them a list to choose from
OR this is the one time in your life you will get to choose expensive glassware etc and have someone else pay for it, do don't be a numbnut.
There are also lots of people who won't be coming to the ceremony (either cos they're not invited or because they won't be able to make it) but would still want to give us something.

What to do? I don't want to offend anyone and imply that we are too good for their gifts. On the other hand I am deeply opposed to the idea that we deserve or should ask for presents, simply because we are getting hitched. What do you feel about asking people to make a donation to a particular charity? I know that some people may be upset by this and see it as impersonal. Others (notably my mother) will probably buy us something and give the donation, meaning that we may still end up with 40 carving sets.

It has been suggested that we ask for things that we do want and will use. Ironically, the one thing that would really help us (and in my view the worst thing we could ask for) would be a cash donation: my partner will be opening a retail business just before we get hitched and we'll be scrimping and saving for a few years. Others have suggested that we ask for eg travel vouchers or a donation towards the honeymoon, both of which we would enjoy.

I have no idea what to do! Help!
posted by tonylord to Society & Culture (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just put "No gifts, please" on the invitation and leave a reception table for cards if people feel the need to bring them. Put a sign on the table saying that any monetary wedding gifts will be given to the bride and groom's favorite charity, or that it will be used to start your new life together -- one that includes starting a business.
posted by mikeh at 11:14 AM on November 1, 2006

What do you feel about asking people to make a donation to a particular charity?

I think that's a great idea. The comedian Kathy Griffin did a bit in her act about how she and her husband asked all their wedding guests to donate to AMFAR in lieu of giving wedding gifts, but that she asked them all to send the checks (made out to AMFAR) to her, so that they couldn't cheap out. Trust me, it was funny when she told it.
posted by amro at 11:17 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Speaking only as a USAian...

We didn't want gifts either. We put as much on the invitations (much to my mother-in-law's horror) suggesting that people make a contribution to their favorite charity.

We still received several thousand dollars (given to *our* favorite charity) and a couple dozen pitchers and cutting boards.

I don't think people will respect your wishes, and then you'll just end up with stuff you don't want.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:19 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: You're not "too good for their gifts;" you simply have every material thing you need and lack only their company at your reception. Just spell it out in your invitation. For people who are going to buy you something anyway despite your specific instructions to the contrary, there's eBay. Just be sure to put presents in a closet or something so everybody showing up empty-handed, as instructed, doesn't feel like a schmuck.

Good luck with the new biz!
posted by spacewrench at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2006

Running with the ideas above, there's all sorts of ways you could go with this. Basically, you'd be making a list with only one thing on it.* What would you want that one thing to be? People want to give something to commemorate the occasion, but you don't necessarily have to be the recipient.

*or two or three?
posted by winston at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2006

As somebody who gave in to friends and relatives insistance that not having a gift registry would be beyond the pale, I feel your pain.

That said, as a guest, I find it upsetting to be unable to give a gift, or express my congratulations in some material way. Go figure. Also, if I am bringing a gift, I would rather bring something that I know the couple *needs* rather than having to guess. I have thought about how I would handle this now, if we were to get married tomorrow.

I would some sort of request on the invitation for a card with a personal message on it. Don't know how I would word it, but imply that it's in lieu of a gift. For some reason, I don't like straight out telling ppl not to bring gifts because some people like to do that.

I tend to overthink this sort of stuff. (compromise? my friends did a dvd and book gift registry)
posted by gaspode at 11:24 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Saying "no gifts" on the invitation is still considered a bit tacky.

I would say not to register anywhere, and if people ask, tell them a shortened version of what you've said here: "We really feel we have everything we need, all we want is your presence or good wishes on this new phases of our relationship." If they press, then mention a charity or two.

You'll still get gifts. Return the ones that are useless or duplicates and use the money as you see fit (donations or your partner's business or whatever).
posted by occhiblu at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Well, I think it would be really cool if you stuck to your guns and insisted on no gifts/money/donations at all. Most of your guests will be secretly relieved, particularly with the travel expenses they're laying out to attend. (Who gets "offended" about this stuff, anyway?) The ten who really have to give you something can figure out among themselves what you need (because they know you well) and who's giving what.

And congratulations!
posted by Doctor Barnett at 11:31 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

"people will want to buy you something (and you won't dissuade them), so rather than end up with 40 carving sets, give them a list to choose from "

Some people are going to get you a gift, even if you write no gifts on the invites (which seems tacky to me). Even if you don't invite them the ceremony or reception. If you don't give them a list they will guess and if they're wrong the item probably won't be returnable. We were registered both nationally and locally and still got stuff we can't use and couldn't exchange (someone was having a rocking sale on no name electric can openers).

Lots of people register at either their travel agent or their Bank. In the latter case it's usually for a home but a business seems just as good.
posted by Mitheral at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2006

In any situation in which gift receiving is traditional but, nevertheless, unwanted, you can ask that the giving parties donate to a charity. Think of the many times people are asked to contribute to a charity in lieu of sending flowers to a funeral.

Designating a single charity, providing a small list, or allowing your guests to choose their own are equally viable options.

In fact during Christmas I donate to charities on behalf of atheist friends who have made it cleat that they don't want a gift. Basically, donating to charity is always an acceptable substitute for gift giving/receiving. (Unless kids are involved, in that case just get them a damn toy.)
posted by oddman at 11:33 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: We designated a few charities for people to donate to in lieu of gifts, and for the most part people respected that. The charities then sent us little cards saying "so and so has given a gift in your honor" so that we could fire off a thank you note (You still need to send a thank you note, but they are easier to write, you only have to come up with the content once "we'd like to thank you for your gift to X", and go on to explain why X is important to you personally.) Note the charities didn't tell us how much was given, just who gave.

A handful of people gave us crap anyway, most of which we were assuming were baton gifts from their own weddings that they'd just been waiting for someone else to get married to offload.

The way we let people know was not on the invitation but on the website- in addition to hotel, transportation, and so forth we had a page with a statement about how grateful we felt for the abundance in our lives and how we really wanted to share that with others, and so we had designated a few charities, with links to the charities' websites so that people could go check them out.
posted by ambrosia at 11:35 AM on November 1, 2006

People will want to get you things. It is a courtesy to them to make a registry , or some way that they can find a thing you will really want. It really is true. (Of course, you would not mention the registry on the invitation. People who want to use it will ask you or your parents if you're registered anywhere.)

You can make a registry and put a few expensive things and a ton of cheaper-end things ($30US). Some people will buy up all the expensive things; the remaining people will be too embarrassed to get you cheap things so they'll give you cash. Or at least, that's what we hypothesize happened, unintentionally, in our case.

Then you can put the cash together to get one big gift, like a nice dining room table and chairs, or a painting you love, or something that you will want to keep and have at the center of the house for the rest of your lives together. Though, I'm pretty sentimental about things like this, maybe you would prefer to use the money on the business.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:35 AM on November 1, 2006

Regarding this: "Others have suggested that we ask for eg travel vouchers or a donation towards the honeymoon, both of which we would enjoy."

There are websites which will let people give money that will go to a specific part of your honeymoon, so instead of people writing you a check they can buy you a nice dinner by candlelight or scuba lessons or airfare or whatnot. I'm sure that in the end you just get the cash after a small commission, but it is probably a bit more socially acceptable for both the giver and recipient. We recently went that route for a wedding gift, but I don't remember which service they were using.
posted by true at 11:35 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Or you could give them some little project to do, e.g., "in lieu of gifts, please bring an old photo that includes you and one of us, to be placed in our large frame"? Or a favorite poem or word of wisdom about marriage or whatever. So they won't be showing up empty-handed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2006

When people get married who DO want registries, that information still does not go on the invitation. Lately it's been on the couple's website (the same one that lists hotels and travel info), or the couple's parents leak the information. So, you simply decide what want, and put the information out there.

I have seen people register for honeymoons. I have seen people list their checking account routing number for funds to help them with an international move. I have seen people ask only for home-improvement store (tools and lumber) gift cards. Amazon wishlists are another recent development. And I have seen charity requests. It should all be acceptable to the people who love you.

On registries: in some ways they make things easier for the guests, who can shop online for something they know you want, and have it shipped directly to the correct address. Another bonus is that you as newlywed can write your "thank you for the mixing bowl" notes, and then return all of the objects to the store. Thirty $25 gifts from the same store can be returned for a $750 credit that you could use towards a sofa, or thirty $25 gifts to other couples getting married. That's not to say you SHOULD use a registry, but there are ways to use it for your personal life objectives if your family really prefers you have one.
posted by xo at 11:42 AM on November 1, 2006

People give you gifts because they want to. Not having a registry is perfectly acceptable. Telling people you won't accept their generosity is rude. Telling people you want them to channel their generosity in another direction (ie, charity) is also rude. It should be their choice, not yours.

If you don't want to have a registry, don't. And when people ask you about it, say you really have everything you need and don't need gifts (or cash, since a lot of people will think this is a ploy to get cash instead).
posted by jacquilynne at 11:45 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (Ironically, I just responded to this same question on the knot.) There is a group called the I do foundation that can help you sent up a charity registry. If you think that people are going to insist on giving gifts anyhow, you might want to consider this.

Any proactive mention of gifts is generally considered to be "gift grubbing" in American etiquette, although your local customs may vary. Here in the US, it's considered proper to circulate information about registries (or lack thereof) via word of mouth. If asked about your registries or gift desires, demure and say that you already have enough and you're simply not comfortable accepting gifts, since you're both established at this time. You can mention the charity registry if the people are insistent or leave it at that.

Be prepared for a shitload of crystal candlesticks, in either case.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 11:47 AM on November 1, 2006

Miss Manners says that to state "no gifts please" (or the corollary - to specifically request something) in your invitation is presumptuous, and consequently, rude. One should never presume that your guests are going to get you something.
That said, the website that most folks are using now seem like an excellent way to make your wishes known.
Personally, I like registries. I get joy from giving gifts that people really want - especially something as joyous as a wedding. If your sincerest wish is for a charity donation, then I'd abide by that.
posted by dbmcd at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2006

I respectfully disagree that indicating a preference for how guests spend their money is rude, after all what is a registry if not such an indication? What is undeniably rude is putting the preference on the invitation or otherwise making a point of telling people what you want them to do even when they don't ask.

For reference. Notice that the objections by Post, et. al., are against the unsolicited guidance, not against indicating a preference for donations when asked what kind of gift you'd like.
posted by oddman at 12:17 PM on November 1, 2006

I think there's some great advice above. I'd like to add that I think you should figure out a nice way for people to donate towards your partner's business venture - this would probably have more personal meaning than a charity, and people would still be able to give to you.

Conventional etiquette tends to hold that gift-giving is never mentioned in the invitation. If you do set up a website, however, that's the perfect place for this type of detail. Just make sure that your instructions regarding the alternative gift are clear and simple.

Also, some people like to buy tangible gifts for weddings. You absolutely cannot avoid people's generosity. If you're lucky and unsentimental, you will be able to return at least some of these items.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2006

Add me to the pile of people who have been through this, so here's my .02. My husband and I were married in Bermuda and invited a very few immediate family members, then had a smallish reception here in town when we got back. I felt just as you do, that we had everything we needed, and we didn't actually need gifts. The thing is, there really is no good way to express that.

You can't put anything on the invitation regarding gifts; not that you don't want any, not to suggest that people give to a charity in lieu of giving you a gift. The fact is, the celebration of a happy couple starting a life together is an occasion where people want to give you some small token to mark the occasion, but they are not required to do so, so to mention it on the invitation in any context is in poor taste.

Presumably you are inviting friends and family who know you well. Many will already know what your wishes are, many will want to give you something anyway. Do not register if there is nothing you need; when people ask, modestly say that you have every material thing you need and that all that is required are their good wishes. If pressed, you can go into greater detail, but suggesting a charity tends to rub people the wrong way and they won't like being told how to spend their money.

People are going to think what they want and do what they want, is the short answer. If you don't register and don't make an issue of it, many people will give you money. Many people will give you things they have put a great deal of thought into, and you may find yourself touched by people's kindness, and surprised at how well your friends and family know you.

That's pretty much what happened to us. I ended up registering only due to the repeated urging of my co-workers, people who didn't know me very well and had no idea what to buy, and simply refused to hear or believe that we didn't want loads and loads of loot. After all that, most people ignored the registry and gave us cash or gift cards. A few people gave us lovely gifts not specified anywhere, and these are the ones that stand out.

If you truly feel that strongly about it, donate anything you receive to a local charity that can use it (homeless shelter, etc.) or sell things and make your own donation to your favorite charity. There is just no tactful way to tell people not to be generous on an occasion that generally calls for it.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:38 PM on November 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

People give you gifts because they want to. Not having a registry is perfectly acceptable. Telling people you won't accept their generosity is rude. Telling people you want them to channel their generosity in another direction (ie, charity) is also rude. It should be their choice, not yours.

For reals. Even though this is a "civil ceremony", your friends will still treat it like a wedding, and for most people, that means a gift. If you try too hard to reinvent this wheel, everyone will smile to your face and call you Groomzilla behind your back.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:39 PM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

For those who said "bride and groom", it may equally be possible that we are talking about "groom and groom" in this case.
posted by matildaben at 12:44 PM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Honestly, if you feel that strongly about it, and you really think people *need* a registry, here's what I would do:

Include in your invitations the following sentence:

"Information concerning gifts can be found at www.blahdeblahblahblah.com."

Then, set up a free website that says, in more polite terms, *exactly* what you have said here. Make sure it's gorgeously done, maybe even coordinating it with your invitations, so that people will take it seriously and not see it as just some stunt or joke. Also include link to your favourite charities under the heading, "If you are simply feeling generous, we encourage donations to the following:"

However, I'm sure the same people that would be horrified by not having a registry to refer to would be equally horrified by this plan...
posted by starbaby at 12:46 PM on November 1, 2006

I'm not horrified by the idea of not having a registry, but making a website to detail why you don't want gifts? That's horrifying.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

My wife and I had a fairly unconventional wedding, and we did it on the cheap (I think our total outlay was < $100). Our wedding was potluck, so basically we just asked local guests to bring some food or drink. We also said that gifts are un-necessary, and asked that any gifts be eatable/drinkable/smokable (especially since we were living in a tent at the time - nowhere to put any stuff) It worked out well, and I don't think anyone was offended. In fact, I've had people tell me it was the "least excruciating" wedding they ever attended.
posted by Emanuel at 12:55 PM on November 1, 2006

Have you considered registering at the I Do Foundation or a similar organization? The direction to "go to idofoundation dot org" may be related the same way as any other wedding directory information, i.e., by word of mouth or on your wedding website. (Personally, I would stick to word of mouth, but I'm very conservative.)

People, or anyway most people, want to give on a joyous occasion; I wouldn't take that option away from them. But whether the expected gift is a donation to AMFAR or silver flatware, you must never indicate that you expect a gift; rather you should be prepared to offer a suggestion as to what you would find "useful" only when asked.
posted by La Cieca at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2006

Say nothing on the invites about gifts.

Have one of your friendly, diplomatic, chatty, close family members contact the entire guest list and tell them that the happy couple insists that they don't want gifts, but this family member is planning to do [some sort of group gift/travel fund] in lieu of a gift, because they just can't stand not getting you something, and thought that it would be all friendly and inclusive-like to let everyone know. This diplomatic, cheerful relative makes it clear that guest is NOT obligated, but that they're also calling to pass along the "no gifts" thing, too.
posted by desuetude at 1:18 PM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

For the last few weddings my parents have been to, they have been couples who are already fairly set up, and more or less have everything they need, so a gift registry was a little unnecessary.

What I found interesting was, that with the invitations came a little poem, outlining that they did not wish people to give them gifts, however, if somebody felt the need to, there would be a "wishing well" available at the reception. The idea is that you can give the people cash in the card (or do it anonymously if you feel you need to). Another one requested that you contact the bride's mother regarding gifts ideas if you felt that it was truly necessary.

I can't for the life of me find any of them, though.
posted by cholly at 1:30 PM on November 1, 2006

Do your parents live in NZ or Australia, cholly? Ugh, those wishing well things are so tacky! (I'm a NZer).
posted by gaspode at 1:36 PM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: What about an Oxfam wedding list? Worked well for people I know. Other than that, I can only add that I've never felt that saying "No gifts please" on the invitation is at all tacky and haven't heard other people mention this - I wonder if this is not felt to be tacky in the UK? Of the people mentioning this so far, I think one is Canadian and one from the US.
posted by paduasoy at 1:44 PM on November 1, 2006

I'm in Australia, and as tacky as they may/may not be, they are becoming rather trendy around where I live. I asked my cousin why they had one at their wedding, and she said that they didn't need anything, but knew people would feel obligated to bring gifts, and that this was their way of dealing with the how much cash do I give issue.
posted by cholly at 1:46 PM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: No one else has mentioned it, so I'll add this:

Although it may be considered rude to put "no gifts" on the invitation, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to put "Your presence is present enough". This politely tells people that you don't wish or expect gifts. This doesn't presume to tell people that want to get you a gift no matter what that they can't. It also doesn't presume that people were planning to get a gift...
posted by maelanchai at 1:59 PM on November 1, 2006

It has been suggested that we ask for things that we do want and will use. Ironically, the one thing that would really help us (and in my view the worst thing we could ask for) would be a cash donation: my partner will be opening a retail business just before we get hitched and we'll be scrimping and saving for a few years.

I would talk this up big time to everyone. Tell your parents, tell your friends each time they ask about the registry (prefaced by what you told us about not needing anything, but what you could really use is...). As mentioned upthread, the registry is a lot of word-of-mouth. So if all the "important people" who would normally relay info about your registry are aware of what you could actually use, maybe that would help. Even though registries are now found on wedding websites, if it's not on a site people are going to ask "those in the know."

Also, this might be way off base, but is there somewhere that you could register for stuff that would help the business? Like a Staples registry? To me, that would seem sort of fun, since it would really be helping you guys get off the ground and cover the little things that might otherwise eat up costs. But I don't know if that's even tackier than putting anything on the invite and it is definitely unconventional...
posted by ml98tu at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: People will want to get you things. It is a courtesy to them to make a registry , or some way that they can find a thing you will really want. It really is true.

I don't completely agree. I think some people will want to get you things (the closer they are to you probably), but many will be relieved not to have to (at least, if you have any poor student types, travelling for the ceremony, etc.)

I think wedding/ceremony registries are rude - you're presuming they'll give you a gift, and you're essentially dictating what they give you. So kudos to you for avoiding this whole thing. I don't know if I'll have the strength to resist this myself, so I'm doubly impressed. I also see the argument that they are considerate bc they help your guests get you something you actually want.

If you do want to go the honeymoon registry route, though, my friends used www.sendusoff.com and they were happy with it. The guests got to pick certain parts of their honeymoon (I gave them a snorkeling trip), and a week before the wedding they were sent a large check to finance all those honeymoon events. They put EVERYTHING they thought they'd do, including airfare, hotel, meals, etc. As a guest, I was happy to give them something so fun. And they were happy to get the cash and help defray the costs of the honeymoon, particularly since they owned a house together and were all "set up" as far as typical registry items. Their thank-you notes each included a picture of them doing their activity, which I thought was cute but my boyfriend thought was tacky.

Finally, I nth the people saying you can spread the word (whatever that word is going to be) through word of mouth, or as one component of a complete wedding website. I think both are fine, and if you do go strictly no gifts, I think people will overall consider it a lovely, graceful gesture. (It's always nice to hear couples express their joy at their upcoming ceremony, and the fact that love is enough and they don't need gifts.)
posted by Amizu at 2:59 PM on November 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

Tried this a few weeks ago:-) We specified no gifts. "No gifts. Seriously, no gifts. We've got enough crap already. I don't want you to waste your money. No. No gifts". Didn't even want that many guests, but my mum did and I had realised early on that these wedding things aren't just for the couple.

It was a pretty small do, mostly family only, but my mum invited a load of her mates to the evening do. Total: 25 day, maybe 12 extra in the PM. We ended up with a nice dish, some attractive painted glasses, a big box of cheese, several bottles of wine/fizz, a casserole dish, some john lewis tokens, a picture frame, some book tokens, a set of knives, a blender, and a pile of cheques. I don't want to sound ungrateful - it's all good stuff, and a lot of thought has gone into the choice. But the box of cheese and the handpainted card come top of my list.

Basically - I don't like the impersonal nature of a wedding list. I don't like the gimme gimme gimme. And we managed to avoid that. But if your family is anything like mine they will find it impossible to not get presents.
posted by handee at 2:50 AM on November 2, 2006

Best answer: Congratualtions! navigating the manners of these kinds of events can be freaking harrowing. Just a warning: People will get offended with no registry. Grandmothers, aunts, uncles, parents, and even friends. People who love you may be pissed. (and I wouldn't count on non-traditional approaches like honeymoon registries or--god forbid--checking account numbers to be considered anything other than grubbing for cash. Actually, I kind of agree with the older generation on this one. I find those tacky and would rethink how well I know my friends if they tried those approaches.)

please do not put any info about gifts, not gifts, presents, or registry on the invite itself, or in the invitation package. And god, no poems. (Cutesy, annoying, and presumptuous.)

all you need is a line on an insert card stating something like: "for more details and information, please visit (website)." it's a simple straightforward way of letting folks know about all details of the event, including hotels, travel details, babysitting availability, location info, info about the two of you, and registrys (or non-registries as the case may be).

Your guests aren't psychic, and word of mouth is unreliable. And relying on how well you know the couple in question is silly. I can tell you that there is no way I would have been able to anticipate what my brother and his wife liked or needed when they got married--and I know both of their tastes exceptionally well.

Personally, I don't find the concept of registry to be rude and it's certainly not gift grubbing. You're not demanding anyone buy you anything. People will give gifts at celebratory occasions, whether you want them to or not. (and actually, it's courteous to not bring a wrapped gift to an event--someone has to drag it home, it risks getting lost, stolen, cards go missing, and it can be embarrassing to other guests).

A registry is a courtesy to the guest who is looking to get you something you want/need/like. That way you don't end up with 10 identical candlesticks from Crate and Barrel and a godawful pottery bowl that your Aunt Edna just LOVES but you hate. Cause really no one wins in that situation--you end up with a pile of crap you didn't want, and they either feel badly because you don't like their present or think that you love their present and will then keep wasting money giving crap of the same ilk.

If you don't want gifts and would prefer donations to charity, make that explicitly clear on your website. But be prepared for a considerable number of people to completely ignore your wishes and give you stuff--stuff that's now guaranteed to not be your taste. Stuff that you can't return (for cash that can be donated) because you most likely won't know what store it came from, or if you know from whence it came, there won't be a gift receipt, and so you'll be stuck with store credit which you can't donate.

one last thing: Registries are not impersonal. If anything, they're a very personal reflection of both the recipient and the giver.

I am a big cook, and so we registered for a lot of cooking equipment for our wedding. That mixing bowl may seem impersonal to you, but to me, every time I make a cake, I am reminded of my friend who gave it to us. And there is one specific spoon my aunt gave us that I instinctivly grab whenever I am making one of her recipes. It's a spoon--it cost maybe $2? But it means a lot to me.

And one of my absolute favorite wedding gifts was off our registry and it was tiny and cheap and very meaningful to both of us: a glass honey keeper in the shape of a beehive that a very old and dear friend who lives far away gave to us. Every time I see it, I think of her and her fondness for tea with honey.
posted by kumquatmay at 12:41 PM on November 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow guys, thank you for all the advice. Given that we're still 2 years out, I'm not sure we're ready to decide what to do yet.

Thanks for all your help.

Oh and FYI, we are two grooms! Civil Partnerships in the UK are the gay equivalent (legal and social) of marriage.

posted by tonylord at 7:43 AM on November 10, 2006

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