The Vulnerability of a Wedding Registry

You would think a wedding registry would be the fun part of wedding planning, but oh no no no no.

We had no intention of putting together a registry – we aren’t establisheding a new household, we aren’t young, it’s a pandemic, etc. It was hard enough figuring out the backyard logistics of serving apple cider to six people in masks.

But when I told a friend about our wedding plans, she asked me about registry. I was caught off guard so I explained our rational. We aren’t establishing a new household, we aren’t a young couple, it’s a pandemic.

She put up her hand to stop my flow. She said people can’t celebrate with us, people need reasons to celebrate. I looked at her askance. She elbow bumped me repeatedly to assure me it was a good idea.

I am so uncomfortable with registries that I have a go-to wedding gift of my own – a set of four beige bath sheets and hand towels for ‘every day’ use. Who doesn’t need an extra neutral towel for actual showering or guests or very dirty moments? It makes me boring, but eases my angst.

So I visited bridal registries and OMG, that was something I can never unsee. The only clear thing I took away was the need to set up a ‘wedding page’ preferably on a wedding registry. Okay, so I have this blog so I could do my own page for us. Damn, one thing figured out.

The other thing I took away was that I was supposed to suggest two gifts for each person attending my bridal shower or wedding. So that would be a total of eight suggested gifts. Plus, the Mayor. Does he count for two suggestions?

The other thing that really struck me was the repeated gentle suggestion to be sure to include a wide spectrum of prices so people who could not spend $1500 on 90000 thread count sheets with gold fringe would find something in their price point.

But the registries themselves were pretty overwhelming. We are both anxious and don’t like asking for things for ourselves. I struggle every year to identify what I’d like for a birthday gift, Laura always finds that exasperating. My mother-in-law sends me a check each year and it takes me months to find something for me, not cats, not for someone else, not a donation.

So I turned to my previously married friends, Amy whom I’ve known since I was four and BJ who was the first person I met at college orientation. They’ve both been married. They were both like “do it, ask for the moon, its your time” and I was like “please read it and make sure I did it right” BJ purchased gifts during the preview/trial phase. Arrrghhhhh.

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Laura was definitely not going to make a list of things she wanted people to buy for her, so we compromised on me creating the registries and her having veto power. I showed her the texts from Amy and BJ as she vetoed her way through my list. We have a longstanding rule that nothing new comes into the house unless something old goes to Goodwill. I’m a bit of a collector.  So in this case, we made a pact to ask for items to replace our gently worn items and as anything arrived, to immediately take the gently used items to Goodwill.

What if it was wrong? What would people think? Am I greedy? Do I have good or bad taste? This is so much easier when I’m creating a list for someone or something else, like foster kittens. Who am I to think people would buy me gifts? The traumas of my childhood echoed through this experience.

No one in my family acknowledged that I won a national award for blogging or that I lived to turn 50 or probably reads my blog. I wouldn’t have invited them to a real wedding because they disapprove of 99.9% of my values and beliefs. They have no idea how much I still want their approval and love.

Once I made my way through housewares at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and then Laura vetoed half the items, I was stuck. So BJ suggested I devote a registry to pet stuff – a ha! That I could do. So I set one up on Amazon and both of my friends laughed at how many cages, prods, nets, and traps I wanted for my wedding. BJ liked the leather gloves for cat handling so much that she bought a pair for herself to trim her cats’ nails.

Laura is still trying to figure out why I asked for a shed. To store the cat items, right?

Quantities are easy for cats, not so much for dishes. We don’t even know if people will join us for dinner again. And how do you pick out flatware without holding it in your hand – I like some heft to my spoons. They’ve gotta last all day, right?

Everywhere I turned in my life for advice, I kept hearing “Of course you need a registry” and “Add lots of things” and “People want to celebrate this big occasion” from every single person. No one told me “nope” or “don’t do it” at all.

Pehaps the truth about being married at age 50 versus 25 is that I’ve accumulated twice the pain and hurt from my old life. The messages about deserving and being worth something and people caring what you do are that much more ingrained in your mind.

My big fear is not that I won’t get stuff, but that no one will want to celebrate with us. The registry process opened a new avenue for rejection, disregard, and hurt. That’s a risk. The stuff is secondary. We can buy our own stuff. We have stuff.

So we did register at three places – Bed, Bath & Beyond then Amazon and then Target. And then genius hit me – the cookie table. We couldn’t have one at the wedding so we created a virtual list for folks to send cookies to the folks at the Northside Food Pantry.

I know that I have to find the things I’m really looking for from inside myself, not from a list at Target. So I’m glad the registry is done. Apparently, I am supposed to leave it live for an entire year?

<head on table>



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