Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gift Registry 101, Part I: Basic Etiquette

Possibly the second best thing about getting married, you know, after pledging your life to your soul mate and best friend-is getting gifts!

No, no one likes to talk about it and there is an endless list of gift-receiving no-no’s, but let’s face it, gifts are fun. However, more importantly than what you receive or how much your guests spend, is how you and your fiancĂ© handle the registry.

See, my wedding was a bit tricky. Although our wedding was in southeast Texas, I had recently joined my husband in southern Italy and our guests knew we were limited in what we could carry and use in Europe.

Since I have strong opinions on social norms and wedding etiquette, I refused to allow my registry to be printed on my shower invitations, didn’t include gift information on my website and didn’t ask-or tell-friends and family members that money and gift certificates would be appreciated.

Was I wrong?

I don’t know. (Just between you and me, about half of the guests who attended our wedding didn’t give a gift, an effect my mother says stems from the uncertainties about what we could take and/or use in Italy. However, that is not my bad etiquette and is truly a post for another day.)

Whether you choose to publish your gift registry details is up to you, although many experts agree that broadcasting registry information is akin to asking for presents, a gesture shunned by wedding etiquette enthusiasts.

In fact, according to Ask Carley at TheKnot.Com, the only way to get the word out about your registry is to wait for them to ask. While many of the comments under this article suggest putting registry information on your website, I’m still against it.

When I visit a wedding website, I like to look at pictures, read the couple’s love story and uncover information about the event I’m planning to attend. I don’t like to get slapped in the face with a reminder that I need to buy a gift. I know I’m expected to purchase a gift and I know how to use the “contact us” form if I have any questions. I guess I think the broadcasting of registry information is like saying, “You can come to my party … but only if you do this!” And I don’t like ultimatums.

So … do you want to follow the rules of etiquette and still make sure your guests can track down your gifts? Here are a few tips to help you out.

1. Tell your family and closest friends about your dilemma. Explain that you don’t want to advertise your registry and ask them to share your information when other guests ask.

2. Willingly share your gift registry information with anyone who asks you-and believe me, people will ask. If anyone asks why you didn’t put the information on your website or shower cards, just tell them that gifts aren’t the most important part of the day, but that you have made selections at XYZ store.

3. If you are still worried that people won’t know you are registered, add a line to your wedding website that says, “Have any questions? Contact me at …” This will encourage your guests to email you and ask for details.

Do you have any other gift registry etiquette tips for other brides? Be sure to come back on Thursday for Gift Registry 101, Part II: Unique Ideas for Your Gift Registry.

Photo courtesy of Scorpions and Centaurs

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