Wedding Week: Click for special report.
Wednesday, September 10, 1 p.m. ET

Wedding Week: All About Registries

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Summer Krecke
Deputy editor, WeddingChannel.com
Wednesday, September 10, 2008; 1:00 PM

Whether you're flummoxed by choosing china patterns, stumped about what to buy for an upcoming bridal shower, or curious about new trends in presents, Summer Krecke is here to help. The deputy editor of WeddingChannel.com, the number one wedding and gift registry site, was online Wednesday, September 10 at 1 p.m. ET to take questions from gift-givers and -receivers alike.

A transcript follows.

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Summer Krecke: Hi everyone! I'm Summer Krecke, deputy editor for WeddingChannel.com. Wedding registries can be extremely stressful for brides, grooms, AND guests, so hopefully I can clear up some misconceptions, make sure you have a strong understanding of why creating a registry is important, and help you pick out the perfect gift without blowing your budget.

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Woodbridge, Va.: I just don't understand what some couples are thinking. Several of my friends are having engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties (sometimes twice), bachelor parties back to back, with only a few months in between. And then the wedding. Funny thing is, every invite I receive to these events contain their registry information. HOW MANY GIFTS DO THEY WANT FROM ME???? I mean, I love attending these parties, and I realize they are spending money too, but do you really need five or six parties in a row and expect gifts for all of them, before the wedding!? And after the wedding is done with, here comes the house warming and baby showers next. I'm really starting to feel like these events are more for the gifts rather than the celebration. And another gripe, bride and grooms out there, please have a range of prices on your registry. I wish I could buy you that $400 vacuum, but I can't even buy one for myself.

Summer Krecke: Well, this is good place to start our chat, lol. Some general registry basics: As a wedding guest, you should keep in mind that you will need to make purchases for the engagement, the bridal shower and the wedding. While the amount of money you spend may very, it's customary to balance that against your closeness to the bride and groom. $50-$100 for an engagement/bridal shower gift and $75-$100 for the wedding gift. It's customary to spend more if you're close with the couple OR if you live somewhere like Washington D.C. or NYC where the cost of living is higher. If you feel like you can't commit to that, kindly RSVP that you can't attend and send a nice wedding gift in your absence.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: Hi, and thanks for chatting. I totally understand the convenience and utility of registries, having used them as a guest many times. But for our own wedding, we'd really like to avoid the whole gift thing altogether - we live in a small apartment, and since we've been together nearly a decade already have pretty much everything on earth we think we need. We're just not a thing-oriented couple. How can we get that word out without being tacky or rude? (We're especially not into honeymoon registries or some of the alternatives that have cropped up lately.)

Summer Krecke: Not having a registry is really not a good idea. I know you may not need anything, but think about poor Aunt Bernie -- how do you explain to her that you don't need or want the lovely gift she picked out for you? Alternative registries like Amazon.com or Cloud 9 Living (where you register for activities) is totally acceptable. Just TRY to register for a few traditional things to make older guests happy.

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Washington, D.C.: Two of my very close friends are getting hitched and I'm thrilled for them. But their registry is full of blah things like glassware and dust busters. I've known them both for years and would rather get them something more personal that I think they'd like -- but is it uncouth to ignore the registry if they've taken the time to put it together?

Summer Krecke: You don't have to ignore their registry, but you can certainly add to it. If they're registered for a beautiful frame, buy it and add your favorite picture of them to it. A wine glass set? Get them a case of their favorite wine to go along with it. You can always add a personal touch, but keep in mind a registry is there for a reason -- try not to stray from it unless you're absolutely CERTAIN the bride and groom would approve.

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Summer Krecke: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As I said, every one has strong ideas about registry, so it's important balance what you know with what you can afford and your relationship to the couple in question.

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A few thoughts: Having recently (almost two years ago now) gotten married, I really don't think that gifts are necessary for an engagement party. In reality gifts are not required at all. Of course, I believe that if you are invited to a wedding you should give a gift but give what you can. The most important thing in my mind with a gift registry (and I do think couples should have them as an assist to their guests) is to have gifts ranging from $5 to whatever you think is appropriate. Make sure you have inexpensive options.

Lastly, I think that the idea to have charity registries is a great idea but remember that not everyone may support the charity that you support.

And please remember to get those thank you notes out. It is a pain in the neck but really important.

Summer Krecke: Yes! Charity registries are great! If you register on WeddingChannel.com you can actually create a charity registry there. It's a very popular trend -- a lot of celebrities have recently done it.

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Registry confusion: Our wedding is a month away, and we have received some wonderful gifts from my bridal shower. The "problem"? People keep telling us we need to add more to the registry. The thing is, we don't NEED more. We only registered for things we really want or need. No crystal, no china, that we will never use. I know people want to give gifts, but I'm a little uncomfortable with it. If someone gave me a shower gift, I REALLY don't want them to also get a wedding gift. And now with our registry totally thinned out, I don't want people to think that means we're expecting money. What to do?

Summer Krecke: I really love the idea of creating a honeymoon or activity registry. Yes, don't add stuff to your registry you don't need, but certainly feel free to put together a registry of things you'd love to experience like a hot air balloon ride, horseback riding, spa treatment, etc.

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Washington, D.C. groom: I'm not sure how I stumbled in here -- I feel out of my element. Because I think registries are silly, my darling fiancee and I have decided we'll also set up a charity for guests to contribute to in lieu of gifts (so they can have a choice to give us a spatula or make a donation). Any recommendations on a website or service that easily sets up a charity registry? I'm wary of googling anything wedding related because it's all overwhelming and maddening. Any help would be much appreciated. P.S. My beautiful fiancee is most likely reading this, so to her I say: I love you so very much, but get back to work -- those hours don't bill themselves!

Summer Krecke: D.C. groom, you can go to WeddingChannel.com and set up a charity registry. We have an entire list of popular charities for you and your future bride to choose from. You can either request a direct donation to your charity of choice or create a regular registry and every time a guest purchases a gift through WeddingChannel.com, a percentage is sent to your charity in your honor.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm the best man in my friend's wedding. The wedding is next summer and the engagement party is this weekend in New England. Obviously there are many responsibilities that come with being part of a wedding party, especially as a best man. I am, however, spending lots of time and money to travel to the party and none of the other groomsmen will be there. What is an appropriate gift for my friend and his fiance or is my presence presents enough?

Summer Krecke: It's really expensive to be in a wedding, so don't feel like you have to go broke to be part of your friend's special day. I like the idea of going in together with a bigger group to purchase something really nice for the bride and groom. You might want to discuss it with other members of the bridal party and see what you can come up with.

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Alexandria, Va.: Please clarify, you REALLY think that if a guest can't spend a certain amount on a gift for a wedding or shower they shouldn't show up?

You presume to know that the bride/groom would rather get that expensive gift than the pleasure of the guests' company. Let's not forget, the wedding day is about the joining of two people and two families, not about getting a head start on putting together your gourmet kitchen.

Summer Krecke: Thank-you, yes I will clarify: I was responding to someone's frustration about all the money she was spending for her friend's wedding. If you feel that it's too much and it's too expensive, to be a part of the entire process (from engagement party to wedding day), you should either discuss that with the bride and groom (or someone close to them) or gracefully decline. It's not a black and white issue -- measure your involvement and expenses by your relationship with the couple.

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Vienna, Va.: Hi, as a soon to be bride, I'd like to make sure someone reiterates that it is completely unacceptable to include registry information with an invitation to any event other than a shower! And please include in this PSA the fact that gifts are completely OPTIONAL. You are not required to give a couple a gift whether you attend the wedding or not. Honestly, we just want to celebrate with you. And brides, please ignore the advice that you have to have lots of expensive gifts on your registry. Register for what you want/need, not what the wedding industry says you "must" do!

Summer Krecke: Yes, thank you. That is correct. Registry info should not be included in your invitation and instead should be supplied on your wedding website or through someone in your bridal party.

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D.C.: Can we please make it clear that no gift is required for an engagement party or a bachelor/ette party! A gift is expected when you attend a bridal shower. And, a gift is generally expected when you attend a wedding. But, a gift should never be mandatory as a cost of admission. If all you can bring is a thoughtful card (without a check), then you should still attend and not feel bad about yourself. Maybe some people invite guests to their wedding just to get gifts, but I think the the vast majority of brides and grooms actually want you there to share in this moment of their lives.

Summer Krecke: An engagement gift is always a thoughtful touch. If the couple is having an engagement party, check and see if they're registered. If they're not registered, a simple card or a bottle of wine will most surely be appreciated. When is doubt about buying a gift ASK SOMEONE IN THE BRIDAL PARTY! They will be able to tell you exactly what to expect.

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Cheaper things on registries: I usually bundle all those things together into one gift.

Summer Krecke: Really great idea! Especially if the bride is having a themed shower. I have a friend that likes to bundle all the kitchen utensils together and wrap it up together in a really nice trash can with a bow.

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Alexandria, Va.: Good afternoon! Just a few comments as someone who was recently married, lived (at the time) in a very small apartment, registered at a few places and has bought many wedding gifts for others. Registries help guide guests. While I have certainly gone off the registry for close friends, for others I know how much gets returned so I find it helpful. Part of giving a gift is just that -- don't spend more than you can or feel obligated to spend. Many guests travelled for my wedding and their presence was enough. If you really have questions you can always ask your friends or family what they might like -- Target gift cards? Who can't use those! Gift giving shouldn't be so stressful yet it tends to be for many guests.

Summer Krecke: Excellent points -- I would like to add that you should keep out-of-town guests in mind when registering. It's always helpful for them if you register at one big national store so they go out and purchase something on their own if they choose to.

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New York, N.Y.: Hi there, I'm going to a destination wedding and am wondering if I need to spend as much as I typically would on a gift. I'm already spending tons on travel and accommodations as it is. Plus, the girl already had an engagement party AND bridal shower, so I feel like I've already gotten her a good amount of gifts. Thanks.

Summer Krecke: There is no set difference between gift spending for a destination wedding, but generally speaking, I think most brides and grooms who have destination weddings are aware of the money their guests are putting out , so I would HOPE that's taken into consideration when putting together a registry.

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Washington: Just want to weigh in that asking for money -- in any way -- be it honeymoon fund, house fund, etc. -- is just tacky with a capital T.

And the common "wisdom" that I sometimes hear that the wedding gift should be at least as valuable as the cost of your attendance at the wedding (gift should be $50+ if reception costs $50+ a person) is also tacky and wrong.

Gift giving is supposed to be a point of pleasure/joy. The guest wants to give something to celebrate the day, not that the guest feels squeezed for a gift.

Summer Krecke: Correct: asking for money is a big NO-NO. If you would prefer money, it's OK to share that information privately with people like your MOH or BM so they can pass the message along. You should still create a registry for those guests that aren't comfortable just giving money and prefer to give you an actual present.

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Arlington, Va.: Alright, what if you're getting married but not having a "wedding"? We're having a simple courthouse ceremony - just the 2 of us. We do plan on having a small party to celebrate, but it will be a very small get together, not a reception. We don't expect gifts and we really don't need anything (except cash, but we would never, ever ask for that). Is it okay to just say "No gifts" and really, truly mean it? It feels hypocritical to say "no gifts" but register.

Summer Krecke: I don't think you should state "no gifts," but you can certainly let those close to you know your feelings. Like I said before, charity registries are always thoughtful and very much appreciated.

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Will they ever go out of style?: So many people are marrying later with homes set up already, are registries becoming passe? I thought of my registry as a list of stuff I've always wanted but never purchased like a lemon grater. LOL!

Summer Krecke: I don't think registries will ever go out of style simply because so many alternative ones are popping up. For instance, yard registries, bar registries, foodie registries -- the choices are endless!

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Summer Krecke: Thanks everyone for your questions and comments. Registry can be a touchy subject, so feel free to log on to WeddingChannel.com if you have any additional questions about registry etiquette or would like more information on setting up your own wedding registry.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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