According to the Census Bureau In 1890, people getting married were mostly in their early 20’s. In 2010, they were in their late 20’s. Today, there are a lot more people in their 30’s getting married for the first time. Gradually as a culture, we’re delaying marriage further and further out. For those who opt to wait, it’s probably a good thing–it means they are making life’s big decisions with more of life’s experiences under their belt. But, it sure causes a hiccup for our industry, which is so often built on opulent glamour and youthful naivety.
As an adult who’s become self-sufficient before entering the wedding planning process, you might find much of it is like some bizarre otherworldly maze of expectations and traditions. If you’re feeling like someone “giving you away” doesn’t really seem right anymore, or you’re feeling like five figures really is an unreasonable amount of money to spend on a dress for one day, know that you’re not alone. And, know that you’re free to opt-out of anything you want.
But there is one wedding tradition that is almost certain going to seem out of place, but that virtually everyone will expect you to follow. The wedding registry. Weddings are a gift-giving occasion in our culture. When a couple went out on their own, their family and friends would buy them things they would need to make it out on their own. Toasters, silverware, hand towels. Things like that. People, at least those closest to you, expect to give you a gift. And to some extent, expect that gift to make them feel like they’re helping you go out on your own together. As a well established adult already, how many toasters and blenders and wine decanters do you need?
The answer is probably however many you have already acquired. At this point, you and your spouse have already met the challenges solved by washcloths and coffee makers. So there looms this expectation in your mind that your guests have some kind of idea of the sort of thing they want to give you, but you really don’t need any of it.
Don’t be one of those people who just doubles up on everything to appease aunt Sally. All that money and thoughtfulness could go to something much more worthwhile, and as an adult, you have the maturity to see that.
If you don’t need home goods, don’t feel pressure to register at Bed Bath and Beyond or Target or something. Think about what kinds of gifts would be truly meaningful to moving your life foreword together and register for those. Maybe you’re planning to start a business together–register for business books. Maybe you’re going back to school for your graduate degree–register your tuition. Maybe you want to travel the world together–register your honeymoon. You can even register the wedding, and all the wedding services.
You can always use the invitations or wedding website to explain the sorts of things you’re registering for, if you feel their especially unusual. But the point is not to get a bunch of stuff because… tradition. It’s to give your friends and family an opportunity to help you move into the next phase of your life. Not every phase of life values forks and knives equally, so register what is relevant to you, but register what is meaningful.
Check out these alternatives to the traditional wedding registry:
- HoneyFund and The Honeymoon, let you register for a honeymoon
- Hatch My House, lets your register for a house
- Simple Registry and Zola let your register for just about anything
- I Do Foundation and ZankYou let you register for charitable giving
- GoGetFunding and GoFundMe let you register for the wedding itself.