I’ve been inspired by Joy’s post on heirlooms to write about Bridal Showers. I know why we have them, but seriously, I think we should completely revamp the entire system. Brides-to-be shouldn’t be wandering around, scanning everything in the store that they might ever want in life. That ritual should be saved for the 10-year anniversary. And here’s why:
If you’re getting married to someone that you are not living with (which is a whole other rant discussion), the two of you are coming together under one roof for the first time. And guys are conditioned – whether they will admit it or not – to say, “whatever you think, dear” when it comes to decorating a home. So the happy couple goes through Macy’s, zapping everything that makes the bride-to-be go, “EEEE!!!! I WANT that!!” And they never stop to think that they will never, ever, not in a million years, use a golden soup tureen. But they go through the store anyway, choosing hundreds of items from each department (“Egyptian Cotton Towels!! They’re on sale, honey! Only $250 for a hand towel!! Let’s ask for six – two for each bathroom!”)
The day after they come home from their honeymoon, they sit in the center of a pile of newly-opened gifts, surveying the fruits of their good fortune. There’s the golden soup tureen, and two of the six Egyptian cotton towels. But there’s also a set of Christmas Dishes, a Flowbee, a jewel-handled letter opener, two different pot-and-pan sets, six sets of bedsheets, and a dog crate that would fit a Great Dane. And hundreds of other gifts that don’t match. Because not everybody follows that gift registry, do they? Some people don’t have the stores near them (that would be me), others can’t afford the things that appear there, and still others want you to have the exact same item that was given to them a hundred years ago when they got married, and they’ve used it every single day since then, and they don’t realize that, really, nobody uses a butter churn anymore.
And the happy couple is left to cobble all of this stuff together into their newly rented one-bedroom apartment, and make it look like they meant it to look like that.
So what’s the solution?
A basic, bare-bones registry for the Bride and Groom, and a blowout 10th Anniversary registry.
On the bare-bones registry, the bride and groom make two lists: “What We Have,” and “Colors/Styles We Like”. In the “Have” list, they put things like pots and pans, bath towels, dishes, even computer/electronic stuff. This isn’t the 1800’s, where the bride goes from her parent’s house into her husband’s, and has nothing but the set of hand-embroidered linens that are lovingly folded into her Hope Chest. The bride and the groom have already been living on their own and collected stuff, both during college years and into the first years of working life. So they need to settle in together and figure out what their collective style is, before asking for new stuff.
The second list is a basic guide. Here, they list the colors that they intend for each room of the new dwelling, and their basic style. Because even though they likely don’t know what they need, they know if they’re “Country Traditional” people, or “Big City Modern and Shiny” people. After that, they don’t get to ask for anything. If a guest wants to know what they want or need, that guest can call the moms, because Moms Know Everything. But most guests are surprisingly astute when it comes to knowing what a couple will need when they first start out. And it ain’t million-gram Egyptian towels.
And call me callous, but if they’re already living together? They don’t get to register at all. They already have the basics that they need to start their life together, which is the whole point of a Bridal Shower.
Then, the Happy Couple settles into Married Life. And discovers that no, they really DIDN’T need that golden soup tureen, and isn’t it a good thing they didn’t ask for it? Because if they did, it would be used as a chamber pot, because there’s NO ROOM for it anywhere except the bathroom tub.
Ten years down the road, the couple has likely bought a house, had a child or two, maybe a dog and a cat. NOW they’ve figured out what they really need. NOW they’ve figured out that white is not the practical color choice for anything, and that booger-green walls really can look good when coupled with a vomit-colored rug. NOW, all their stuff that they had when they got married is threadbare and in need of replacement. NOW, they can be trusted with one of those scanner-guns. They can go through Macy’s and scan the practical things that they know for sure they need, want, and will use. And they also understand the value of the items they are scanning, and are likely to dissolve into a puddle of uncontrollable hysteria when they see that $250 price tag on the Egyptian Hand Towels.