A New Way to Do Things

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.

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28 Responses to A New Way to Do Things

  1. SKL says:

    Of course in this day and age, that would mean many couples wouldn’t get much loot ever, because it would require staying together after 10 years of marriage. (Makes sense to me.)

    Call me weird, but I honestly don’t understand why a newly married couple needs to be showered with houseware gifts. Even if you’re flat broke and all your belongings fit in the trunk of your car (been there), you can always go to a discount store and get a whole set of cookware, dishes, etc., for pretty cheap. (Been there.) That’s enough to keep you from starving, and then you buy what you really want (or get it for Christmas) over time. When it comes to wedding gifts, I am more for something small and pretty plus a bit of cash. But what do I know?

  2. mssc54 says:

    Man, I’m already in bed and I have a hugely busy day tomorrow (Thursday). I have even stronger opinions than yours Laura! I gotta try to get back to this!

    But in short, if you want to “play house” before you have a license to do so don’t expect ME to pony up when you finally decide to “tie the knot.”

  3. Sue says:

    You make some very good points Laura. It would be great fun to have a shower at the 10 yr mark, but I think it’s just as fun to celebrate the upcoming marriage. There are a lot of times that the shower is the one time a year you see your aunts or cousins or whoever. (Same goes for the wedding, but up here it’s a big thing to go to the shower. Also, it gives you a chance to actually visit with everyone instead of giving a quick hi and thank you like you do at the wedding.) I had a Pampered Chef wedding shower and that was the best ever! There was no registering for stuff, it was whatever the person wanted to get you and being they had been cooking forever, they knew what I’d need and what I wouldn’t. It worked out quite well.

    • Joy says:

      Sue I don’t think Laura intended to not have showers for weddings. Just to revamp the way it is.

    • Laura says:

      Yeah – I LOVE the idea of a shower, and getting together with family and all that, but I think so many couples now are into The Wedding, and not the marriage. The couple is totally focused on making everything “perfect” and getting as much stuff as possible, that they don’t really know what they want. They’re planning for a fantasy life, not reality.

      But moms, aunts, cousins who have gone before, all these folks know that you need boring garbage cans and kitchen scrubbies more than you need fancy china and expensive bar glasses. (I have a set of lead crystal bar glasses that – seriously – I don’t think have EVER been out of the box)

      And by the 10-year mark, you’ve figured out who you are as a couple, and you’ve worn out even the nicest of those pretty towels that you got for your wedding, and you’re ready and secure enough to ask for what you really need, rather than what you want.

      • Sue says:

        I didn’t think that’s what Laura meant and I didn’t mean for my response to come off that way! Sorry 😦 I also meant to add that with the shower being the one time you might see your aunts/cousins/whoever, if you wait 10 years some of those people might not be around. However, I know that you can’t plan your life with that in mind either.

  4. Nikki says:

    I would feel weird asking for things 10 years into our marriage which was just last year. I did think about having a little celebration, but it’s right after Christmas and in the dead of winter so I let it go. We never had a reception and a very small ceremony to begin with so we literally got nothing but money from parents and grandparents I think. Which was fine with us, we have accumulated enough through out the years now. Especially with my mother moving back and forth from CA and MN so many times, I ended up with a lot of her stuff. Would it be nice to have all brand new things, matching…of course. It’s not a huge thing on my list though. I know for some this would be a fantastic idea though.

  5. Joy says:

    Uh Um…..I just want to admit right now that I actually had a flobee and I really did use it!! LOL!!! It worked great on the kids at a time I couldn’t afford haircuts all the time. I did all of our hair with it for a good 2 or 3 years!!!

    I think this whole idea is a really good one. By the 10 year mark, whatever you got is broken or needs replacing and like you say, at a “young and in love” time, you don’t really know what to ask for. You just ask for “pretty” and “cute” stuff that never gets used. I have stuff I got from my wedding that I never us. Like my dishes for one thing. I also have quite a few pieces of Waterford that look pretty but are totally useless and I know there were times back in the day that I’d wished I had more pyrex and way less sterling silver serving bowls and of of course that punch bowl that you just had to have. Of course we didn’t have the option of going through the stores with a scanner. I can remember sitting in Dayton’s and going through the bridal registry catalogs and it just wasn’t “me” but there I sat because my future mother in law insisted upon it and I loved her and did what she told me to. But most of that stuff has never been used and if it has, very minimally.

    I have a girlfriend who was never very conventional and she got married in the early 80’s and she asked for stuff she “really” wanted and not what people thought she should get. Like camping gear and garbage cans and stuff they’d really use. We thought at the time she was crazy but she was just really ahead of her time because now that’s what people do with those scanners. I’ve seen people scan cases of Pepsi and toilet paper and really, how lame is that? Give two people a scanner and set them lose in the store and this is going to happen.

    I love bridal showers for the reason Sue gave. To see everyone and maybe have lunch and chat and visit but I wish someone would tell these young girls to think ahead when registering. Not all people like Laura said go back and actually tell the computer what they bought so nobody else buys duplicates because I’ve seen people do that too. They just don’t want to take the time and I was with someone once who did that and all she said was “I’m too tired, I don’t care if she gets two.” Alrightythen.

  6. Jenny says:

    I love the idea of the 10 yr mark! We’re at 7 1/2 yrs now and I can say we could replace a lot of stuff! We’re in need of all new pots & pans right now. Now I really could have a lot of fun with that scanner picking out stuff!

  7. Jenna says:

    What a smart idea–we were 22 when we got married and I would definitely register differently if I were doing it now (5 years later). More basics, less decorative stuff, and completely different dishes!

  8. SKL says:

    Say, shouldn’t there be some kind of shower for people who never get married? I’m still cooking in unmatched pots that were (a) left by the person who had my first apartment before me, or (b) borrowed from my mom (the couple old ones she could spare) when I went away to the dorm. Waah! But seriously . . . how does being married make you need newer/fancier stuff? I never really thought about it before, but now that I have, I don’t know the answer. Is it because the couple is now expected to host a holiday dinner at some point?

  9. Laura says:

    I’ve always thought that a person who is starting out in their own place should be given a “shower”, whether they’re getting married or not. Somebody should have thrown SKL a housewarming party!

    I have a friend who moved out on her own, and bought a house in a new state halfway across the country, no less! When she moved in, I threw her a long-distance housewarming… I called all her friends who were back here in the Midwest, and asked them to go and get gift cards from stores that she has out there – Penney’s, Bed/Bath/Beyond, etc., and I packaged them all up with a loaf of bread, salt and a bottle of wine (points for anyone who gets the reference).

    • Joy says:

      I didn’t know so I cheated. But I won’t spoil it.

    • Phyllis says:

      I get the reference. Nee and I gave the same stuff to Ally and Jason when they moved into their new place. Bread so there will always be food in the home. Salt so life will have flavor. The wine is for joy in the home. But we also gave a whisk broom and dust pan so problems can easliy be swept away, and a candle so there would always be light during dark times. These gifts are a great old world tradition.

  10. Phyllis says:

    I’m in total agreement with the whole be practical approach. I think I used the china (got it myself) maybe 5 times tops in my whole life! Silver??? So I can spend my life polishing it (if I ever decided to use it)? Thanks, but let’s skip it! I with you, Laura. Planning a wedding gets waaaayy out of control these days, and showers ARE intended for those just setting up their home, not those who’ve lived together already. My family was never big on showers, but believe me, newlyweds always seemed to get exactly what they wanted/needed anyway! And those little hand scanner thingies? Ridiculous! But that’s just my own opinion!

  11. lucy says:

    Hmm I agree with you to a certain extent but disagree with the sentiment that “if you live together you shouldn’t register at all.” (Let’s disregard your main point about not registering at all when marrying and instead getting to register at the 10 year mark) According to you the whole point of the Bridal shower (and maybe by extension the wedding registry) is to get the “basics that they need to start their life together.” Although this might be the truth for some people, for others it is not. As you’ve pointed out most individuals have already started their lives outside of the home while they are at college. After they marry and move in together they could merge their “pre-wedding” stuff together into one household. However, many individuals want to get rid off the old, crappy $5 towels and $40 pot and pan set. Instead the couple wants to upgrade and get better quality stuff they themselves could not afford. Why should this be any different for the couple that lives together before they marry? Why should they not have the same right to upgrade? According you your own argument this couple is better equipped to make the right choices because this couple might actually already know their combined taste and have already settled into life together and know what they need/want.

    Just my $0.02…

  12. SKL says:

    A couple last points since I just read a couple of the comments.

    About the silver – my parents had 4 place settings (no idea where they came from or when). We used those for holiday dinners every year. As our family grew to 8, the kids got the salad forks and teaspoons, and the grownups got the other 3 pieces. Yes, we polished them from time to time, and it was just a fun part of the whole tradition. Thanks for bringing back a nice memory. (We stopped using the silver at some point – probably when we regularly had more than 4 adults for Thanksgiving.)

    And I’d just like to say that a wedding gift or any other gift is not a “right” in my opinion. Regardless of whether the couple lived together for how long or has what they need/want or doesn’t. People either feel like giving or they don’t. Most people do, in my experience. It’s the same thing with baby gifts. If someone has a baby, the baby needs something to wear and something to sleep in, whether his parents are married or not. There is no obligation to give a gift in either case, but I’d base my generosity on what the needs were, not whether my morals were upheld (well, up to a point).

    I used to hate the idea of “registering.” But I’ve gotten comfortable with the idea. It does help people to avoid buying you something you neither want nor need. People who don’t like registries are still free to buy something else (that’s what I always used to do). So to me, it’s more of a convenience for the gifters who want to use it. I registered online for my kids’ baby shower, and I am really glad I did. Of course I didn’t ask for ridiculously expensive items from my down-to-earth family/friends. But I did ask for a few substantial items, because I knew some folks would want to buy something substantial and I might as well tell them what I wanted. It worked out great. My sister also registered for her wedding (with a scanner), and I went with her for that. (It was exhausting!) Almost everything she chose was nice but inexpensive. And she does use those things. She had had her own apartment for a while and he hung out there on and off, so she knew what she wanted. I will say that my mom is good for keeping her younger daughters well-stocked with kitchen needs, married or not. (She doesn’t buy me that stuff because she knows I don’t want or need it.)

  13. Joy says:

    I agree that I could care less if someone was living together or had a baby out of wedlock. It’s not up to me to judge anyone else. If someone is getting married or having a baby, it’s up to them how they live not me. I guess unless someone raped or murdered someone, it’s up to God to judge and not me. Beside, not everyone wants to get married.

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