The Bridal Registry – Greedy or Good Idea

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In 1924, Chicago retailer Marshall Field’s came up with a brilliant marketing ploy – the Bridal Registry.  Up until that time, brides (and grooms) received gifts willy-nilly from caring friends and family members who were anxious to help the young couple’s household get off to a good start. Some gifts were even duplicates or even worse, some were just not at all their taste.

But once the Bridal Registry was created the upper-crust soon-to-be-weds could specify their crystal, china, and silver patterns, plus identify all the other little goodies they desired to feather their new nest. The benefit for Marshall Field’s was that they held the list and so all the guests were guided to their store to make the appropriate selection; it was a boon for their business.

The Bridal Registry can also be a benefit for your guests because some folks just don’t know you well enough to be able to select a gift that you would really like. Or they lack imagination, or time, or the inclination to have to invest the energy of hunting for a perfect something for you. (Who knew you thought the ceramic frog sprinkler was a must have for your garden?)

The drawback, by some social mavens, to the Bridal Registry is that is spits in the face of propriety. You see, a wedding gift is an option. Hard to believe but, no one who is invited to your wedding has to bring a gift, they most likely will because it is their way of celebrating your union, but really, they are not obligated. This is why you are forbidden from putting the registry information on your wedding invitations.

If you decide to create a Bridal Registry there are certain rules of etiquette to follow.

  • *It is a poorly kept secret. Spread the word by word of mouth through the MOB, MOG, and the wedding party. If you have a wedding website, post the link there so that people who are reading your charming love story can also find out what size sheets you need.
  • *You may print the link to your wedding website or list where you are registered on your shower invitations because the sole purpose of a Bridal Shower is to supply you with gifts and good wishes. Again, your guests don’t have to bring a gift; they just have to come happy.
  • *Be considerate. If you have things listed on your Bridal Registry that you wouldn’t be able to purchase without winning the lottery it is crude of you to think someone is going to buy it for you. And since some of these items will be selected as Wedding Shower gifts, affordable kitchen mitts or dishtowels are wonderful additions to the crystal candelabra for your baby grand piano.

Aside from all the niceties you need to set up a household or enhance the one you’ve already established, there are Bridal Registries for everything you can ever want. From Home Depot or Lowe’s so that you finally get the miter saw you’ve always dreamed of to “registries” that encourage your entourage to contribute to the down payment for your first home or your honeymoon in Jamaica.

While building the Bridal Registry makes clear your desires understand that not every guest will feel the need to follow your lead. Some guests may be irked at the thought that you want them to put a roof over your head with the down payment demand or that you have planned to spend money you don’t have to travel to some exotic clime on their dime.

Or it may be a personal tradition that they give every Bride-to-Be a copy of “A Room of One’s Own” with a beach umbrella and a cooler. Keep in mind that the Bridal Registry is meant to be a silent suggestion of options for your guests and that each and every gift you receive is to be acknowledged and appreciated; whether it was on your registry or not.


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