There are about 940 million listicles, articles, and blog posts about what to register for at Bed Bath & Beyond or Williams-Sonoma before you get married. It also seems like every store (Target! Anthropologie!) offers a registry, making the whole process convoluted and time-consuming. Should I go cute or practical? Is this a wish-list or a needs-list? Do I really need 30 kinds of serveware when I’ve never invited a guest over in my life?
Well, both, both, and probably not.
I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. Brides that have been training competitively for this event since grade school, and brides that have lived with their significant other for years and have a fully-functioning household. Some brides need to have the perfect modern-chic flatware (in gold!) and some are totally at a loss with a scanner at Macy’s.
I tiptoe the line between both of these “types”, so I thought I’d share my experiences in the world of registries.
If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I love to cook. It is my passion. I hate that I don’t have more time for it (and a kitchen crew to clean up after me). When I was a little kid, I remember going into home goods stores and dreaming of the day I’d get to pick out my very own plates (I was very into sunny yellow Southwestern-style pottery then; I’ve become a minimalist in my old age). For me, this dream was not associated in any way with a man or a wedding. Having my own supplies meant freedom, adulthood, and self-sufficiency. I assumed that one day I’d be fabulously wealthy, having published a string of acclaimed YA novels, and I could buy my own damn plates.
How does that Alanis song go? Life has a funny, funny way…
I never became an author, and, at 25, am most-certainly-freaking-not fabulously wealthy. I have lived with my fiancé for 3 years, and we have a fully-functioning household and kitchen. So, when I went to register for gifts, my inner child who wanted all the things did battle with my independent feminist adult self who felt all the guilt about asking for a new colander when the Ikea one she had worked perfectly fine.
So, I did the reasonable thing and asked some other recent brides for their perspectives. When in doubt: ask! Talking to my sister-in-law (who got married in 2014) was the biggest help. She’d already been through it; she knew the etiquette.
Ultimately, my registry & bridal shower experiences were really positive, and I learned a lot. None of my guests went broke spoiling me, but each and every one of them made me very happy and showed me immense generosity.
Tips for a Happy Registry
Be yourself, and be reasonable. Register for things you need and you will use. Ignore the lists that come in the bridal books. If you’re a top-notch baker, get you a KitchenAid, girl. If you did a few-year stint at Starbucks in college, register for that fancy espresso machine! You know how to use it! But if the thought of reading through owner’s manuals and attempting to clean a juicer freaks you out, keep it simple. Get some cute curtains for your living room. Let each choice reflect your actual lifestyle, not your aspirational one.
Cover your bases before you dream big. If you really want a designer duvet, but you don’t even have a ladle, let the practical take priority. Thus, have a good selection of super cheap (salt & pepper shakers) and super expensive (a Dyson). This is a plus for you and your guests! Since your registry items will be hand-picked by you, you’ll appreciate them all. One of my favorite gifts was an $8 creamer shaped like a cow—the cutest!
Consider region when registering. I know the internet has all the things and that physical space and distance no longer matter, but I guarantee that you have older family members that aren’t tech savvy. Make sure at least one of your registries is with an easy-to-get-to store. Targets are everywhere. There is a Bed Bath & Beyond in every state. You can do your dream registry, for sure, but be considerate of your guests’ technological abilities.
Keep an eye on your registry online. If you’re anything like me, you woke up the morning after getting engaged and immediately set up a registry. But things change a lot in a year (or 6 months…or 6 weeks!), so you’ve got to keep it updated! Also, some people will look at your registry and buy you the same items from other stores—make sure you remove these items from your registry to avoid duplicates!
Save every. last. receipt. You’re going to return things! You’ll probably even return things that you wanted! I ended up having to return a super-cute margarita set and 2 sets of martini glasses because I had other more pressing household needs (plus, no storage space for all that glassware). Also, save appliance boxes (or at least the barcodes and serial numbers), because you never know when you’ll be eligible for a rebate!
Have fun. It’s supposed to be fun! What’s more fun than presents? However, if the thought of having to inventory your glassware makes you die inside, then screw the registry altogether! Your wedding is about you, your partner, and exactly no one else—tradition be damned!
So, who else is a huge fan of Twin Peaks? We had just watched the entire series when we got engaged, so the hashtag was born of a mild Coop obsession. Bear with us.
This weekend we had our bridal shower! I made Michael come because it’s the 21st century, damn it! Unfortunately, we have bi-coastal families, so the turnout wasn’t record-breaking, but we got some amazing, thoughtful gifts and I hugged so many Portuguese woman that I smelled of their perfume all day. I was blown away with the amount of love and support I received.
My sister-in-law-to-be, Erica threw the bash and she knocked it out of the park. She really took my one direction (all gold everything) to heart! I mean, the woman hand-made gold foil phrase art for me! She’s a saint.
My Maid of Honor/best friend Sarah introduced me to an amazing drink called the Statesman Sour. I’m not sure that we followed the traditional recipe exactly, but it’s Elderflower liqueur, white whiskey, lime, and bitters. Amazing. We even bought special cocktail glasses from Anthropologie for the occasion!
The food was…mildly out of control. I mean, look at this watermelon situation.
My mother bought a cake that could have easily fed 80 people. It was delicious, but I can’t give the stuff away! I brought so much food home from this thing that the bag broke and I spilled pasta and cantaloupe all over the driveway.
One of the best things that happened at the shower was that his mother majorly trolled us. We make fun of her constantly for her using inspirational phrases…ad nauseum. She bought us a wedding album that…was really her taste.
I’ll use it, but I won’t like it!
I’m so humbled by the amount of love we received this weekend. Love our family!
Something momentous just happened, and I’d be remiss not to share.
We finally bought Michael’s wedding outfit! I mean, we still technically need to buy him a white slim-fit button-down and a nice pair of brown leather dress shoes, but hot damn is his suit fire.
It is SO Michael to wear green to our wedding. He loves earth tones and as the anti-Bridezilla that I try to be, I wanted him to express himself! It’s his day too!
I knew that ASOS was having an up-to-70% off sale, so I clicked on men’s to see if I could snag anything Michael needed. I had no idea they sold suiting! I was all set to buy some charcoal grey suit paints but lo and behold!—there was a dark green vest and—GASP!—it had coordinating suit separates! We added a green skinny tie, a tie clip, and some fresh-ass cufflinks and BAM: (almost) and entire wedding ensemble for under $130.
October’s arrival is the bell that tolls the reality of the fact that I’m getting married. In a year. And nothing is planned.
I may have mentioned this here before, but I’m not a “wedding-oriented” person. Or even an event-oriented person. I skip the company picnic and the school dance. I’ve always been more of a fringe character, someone who has delighted in observing rather than partaking.
This is different, though. Balancing social expectations with familial obligations with personal desires seems like a disaster in the making. How do I reconcile wanting a traditional bridal shower and getting all the gifts with NOT walking down the aisle, writing my own tear-inducing vows with potentially taking my husband’s last name? How do I reconcile my life-long passionate feminism with my legitimate desire for a life that enacts traditional gender roles?
My wedding has unofficially been dubbed “Indecision 2016” because it’s the only way I can describe it. I know what colors I want to incorporate into the décor, but I don’t know when the hell this event is even going to take place. September? November? Tomorrow? Never?
I’m so fortunate that every day, even in my worst moments, I can glance at my left hand and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am loved, valued, and protected. All I want is an occasion that reflects the warmth and happiness I feel every day. The Wedding Industrial Complex doesn’t seem to promote the values that matter most to me.
My 8-year-old niece said, hilariously, tonight at dinner, “It’s her wedding, let her do whatever she wants!” As wonderful as that sounds, I wonder how authentic I can be to myself, when evil forces like “money” and “family” come into play.
I’m sure everything will work out. I’m determined not to get stressed out or become a Bridezilla.
How could anything that makes me this happy be bad?
The month of September has been a whirlwind! I started full-time school again, so I’m busy 6 days a week. As a life-long dilettante, the adjustment has been difficult for me. Things finally seem to be falling into rhythm, and I’m confident that I will be able to drop a mic on this semester in December.
A week and a half ago, I suffered a *very mild* head injury/concussion at work. It was nothing serious…an evening bag fell on my head. As in, those little clutches you carry to a wedding? Yeah, most embarrassing injury ever. My head still hurts though. There’s a huge tender spot, like a bruise I can’t see, that kills every time I touch it. But other, more positive stuff has happened recently, such as:
I went to go see Chelsea Wolfe. I mentioned that I was going in my “July & August faves” post, but man, was it a show. I am the WORST at going to concerts, as in, I want to fall asleep pretty much as soon as the opener comes on. However, I’m so glad I fought through my yawning and perked up for Chelsea Wolfe. She destroyed. She did a ton of new stuff, so we recognized almost every song. Fig bought ALL of her albums, plus a sick hat, at the merch table, so now I’m positively rolling in Wolfe-goods.
Less than a week later, I got the unbelievable pleasure of seeing the formidable Dengue Fever in concert! I never would have thought I could dig music with Cambodian lyrics so much, but I am so down! Nimol put on the vocal performance of a lifetime. It might be one of the top 5 shows I’ve ever been to. We were so close to the stage!
Now that the cooler weather has begun to arrive, this little jerk has become ten times more cuddly. Hanging out with us all the time, curling up with us on the couch, crawling under the covers and cuddling with us in bed…it’s sublime. I truly never thought I could be a cat person, but here we are, almost 2 years later, and I love her more every day.
Oh, and this other thing happened this month…
I bought my wedding dress! This isn’t it, but this was one of the runners-up. I can’t believe how fortunate I was to find such a beautiful gown for an absolute steal. It was everything I wanted: stark white, plain, and ON SALE. Music to my ears. Now we just have to do things like “set a date” and “book a venue”.
Of course, no outfit is complete without shoes. My fiancé is almost imperceptibly shorter than me. He doesn’t mind if I wear heels, but out of respect/embarrassment, I chose flats. And what could possibly be more me than Keds for kate spade new york?
My weddings colors are black and gold, but I plan on wearing all white and silver/white gold in contrast to the décor. So, I splurged and got these. I saved megabucks on the dress, so why not spend an unnecessary $80 on sneakers? Seems totally reasonable, right?
Anyway, just checking in with the blogosphere! I have a ridiculous minestrone recipe to share this week, and I’m excited to start sharing all of my wedding progress when it, y’know, eventually starts happening.
We’re California bound in 4 days! I’m so excited! I haven’t been to the Bay Area since 1999, so I hardly remember it. I’ve already packed my clothes. I actually had a bit of a stress nightmare about the airport and the flight. I’m not a great traveler, and I’m an even worse sleeper.
I haven’t even begun to plan all of our activities. My main priorities are jumping into the Pacific Ocean, eating at In N Out (my few-times-a-decade exception to vegetarianism), and going to the Amoeba Records in San Fran & Berkeley, but we have a whole 8 or 9 days to fill! I definitely want to hit up some art museums, but unfortunately the SFMOMA is closed for expansion right now! This is the second time I’ll have been deprived of a MOMA on a trip…not cool.
I’m going to start compiling a list of coffee/donut shops in the Bay Area since we are sorely lacking them in our little corner of the country. Of course, we’ll be spending a ton of time with family. My cousin Shelly is the owner/designer of the Oakland-based jewelry company Harp Designs, so we’ll have to visit with her and (maybe??) talk about having her design our wedding bands. She was actually just profiled on another blog—a must-read!
In other news, this happened:
I finally got my engagement ring after 2.5 weeks of being engaged. It sounds like nothing, but when people frantically reach for your left hand to check your bling multiple times per day, it’s so disappointing to have to say, “Oh, I don’t have my ring yet,” or to explain that the one I was wearing was a big ol’ fake. I’m getting married, and now I have proof! What is life?
Sherri Dupree Bemis of one of my favorite bands, Eisley, recently recorded a cover of the John Denver/Peter, Paul, and Mary song “Leaving On A Jet Plane”. It’s sweet, lovely, and available for free download on Soundcloud. In honor of our trip (which I’m dubbing our engagement trip even though the two are unrelated), I’ve posted it below for your listening pleasure.
Friday, I’m in love…with Etsy. I had seen this post on Pinterest which made me long for a Feyoncé shirt to call my own. Luckily, I located this shop that hooked me up with a great tank (it is July, after all).
The following photo, which was something of an outtake is the only one in which you can see my fakey-fake ring that I’ve been wearing to numb the pain of my real one not being back from the jeweler.
The fake ring is kind of a wacky story. As a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. She and I are pretty close. One day, snooping through her jewelry box, I found this ring and snagged it, thinking it was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. I kept it for years, through various moves, truly thinking it was my grandmother’s engagement ring, deeply ashamed of having swiped it. My old job was located next to a jeweler—they tested the ring to discover that the diamond was a fake but the gold was real (although low-quality and not worth much). I developed theories about the ring. Was she given a fake? Was it a replica of her ring from the sixties? How did this fake engagement ring find its way into the back of a tiny drawer in my grandmother’s jewelry box?
When I finally got engaged for real, I went to tell the news to my grandmother. I decided it was a good time to come clean about my thievery at least a decade prior. Instead of being mad, she thought it was hilarious—apparently the ring had been my aunt’s…and no one had known that it wasn’t real! Drama! My aunt has been divorced for probably nearly 20 years, so it’s water under the bridge, but it’s still fascinating that this little bizarre artifact found its way into my hands. My grandmother laughed again and told my mother, “Imagine if she’d made off with a real diamond!” It was kind of a cute family moment.
My actual engagement ring is my mother’s from the nineties. We’re having the diamond reset into the ring (it was removed to be weighed & graded), and having the ring dipped by some sort of magic/alchemy to be white gold instead of yellow. It’s a marquise cut with tiny chip diamonds along the sides—my totally unique dream ring. But for now, I’ve got my fakey to help everything feel real.
In any case, thanks, Etsy, for making my engagement dreams come true, Mom, for saving her ring to pass down to me, and Grandma/Aunt Michelle for helping keep me sane while I wait for my ring for another week.
I took an accidental five-day hiatus from blogging. At first it was just so that I could focus on finishing my summer semester and turn out a 12-page research paper. (Mine was only 9 pages, to be fair, and honestly pretty recondite, but I FINISHED it, damn it.)
But then something completely insane and unexpected happened. I GOT ENGAGED!
I never thought in 8 million years that it would happen so soon. We had discussed and agreed that it was something we both wanted, but we weren’t in any rush. So that’s why, when he said “Let’s get married” on Tuesday night I didn’t believe him. For like an hour. I made him swear on his grandmother’s grave that he wasn’t messing with my head. I still kind of don’t believe it. It wasn’t overly romantic or cheesy. It felt like an equitable decision between two adults. So my style.
I still haven’t called him my fiancé out loud (it feels way too weird), but I did order a FEYONCÉ shirt on Etsy because I mean, I’m a girl. A girl who happens to love both Beyoncé and puns. Unfortunately, I have to wait 2 weeks to get my ring, since the jeweler is closed next week for the July 4th holiday (I know, the whitest of white girl problems). But it’s a hand-me-down from my mom that I’m having reset, so it’s really special and worth the wait.
I’m already finding it difficult to stay reasonable and sane when other people express their enthusiasm about “wedding things” but I always swore that I wasn’t that type of girl. I’ve got goals, man. I need to see France before I die. I want to be a homeowner and a mother to many cats (jury is still out on humans, but we’ll see). I’m not spending a small fortune on a wedding. So, wish me luck. Pray that I will not turn into a heinous bridezilla, and have to forfeit my membership to the feminist club.
Maybe this amazing song by Janelle Monae will help: