It isn't just around the Wedding gift stuff that I am kooky--it is receiving gifts in general. Christmas is awkward--I can never think of anything I need and my tastes are rather practical and frugal. I don't have a lot of confidence in my own ability to gift well for others either. I am, however, working on this--one well-wrapped gift at a time.
Fortunately, Teri loves gifts and is quite good at choosing great gifts and receiving with graciousness. She inspires me actually. She has good taste and none of the awkward baggage that I carry around with me. But it was some of the kids who prepared us for the inevitable Wedding gift reality--encouraging us to register and making sure that I was at least prepared in some fashion.
So, with just over a month to go, we have started to receive some gifts and while I tried to seize up and say silly things like you shouldn't have and No! Please! No! (Okay, I don't actually say the latter, but I sure do think it!), I have been encouraged to be a grown-up and cope. Like a good English major, I buried my discomfort in doing some research about Wedding gift custom and etiquette--when in doubt and awkward discomfort, read! Here is what I have discovered:
I was not surprised to learn that the first "Bridal Registry" was instituted by a U.S. department store, Marshall Field's in 1924. I guess the custom of giving gifts, however, has been around since the beginning. Even so, customs are always changing. I read one "rule" from mid-twentieth century that stated that gifts should be mailed or sent in advance, NOT brought along to the event. I don't think that's true anymore--although who doesn't love getting packages delivered? I read another "rule" that said one should always purchase from the registry (probably written by the public relations department at a retail store) and another that said that deviating from the registry was just fine. Also, it used to be acceptable to send a Wedding gift within one year of the ceremony but now three months is considered in good taste.
Other things I've learned?
- the experts are divided on whether or not to send a gift if you can't attend, Teri and I decided (and we're experts now) that a card or note is perfectly adequate!
- Group gifts are okay too--although there was some hub bub about five people going in on a $10 garlic press--but I couldn't help thinking that a good garlic press is worth its weight in gold (we already have a groovy one from Pampered Chef that never lets us down.)
- In all the articles I read, the recommended amounts to spend seemed ridiculously high so I hope everyone else is ignoring them too. Seriously--$150 can buy a lot of groceries or pay the utility bill so, (and I know my practical frugality is showing here) why wrap it up in silver paper and give it away? And if you do have that much to spare, I know plenty of charities and nonprofits who can make excellent use of it!
- What is missing from all these articles are the creative and personal gifts that I think rock: an offer of help or a bottle of wine, a gift of services (pedicure, hair styling, etc.), an invitation to dinner, or original work by artisans--a painting, piece of pottery, or sculpture. I know, practical, but awesome.
- There is some onus on the couple too: updating the registry or at least keeping an eye on it in case things get "taken" and there isn't anything reasonable/affordable on it toward the actual day and
- Thank you notes are a must. I confess that I am still a little irked about not receiving a "thank you" note for a wedding we attended last year. Bad cheese.