The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It will probably come as no surprise to you when I confess that I am awkward with receiving gifts.  I would have preferred to ignore the whole gift-custom part of this Wedding business and, in fact, I tried--but my awkwardness is my own and it was pointed out to me that it is unfair for me to use that to rain on other people's parade.  Hrumph!  Grow up and get a grip (or so I was told in slightly sweeter words.)

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.
While I have still not totally shaken my awkwardness and I really would prefer to be a giver than a givee, turning it into a learning opportunity helps.  I understand the sentiment and the well wishes and the heartfelt consideration behind the gift-giving and I do love that we humans find thoughtful ways to be sweet to each other in a world that would have us believe otherwise.  And, as one friend told me, Seriously, what would a Wedding be without gifts?

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