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Now more than ever, my clients keep telling me that they're not sure they want to register for wedding gifts. They feel like so many guests are spending money, and taking time, to be there for them on their big day, that it's too much to expect an expensive wedding gift, too. "Your presence is present enough," is a common theme. As a wedding planner, this makes me cringe for two reasons.
Guests Are Going to Ask Somebody About It
First, I know that some wedding guests will reach out to me to ask where the couple is registered if they can't easily find the information on the wedding website or in other materials sent to them. When I tell them the couple hasn't registered, they ask me what to get them — as if I've got the slightest idea what my clients need to complete their marital home. For the record, I usually suggest a gift card. I never suggest a check, because if the guest had wanted to give a cash gift, they wouldn't have contacted me for registry information.
You're Still Going to Get Gifts, Just Not the Ones You Want
The second reason I hate it when couples skip the registry is based on my own experience as a bride. I actually registered a few places, but even with that effort, I received a lot of ugly vases and other home décor items that I couldn't use or didn't want, but that I also couldn't exchange or return. Some things were too hideous to re-gift. I cannot even imagine how big the pile of "what the heck do I do with that?" gifts would have been if I hadn't given them any direction whatsoever.
Your older relatives and your parents' friends will call your mom or dad for direction. They will insist on getting you a gift, and many older folks do not believe in giving cash. That's a Jewish and Italian tradition that has become more mainstream with the younger generations, but anybody who isn't comfortable giving money will be unhappy.
Guests Who Can't Come Will Definitely Want To Give You Something
Don't forget that invited guests who cannot attend your wedding will most certainly want to send a gift to acknowledge your happy day. They're not overspending after paying for a trip to the wedding — in fact, many feel badly they cannot attend and want to send a gift to show they will be thinking of you, and regret not being there. It's up to you whether you want to point them in the right direction, or try to figure out to whom you should re-gift the plastic party platters to later on.
If You Really Don't Want One, Go Nontraditional
If you are absolutely, positively dead-set against registering for gifts, consider an alternative option for your guests — it will let those who really want to give you a gift invest in something you'd actually like. Whether you register for a honeymoon fund, or sign up for a charitable-giving site that lets your guests donate to the cause of your choice, it's always good to have something to direct guests to when they ask. And trust me, they will ask.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.