I'm well-versed in wedding registries. It's not because I've ever had one myself (thank god), but because I'm getting old-ish.
Yes, I'm getting to that age, the one where I'm getting invited to weddings, asked to be in bridal parties. My Facebook news feed shows me that the girl I hated from high school made it to the altar before I did (I mean, it's not like I care or anything... *sobs uncontrollably*).
Plus, my big sister got married almost three years ago. And though I was absolutely over-the-moon happy for her and her husband, I also couldn't help but feel that her wedding registry — and every other one I've been encouraged to shop from — was kind of the most unnecessary thing since toeless socks.
Wedding registries have been around ever since Macy's officially instituted them in the 1920s, but they actually really stem from the ancient tradition of wedding dowries — a gift or payment given to the family of the bride (yes, back in B.C., mommy and daddy got paid to give you away).
These days, while couples can put whatever they want on their registries (I'm talking payments towards the activities and dinners they'll be having on their upcoming honeymoons, payments towards a new house, etc.), many still stick to what they know: A self-selected list of items from department stores like Bloomingdales, Saks, or Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Maybe these are easier, or maybe couples are afraid of what people will say if they deviate from this accepted tradition. But personally, I'm not going to waste a ton of money on buying this shit for them.
Look, I'm not salty about wedding registries just because I'm a single girl who occasionally suffers from bouts of WEDDING FEVER (which leaves my body just as swiftly as it takes over). I'm salty for a number of reasons.
Let's examine these reasons, shall we?
Traditional registries are limited in selection.
Despite the fact that couples are living more modern lifestyles, I find that many aren't modernizing their registries, which makes me feel we should redefine what a "traditional" registry should look like.
As it stands, the traditional registry supports a woman's choice to be the next Martha Stewart, but not her choice to make use of other things that may or may not define her character, like a rad new outfit for the future world travels she plans to share with her soon-to-be husband.
And why would we, as a society, still sort of collectively feel she's presumptuous for throwing that on there? (C'mon, you know we would!)
I wonder if women are afraid of what the social ramifications might be if they decided to break out of the mold with a non-kitchen and bath-themed registry. Would that risk messing with traditional relationship dynamics too much?
If my sister added a duffle bag to her registry, my mom probably would have been all, "WTF? When and where do you intend on going, and why must your guests pay for that?" Which is kind of crazy.
Just as crazy as buying nice kitchen knives for a betrothed friend who you know doesn't even cook.
Traditional registries perpetuate the antiquated notion that a wife's place is only in the kitchen.
Typically, wedding registries include gifts like china, silverware and shiz. May I remind you that's because when they originated, men were the primary breadwinners and women were still not widely accepted in the workforce, which is why they were stuck at home... cooking and cleaning?
Newsflash: We don't live in the 1920s anymore. And as much as I tend to get nostalgic for the clothes flappers once sported, we've got to acknowledge the fact that we're in an era that encourages women to get out of the kitchen and into the workplace.
My sister is a full-time pediatric dentist, AKA she hardly has any time for herself, let alone time to whip up a meal using an overpriced, superfluous knife sharpener. Her registry included things like toasters and nice dish towels, and I can't help but wonder if she actually wanted those things, or if she only included them because the tradition encourages such gifts.
Hear me out: I'm not saying a woman can't or shouldn't spend her time in the kitchen. If that's her thing, that's great for her.
I'm simply writing in defense of the women who feel their time would be better spent doing something else, with gifts that encourage that something else, and a social circle who would encourage the choice to make a list reflecting that, rather than one that reflects these outdated stereotypes.
Registries are straight-up robbing me.
OK, this reason is mostly just selfish, but it has to be listed, nonetheless.
Guys, I can't afford your stupid crystal-embellished toaster or your fancy ass tea kettle. In fact, I'd probably drop the damn things just trying to get them to the wedding.
Instead of giving me a list of things to choose from, how about not giving me any parameters at all so I can budget accordingly, while still finding something nice for you and your soon-to-be-hubby?
I mean, isn't it more heartfelt that way, anyway? I don't want to be lumped in with the masses. I want to be remembered for my kickass, unique AF gift.
What's my advice for my fellow broke Millennials? If you're looking for something cool to gift your couple friends and they have a traditional registry, go off of it it if you can. You might be regarded as that girl or guy who went off the registry, but it's not necessarily impolite to do so.
In fact, you're putting more time and effort into choosing their gift, which is a great thing.
Your wallet (and probably also your coupled friends) will thank you for shunning tradition and paying attention to what they really want as they enter married life.
Besides, I'm pretty sure current word on the street is that they'd prefer cash or check.