Monday, December 13, 2010

Gift Giving: The Honeymoon Registry Edition

So, one thing I have learned since getting engaged: there is a ginormous wedding blogosphere.


I'm actually not sure why this surprised me; after all, this is the internets. There is every kind of blogosphere you could imagine. If there are bloggers out there writing about giving up toilet paper and refrigeration, why wouldn't there be bloggers out there writing about marriage and weddings?

So, because I like reading new blogs, I've been wading my feet in, reading blogs here and there, making new finds, and just generally soaking up the really great writing that you can now find all over the internet.

It's interesting. It's challenging. Because, frankly, sometimes, here in the eco-blogosphere, we're sort of caught in our own little bubble where pretty much everyone shares our own values. The marriage blogosphere? It's a little different. Not that there aren't plenty of men and women out there planning sustainable weddings ... but that's not everyone's goal, nor is every decision made with the ethos of the alt-consumerist eco-nut in mind.

For instance: a recent controversy that erupted on East Side Bride over whether or not it was tacky to register for a honeymoon.

Honestly, the alt-consumerist in me literally *could not fathom* how registering for a honeymoon could in any way be controversial. As someone who always prefers to gift experiences over material goods, I freaking LOVE honeymoon registries. LOVE.

But as I read the comments on this post, I started to see why people felt the way they felt. One commenter wrote:
"Your getting married means that I want to do something to contribute to your marriage over the long long term. Think of it like a barn raising. Do I want to buy you a butter dish that your grandkids will eat out of? Yes."
And see, I GET that. Material goods are tangible. You can hold a butter dish, you can feel its slight heft, and every time you use it, you can think, "Aunt Sue got me that."

On the other hand, experiences are ephemeral. They're held only in our memories, and even those dull over time. In fifty years, you may still have the butter dish (though possibly not- hello planned obsolescence) but your memory of that snorkeling trip you took or the museum you went to may have faded. So I completely get why giving something physical is so important to so many people.

Still, I stand by my support of honeymoon registries and other experiential gifts. As a giver, I still want to contribute to someone's marriage over the long term. But, for me, the way to do that is through experiences. Even if that honeymoon, or date night at a fancy restaurant, or those tickets to the theatre is a distant memory fifty years hence, I believe that those experiential gifts contribute to the sustenance of a marriage. After all, what is marriage, but an agreement to experience life together?

You can raise a barn in many ways: some people will do so by giving you nuts, bolts, and rafters, others will do so by playing the fiddle because barn ain't raised without a dance. It's the same thing with weddings. Some people want to give the nuts and bolts of your daily life: the butter dishes, the tea cups, the pots and pans. Others want to fill your life with music, travel, food, a night out from the daily grind. It's all good. It's all so valid. And all are contributing to a barn being raised, a life being lived.

So, not that anyone asked me, but if someone were to ask me about honeymoon registries? I'd say, go for it. But maybe include a small physical registry too. After all, we all want to give in different ways.


Rosa said...

You're so brave, wading into that world at all.

The thing about weddings is there is all this public judgement about how it should be (just like Christmas, actually) but it's really regional/family specific.

Where I grew up it's traditional for the bride to dance with anyone who stuffs a dollar in her cleavage. It helps pay for the wedding. That sure puts the supposed tackiness of just asking for cash into perspective.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Honeymoon registries are controversial? Really?

As someone who's given & received lots of event tickets / experiences (or even just TicketMaster vouchers) as wedding, birthday, Christmas and retirement gifts, I find that surprising!

ruchi said...


Hah! You're right. There is a LOT of public judgment about weddings, and the truth is, what is deemed "acceptable" somewhere, is not somewhere else. In plenty of communities and areas, cash is the default gift. No one gives presents. In the end, I think people need to do what's best for them. You can't please everyone.

Cath, yeah, I know, I honestly WAS taken aback. I went to seven weddings last year, and most of them had honeymoon registries. Didn't seem to bother anyone I talked to. I think the people who didn't want to give honeymoon gifts, just found things off of the traditional registries.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Congratulations! I must have been somewhere not sleeping when you got engaged!

We registered for gifts, but in all honesty I was 21 when we got engaged and in college. I had NO idea how hard I'd have to work for the money that we spent on our wedding. We also had no house and no stuff, so it made sense to register.

I had a friend get married this fall in Mass. and she lives in London, so it was expected that people would give cash. How would she get stuff home?

I always liked the honeymoon registry idea!

Congrats again!!!

EcoGeoFemme said...

I have some friends who don't want a gift registry at all because they only want money for their honeymoon. That's fine, but not all of their guests are going to like it. We keep telling them to make at least a small registry, because people will get them gifts anyway. Might as well be things they need and like.

I've never seen a honeymoon registry before. I don't think it's any worse than any other kind of registry, but Rosa is right that weddings seem to invite judgment. Best just to realize we can't please everyone and do what feels best to us/our families.