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The Bride's Guide Blog

Food for Thought: Is the Wedding Registry Outdated?

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The past month or so has seen a cavalcade of wedding posts from not-so-usual suspects—it being the height of wedding season and all. And not all of them are positive, especially when it comes to gift registries.

First came an essay by Slate’s business and economics correspondent Matthew Yglesias, who denounces wedding registries as “wasteful, unfair, and inefficient.” In an era where the average bride and groom are older than in previous generations, he argues, and where most couples have already established their households by cohabiting before marriage, gifting newlyweds has come to mean “buying things for people that they haven’t bought for themselves because they think they’re overpriced.”

Then last week, Jezebel entered the fray, picking up a story about a wedding gift gone horribly wrong—all captured via text and Facebook messages and reprinted in a Canadian newspaper. The invited guest, thinking himself clever, went off the registry and brought a gift basket he assembled full of gourmet and sweet treats to a wedding. What followed was a nasty exchange between giver and recipient that included this, from one of the brides: I'm not sure if it's the first wedding you have been to, but for your next wedding... People give envelopes. I lost out on $200 covering you and your dates plate... And got fluffy whip and sour patch kids in return…

I’m not sure where I stand on the whole registry thing, at least in its most formal, traditional sense. But I do recognize it’s an issue people can get super-passionate about—on both sides of the aisle.

Comments (3)

  • I don't think it's necessarily outdated. They still have their use. However, I do think people getting their panties in a bunch about registries has gone on long enough. I enjoy buying gifts for people but I'm not going to go broke doing it. And if someone is ungrateful about a gift the get crossed off my list.

  • This is a tough question! While I agree with Emily and don't feel that registries are necessarily "outdated", I do feel that we're seeing a real shift taking place. Registries used to serve a very specific purpose - to help a young newlywed couple furnish a home together as they moved into their first house/apartment together. As this post mentions, the fact that most couples today already live together before marriage means that most couples already have most of the things they need, and traditional registries nowadays tend to be full of overpriced items that the couple doesn't really need and that the guest doesn't really want to buy.

    Having experienced this issue firsthand for years, I co-founded CityBird Registry ( last year with a friend of mine, to provide an alternative. We partner with local businesses (currently in Manhattan and Brooklyn) to offer couples the chance to register for date nights - dinners and drinks, classes, getaways, memberships and other activities that they can explore together. This way, couples are receiving a fun unique experience instead of "stuff", guests are providing something meaningful that the couple will remember, and they are supporting their local economy and businesses at the same time!

    The alternative wedding registry trend is growing, and who knows - perhaps one day the traditional household registry will be outdated! :)

  • I just got married less than two months ago and I used the registry service, We put things onto our registry from places like Home Depot and Lowes, making it easy for our wedding guests to see what we wanted. Even though we were living together for more than a year before the wedding, there were still plenty of things that we needed. They just weren't things like toasters and china. I get what you are saying, but if people stop using bridal registries they are going to end up with a houseful of unwanted gifts. And that is much worse!

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