Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Pre-Engagement Party Registry

So is registering for gifts before your engagement party so that you can get gifts at your engagement party resourceful or rude? Should anybody really expect a gift? Or a party? And if you are lucky enough to be thrown a party, shouldn't you just accept any gifts you get with grace and dignity and not say "but I really wanted this teapot in red."?
It seems fairly rude to me to register, especially if you are early on in the planning process. I will say that I wouldn't necessarily mind engagement gifts, but I'm not going to register for them! I also am not wild about people buying gifts off registries for bridal showers either, because I feel like that is not the point of the shower. However, the FMIL was saying tonight (she's here in the UK visiting her parents) that when she got married, you got a gift for your shower and then money for the wedding - although this was before people had really particular registries. Which does make sense in the traditional definition of a shower being "lets shower the couple with gifts to start their new lives."
Because of my animosity towards showers that are just a requirement to buy another thing off the registry, I like the idea of a themed shower. My sister's was honeymoon themed, my friend's is lingere themed, some people have book themed showers, etc. For my shower, I have been toying with the idea of something cooking related - possibly either a cooking class, or a potluck in which everybody brings a dish and a recipe for the dish and the gift is some (small) piece of cooking gear necessary to make the dish. I realize that I don't get to pick my shower, and I should appreciate any shower that is thrown for me, but since the MOH has already talked about my shower, I'm expecting one at this point. Anyway, my only hesitation on the cooking thing is that it will look like I want people to just buy things off the registry. So I guess we will see, and I will leave that up to my MOH.


  1. Hmm . . . I wonder if this is a UK thing. I'm in the US, and went to about 10 weddings of girlfriends all over the country in the past two years and none had showers or expected any gifts prior to the wedding. Many had bachelorette parties, but the gift was just our presence, and the point just to celebrate and enjoy each other. It seems like weddings are already so expensive for guests, particularly out of town ones, that I wouldn't want to put more gift-giving obligations on them, themed or otherwise. But I suppose that's what some people might think about wedding registries, so it must be cultural/regional.

  2. We're not actually in the UK, we were just visiting his family that is over here - so this party was a US thing. His Grandmother had never even heard of an engagement party, so it's unlikely that engagement parties happen in the UK at all.
    I think it is regional - I think engagement parties tend to be more common on the coasts; and also it depends on the social circle the people move in.

  3. Ah, my mistake. I'm from the coasts too (NY/Boston/SF), but you're probably right that it depends a lot on social circle. Most of my friends are in grad school, heading there soon, or work for nonprofits, so its tough enough for my circle to pay all of the costs associated with the wedding itself (and bacchelorette parties) that I suppose no one wants to put an additional money-spending /gift-giving obligation on anyone else (especially in this economy). Wedding gifts seem like more than enough. But, it sounds like you roll with a gift-y group that's happy to do it, so enjoy however your friends want to celebrate you.

  4. A lot of our parents' friends were asking where we were registered within days after being engaged, as they wanted to get us engagement presents. We were pretty surprised, actually. From that experience, I think it is a good idea to be registered earlier rather than later. You don't have to advertise that you're registered already - the idea is to have it set up in case someone asks you or your families. We have been engaged for four months and are still getting engagement gifts. For showers, most people want to get stuff off a registry in my experience, so they know that you want what they are giving you and that no one else has already gotten it for you, although for a theme shower you might get fewer or no registry gifts depending on the theme. Since one of the activities at a shower is usually opening presents, people usually don't feel that they can come empty-handed. Getting cash as a wedding gift appears to be a cultural thing, and partially an age thing, so depends on your crowd. We expect we will probably get cash from our New York-area Jewish relatives and family friends, and registry gifts from most of our friends and family friends on the west coast.

    What I've figured out seems to happen in New York area is that usually you don't give gifts at engagement parties (but you might separately get engagement gifts from some people, so have thank you cards at the ready), you always get gifts at wedding showers unless you specify otherwise, gifts at bachelor/ette parties are less common but depend on your crowd and what the organizer requests (but usually everyone at the party pays their own way plus a share of the bride/groom's cost), and people either bring a card with cash/check to the wedding or send a gift by mail.