Wedding Registries Part Deux: Off Registry Gifts

Gifting off registry. This can get tricky.

As a guest I typically don’t recommend it. If you know the couple very well and genuinely believe that they’ll love what you’re gifting them, I’d cautiously say go for it. However, they made these registries to help guests who don’t know what to get them and to help stock their new home together with essentials (and some non-essentials). And if you do decided to gift off registry, try not to be hurt or insulted if they choose to return or exchange your gift for something else (assuming you give them a gift receipt).

If you choose to make a gift for them, I’d do some research and ask the couple if they’d want, enjoy, or have use for what you’re making for them.

As a couple, remember these gifts and gift registries are just guidelines. They aren’t hard-fast rules for guests, that they must buy off of, and you shouldn’t expect to get everything off of them. If someone chooses to gift you something off registry, regardless of how much you do or do not like it, graciously accept it. They put the time and effort in to deliberately choose (or make!!) something that they thought you would like, want, or need, and you should thank them kindly for it. If the gifter chooses to give you gift receipt for the item and you genuinely don’t want or need it, then you can certainly return or exchange it. But be prepared for any potential follow up questions, like why, from the gifter. If there’s no gift receipt, hold onto it and use the item as often or infrequent as you desire, or choose to donate it appropriately.

Couples, please do not be upset or offended if someone gives you something off registry. Not everyone is tech savvy and can navigate your online registry. Sometimes that older relative believes you need these crystal wine glasses or paisley serving dish for holidays rather than that Amazon Echo you’ve been eyeing. Depending on what you put on the registry, your friend or family member might not be able to comfortably afford anything on there.

One friend of ours was always so offended and upset when someone would send them something off registry because “she had no use for it” or “it was ugly” or “what was the point of making these registries if you’re not going to get something off of it” and “at least we’ll be able to get the money back, or at least store credit, and can get something we actually want.” Every time she ranted on this, I would cringe. Be thankful you’re getting these gifts at all! Be grateful that they thought of you when buying these items, that they thought you could use them well. Even if you don’t like them, send a thank you note and gush over how wonderful, thoughtful, and kind they are. This is doubly true if you created only a money fund or honey fund (whichever platform you choose) and didn’t register for physical gifts at all.

If money is extraordinarily tight for your guest, remind them that their attendance is gift enough. I know I’d rather celebrate with you in person than you send your regrets and struggle to get something for us. Weddings are about celebrating love, not getting everything off the gift registries.

I know I’m repeating myself but I needed to get this off my chest.

Shabbat Shalom

Wedding Registries: Brainstorming & Beginnings

Kass and I have been engaged for about 7 months now and we’ve finally gotten around to start making our wedding registries. This has been a small struggle for us for a handful of reasons. First of all, it feels awkward and almost selfish to list out specific gifts that we would want people to give us. Secondly, we already live together and have a lot of housewares already, so what do we include? Third, asking flat out for money (whether cash or money towards a honeymoon registry) we feel is tacky (although we know not all agree, you do you folks) so we’ve decided against that. Finally, we’re doing a small ceremony and then reception/dinner a few months later for those we couldn’t invite to the ceremony, so any wedding registry we make needs to stay open long enough for both events.

The Knot’s Wedding Registry Etiquette breaks a lot of these registry and gift rules, do’s/don’ts and such down pretty clearly (and has some honestly solid advice). I’d definitely give it a solid read-through before you begin creating any registries.

So on topic #1: Asking for gifts. We’re not including the link(s) or store information for our registries in our invitations (again tacky/rude), but we will include information to our wedding website. (I’ll be writing a separate post on that, so stay tuned.) From there friends, family, and guests can get more information on the registries and everything else related to our wedding. If there’s anything we don’t get (of which we assume a lot) we can buy it for ourselves at our convenience. All of the items one here are wants/it would be nice if, rather than absolute needs.

Where do you even register? What should you include? It honestly gets overwhelming pretty fast.

Picking a place or multiple places has been honestly a small challenge. In my research, blogs, magazines, and websites all have varying pieces of advice but boil down these few key pieces:

  1. Register at at least 2 places but no more than 5 or so
  2. Make sure the registry incentives/perks work for you
  3. Include storage (especially for any china you may add)
  4. The way you entertain now will not be how you entertain in five or ten years, so plan ahead!
  5. Timeless timeless timeless (if it’s too trendy you might not want or like it in five years!)
  6. Include things that you’ll actually use (ex. if you’re really into camping, include things like that)
  7. Keep your guests’ budgets in mind. Have things for all price points (broke college friend who can barely afford to come vs rich relative who wants to buy you some crystal candlesticks or something like that).
  8. Charity. Make donating an option. Choose a charity or organization either you want to donate to or give your guests a series of options of where to donate.

First we settled on an Amazon registry. We already have AmazonPrime so I believe a shipping (and shopping) discount is included. It’s also a universal registry, so you can easily add items from outside of Amazon if there are better deals elsewhere or if the item isn’t found on Amazon. It’s also helpful if you only want one or two items from a store and it’s not worth it to create a separate registry. What I love about Amazon in general you can read all the reviews to see if something is good quality, will last etc. which you can’t really get in stores. The full list of Amazon Registry benefits can be found here.

We’ve created a second registry at Crate & Barrel for things like glassware and tableware. We have everyday table settings already, and are inheriting a set of china from my grandmother (which is incomplete so when we take inventory of that, we’ll add to it to complete it), but what we have isn’t lasting very well (thanks IKEA). That and we hate our silverware and how old and beat up it is (sorry mom). I absolutely recommend going into stores like Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Target, or Bed, Bath, & Beyond in person because you have an opportunity to touch and feel items to make sure you like them in person rather than seeing them solely online.

To help you start figuring out where to register, I’d check out these places:

The Knot’s Top 26

Vogue’s Top 22

Bride’s Top 27

Bride’s Rewards & Perks Breakdown

So on what to include:
Well, the easiest place we found to start was the kitchen. We’ve included some kitchen gadgets, like baking items and a food scale. We have a Kitchenaide stand mixer that I inherited from my grandmother that was made in the 1960s I believe. The only reason we included one is because the one we have is a bit small (only 4 or 4.5 qt, rather than 5 or 6qt which is today’s standard) and since our current one is so old, it needs some maintenance to function safely, as it sat on the counter for many years (honestly probably about two decades) collecting dust.

I asked one of our chefs at the restaurant I work at for recommendations for knife sets, because that is something that can get very pricey very quickly if you’re not careful. His favorite brand is Victorinox, which he uses both at home and in the restaurant kitchen. They’re not crazy expensive, especially compared to some other brands out there, and are NSF (National Sanitary Foundation) approved which is pretty neat. We settled on this 15 piece set which includes a set of stake knives, which we absolutely need.

Outside the kitchen, we included more sheets and towels. We love board and card games so we included a few of those, like Jenga and Scrabble, to expand our ever-growing collection. Our splurge item is an iRobot Roomba to help keep the cat hair/dander and dust down.

After speaking to my mom and a few more observant friends, we’ve (I’ve) decided not to register for any Judaica at this time. Not that I don’t want any, but rather would like to pick out the pieces myself. I might create a Judaica-specific registry in time but most couples, at least according to my mother, use the money gifted to them to purchase their Judaica together. My other friends were gifted much of their Judaica at their bridal shower and only registered for home essentials/decor that they didn’t already have. I’m still rather torn, truth be told, over the issue. What do you recommend? I’m not really finding any solid advice online.

To start brainstorming your own list (and to take inventory of what you already have) I’d recommend starting here:

The Knot’s Ultimate Wedding Registry Check List

Buzzfeed’s Compilation of Ultimate Registry Items

FrumBride’s Wedding Registry Check List

Wedding Yenta’s Very Jewish Wedding Registry List

OneCountry: 50 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed

Emmaline Bride: 9 Things I Wish I Had Included
Young House Love’s Registry Dos & D’ohs

Charity/Tzedakah
Kass and I love Morikami Museum & Japanese Garden in South Florida and on our wedding website have asked our guests to consider donating there. We are members there and plan on making a donation there as well.

Hope this helps you as you start customizing your registries. Happy planning!

Shabbat shalom

My DIY Wedding Planning Binder

In order to get organized before we get really into planning our wedding, I decided to create a binder. This way we could really organize and consolidate all of our research, contracts, documents, notes etc. After doing some research, I finally had an idea of what to include and how to do it. Gloriajoy’s blog post from 2013 helped me the most.

What I made sure I had:

All the links are either the item I actually purchased or a comparable one.

Tabs & Organizing

Kass and I have decided to do a very small, intimate ceremony at Walt Disney World and then do a separate reception/dinner a few months later for all the guests from up north and around the country we would have loved to invite but for various reasons can’t. This has significantly influenced how I organized this binder. I can’t break it up in a traditional method because we’re essentially having two events! So it made much more sense to divide it up by event rather than item. So here are my major tabs:

  1. Budget
  2. Calendar
  3. Disney
  4. New England Reception
  5. Honeymoon
  6. Thank Yous
  7. Registry
  8. Miscellaneous

I color coded everything as well in order to attempt to keep everything organized. I more or less used our wedding colors (Purple, Yellow/Gold, Grey) but used green and blue to complement and divide appropriately.
Budget – Green
Calendar – Yellow
Disney – Purple
New England Reception – Blue
Honeymoon – Yellow
Thank Yous –  Purple
Registry – Blue
Miscellaneous – Grey

Gloriajoy’s blog post inspired me to create my own tabs rather than using store bought. So, my (ambitious) game plan:

  • Watercolor each card stock page my desired color
    • Have some fun with it
    • Don’t get the page too wet. Since these are card stock rather than water color paper, the pages will start to deteriorate if you’re not careful
    • Tape the pages down keep as flat as possible (and go back over the corners after the rest of the page has dried)
    • Watercolor an extra page in small swatches (one page, multiple colors/patterns) for the tab circles that you’ll make later
    • Truth be told: this took me a while. I had to experiment to figure out what colors and patters I liked, and then if something messed up while printing I had to do it all over again! Instead of water coloring, if that’s not your thing, go to the craft store and get fun patterned scrapbook paper/card stock. Your binder, your choice!
  • Run the page through your computer printer to label (I found that easier rather than using my Sillhouette Cameo for this part)
    • Be careful. The watercolored paper is no longer completelu 100% flat so the printer left some ink residue along the bottom edge of the page
    • If you don’t want to run the paper through the printer (or it’s being a pain in the tuchas, get clear labels and print/sharpie your text onto them)
  • Laminate the full page following the directions of the laminating pages/box
  • Design and create circle tabs in your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Explorer (or by hand if you don’t have either of these machines)
    • Create 2 circles, one inside the other. Text only in top half/third
      • Mine were 2 inches wide for the outer circle. The inner circle was just small enough to have an an exterior boarder in the solid card stock color that matched
    • Use the gel pens (or sketch pens) to write out the text of your circle tab on the color swatched card stock.
      • To make the text attach smoothly, once you’re settled with it, weld it! That way the pen will glide over each letter, connecting them, with a seamless transition
    • Heres what my tab circles looked like on the computer before printing themBinder Tab Dividers.jpg
    • Use the blade tool to cut out the inner circle on this same page
    • Use the blade tool on a solid, matching color to cut out the outer circle
  • Glue the two circles together
  • Once all the circles are done, laminate them on one page with enough space to cut out between them
  • Cut out each individual tab circle
  • Space them out on each page before hot gluing down to make sure they are spaced evenly and not overlapping and are about the same height/depth within the binder
  • Hot glue down to the full laminated page
  • Hole punch and add to binder

The fonts I used were:
Waltograph for the Disney Font
SNF Sunday for everything else

So here’s an example of what mine looked like when complete:

IMG_20170206_131619.jpg

Within each tab, I added some sheet protectors for future documents. Under the Disney and New England Reception tabs I included the business card sheet protectors as well. Any spare/remaining pages are kept under the Miscellaneous tab.

Documents & Stationary

Budget
So I made a budget tracker (in green of course) to keep track of all our spending. In my personal copy I have each category labeled as “Disney Event,” “New England Reception,” “Honeymoon,” and “Other.” The copy I have uploaded for you all is a bit more universal, but still by event rather than item. Whether you choose to use this for yourself or use it as the basis for your own budget tracker I hope it is useful to you.
Budget

I have also created a “running total” spreadsheet to track how much I’ve spent in total so far on everything. This way I can track it chronologically, sort by event or category subtype.
Running Total Excel Spreadsheet

The fonts I used were:
SNF Sunday for the front page header & for the headers on the documents below
SW Par-tay Thyme for the internal headers of the budget tracker
Chocolate Covered Raindrops for the tables & main text of the documents below

Calendar
I really wanted an undated calendar because my wedding planning and events will span over more than one year. So I created this for us to use. Feel free to print out onto your favorite card stock or craft paper.
Calendar

Invitation Tracker
To track my invitations, I used the “Wedding Invite Tracker” template from Microsoft Excel. Technically I’m using two of them (one for each event) and color coded them to match the binder. I found it the most simple and convenient way to keep track of whom we wanted to invite, when things are mail, addresses/contact information etc.

Planning Timeline
I combined and modified several timelines I found on Pinterest in order to develop two personalized timelines, one for the Disney Ceremony weekend and one for the New England reception. I found it easier to create my own and use the ones I found online as guidelines and reference points.

Additional Stationary
Thank Yous
Questions & Notes

 

Hope this was helpful. For more wedding related ideas, check out my board. Don’t forget to follow along here for more stories and tales as Kass and I try to plan our wedding!

Shabbat Shalom