Around the winter holidays, between the ages of 6 and 11 I would salivate while waiting for the Sears catalog to arrive. My mother would come home from work, toss the beefy magazine on the floor of our basement, and my siblings and I would pounce on it like a pack of hungry Dobermans at suppertime. Everyone would get a turn to flip through the pages and pick their item of choice. Once we picked our poison, we would uncap the grape-scented smelly marker, circle our prize, scribble our initials next to it, and then pass it to the next person for their turn. This would go on and on until the glossy pages barely clung to the spine. It was the highlight of the holiday season.
This kind of easy joy is what I pictured when I imagined us registering for our wedding. Oh, how wrong I was. How very, very wrong. Some things for you to consider:
Take this thing seriously
When Beth announced she had signed us up for a private Crate & Barrel registry event, I shrugged my shoulders and went back to watching The Wire. I figured I would have plenty of time to mentally prepare myself. Two weeks later, when that Sunday morning came around, I had completely forgotten we had RSVP'd -- I spent the prior night drinking whisky and playing Rock Band until the wee hours of the morning. When her alarm went off at 8:00 am and she announced that we had to head all the way across town to stare at different sized plates all morning, I was none too pleased.
For the next two and a half hours, I was on my feet, shuffling the showroom floors, nodding and "mmhmm-ing" everything from fancy pickle grabbers to deluxe food processors. When I left, I was bleary eyed and walking with a limp.
So, don't do what I did and take this thing lightly. It won't be a quick, simple pit stop. The wedding registry is a marathon and you need to respect it, lest it eat you alive. Get some sleep the night before. And for the love of God, don't be hungover.
Don't get carried away
At the event, we were immediately escorted upstairs to sign into the guestbook and handed some kind of electronic device. We were told that if we found something that caught our eye, all we just had to do was "point and click." While I casually tried to program in "80085," Beth stood by and surveyed the daunting task before us with newly discovered apprehension.
Going into it, I think we both assumed that registering was a no-brainer for cool, logical, modern couples like ourselves. We had laughed together, "I'm sooo glad we're not one of those ridiculous couples that registers for outlandish, unnecessary crap! No way, that's not us. We'll get some silverware, maybe a new crockpot... and then we're out."
But before we could even start checking off the essentials on our list, we found ourselves completely distracted and borderline obsessed with checking out what the other couples were registering for.
That good-looking couple over there just lasered a three-tier cooling rack... we don't have that on our list. Why do they need that? Should we be getting that too? What do they know that we don't?
It took a five minute debate about a $70 snow cone maker before we finally came to our senses.
Don't fall into the trap of feeling that you need to buy everything they are. Registering is a job and you and your partner need to focus on the task at hand. It's you versus the ceramic world. You may feel that if your new competition Johnny and Sally Perfectpair pick up a $400 stand mixer, then you should add it to your collection as well. Forget all that. Put on those horseblinders and steer the course.
Have an opinion (but don't get offended if your partner doesn't)
Once the process is underway and you two are scanning and beeping and scanning and beeping, hold on to your hats. The phrase, "hmmm... what do you think?" is about to come at you over and over again like a barrage of English arrows from Braveheart. Take, for example, our first stop in the dish aisle. Beth took about 130 years to carefully inspect each and every style of plate available. She asked me for my opinion several times, but I could only pretend to see a difference between the flat, white one and the other flat, white one. When the plates were finally done, we moved on to cups. I stood patiently by while she slowly turned coffee mugs in her hand -- as if uncovering the bones of a triceratops. Again, they all looked the same to me. At one point, this happened:
Beth: I've decided on these three types of wine glasses.
Me: Three different types? Why would you ever need three different types?
Beth: Different kinds of wine! And when company comes, Brandon!
Me: What "company"?
Beth: We're going to have company some day!
However, I don't think you should completely check out -- everyone should be able to find something to get excited about. Find those items that you really want and do some research. I didn't get pumped until we got to the expensive Japanese knife section and suddenly I was throwing down some serious knife knowledge while Beth took the backseat. Picking out expensive knives? That's what serious grownups do!
I think it's totally acceptable to simply say, "I don't care." Each partner should understand if the other one doesn't have an opinion about certain items, as long as each of you has an opinion about something.
... Accept that you might have to do this again
When we finally got home, I kicked off my chucks and turned on the PlayStation 3 in one fluid motion. Beth plopped on the couch and flipped open her laptop to make sure everything we scanned went through alright. I was just getting into my Katamari Damacy pleasure coma when a light bulb clicked on above my head.
Me: Hey, so we're done right? No more registering?
Beth: Hmm, no. I think you're supposed to do like three different places. Give people options, you know?
Me: THREE?! I don't know if I can handle that. I'm only going again if it's a place with a pinball machine -- I definitely want to register for a pinball machine. If you get pie pans, I get a pinball machine.
Beth: Absolutely not. You know why? Because I know your friends and your friends would actually band together and get you the pinball machine.
Bone China isn't made from real bones
I was really bummed to find this out. I just don't want you getting your hopes up like I did.
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