So, at the urging of various wedding magazines, several friends, and FavoriteYuppieStore, which gave us mimosas and a free glass bowl, Peter and I trekked out to Maryland on Sunday morning to have a go at our first wedding registry.
I found the experience curiously disconcerting. A lot of couples have told me that they just went wild and scanned everything. We had the opposite experience. Both Peter and I love this store, and own quite a few of its products. And I'm a fairly decisive shopper. Had we been shopping on our own account, we would have found it easy to decide whether we wanted something, or not.
According to Milton Friedman, we should have found it thrilling to spend other peoples' money on ourselves (sort of):
But I actually found it incredibly inhibiting. There were plenty of nice things we needed, primarily glassware and serving bowls. If I'd been spending my own money, I might well have bought them. But instead I found myself wondering if this was really nice enough to justify having other people buy it for me. More often than not, I put it back. But whether or not I ended up scanning an item, I was surprised to find that, once I was no longer spending my own money, I didn't really know whether I wanted it or not.
Perhaps that's just a reflection of the fact that frankly, I'm more than a little uncomfortable with the whole concept. I was raised by a family that views registries with deep skepticism--the look on my mother's face when she found out that wedding websites have a spot to include your registry information would have done any B-movie horror actress proud. I didn't have the heart to tell her that stores now give out thoughtfully printed cards you can include with your invitations (no, we will not be availing ourselves of either the cards, or the special website section.)
I'm all for making things easier on our friends--but there's something deeply weird about making it easier for people to buy you gifts. It's one thing if you have a china or a silver pattern--and we probably will register for china, at least. But I'm really not sure about the rest of it. There are some desires that just shouldn't be advertised.