It has become de rigueur for couples to insist, on their wedding website, that the best gift invitees can give them is their presence at the wedding and that no material gift is necessary, and then to list one or more stores at which the couple has compiled a list of desirable material gifts. So of course this is exactly what we will do.
It took us a bit of angst to get here. We really don't need anything and we really would never want our guests to feel obliged to spend money on us. We are inviting them because we want them to be present on the day and we want to celebrate with them, and we know that most of them will have to spend money and time to attend in the first place, so it seems almost unfair to suggest that they should spend even more of either resource on a gift. But I have been informed by a number of people and resources (some of them members of the Wedding Insanity Complex and therefore hardly disinterested) that not registering is actually rude, because then guests not only feel impelled to buy you a gift, but must spend additional energy trying to figure out what you would like.
So, we are registering. We compiled a list of things to register for, which basically fall into three categories:
1) Things we should probably already have. For example, a blender or a food processor. We don't have either, somehow, and we have survived, but it's an inconvenience. Also, a proper mixing bowl or bowls. In fact we have one mixing bowl, given to me by a former roommate on the occasion of her marriage (I think it was a wedding gift to her that she didn't want?). This was in about 2003. And there were originally three bowls, but only one has survived the five moves since it entered my possession, and while it is nice enough, it is not what I would have picked out for myself, and why at the age of almost 35 am I using a mixing bowl that was a graduate student's castoff?
2) Things we have, but that we should have better (or matching) of. Both of us have long been in the habit of acquiring 2 or 4 of things, which means we have 6 or 8 of most things, but not 6 or 8 matching things. Fortunately we have not-too-dissimilar and fairly simple tastes; it isn't really that weird to serve Thanksgiving on two white plates and four blue ones with wine glasses of two different sizes, particularly when all parties are impressed that the turkey didn't explode and that the hosts have actually managed to rustle up six chairs. But it would be good to have six identical plates, and cups, and wineglasses, and forks, and so on. This presents the problem of what we will do with our bachelor and bachelorette dishes, which there are not room for in our big-for-NYC-but-not-actually-big kitchen, and some of which we are attached to (I am particularly fond of some bowls given to me a decade ago by possibly the same marrying friend, and my intended loves his discontinued cereal bowls; there are two of each so maybe we can just agree to be a household of mismatched bowls).
Also in this category: towels. When we moved in together a year ago we decided to store our towels separately. This was not a completely insane decision because we have separate bathrooms, so there's no real reason our towels need to match. But it doesn't really make sense to maintain two towel repositories indefinitely, although I can't actually think what efficiency is derived from combining them. I have the vague sense, however, that being married will entail becoming more integrated over time, and towels seem like a harmless way to start that. Anyway, both of our towel situations are moderately bleak, so maybe marriage is a time to scrap them all and start over.
In fact, most of our stuff is in this category: pots and pans, steak knives, sheets. We have survived for many years with the stuff we have, purchased at Walmart and Canadian Walmart and gifted by friends and parents when they moved or married, but at some point we should give it all to Goodwill and commit to an actual kitchen of our own.
3) Things that seem like they will be fun to have. I have convinced my intended that we should register for salt and pepper grinders, even though neither of us likes pepper and we don't know where to buy the rocks for the salt grinder. But, so cool. Also, we registered for a casserole, on the assumption that sometime in our marriage one of us will learn to cook. There are some other things we think would be great to have (a bread maker, a griddle) but that we wouldn't use all that much and aren't practical to store.
So, today we started the process. I say "started the process" because, after two hours of wandering around Crate and Barrel with our Registry Gun, it seems that - and this will surprise nobody who has ever met me, or him, or any other human being who manages to remain single past the age of thirty - getting two people to agree on how they want their kitchen table to look, even if they are very devoted to each other, is completely impossible.