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How to Set up A Wedding Registry

July 2, 2017

Even though I maintain a deep, abiding anti-game stance (not to be a jerk, but I guess I’m kind of a jerk?), I recently joined a Mah Jongg group because, guaranteed, I’ll see my friends once a month. Hashtag parent life.

At the last game, a gorgeous couple getting married this summer said — with the utmost sincerity, faces as sober as I was not — that they weren’t registering for a stand mixer. What the whaaaaa? I thought that a stand mixer is the only reason to get married! And I told them that! They laughed. But did my 10-years-married, grizzled wisdom penetrate their keppes?

Unlikely. Youth’s callow bloom, etc.

So here’s the Freudenthal Wedding Registry master list, offered with the certainty that, if you are part of families for which a registry is no bigs, you will get everything you register for, from everyone, even the people that you haven’t seen since you were catching frogs in a mason jar at camp. And they’ll be like here’s a candy-apple red, $350 dutch oven; use it with joy! And you’ll wonder how you got so lucky that these cousins you barely remember did something so nice for you.

  1. Get a pretty stand mixer! For heaven’s sake! Store it in a closet until you need to go hands-free to hold up the toddler that really, really, really, really, really (I mean really) needs to see the butter and sugar cream together to understand that the world-ending noise will be cookies in 20 minutes. Or, if you go Julia Child instead of sticky child, you will probably need to go hands-free and the full 5-quart bowl with your elaborate soufflés and other Frenchy items to impress at your stylish dinner parties that start way late, like at 7pm.
  2. Get plates, silverware, and glasses you both love so that well into the unknown future you can eat dinner on pretty dishes that remind you of how happy you felt when you got married.
  3. China? Eh? Will you have use of family china? Will you have a place to store it until you have a bigger place? Will your lovely everyday dishes work well enough for the entertaining you’ll be doing in five to 50 years?
  4. Towels! You deserve nice towels. Sheets too. Assert a claim to nice stuff. You don’t need to take care of your guests’ budgets for them.
  5. Someone once told me that people are superstitious about buying knives for newlyweds because knives are too close to horror movies than is appropriate for a couple in the bloom of love. But if mere proximity to a large, well-balanced, satin-bladed chef’s knife sets one to a-murderin’, rather than to a-choppin’ shallots with the ease of the leisure class, I’m not sure your cousin could have prevented it with an alternate gift choice. I’ve always bought friends the biggest, best knives I could afford. Plus, we break a glass at our weddings. Sharp edges are ritually embedded in our domestic worlds. Register for quality knives.
  6. We registered at Bed Bath and Beyond so that people could use their ubiquitous coupons, the color of royalty or Grecian seas, on our behalf. (Semi-negating #4 above but contradictions, like having the biggest party of your life to celebrate a future you can’t fully understand yet, are just fine).
  7. Camping gear? I’ve seen people do that? I guess?
  8. Other stuff you may not think you need now but you may need in five or ten years to make a happy life for yourselves?
  9. Honeymoon cash fund totally cool, I get it, but also daily-use stuff that occupies space in your house and reminds you of happiness is helpful. I am heating up vegetarian chili in one of my wedding bowls. We chose these bowls together, huddled over a computer with cheap wine in 2007. I still like them.

We received items that we did not need around the time of our marriage. Cash-strapped grad students, we exchanged some of these gifts for things we needed more. While being kind to my younger self, I now regret that. I’ll have to buy a damn cookie-press myself now, and who has the time to buy a cookie press? And for what occasions? Do they even work that well?

Other handing it, now that I’m established in a job, a house, and kidlets, I have a fuller sense of the exact kind of cake plate I need: one that rotates like a record player, to facilitate smooth cake-frosting and pretend DJ-scratching. And a plastic cake-carrier. I did not know myself as well ten years ago.

The first time a wedding gift broke, I struggled to reject the looming symbolism. A cheese slicer, from a dear friend, snapped within our first year of marriage. Our double-walled wine/coffee glasses (keep hot things hot and cold things cold without plastics!) also shattered that year, and we had to revert to drinking coffee from regular mugs like chumps.

But now that I’m hitting my tin anniversary and can no longer list the wedding gifts that have broken, I embrace all symbolism. The gifts exchanged, the gifts kept, the gifts cracked. They were all offered to us as a hundred quilts wrapped around our marriage: Let these gifts shield you from the inevitable crumblings. From the dents and cracks. From the shattering. Let these things bulwark against future sorrow.

So much hope and love in a box of soup spoons.


Elizabeth Freudenthal is a child health policy specialist for the state agency that administers Colorado Medicaid. She's been an academic, a journalist, a nonprofit advocate, and a barely reformed know-it-all. She's a proud alum of two local Jewish philanthropic leadership programs, Roots and Branches and Transforming Conversations. She founded Blue Braid, a Jewish feminism discussion and networking group. She bakes whole wheat muffins on the regular for her family in Denver and blogs on the irregular at Thinker for Hire.

Additional posts written by Elizabeth Freudenthal
Teaching Atonement to Basically Good Kids
Anxiety Schmanxiety
How to Bake Whole Wheat Challah
Reading Harry Potter While Jewish

One response to “How to Set up A Wedding Registry”

  1. […] I was on vacation, my Mazel Together post on wedding registries (!?!?! I know!!!) went live. Then, lest I feel too cozy in such lighthearted reflections on bourgious comforts, I read a […]

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