Friday, February 25, 2011

Reflections on Wisdom and Wedding Registries

My mom once mentioned to me that the point of bridal showers used to be for generations of women with experience of marriage to bestow their knowledge unto young brides who could then benefit from what they'd learned. I think it's a shame that our generation no longer gets those benefits. Instead, I've registered for exactly the things *I* want. We're making these choices with no first-hand knowledge of what marriage will entail. I'll be benefitting from product descriptions and reviews, not aunts and great-aunts and cousins with hundreds of years of married life between them. How indicative of our independent, self-sufficient, isolated, and soulless society. 

Our engagement presents were uniformly generous, thoughtful, and much-appreciated. All stand out in some way - some were handmade, some particularly generous, some particularly "us." Two stick out because, I've realized, they hearken back to this idea of gleaning wisdom from those who have come before us - even if, in certain cases, they've come less than a year before us! Our friends Jeff and Michelle got us The Marriage Covenant by Derek Prince, complete with a note about how valuable they'd found it when they read it in Pre-Cana, and which concepts they'd found particularly useful in their relationship. We, of course, made a point of reading it and discussing the parts they'd found worthwhile, wanting to gain from their experience of having been just where we are - even if they'd only been there a few months ago! (They weren't even married yet!)

The other "wisdom" gift we got was from my cousins Laura and Keith and their family. Laura wrote in the card, "So I thought to myself, 'What do all "old-married" Gatto women need? A black coffee pot!'" (We cousins are Gatto women, though none of us by name, and a "black coffee pot" is what we call what other people seem to refer to as an "espresso maker." I searched for "black coffee pot," and all I got were pictures of brown coffee pots that were black!) At the time, I couldn't have told you why, but a huge grin spread over my face when I opened Laura and Keith's gift. It was clear that she was drawing on her 9 (?) years of marriage and her knowledge of what our family's party hosting practices look like and figuring out exactly what I needed. I felt inducted in adulthood. I imagined future Sunday dinners, serving black coffee to my husband, cousins, uncles, Grandpa. I didn't have to worry about whether I wanted or needed a black coffee pot, because someone else had taken it upon herself to share her wisdom with me. What a perfect system!

I recognize my idealistic nostalgia for what it is. I understand that in the pre-registry days, people used to get 6 toasters as wedding gifts, because there was no way of organizing who was passing on which bits of wisdom. But what's worse? Duplicate wisdoms, or ignoring our need to turn to others for wisdom?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Notes on registering

I had very mixed feelings about registering. I didn't like the idea of making a big fat list of "stuff I want" with the expectation that other people should be buying it for me. I worried that it had the potential to give me the gimmies. (I don't want our guests to be too nice, give us too many treats, too many toys, and too many rides on the Bucking Duck at the mall. It's not good for us!) I think this fear was well-founded, because, let me tell you, now that we've registered, I am so. freakin. excited. for the things we've registered for. And I'm having trouble reconciling really wanting stuff with not wanting to want stuff.
Looking through Macy's and Bed, Bath & Beyond this weekend to finish our registry really brought home to me that from April on, I'm going to be living with a boy. Choosing linens was the hardest thing we had to do. Ben vetoed everything with flowers, and I vetoed everything that was boring or ugly, and there was not much else left. (We ended up picking a paisley print in neutral tones, with which I think we'll both be very happy. But who says boys can't sleep in flowery beds, anyway?)
I couldn't help but feel that wedding registries by their very nature are rude. ("Here's our wish list. As you'll see, we've indicated both color and quantity, and provided an address to which to send the things you surely will buy us.") And yet, I had it impressed on me numerous times - by our guests, no less -  that it would be so much better for them if we registered, because to skip it would make their lives so much harder. And making someone's life harder when you can avoid it is certainly rude. I think it's a paradox.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crunch Time!

We're down to the final 68 days of wedding prep time! I hope to have the blog be a little less neglected in the upcoming 2 months and 1 week, as I'd like to record this time and hopefully remember more than just the stress. (and oh boy, is there stress!) Besides, I received an e-mail last week from a friend, saying that her sister could lend one of my bridesmaids a dress, as she owns the bridesmaids' dress in clover that we'd had such trouble with. I suppose I shouldn't blog about problems without blogging about their corresponding solutions, as the dress situation was resolved very quickly; J. Crew was actually very helpful and we were able to return the wrongly labeled dress for the proper dress with little hassle and a quick turn-around. 

We're getting lots done: more than half the invitations are addressed; we've registered; flowers have been chosen; the band is working on a setlist; we have ideas for favors, although not favors themselves; we've chosen readings, and know who we would like to read them, though we haven't asked them all yet; we've looked at wedding rings, although we haven't decided on them yet. Clearly, "getting lots done" and "having lots left to do" are not mutually exclusive!