Family Matters: How Do I Tell My Sister The Gift Registry For Her Courthouse Wedding Is Tacky?

March 7, 2016  |  

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One of my best friends surprised me recently when she revealed that she’s getting married–in a few weeks. She’s decided to do everything at the courthouse and have a small gathering of family and friends witness her special moment. When we were talking, I asked her if she was going to set up a registry, and she emphatically said no. According to her, they don’t necessarily need anything, as they already live together. And on top of that, she finds the idea of setting up a registry for a courthouse wedding to be a little tacky.

I wondered if this feeling was a common one, so I hopped online. I ran across a story of a woman whose sister was having a courthouse wedding. There isn’t going to be a reception, and not many people are even being invited to the wedding, but, there is a registry. Big sis finds the idea to be extremely boorish and is wondering if she should tell her sister since the registry idea isn’t sitting well with a few other family members as well.

The consensus, according to these Internet streets, is that having a registry for small courthouse ceremonies, and ceremonies that involve eloping, in general, is not a good idea. In fact, a poll was taken on a WeddingBee board with the question “Friend is expecting gifts for a courthouse wedding?” After 156 votes, 112 voters found such expectations to be “Rude,” 34 voters said “It’s ok,” and 10 voters went the “Other” route, not knowing what to think of the scenario.

Wedding planner Taylor Lea Thomas wrote for MadameNoire in 2012 that women should forgo gift registries for courthouse weddings and only share gift ideas if friends and family ask if they need or want anything:

Perhaps you can have a small gathering at your home, friend or family’s home, at your church, etc., whereby guests come to celebrate your married life together. In this case, guests can bring a gift if they so desire. Again, do not request gifts! That’s just as bad as requesting cash. You may, however, offer suggestions to those who ask if you’d prefer something specifically. In the end, be a gracious bride and those genuinely interested won’t need a gift registry announcement to buy you a wedding present.

And one woman, who was married at a courthouse and had a small party afterward, said she didn’t ask for gifts, and others shouldn’t, especially if the bride and groom already live together.

We didn’t expect gifts or really want them as we had lived together for the better part of 4 years and had everything we needed. My parents gave us a week at their timeshare for our honeymoon, but otherwise, we just got a few small things like photo frames and photo album. We didn’t have a gift registry. My personal view on wedding gifts (whether you have a big wedding or small wedding) is that if the couple hasn’t lived together before, it is fine to set up a gift registry so they can build a home together with the things they like. If they have lived together, I don’t think their wedding should be an excuse to re-decorate their home for free, and a registry shouldn’t be set up, it’s just kind of tacky.

In my opinion, I just think it makes sense, whether someone is getting married at a courthouse, in the Lord’s house, or outside a beach house, and even if they already live together, to come bearing gifts if you’re invited–even if you choose to bypass the registry. It doesn’t have to be something big, especially if the couple already resides in the same home. I think that if this woman tells her sister that she’s being rude by having a registry for something she deems too small, she’s tacky. Plus, it could cause some unnecessary drama. Just get the girl some pots or a gift card, let her know you got her some things the newlyweds can use, and call it a day.

Do you think there is a nice way for her to tell her sister how she feels about the registry? Or should she keep that to herself?

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