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Bridal Registries: Cautionary Tales of Frivolity and Delusion

Posted by Kara Baskin  April 13, 2013 01:00 PM

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A friend suggested I write about registry items because spring (and wedding season) is upon us. "I was at a shower today, and a friend and I were impressed by how restrained the bride-to-be's registry was. Looking back, I'm ashamed I actually thought people should buy me everything from fondue sets and silver place settings to a cake-decorating set and a breakfast in bed tray," she laments.

I have my own dark confession: When I got married, I actually registered for a very handsome "footed" cake platter. This, despite the fact that I never eat cake, do not know how to bake, and have but a passing acquaintance with Duncan Hines.

But it's easy to get carried away. A registry is a frilly rabbit hole that offers access to a more idealized version of ourselves, attainable with nothing more than a click. As I scrolled through my registries, adding items with glee, I actually fantasized about hosting soirees in which a grand pastel cake, festooned with delicate fondant, stood grandly on that footed tray, while a crowd of guests cooed over my home-making prowess. To that end, I also registered for a full set of fine china complete with arcane accessories like finger bowls (ideal for cleaning off frosting, I imagine). I also ordered a multi-thread-count duvet cover and sham. Which, for $239, really was a sham, since it ripped as soon as I accidentally hurled it in the wash.

"WTF did we imagine marriage would be like? Tea parties and breakfast in bed with homemade waffles off the iron? My chip and dip bowl hasn't exactly helped me through the rough patches. How many Super Bowl parties did I really expect to host?" my friend asks.

Yes, it's easy to get carried away during registry time. So here is a list of items that, through an informal survey and my own humble experience, you actually need as a married person — things you would never, ever buy yourself. (To my knowledge, one cannot register for a therapist or a snoring zapper.)

A vacuum. Order up the most powerful vacuum you can find. Dyson makes the best. (I still go through my house on my hands and knees using a Dirt Devil hand-held vacuum. Lesson learned.)

A superb set of knives. A culinary necessity and a weapon! What could be finer? Seriously, a good set of knives will last for years and make meal prep so much quicker.

Washable pots and pans. Many pots and pans aren't supposed to go in the dishwasher. But, especially if you like to cook, washable ones are a lifesaver. Otherwise you'll do what I did: Get lazy, let them sit encrusted in the sink for a day or two, then become disgruntled and throw them in the dishwasher anyway. Now my copper pots have long, sad water stains.

Lots of big plastic laundry baskets. Because this is where most of your laundry will actually sit when you're too lazy to fold it and put it away.

Suitcases. This is a personal thing. On our honeymoon, my stylish groom toted a stained duffel bag that blared "Torrington Youth Ambassador 1993." It was ample enough to carry a dead body, and he nearly impaled someone with it at baggage claim.

A mattress. No, this is hardly the most glamorous registry item. And it might make Aunt Mildred blush. However, mattresses are costly, and if you can get someone (or several people) to buy one for you, all the better. Otherwise you might meet the fate of one friend who, at age 32, still sleeps on a slightly stained mattress that she bought from a college acquaintance. "Sometimes I wake up and my fitted sheet has become detached a bit, leaving the mattress exposed. And then I need a hot shower," she admits.

Throw pillows and blankets. These will disguise the inevitable couch stains left by your heathen friends, hyper from the sugar highs imparted by your gorgeous cake-platter desserts.

A parting thought: Unless you maintain an assortment of extraordinarily high-class friends, people are going to wonder why you're registering for a $430 slow juicer. Marriage will not turn you into Gwyneth Paltrow. Don't be afraid to register for items that you'll actually use. And, on the other hand, don't feel like you have to register at all! Maybe you have everything you need, and that's fantastic. Let people surprise you with their generosity (nobody ever turned down a check) and creativity (this could go two ways).

And if you need a footed cake platter, by all means, get in touch.

Photo: Crate & Barrel

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Kara Baskin (@kcbaskin) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and mom to Andy. She thinks Sriracha and garlic make everything tastier. She loves Steely Dan and "Murder, She Wrote." Her More »

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