Weddings In Your 20s: How To Do Registries When You Can Barely Do Phone Bills
When you first start getting invited to weddings in your early 20s, it’s nerve-wracking. People close to your young age settling down with someone for life will inevitably make you start asking long-term questions about your own future, which is at best unwelcome and at worst terrifying. I still get kind of itchy at the thought of marking down plans in my calendar two weeks in advance.
Another worrisome part of attending these weddings is the cost. Not only do you have to find something appropriate to wear, since a “fancy” outfit for a night out at the club does not really work for “black tie optional,” but you also have to purchase a gift, and registries tend to be pricy no matter how young your engaged friend is. Sure, there’s always something cheap on there like the lemon squeezer, but you want your gift to communicate more meaning than an unnecessary kitchen gadget … How do you balance classy, meaningful, and reasonably priced?
I had to ask myself this question a couple weeks ago, before I attended my first age-equivalent friend’s wedding in Brooklyn. As a freelance writer living in New York, figuring out what to get with little money was not easy. Luckily, I had another friend to help. She runs her own jewelry business, for which she recently had to shell out a lot of money on an upcoming trade show. As two young women equally close to the bride, it felt appropriate to make our gift a joint one, mostly so that we could pool our budget into something decent.
On the couple’s registry, we found items like a wire cheese slicer, a looseleaf kale and herb stripper, a bottle of Champagne for the honeymoon, and a Lacoste bath towel set. The wire cheese slicer and the herb stripper both seemed like soulless gifts to get for a woman you had spent countless nights smoking cigarettes with outside of bars until dawn broke, and it felt sleazy to buy just one part of the bath towel set, but all six parts exceeded our budget.
The Champagne, unfortunately, was already fulfilled, as that could have been perfect in terms of sentiment, although not quite in price; upwards of $100 was a bit much for us.
We deciding that the registry wasn’t going to get us anywhere. It had largely been fulfilled, after all, as we had waited until two weeks before the wedding to do our shopping—like I said, it’s hard for me to plan much further in advance—so we turned to one of those cutesy, novelty houseware stores. We figured there we would find something on the corner of where practical meets memorable meets within our price range.
There we were, surrounded by glassware dotted with tasteful flower patterns and sporting synonyms of “wasted” (the couple had had plain glasses—fulfilled—on their registry), dish towels covered in the New York City skyline, and salt and pepper shakers labeled with phonetic spelling for words spoken in a Brooklyn accent, like a sugar bowl saying “shugah.”
Though some of this stuff was a bit too tacky, some seemed perfect in maintaining our sense of humor via wedding gift. Settling comfortably, ultimately, on the corner of where joking meets totally useful, we found a couple items to please our New York-loving friend. Though we had all met in Boston, we had ended up moving to New York, where we had all settled for the foreseeable future and which we liked a lot more.
First, we chose tall water glasses upon which there was a subtle but smirk-provoking reference to NYC tap water, which is known to be good. Then, to stick with the kitchen theme, since we didn’t want the gift to look too all-over-the-place, we picked out a couple of dishrags decorated with the insignia of New York’s sanitary inspection grades, the ones displayed on the windows of restaurants that help you determine whether or not you would dare eat there (C is really the deal breaker, as I’ve never seen lower).
My friend and I ended up feeling confident about the gift … though not without checking it with a close, mutual friend of the bride’s first, of course. We had managed to avoid something boring but cheap, like the silicone whisk or the Swissmar peelers, and something exciting but overly extravagant, like a dinner for two in the newlyweds’ honeymoon destination (Paris).
Wrapping the gift, however, was another story, as the novelty houseware store we went to oddly wouldn’t do it for us, and our last minute tendencies left us having to improvise. Hopefully, as we make our way up our twenties and more friends tie the knot, we’ll get better at planning things in advance—at least more than two weeks or so.
This story is part of our Wedding Season series, which is wrapping up stories.
Jessica Klein is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. She doesn’t have a blog.