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Fine China and Dreams

May 7, 2008

I have been invited to a friends wedding this summer. It is in the city we recently moved from, so I’m sure I’d have a lot of fun seeing old friends and dancing the night away. In addition, my best friend from high school is in the wedding, so… I would really love to go. But $400 for a ticket? No, probably not.  It just doesn’t make sense. I RSVP’ed that T and I would not be attending, and now I have to send a gift.

I looked through the registry, and I can’t help but think it is ridiculous to spend $50 on a vase.  Everything on the list is “overpriced” by my standards. Beautiful, yes, but totally out of the range of what I usually buy. Buying from the registry helps me get something I know the couple wants, but knowing the couple, I’m a little surprised at what they want. They don’t seem like the crazy home decorating types, but maybe no one does just out of college.

Then I started thinking about my wedding. I’m not yet engaged, but the idea of getting married next summer has been talked about unofficially. It is a great opportunity to wish for expensive things, but I really don’t have an interest in owning fancy china. Where would I even put it? I have exactly one cupboard in my kitchen. I suppose we’ll probably move, but until we leave L.A., we aren’t going to have anything spacious. Vases? Don’t those $10 ones hold flowers just as well? I suppose I’d like some new bedding and some decorative pillows for my couch. But I don’t want a lot of dishes. I don’t need a lot of stuff. And what about our tentative plans to go abroad in a few years? It would be liberating to sell off all our stuff rather than feeling obligated to put fancy items in storage.

I don’t know why my goals are so non-traditional right now. In 10 years, would I regret not getting china at my wedding? (Let’s not even talk about the wedding itself. I don’t know how I’m going to figure that out.) Quarterlifegirl wrote a really excellent post about chasing dreams, and what it means when your dreams change.

Getting my M.S. degree while working full time has been a goal of mine since I graduated. I want to complete my program because it will keep the most doors open. At the same time, I’ve been dreaming of all the other things I could learn to do instead. For example, I could become certified to teach English as a foreign language and do that while abroad. Then what? I’m not totally opposed to transitioning into teaching math/science here, but I don’t know if I could deal with the pay cut. None of this was in my “plan” but it is nice to think of other paths that I could take.

Anyway, I guess I’ll buy my friend something from her list of things she wants for her duplex. They purchased it together last year and are filling it with nice things, a puppy, and perhaps someday, a family. They both have good jobs and his family lives in town. She used to say she can’t wait to leave the Midwest, but I wonder if perhaps her dreams have changed as well.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Gypsie permalink
    May 7, 2008 9:34 am

    i get the not wanting China thing. My DH and I are both military so we move quite a bit. Also, he is from Ny and I am from AZ (we were living in CO). We did a budget wedding in Vegas with about 50 guests. And since we both already had established households, we didnt want for anything. Our “registry” was very sparse. We asked for a few things like a George Foreman Grill, bedding, etc. We didnt ask for China or anything too expensive. We did recieve a lot of gift cards and some “fun” gifts like photo albums.

  2. May 7, 2008 10:52 am

    I had a friend who registered everywhere and picked some really expensive things. What threw me over the top was a note that read something like the following: “Dear friends and family, It is not a mistake that there are two toasters on this list. We wanted one that toasted four pieces of bread, but couldn’t find one we liked, so we picked one that toasts two pieces of bread and would like two. Thanks!!”

    I now hate registries with a passion and try to avoid buying from them if at all possible. I feel like it’s a huge excuse for people to be much more greedy than they normally would be, and also wind up with a lot of stuff they won’t actually use.

    One thing that I love doing for people getting married is to get them something inexpensive but clear (a vase, a salad bowl, a plastic lemonade pitcher/cups set) and then stuffing it with crumpled up $1 bills (maybe $50 or so). I’ve also given towel sets with $1 folded up in the folds. It’s a lot of fun to see the look of surprise on their face at the money.

    I definitely do not want china, or fine silver, or fancy vases. I don’t use those things now, and I wouldn’t just because I get married. I realized about two years ago that it’s not fair to wait until I get married to have or buy nice things for myself, so by the time I DO get married, I’m not going to need much.

  3. May 7, 2008 11:01 am

    @little misss moneybags:
    Lol to the two toasters! Couldn’t they toast two slices, then wait, and toast two more?? I don’t own even one toaster, but I hate toast.

    To be fair, my friends’ choices weren’t super fancy, but it still seemed like a lot of stuff and neither family is super wealthy.

  4. TorturedEaglesFan permalink
    May 7, 2008 11:40 am

    Just curious, since I recently got my M.S. degree while working full time. A what school(s) are you looking to apply?

  5. May 7, 2008 11:53 am

    I don’t quite feel comfortable sharing (sorry!), but I have done 9 credits at a decent school (ranked ~30 or so) that my previous employer pushed.

    My new employer gave me much more freedom, so I’m looking to transfer to one of two top 10ish schools, with one of them being my preferred choice. The rankings are for their well established on-site programs, but the distance curriculum is the same. I have only applied to one of them, but if they reject me, I’ll try the other, as the deadlines is later anyway.

    I should know soon!

  6. May 7, 2008 5:20 pm

    Our goals are very non-traditional too. I don’t want a big wedding, or any of the “froofy” stuff that comes with it. I don’t think I’ll regret this later, but who knows.

    Good post, I really enjoyed it.

  7. May 8, 2008 8:31 am

    I think spending $50-60 dollars is very appropriate if you are not attending the wedding. Though I’ve been known not to send anything at all when I feel like I’ve been invited just for the gift.

    A lot of people are doing unique things for wedding gifts. My friends have a very short registry and asked their guests to donate to their favorite charity instead of getting them gifts. I always like that idea.

    I definitely understand about just obtaining “stuff”, I think wedding culture convinces people that they need tons of things they haven’t even thought about before.

  8. LJK permalink
    May 8, 2008 10:24 am

    Right now we do about $50 for wedding gifts. I wish we could do more, but that’s ok. I don’t mind buying from registries, as there were quite a few things on our registries that we didn’t get that I wish we had (measuring cups! i have to use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients! what a pain).

    We didn’t register for any china or silver. My parents have a ton (2-3 sets of each) and we’ll likely inherit some of it. And really, when am I going to use real silver especially when it has to be washed by hand!

  9. May 9, 2008 3:19 pm

    I think $50 to $100 is good. Although I’m on two incomes since my husband and I share the “burden” of the gift. However, we have two weddings to buy gifts for this year, and one, which we are not going to, we will be sending cash (about $200 or so) because this woman was our wedding photographer and did it for free. The other wedding is my BIL’s and we will be spending a lot less on their gift because we are also spending $300 each per plane ticket and $85 a night in hotel fees to be there for their wedding (not to mention the new clothes we have to buy for the elegant, black tie affair.) So we are toying with an idea of going off registry and buying them something sentimental and homemade from Etsy (I’m thinking of a sign to hang in their house that lists their family name in script painted on it with “established “…with their wedding date on it. And maybe something else smaller, like an engraved frame with their last name for a photo from their wedding.

    We didn’t register for too many expensive things because the majority of the people who attended our wedding were either still in college or just out, or my family, and I didn’t want my family to feel they needed to buy me expensive things. Most people gave us checks, but the things we registered for (mostly practical home things from Crate and Barrel or Target Home) were relatively inexpensive. Plus I wasn’t 100% set on a china pattern, so I figured i would buy it once i was decided. And at the time I didn’t want to get a half set of china. So the big things we got were our formal silverware and holder, a knife set, and crystal Tiffany candlesticks (which we didn’t register for but were a nice surprise!) Everything else was probably under $50.

  10. Gina permalink
    May 13, 2008 7:03 am

    For wedding gifts, I tend to go in the $60-$120 range, depending on my relationship with the person. I think I went a little over that with the last wedding I attended– but that was because the bride is a particularly good friend who gave me the push I needed to start my own business.

    If you’re trying to figure out what you should put on your own registry, I’ve heard that some people put things related to honeymoon expenses on the registry. For example, the scuba diving excursion or part of the airfare.

    You guys could also put down activities/outings that you’d like to do in your own town. There have been a few Christmases where I’ve given my brothers concert/theater tickets and gift cards to a restaurant– essentially giving them and their wives a date night. You could tell people that you’re registering for the kind of marriage you’d like to have– one in which you enjoy activities together. It would probably also make the thank-you notes easier, because you have a year in which to write them– you could wait until after you guys do the activity and then tell the giver how much you enjoyed it and your favorite parts of the evening/day.

  11. May 15, 2008 1:06 pm

    I usually base my wedding gift budget on whether or not I am attending the wedding. I live in NYC currently, but all of my high school and college friends live in various Southeast locations. If I pay $300-400 for a plane ticket, plus hotel expenses, then the couple usually gets a less expensive gift (a set of clear mixing bowls with colorful lids was a recent choice–$25). If I am unable to attend the wedding, I will usually get a nicer gift to make up for it (another recent example–a pair of crystal wine glasses from the registry). I don’t know if that’s a good way to do it or not, but it’s worked so far.

    Of course, next spring I am the maid of honor in my very best friend’s wedding…so I will probably spend way too much money on her gift, despite the fact that I will obviously be attending the wedding! 🙂

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