“Registering” for a wedding didn’t used to be mainstream. Once upon a time, choosing which items a couple would need for their new home and life was the job of the parents. Most often, the bride’s mother would determine what was needed and then pass that information on to family and friends. But these days, retailers take care of all those tiny details.
In some ways, this has helped make weddings easier on the couple and the family. The process is more streamlined, so there aren’t as many problems with duplicate gifts. In many cases, the databases are updated online in close to real time, so guests can look and see what has already been purchased, order their gifts online to be delivered, or explore their options.
But in other ways, streamlining the process has been more for the benefit of the retailer rather than the couple. Sales are higher than ever when it comes to gift giving, and more people are giving simply commercial gifts.
“The notion of gift giving used to hold much more sentimental value,” said Tonya Williams Bradford of the University of Notre Dame. “Now, everything is pretty much purchased, and, sadly, people don’t put a lot of thought into customizing those purchases.”
While registering for gifts has made the whole process easier for all parties involved, it’s sad to realize that we’ve lost the personal touch there. There are far fewer unique gifts than there used to be, and now everything given is something you already knew about—whether just because it was on your list or because you registered for it. There aren’t many surprises, and that’s unfortunate.