Unveiled: Registering for your wedding when you already live with your fiancé

Unveiled: Registering for your wedding when you already live with your fiancé
Modern wedding websites make it easier to register for cash gifts as well as traditional registry items. (file photo)

 By Aleksandra Kochurova | graphics@alextimes.com

A traditional wedding registry is typically filled with household goods, such as pots and pans, Tupperware containers and linens and towels. These things are supposed to signify the start of you and your fiancé’s married life together in your new home – assuming you didn’t live together before the wedding.

This is part three of “Unveiled,” a monthly column where I share the tips and tricks I come across as I embark on the long path that leads down the aisle. This month, I’ll be talking about registries.

In recent years, it’s become much more common for couples to live together before marriage. It’s also very common for singles to live on their own in the period between living with their parents and moving in with a significant other. My fiancé, Devin, and I fall into both categories. We lived separately with roommates in college for four years before moving in together almost two years ago. Moving in was interesting. We ended up having a lot of pairs: double the cutlery sets, pots and pans, wine glasses, ironing boards. You get the idea. We got rid of some, combined some and replaced some, but what ultimately ended up happening was Devin and I were living in a mish-mashed apartment with no real theme or consistency.

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I am lucky to have a fiancé who is money-conscious and practical; he buys things out of necessity, when he can’t get any more use from and has to replace something he already owns. Which means our registry conversation went something like this: Me: “We should start thinking of what wedding gifts we want to register for.”

Devin: “We don’t need any more stuff. We have everything, and it works. Can’t we just ask people to give us money?”

And yes, maybe that is a good point. We already have a fully equipped kitchen, and if we need to buy new bedsheets, we’ll just go out and buy bedsheets. In our case, money sounds nice. But you can’t just ask for money. Luckily, wedding websites came up with a solution for this called a “newlywed fund.” What is a newlywed fund?

The idea is similar to a honeymoon fund — your guests can gift money for the beginning of your life together as a married couple. The cool thing about the newlywed fund is that you can split it into little things, such as cooking classes, gym memberships, wine tastings, etc. Each of these gifts will either have a fixed dollar amount requested, a fixed number of people who need to donate or a more flexible option through which any number of people can donate any amount of money.

Couples can also use it as a way to let people contribute to more expensive gifts. For example, Devin and I are looking into buying a new bed, and instead of expecting someone to pay $700 for it, we can create a custom entry in the newlywed fund and let people contribute.

Pros of the newlywed fund

Being able to split on big purchases is big for me. I also like that with a newlywed fund, we can get these gifts before the wedding. With material gifts, you will typically have to wait until the day after the wedding to open them. With a newlywed fund, you can start receiving money gifts from your wedding registry website whenever someone “buys” it for you.

Another way to use the newlywed fund to your advantage is to register pre-wedding activities, like the dance classes you had planned on taking. Since there are gift-giving possibilities leading up to the wedding, someone might just gift you them and save you the extra expense. I’ve also seen couples register for the cake.

Cons of the newlywed fund

A big con that I will have to tackle is that the Knot, the wedding registry I use, doesn’t allow you to withdraw money whenever you want. Instead it deposits it into your account automatically — with a processing time of up to three weeks. That means that even if we’re asking for a $300 Rumba split between six people, if one person gifts their $50, we will get that money before the other five people have a chance to even see our registry.

Zola.com does things a little differently; they allow you to withdraw whenever you want, whether you want to wait until you receive the full amount or not.

The other con is that some people want to physically give you things. They don’t want to gift you money that could technically be spent on anything. They want to feel that they are truly gifting you something that you will use in your home as you and your fiancé start your married life together. Which is why you should also have a real registry — but you have to be smart about it.

Make a list

Do not just log on to Williams-Sonoma and start putting everything you like into your cart. If you’re like me, you’ll end up with five different glass sets and no plates. Sit down with your fiancé and make a physical list of things that you need to replace, things that you lack and things that you want.

Consider when your wedding is

How far away is it? Ours is in two years, which means that even though our plastic Tupperware containers are fine for now, in two years they will likely be stained with spaghetti sauce and in need of replacement. Put them on the list.

Consider where you live

That goes for both now and after your wedding. Devin and I live in a one-bedroom apartment. Whereas I’d love to register for about 5,000 different kitchen things, the reality is, as long as we continue to live in an apartment, we will not be able to fit them all in. Do you and your fiancé plan on moving into a house? Can you store your gifts somewhere in the meantime? Do not over-register.

Register for what you want

You’re allowed to register for fun things — your list shouldn’t be necessities only. That flowery silk bathrobe that you saw at Macy’s? List. The grilling equipment your fiancé saw at Home Depot but didn’t think he’d ever use? List. This is the perfect time to ask for these items without feeling guilty for spending money on them.

Have fun with this and don’t attach too much meaning to who gets you what. Remember that the people you love celebrating you on your wedding day is the greatest gift of all.

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