09 Oct
Getting Married and Getting Gifts

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

So I found myself in a popular big department store today, bridal demand list, er, I mean “registry” in hand. And for the first time, I was genuinely resentful of all the crap on it. I remember getting married at 25 years old, setting up a household with a young man. But this couple are both over 45, have each lived on their own their whole lives, and have been living together for at least a year. They each make plenty of money, am I *really* obligated to feel happy getting them brand new cookware when mine’s falling apart?

What’s the going rate for late-in-life wedding gifts?


Reluctant Gifter


Dear Reluctant,

I’ll answer your question, but first I will have to extract the virtual knife that you’ve plunged into my soul by referring to people who are 45 as being “late in life.” Maybe it’s because I’m 45 years young myself that I find this near analogy of wedding gifts to the wares that were packed off with the Pharaohs at their funeral so that they can be used in the afterlife particularly distressing.

But it’s not about me.

It’s about this couple, who have decided, actuarial tables be damned, to marry at 45. And now, just because they are starting a new life together as a married couple, they have the nerve to request new cookware. Seriously, the nerve. Do these geriatrics even still have teeth?! Wouldn’t it make more sense to register for a lifetime supple of Depends and just be done with it?

But here’s the thing: younger people don’t have a monopoly on love and happiness and marriage. If someone meets her soulmate later in life, who is anyone else to deny her that joy? And for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, gifts are a part of the marriage celebration.  It’s just tradition. You are not obligated to get any specific item, but you are obligated to get them something. If  you feel that you cannot in good conscience give a Le Creuset pot, then find something that is more affordable and that you can give without any hard feelings attached.

Because at the end of the day, it’s about celebrating the couple starting their lives together.

But if they pull this “we’re renewing our vows” crap a few years later, it’s totally fine to buy them a bottle of wine.

Good luck,

Marinka, TMH

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17 Responses to “Getting Married and Getting Gifts”


Comment by christy.

Perfect response to a very sad question!


Comment by Becky.

I would make sure this guest finds herself at the reception, sitting at a table with 2 confirmed nose pickers under the age of 6 (and perhaps one over the age of 45), their parents who abandon the table 10 minutes into the reception and make the wine bar their new seating arrangement and a sloshed Uncle who keeps asking to see everyone’s “naughty bits”.


Comment by Aceta.

They were sweet to invite this letter-writer. If you’re not happy about the situation, don’t buy a gift and don’t go to the wedding.


Comment by Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac.

Wow, if I were the bride/groom I’d save some money on skewers and champagne and un-invite this crabby friend.


Comment by Amelia Sauter.

Looks like Miss Manners has invaded Mouthy Housewives today! Of course it’s silly for 45 year olds to register for household items. We’ve all made that same judgment, even if no one wants to admit it. I’m 42, and I got married two weeks ago. I couldn’t imagine registering for gifts. For what? Maybe someone wants to replace my soggy couch that doubled as a cat scratching post before my ancient feline went to the Great Litter Box in the Sky. Or I’d love it if a wedding guest remodeled my 1970’s bathroom for me. Better yet, perhaps every guest could donate $100 to my IRA. Oh, wait, I don’t have one of those yet. Seriously, I never buy from someone’s registry, and never will. Gift certificates to restaurants or for a couple’s massage are two of my go-tos. Reluctant Gifter, screw registries. About half of our guests gave us gifts and we were tickled and surprised and honored by each unexpected present. Give your friends something from your heart and everyone will be happy.

Becky Reply:

I agree. The writer isn’t upset that they found love at 45. Nor is she bothered that she has to buy a gift. Well, maybe she is bothered by that, I can’t tell. But I think a expensive gift registry when one has been living on their own for YEARS is in poor taste. I once saw a large flat screen TV on a registry for people who were on their own forever, lived together forever and it was both their second marriage. Who does that?! That’s just greedy and rude.

This isn’t about being unhappy for them and their marriage. I say the gift giver should just forget the registry and give them exactly what she wants to give them within her budget and what makes her feel comfortable.

Becky Reply:

For the record, I gave to charity in the bride and groom’s name for the couple who had the gall to register for a huge flat screen tv.

Lisa Reply:

Amen, Becky. Marinka really went off on a tangent here.


Comment by Jessica.

I agree with Becky. The purpose of wedding registries (and wedding gifts at all) was always to help the young couple who traditionally wouldn’t have much of their own set up their new household.

When I got married at 29, we didn’t ask for a lot on our registry because we had been on our own for a long time and didn’t need a lot of things. I couldn’t feel right about asking people to replace things I already had that were perfectly functional.


Comment by Cary.

I rarely buy from the registry, (except for those young, new-to-life-on-their-own couples), but I do go take a look at the things they have picked to get an idea of their taste, color scheme, etc. and then choose something meaningful on my own. (I love unique clocks, with a sappy note about love and time and making time for each other).


Comment by Kelly.

Buy whatever you feel good about giving and do not give anything out of obligation. I’m sure the bride and groom didn’t put together a registry with the goal of sticking it to their friends and family.

These 45 year olds have probably been attending other people’s weddings and buying gifts for the past 20 years and they certainly deserve the same consideration that they have likely shown to their friends and families.

If you don’t marry young, you may not ever get great cookware or top-of-the-line anything because not many people give those gifts unless a couple gets married.

P.S. Save up and buy yourself new cookware. If you’ve lived through 20 years of marriage and done enough cooking to wear it out, you deserve it! 🙂


Comment by Avprobeauty.

Been there. IMO a gift card to Macys, a nice local restaurant, or straight up cash are all acceptable gifts also.


Comment by jk.

Aren’t registries just suggestions for people who WANT to give something for the occasion? After all, they are throwing a party to celebrate and most guests do not show up empty handed. I think your response was perfect, as usual, Marinka. If you hold anything but good will toward the couple, pass on the wedding and the gift. It is their day and meant for people who share in their joy.


Comment by MomofTeens.

When my Husband and I got married, we had been together for 10 years already, shared a home, and two kids.

Did I register? Yes, and what I registered for were photo frames, candles, pillows, decorative items. I also, registered for things I wished to replace, such a cookware set, corning ware, a vacuum cleaner, etc… but our families and friends KNEW that the household items I registered for were things I wanted to replace… as in I DONATED the old stuff to a local charity and am currently enjoying the new stuff.

Just because they are marrying later in life, does not mean that they don’t deserve things from their registry. Maybe you should ask around and find out if they are replacing items, or just being selfish.

If you still don’t like it, get them a gift certificate to a local restaurant and smile and say “dinner is on me kids” and call it a night.


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Comment by Marphisa.

Just wanna admit that this is very helpful , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

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