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Wedding Registries: Tradition or Trend?

'Vera Wang Embossed Zinnia Wedding Invitation' photo (c) 2010, William Arthur Fine Stationery - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/So yesterday’s survey results were really helpful. Out of close to 50 respondents, the highest number of votes came from those who think including the registry information in the wedding invitation is in poor taste. However, the number who think it’s a good idea to help guests, or those who are indifferent, were almost as high as the first group. So I have a couple of thoughts, and now know how to tackle the issue in the book.

First, I think sometimes we just accept what those before us have done as tradition. I think one of Emily Post’s wedding books gives an explanation for the little tissue paper sheets that you see sometimes in with your wedding invitation. Apparently they are used to separate the invitations as they’re moved from the printer to the customer, and are really just necessary with engraved invitations so that the text doesn’t run from one to the next. However, somewhere along the lines someone must have put the tissue in when they mailed their invitations, and now it has become a tradition. I know I included it in mine and thought you were supposed to. But it served no purpose at all.

I think if we looked at some of what we do in weddings we would see this idea more and more. And sometimes there are good reasons behind what we do, but we may have no idea what they are. For instance let’s take the wedding veil. Where did that come from? I just assumed it was a symbol of purity, but never thought about the history of it. There are a couple of theories on this. Some say it’s from ancient Greek and Roman culture and was used as a means of warding off evil spirits. Others, though, believe it dates back before that to the culture of arranged marriages. It was thought that a groom might not marry the bride if she was unattractive, so she would be heavily veiled. We see this in the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah.

This is just one example of a situation where we know it’s “tradition” to do a specific thing, but we don’t give thought to why. I know I didn’t think, “Hmm…but why should I wear a veil? What is the symbolism of this?” I just tried to find a pretty, inexpensive one that looked good with my dress. I certainly wasn’t looking for one thick enough to trick Erik into marrying me before he discovered what I really looked like. Although that would make for a dramatic “unveiling” during the ceremony.

I think this invitation thing is a good example of this idea. Somewhere along the lines a bride thought, “Hey, I’ll include my registry info with the wedding invitation to make things easier on people.” Then maybe a friend received it and decided to do the same for her wedding. And then the idea just spread like wildfire because how many people actually consult Emily Post when planning a wedding? We just do what other people have done–that must be right.

And now it IS the new “right” to include that information. And yet there is a generation that did not include it and thinks it’s rude and tacky. And obviously no one is going to battle over this, or at least I hope not. It’s hard to imagine a sweet grandmother and a young bride getting in a brawl in a post office over this, although a hilarious image none-the-less.

So if you’re getting married, what should you do? Do you include the info with the invitation or not?

Well I think, once again, it just comes down to our hearts. Are you including the information because you want gifts, and you want to make sure the gifts are from your registry? Or are you not including it because you think it’s rude when people do that and you don’t want to be like them? On the one hand the decision is characterized by greed, while on the other it’s motivated by pride. And these are two huge temptations during wedding planning.

I think those who commented on the last post made great points, and represent a sampling of opinions on the subject. The truth is in many cases you won’t be able to help offending someone along the way. The question is are they offended because you are choosing to do something you believe honors the Lord, or are they offended because you have done something they perceive as rude or greedy, even thought that might not be your intention? You can’t control someone else’s perception, but our desire should be for God to be glorified. Things that get in the way of that should be avoided at all costs. Remember Paul’s words to the Colossians:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

I plan to do one more post on registry, and then next week I’ll begin a regular series of Real Wedding posts. I’m super excited to share Becky and George’s beautiful, Christ-centered wedding with you!

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