It's a funny thing, but Ryan and I struggled to put together a gift registry for our wedding. We felt torn between "we're older and we already have everything we need" to "well, we could replace a few things" to "let's go a little non-traditional and get some fun stuff."
We also had different ideas of what we wanted, and there was some discomfort with registering at one of those places, you know the ones, that have simplified the gift giving process to credit card information and a single click.
Where is the humanity in that?
We ended up for the most part with a list that reflected both of our tastes and desires -- a somewhat eclectic but meaningful set of items that ranged from essential and quirky kitchenwares to our favorite Illinois wine to a respected charity to the most random thing Ryan has ever found online (and that's saying a lot) -- but we still didn't quite provide enough items for our guests to buy for us. We also listed some gifts on a site that is not one-click-and-you're-done, but may require a little more legwork depending on what it is.
This led to some phone calls, "There isn't much left on your registry, what should I tell so-and-so to get you" and "Maybe you should put more on there."
Cue even more angst and guilt about planning this wedding.
The push-pull of planning a wedding that doesn't entirely conform to the traditional American wedding (or the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC) as one of the few sane wedding bloggers out there calls it) was one of the biggest challenges for me.
There is, on one hand, a strong desire for the wedding to reflect us. After all, "it's all about you" and "it's your day" is drummed into every bride's head from the second she gets engaged if not earlier. But if you don't do things "the way it's supposed to be done", then you've got some 'splaining to do!
I understand the idea that wedding gifts are supposed to help a bride and groom create a home, that our invited guests love us and want to give us gifts that we want, and that we risk getting the dreaded "off list" items that we don't want. I also realize how ungrateful I probably sound right now. I mean, who complains about getting presents? Especially when people want to give them to you. But I wanted to feel authentic about our gifts, about every aspect of our wedding, and the act of registering ran somewhat counter to that.
But when the months of preparations finally culminated into the wedding weekend, I got the gifts I was looking for -- to have our family and friends with us to witness our marriage and, in many cases, to meet each other, making the world around us become that much more tightly woven and interconnected.
Our wedding was full of so many special gifts, some intangible, others creative, personal, and surprising. These were some of my favorites.
-- Serving chilled instead of hot apple cider before our outdoor ceremony because of the 80 degree weather. In early October, it was warm enough for our guests to be comfortable in the outdoor spaces at our venue, which positively gleamed with autumn colors.
-- The gentle breeze that lifted up the top of our huppah. This had stymied us the night before, when we were up until 1:30am figuring out how to attach the tulle covering to our handmade wooden kayak paddles without the material dipping low in the middle.
-- If we could get frequent flier miles for the distance that many friends and family flew to witness us exchange vows in person, we could have flown anywhere for free.
-- Watching the seating chart come to life. My sister and I joked about how I wanted to sit in the corner, as far away from the center of attention as possible. But I really wanted to watch the room during dinner, to see our guests get to know each other over a delicious meal inspired by the fall harvest (and damn, it was good!).
-- Seeing the line for pie snake around the entire room with hardly any leftovers at the end of the night.
-- Leaving with empty centerpieces, which had been filled with hundreds of apples picked by me, my mom, my sister, and my mother-in-law earlier in the week. We had provided bags for each guest to take some home.
-- Receiving a trove of recipes from family and friends, bound into a hardcover book with photos that sparked memories of hilarious moments, family outings, and long-gone-but-not-forgotten loved ones (thanks to my crafty and persistent sister). This book is the perfect way to illustrate two families joining together, now connected through Ryan and me.
Since this is a blog that focuses on food and home cooking, we are going to blog our way through that book. What better way to get to know each other's worlds than through recipes and the stories behind them.
That is priceless.