Charity Registry


Okay, so we've only been engaged a month, and we're not getting married for another two years, but people are already asking about our registry!! We haven't one.

By the time we get married, we'll have lived together for two years--and we are so fortunate to have already the things we need. Everything that's typically found on a registry (kitchen stuff, dishes, towels, sheets, etc.), we've already accumulated. We're really not comfortable registering for the "frivolous" things (DVDs, craft materials, music, etc.), so we were considering "registering" for charities.

The last thing we want to do is to usurp our guests' generosity, and we in no way want to dictate to them what we would prefer they buy with their money. I know it's not polite to even mention gifts anywhere near an invitation, but people are already asking, and I think nowadays, most guests prefer the convenience of a registry. (I know I'm always lost if I don't know where a couple has registered...)

Is there a way to politely, and humbly, ask our guests to make a charitable donation rather than spend money on a gift we don't need or wouldn't use? Or should we just graciously let the extra towels and trivets roll in?

Comments (5)
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Congratulations on your engagement. I commend you on your desire to use this opportunity to benefit others. I am surprised that people are asking about registries so soon if they know the wedding won't be for two years. To even consider registering for gifts at this early stage would be an exercise in futility because you would need to monitor the registries for discontinued items and update frequently. And there should be no need for purchases to be made from a registry until shortly before the first shower.

That said, right now you can tell those who inquire that it is too early to consider registering but you are thinking about asking for donations to charity when the time comes. Then, close to the time of the wedding you can verbally tell guests of your preferences for gifts to charity when they ask. You shouldn't mention anything about gifts in your invitations. If you have a wedding web site, you could mention your preference there.

If there is a possibility of showers being held close to the time of the wedding, you will need to consider how to handle them. If you have no need for any household items, you might ask a shower hostess to have a recipe shower or some other type that would not necessitate a registry.

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I agree with sweet pea. Don't do anything now -- it's too early. When the time comes, just let your families and close friends know that you would prefer people to make charitable donations rather than to buy you gifts. Don't tell anyone else unless and until they ask you. I wouldn't put your preference on a web site, either, because I don't really like seeing any references to gifts or registries on web sites, but I know that they almost always have them -- it's just my preference.

Don't specify a charity or charities, though -- people will ask if you have a favorite, or else choose one they like (or think you will). But to designate one or more makes it seem like you are turning your wedding into a fundraiser. It's unselfish, but it's still anticipating and directing generosity.

Many people will give you gifts anyway, and you are of course free to donate them (or the proceeds of their sale) to charity. But don't make any comments that that is what you are planning to do. After all, if Grandma gives you an heirloom tablecloth, you will want to keep that!

Congratulations on your engagement and your unselfish impulse.

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It's also generally a bad idea to specify a charity, because there is always someone who will be offended about that specific charity, no matter how harmless you might think it is. And you really don't want your wedding day to turn into a political argument with your guests ("I can't believe you suggested people donate to _____. Don't you know that they _____?")

Trust matter how innocuous the charity might seem to you, there will be someone who can find issue with it. If someone asks you, I'd demur and say "Oh, just pick one that you like." Maybe only if they really press the point, give in on it, and then give a few that you like, so that they have something to choose from that they'll find acceptable.

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The real problem here is living together prior to your wedding. The stats show that this actually reduces the chances that your marriage will survive. Please rethink.

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We did not need any household items when we married, and were older when we did so. Although I normally think it is inappropriate to include anything in the invitation we did have a piece of paper that stated something like "we have each other and more than we need, so please bring food shelf items." We also said that my husband's pick-up would be parked in the lot (put two nephews in charge), and our goal was to fill it up. We actually filled it TWICE, and almost brought the local food shelf volunteer to tears!

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