Dear Wedding Maven,
I'm from Wichita, Kansas and I'm giving a wedding shower for my cousin and his fiancée, who live in California. The groom is from Wichita and he and his bride will be here next month for a visit and the shower. Here's the tricky part: They are registered at Macy's and Crate & Barrel. I love both stores, but their closest locations are about 2 1/2 to 3 hours away. The bigger issue is getting any gifts given to them back to California. I'd like to include a message on a separate card from the invitation that brings up the fact that they need to get home with them on the plane (though I may be willing to ship stuff if necessary).
Here is a draft of the text I thought about including with the invitations (on a separate card):
Your gift to Cousin and Cousine is of course up to you. However, please keep in mind that they will need to be able to take their gifts back with them on the plane or shipped to them afterwards.
Ideas and suggestion:
• Gifts can be purchased online from Amanda and Paul’s gift registry and sent to them in California. Feel free to include a picture of the gift in your card given to them at the shower.
• If it’s more convenient for you, gift cards from other stores such as Target, WalMart, Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot are also appreciated.
Is this appropriate? Should I even bring this up? I'm just not sure what the etiquette is...
Cousin of the Groom
The general etiquette for wedding gift registries is that they are not an order form. They are there to help befuddled guests choose presents that the bride and groom would enjoy. But the existence of gift registries does not mean brides and grooms, or helpful shower hosts, can direct people to buy certain items.
You seem like a very nice person, you’re from Kansas and you’re hosting a wedding shower for your cousin (I’m assuming to help welcome his bride to the family), but there is no way to specifically direct people’s gift giving (especially in writing and especially toward money or gift cards) without offending the giver. Especially problematic is the last line of your note. The assumption should be that the bride and groom would appreciate ALL gifts, not just those on their registry and gift cards from other stores.
All that being said, you do have a point that bringing gifts home on the plane could be a problem. So, I have some suggestions:
Although I generally think that for a shower it’s ok to include a separate note with registry info, in your case, not doing that will give you an extra tool to help your cousins. When people RSVP they will naturally ask you where the couple is registered. To which you can reply, “Well, they’re registered at Macy’s, Crate and Barrel and Target. But, I don’t know what they’re going to do about getting all those wonderful gifts on the plane home. I think I’m going to order their present online, and then print out a picture for the shower.” Saying that to someone over the phone, in person, or even in an email in response to a specific question is much more polite than including it in the invitation.
Notice I slipped Target in there, that’s because if your cousin has a large contingency in Wichita, and he’s having a shower there, it would be considerate of him to start a third registry at a store less than 2 hours away.
The happy couple could start a Target gift registry, and then load it with sheets, towels, and other non-breakable, easy to pack items. They can then either bring an extra suitcase and pack the loot in that, or make a secret Target run before leaving town, return the items and return home with the Target store credit. If the couple would really prefer people buy from the other registries, then they don’t have to make this registry common knowledge, just let the people in Kansas know about it. By the way, Amazon has a universal registry, which allows you to register at a variety of stores, including Target, Macy's and Crate and Barrel!
Another possibility would be to create a shower theme that invited small, easy to pack presents. For example, since the couple lives in California, “A Taste of the Midwest” where guests are encouraged to bring their favorite “Midwestern recipe” on a card, and a small kitchen utensil to go with it. Or a “Bed and Bath” shower, sheets and towels are heavy, but they are easy to pack.
Don’t forget, part of the fun of bridal (or couple) showers is watching the bride and groom open gifts. If most of the gifts are going to be gift cards, or envelopes with pictures, you may want to consider an extra activity to take the place of that.
Do you need wedding advice? Do you have a question about wedding related traditions, etiquette or relationships? Then write the Wedding Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org