Today’s Expert: Dena Siegel of Chai & Home: Jewish Life, Beautifully Lived
I didn’t listen to my mother when I was setting up my wedding registry. My mother had a reputation for expensive tastes and spending quite freely, especially other people’s money: at least that is what Dad said. Anyway, when she expressed dismay at my registry full of general household goods and encouraged me to remove that stuff to instead list a proper set of china, crystal, and a real silver set, I was incredulous.
When I was setting up my registry, my fiancé and I were very aware that we didn’t want other people to see us as money-grubbing and desirous of expensive gifts. We placed practical items on the list: a wok, lamps, some small cooking appliances, towels, and the like. It was stuff we really needed everyday and most of it was inexpensive. I thought the guests would appreciate my practicality and see items they could easily afford.
Fast forward 10 years. Do you know what I have left from those gifts: One set of crystal candlesticks — and these weren’t on my registry! They were given off-list and I can only assume because the giver wanted to give me something that would last and they didn’t see anything like that on my registry. Since then, the wok and towels wore out and the lamps and electric items were left in England when I moved back home to Los Angeles. But I use the candlesticks regularly for Shabbat and now I know what my mother meant.
Here is what I know now but didn’t know then:
1. THE WAY YOU LIVE AND ENTERTAIN NOW ISN’T NECESSARILY HOW YOU WILL ENTERTAIN IN 5 AND 10 YEARS. You may not hold Passover now or many other formal dinners. But when you have kids and a beautiful home and your parents are older, by golly, you will be doing just that.
2. YOU THINK OF THE GIVER AND YOUR WEDDING DAY EVERY TIME YOU USE A GIFT FROM THE REGISTRY. This is really true so most items on your registry should be beautiful and elegant because that is how the giver will be remembered, and they know it.
3. YOUR GUESTS (PARTICULARLY YOUR RELATIVES) WANT TO GIVE YOU TIMELESS ITEMS. They have the wisdom to know how important these gifts are and they don’t want to be the one remembered by the vacuum cleaner because they know how temporal and banal the vacuum cleaner is.
4. YOU MAY NOT BE IN A POSITION TO BUY FINE ITEMS LATER. You may be feeling flush now because you have two incomes and no children, but when you are starting a family and establishing a home, it might be years and years before you are in a position again to buy a gold-rimmed set of china. And it might never happen.
So do your future self a favor and listen to this yenta: plan your registry very carefully.
Here is a tool to help. Chai & Home’s A Very Jewish Wedding Registry. This is a downloadable and printable guide to all the key items you will need in establishing a beautiful, Jewish home. With it you can create a meaningful wedding registry that your guests will be pleased to contribute to and that will set you up for your future household.
You will see there is an emphasis on Judaica and tableware and almost no cookware or appliances. When chosen wisely, the Judaica and tableware should last you lifetime. Not only do cookware and appliances not last, but they have an air of mundane practicality that most givers don’t want to be associated with.
May the gifts of your wedding registry display the joy and love your family and friends have for you during this magical time in your life.
Dena Siegel writes Chai & Home, a style blog about elegant, modern Jewish living. Through Chai & Home, Dena shows how Jewish life is beautifully lived by bringing you the best in accessories and Judaica available today. New ideas mixed with centuries old traditions will enliven your practice and stimulate yourself, your family, and friends. Visit Chai & Home or swing by to “Like!” the Facebook page.Visit Chai & Home or swing by to “Like!” the Facebook page.
All this pretty stuff! After you’re finished making some additions to your wedding registry based on the tips from Chai & Home, try to get your hands on MORE pretty stuff! Enter for a chance to win the grand prize of our current sweepstakes, sponsored by Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design!