Friday, September 18, 2009

How we got to where we are...

If you're wondering where I got the idea for, it's a little simple but I'll make the story longer with some history.

I got the idea years ago after noticing all my friends and family members who had gotten married talk about the wedding gifts. There wasn't a single couple that didn't return at least a few things and many who tried to return as many as they could to get store credit. Why were they returning all these gift? Didn't they want the gifts? They did ask for them, didn't they?

I did some thinking and talking and came upon the answers to those question which I'll present in reverse order:
Didn't they ask for them? Yes.
Didn't they want those gifts? No.
Why were they returning all these gifts? Because they didn't really want them in the first place. The wedding registry was just part of what you did when you got married.

I assumed, like many people, that the origin of the tradition of wedding gifts and registry was that the wedding guests wanted to help the newlyweds with all the household stuff to start their lives together. It may have become that way but from the research I've done, that's not how it started.

Originally, weddings were intended for the bride and groom to have their guests witness the marriage ceremony and the vows as well as to share in the celebration. While gift were optional, many guests brought small token gifts. There are competing theories as to the evolution of the wedding gifts. One theory is that some bride and grooms and families felt that for the expense of showing their guests a good time, the guests should reciprocate by providing nice gifts. It should be noted that no etiquette book or rule condones this belief. Another theory is that since brides and grooms were marrying with few assets, guests brought household gifts to help them begin their marriage - this is the one that many people follow.

And then in 1924, Marshall Fields in Chicago was the first to create a wedding registry. Many other companies would soon follow.

But it's a whole new world. Couples are marrying later for one reason or another but typically because both have a career. Many of those couples are living on their own either separately or together meaning they already have a household full of stuff. When my wife and I got married, we had plenty of household items that we ended up giving away most of the duplicate items. If we had registered with the usual places and had gotten the usual stuff, we'd have to find a place to put the stuff we couldn't return.

So the the thinking was if the wedding guests wanted to give today's brides and grooms something that would help them start our lives, a gravy boat or an 8-piece set of china isn't much help. But some help towards the down payment of a house would. Or something toward the cost of a child. Things that really matter.

And that's where I came up with - a wedding registry of stocks and mutual funds. The wedding guests are essentially investing the the bride & groom's marriage.
- keaton

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