A letter to myself circa May 2004

To any of you girls out there who are soon-to-be brides:

We need to talk about registering for your wedding.

You see, right now you're probably flipping through the Crate & Barrel catalog oohing and aahing over all the pretty fancy things that you can't afford because you just blew all your money on your honeymoon or the down payment on your first house.  You're thinking THIS IS IT!  MY ONE CHANCE TO HAVE NICE THINGS!  And they ARE nice things, there's no denying it.  And so online while your fiance is off doing Man Things like golfing or washing the cars you REGISTER!  All you have to do is point and click and on your list are twelve place settings of a lovely tableware that which you will serve your Beloved romantic homecooked meals!  That you will use when you host your in-laws for supper on Sunday nights!  Upon which you will serve Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham!  That off which your children will one day scoop mac and cheese with their sweet cherub hands! Therefore this tableware must be NICE!  It must be CLASSY!  It must be EXPENSIVE! Because quite obviously if things are EXPENSIVE! then they are also sure to be long-lasting in terms of quality and style. Right!  RIGHT?!

I am here to tell you that this is FALSE.  NOT TRUE. LIIIIIIES.

I registered for LOVELY, FRAGILE, EXPENSIVE plates at Crate & Barrel once upon a time. I received six place settings … $39.99 PER SETTING.

When we'd been married just a month, the first plate was cracked (by who else, my new husband!).  I cried. 

And then it was a mug. CRY.

And then it was a bowl. CRY!

And then Crate & Barrel emailed me to let me know that my dishes?  The ones that my future holidays and MY FUTURE CHILDREN had been structured around?  Were now being discontinued.  And so I'd better hurry up my little poor-newlywed-with-our-first-mortgage butt and purchase what I needed (THIRTY-NINE-NINETY-NINE, ahem) while supplies lasted.

More tears.

Fast forward five years and I open my cabinets and find what is left of my dishes:  Four bowls, four dinner plates, lovely mugs with saucers which have been used ONCE, a serving bowl and an awkwardly shaped platter (both of the latter have been used only a smattering of times).  The dishes we use the most?  The ones that my husband used as a bachelor … a now-chipped set of four place-settings that he probably bought at Wal-mart for $10.

Can I just go ahead and recommend that you register for some sturdy, cheap, WHITE, easy-to-replace dishwasher-and-microwave safe everyday tableware?  Stuff that will last through your fickle design phases (like that yellow kitchen?  Lemons?  Was I serious?). Stuff that can take it when you clumsily bump it against the side of the sink, whack it on the counter when you're trying to get it in the dishwasher, stuff that won't make you CRY if it accidentally gets dropped? That you won't feel SO GUILTY about throwing in the trash can when it's sporting a huge, ugly chip?  Stuff that can pass as "matching" with stuff that is not made by the exact same company?  That instead of running amok in Target and Macy's with your fancy little laser gun (OMG those are SO MUCH FUN aren't they?!) that you beg your friends and relatives for gift cards to IKEA?  To Costco?  To (GASP!) Wal-Mart?  

Because you know what I just did?  Replaced ALL my dishes and then some at IKEA for thirty bucks.  For less than what my sweet friends and relatives paid for FOUR of my other dishes, most of which are taking up space in landfills right now.  And if one of them soon goes to dish heaven?  THERE WILL BE NO TEARS.  Because they weren't that expensive.  Because there are MORE OF THEM TO BE HAD should supplies run low.

The sad part is that they probably won't chip any time soon because they aren't made of the feathers of baby birds or crushed pearls or some ridiculousness.  Which is why they didn't cost thirty-nine-ninety-nine (!!!!) for four (!!!!), no doubt.



10 thoughts on “A letter to myself circa May 2004

  1. morgan s. says:

    Oh Manda, now I am wondering what pattern you had from crate & barrel. Was it an earthenware style? Those are pretty but crack/stain/chip like mad. I have my dishes from there (they are called roulette white) and they have made it 6+ years pretty much intact! (Disclaimer: I used to work at crate & barrel- I loooooooved it.)

    But I understand your feelings. Our wine glasses ($7.95 each) are all broken, except one. Wahhhhh. But, I bought some new ones at Macy’s – set of 24 for $14.99 – and they rock!

    What about my husband’s college friends who registered for 18 placesettings of silverware that were $158 PER FIVE UTENSILS. And $75 a piece wine goblets (18 each of red, white and water)?!?!?! These people live in a 1 BEDROOM APARTMENT IN HERMOSA BEACH. What the HECK.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I registered for dishes I LOVED at Williams Sonoma and they don’t chip, but I almost never use them. They’re all blue and swirly and fancy and a few years after we got them I just felt kind of “eh” about them, and went out and bought plain white plates at Target. Now I have more plates than I know what to do with, and I can’t get rid of any of them since they are MAH WEDDING CHINA. I kind of wish the damn things would break.

  3. Yi says:

    Amen sister… Can I tell you how dismayed I felt when I went on my friends’ registries and find placesettings that cost more than $150 per setting… Seriously, seriously!

  4. Lizzie says:

    We didn’t get any of the china we registered for. (none! shocker, right?) And I’m glad of it. A dear friend got us one of those BedBath&Beyond type box o’ place settings in white and we do quite nicely with it. Every once in a while I’ll add something interesting like orange pasta bowls or b/w flowery salad plates (from IKEA).

    And? We went to an china outlet store close to here that was going out of business and bought 6 places of nicer stuff for SUPER cheap. So cheap in fact that we use it often and even put it in the dish washer. Thank goodness for hidden miracles.

  5. A'Dell says:

    For some reason I registered for (and received) 12 Waterford wine glasses.

    I never use them and I would love to trade them to someone for the approximately $1,200 they represent.


  6. maggie says:

    I have cheap white dishes from Bed Bath and Beyond. I still have all of them. And about 12 million white bowls and extra white salad plates and EVERYTHING IS WHITE AND BORING and I am SO GLAD I HAVE THEM.

    Registries give me hives.

  7. larmar says:

    we never put dishes on our registry. paul bought his house in england fully furnished, and that included dishes. a few are chipped, but we still use them. since then, we bought a 4-place set from target because they were awesome… and on sale… but honestly, we use the cheap white show-homey stuff way more.
    there are alot of things that we registered for, however, that routinely hit myself over the head for. (why did i think i needed three different sets of outdoor beverage serving sets?? i’ve never used ONE of them.)

  8. Elsha says:

    We’ve been married three years and all of our dishes are still hand-me-downs. And when we started discussing getting a nice matching set of dishes a few months ago we found out the ONE THING we disagree on is the style of dishes we should get. Furniture, paint colors, decorations, bedding– all that stuff we agree on no problem. Dishes though, we can’t even find a good compromise set. I guess we’ll just have to use hand-me-downs forever.

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