Have you ever heard of lifestyle creep? It’s a slow, creeping rise in your standard of living. Sometimes you don’t even realize it’s happening.
Here’s an example… Let’s say most of your clothes are a little dated — serviceable, but starting to get a little worn. But they all match each other, so it’s not so bad. You want to freshen up your look a bit, so you save your nickels and dimes and eventually can afford a spiffy designer skirt. Which is great! Except the first time you put it on, you realize that it’s so much spiffier than the rest of your outfit, everything else looks sad and tired next to it. So you buy a new pair of shoes. And then a new blouse. And a new necklace. And all of a sudden you’ve spent far more than you were intending and have an all-new wardrobe even though you never really thought your old one was that bad, really.
How does this relate to wedding planning? Registries.
Registries are the worst when it comes to lifestyle creep.
Some people add stuff to their registry willy-nilly. But let’s say you took great care and only added stuff that you really wanted, chances are still good that you won’t get 100% of the stuff that you registered for. You might end up with partial sets of dishes, silverware, towels, bedding, etc.
What are you supposed to do after your wedding is over? There are really only three options:
- Return the partial set you’ve already received, no matter how much you like it. Depending on where you registered and whether or not you’re getting something completely new or upgrading from something you already have, this might or might not be feasible for you.
- Purchase the rest of the set with your own money. Some stores will give you a discount (often about 10%) to “complete” your registry, but you’re still doing a lot of purchasing using your own money. And if you registered for stuff that’s a little out of your price range — because it would be a present, and your relatives can afford more than you can — you might find yourself with a large, unexpected bill.
- Stick with the partial set.
Option three is really where lifestyle creep starts staring you in the face. Because all of a sudden you’ve got a new set of towels that clash with your existing shower curtain. Or you’ve got beautiful new soup bowls that you’re serving on top of your chip-china dinner plates. Or a lovely bedspread that’s entirely the wrong color to go with your existing sheets and pillows. Or two expansion sets to Settlers of Catan but not the original game.
It’s hard to live like this. Every day you look at the beautiful new items you’ve received as gifts and think, “Well, maybe I could just replace the orange shower curtain. It’s pretty grungy anyway, and it completely clashes with the new green towels.” Or, “It’s useless to have two Catan expansions without the original! We might as well get it so at least we can play!”
You will find yourself purchasing things so that they can “match” your new items. Even if your stuff up until now was perfectly fine, even if you never thought to replace it, you will realize that your table cloth looks grungy under the new dishes. Or that it’s really dumb to have a “Han” hand towel without the matching “Leia” one. Or that all the Warhammer figurines your friend painstakingly painted for you in your wedding colors deserve to be in a display case and not sitting in a box.
Wedding registries. It’s awesome to get presents, but it sucks when you realize that all your presents mean you have to spend more money to upgrade everything else to match. It’s almost enough to make a girl wish she’d gone for a cash registry instead.
This public service announcement brought to you by a five-weeks-married wife who’s still trying to find space in her apartment for all the presents sitting in her mom’s spare bedroom. And trying desperately to ignore the fact that half the bathroom is bright orange while the other half is forest green. (It clashes. It clashes so much…)