Dear Co-It-All,

I am invited to a close friend’s wedding in August. She has registered at a few of the obvious places. I mentioned to another friend that I was planning to get the happy couple something more personal, she said that this was a bad idea. But I’m still sort of resistant to buying a long time pal a boring dining set or a gravy boat. What do you think?

I really really really love this letter because it feels like it was written by my younger, pluckier self about a decade ago, back when I went to a lot of weddings and viewed the whole registry rigmarole as a symbol of enforced uniformity and blind consumerism. All the feelings you are feeling around, say, a classic white dining set from Ashley’s—I felt them. To a certain extent I still feel them. But I have learned that, in a situation such as this one, my feelings aren’t really the point.

I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions to this rule, but it has been one of my most significant and far-reaching revelations of adulthood that when there is a registry, you should probably just buy off it. For a few reasons…

First off because your friends have more or less sent you a mail-delivered, possibly engraved notice saying “these are the things we want for our wedding.” When you think about it that way, isn’t it a bit much to say: No, no, no. I am a third party, and I know better? Which leads to my second point: Is your desire to go off-reg really about wanting to get something special for your friend? Or is it about your desire to express your own individuality, superior taste and, well, specialness through your gift? Don’t be ashamed to admit this. Looking back on my own anti-registry days, this is totally what it was about: I am not a sheep, I don’t do cookie cutter, I hate what Martha Stewart is doing to our culture. (I don’t think I need to point out the prominent pronoun here).

Recently I was going to a baby shower. The parents-to-be had registered for a whole bunch of black and white stuff. These were going to be their “colours” (having “colours” for a new baby is sort of a whole different conversation, but anyway, they are the parents and that was their plan). Anyway, I was in a cab heading to the shower with a friend who informed me that she had “gone rogue” because, to quote her reasoning, “black and white are not baby colours!!” She got him a bunch of blue baby jumpers instead, which she obviously thought were adorable, but, well…not her baby.

Reason number two for buying off the registry is because, if you’re anything like me, your intentions are often a lot more admirable than your execution. Meaning my desire to find a special and personal wedding gift would often result in no wedding gift at all until I finally gave in and wrote a cheque. That’s the other major bonus about registries these days—you type, you click, you done.

And finally I would add that this is a wedding, which means it’s about two people. You say you are really close with the bride, but keep in mind that this day isn’t actually about that relationship. (Note: I am all for a future that includes friend weddings). So it’s possible that by choosing something that is “sooooooo Abigail” (you’re welcome for giving your pal such a nice fake name), you are leaving out Josh entirely.

Is that enough reasons to convince you? If not, then maybe I take it back. Like I said, there are situations where the rule is made to be broken.

Several years back (when I was still in my damn the man, anti-registry phase), my boyfriend and I bought a one of a kind glass blown “Tiffany-style” lamp for our close couple friends who were getting married. We thought it was beautiful and the sort of thing that, decades from now, they would look at and think of our friendship and feel happy. I’m pretty sure our friends agreed. For a long time the lamp held a prominent position in their living room.

Then again, they recently moved and I think it might now be located in the garage “man cave,” so maybe it’s not such a treasure. Which brings us back to my original advice: buy off the registry and get your gal pal something special when her b-day comes around. Unless she’s the sort of person who registers on her b-day. In which case, find new friends.