Science Says This is the Reason Why Wedding Guests Buy Off-Registry Gifts

We talk a lot here on the blog about the process of shopping for your wedding registry and the importance of choosing items that are true to your personalities and lifestyle. It’s a bit of a painstaking task, for sure, but it’s worth it when at the end of the day you’re left with items you’ll really make use of (as opposed to those that’ll gather dust for years to come).

That is until someone decides to shop off-registry: Despite all the time and effort you put in to selecting the perfect items for your wedding wish list, there will always be a few guests who decide, for better or worse, to choose their own giftand now we finally have a scientific reason as to why this happens.

A new study that’ll soon be published in the Journal of Marketing Research found that people who feel they are close friends with the person they’re buying a gift for are more likely to go off-registry than those who only consider themselves acquaintances. The reasoning? The researchers say they’re either giving to make their friend happy or trying to prove how close the relationship is.

“[These motives] come to be in conflict in the registry context because it’s hard to give a gift that says something important about your relationship when [the recipients have] chosen it themselves,” one of the paper’s authors, Morgan Ward, an assistant professor of marketing at Southern Methodist University, told Yahoo Style. These close givers want to say, “I am a good friend to you, but I am such a good friend that I understand your taste preferences, lifestyle, etc., better than you understand them yourself. I am able to predict what you’d want possibly better than you are.”

While we don’t necessary agree with the notion that the gift buyer has decided they know the couple better than they know themselves, we support the underlying concept: If you’re really close with the bride or groom and you have a gift idea you are quite confident they’ll love (especially if it’s something that’s not a registry-type of item anyway, like a gift card to their favorite restaurant or B&B escape outside of town), why not go ahead and skip the registry altogether?

It’s a delicate balance between getting the couple something they want while also making it personal, but the study does a nice job of breaking it down here.

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