Weddings for Dudes: How Crate and Barrel Saved My Life (and Our Wedding Gifts)

Life savers.
Life savers.

I recently got married, but before that I spent years working at them as a photographer, musician and DJ. I've seen almost everything there is to see from good to bad to downright ugly. Now, guys, you can get the benefit of my knowledge and mistakes to help you navigate the maze of uncertainty that is a wedding.

When my soon-to-be wife and I got engaged we were hesitant to even consider gift registries. "We have everything we need," we said. "Why would we make people buy us stuff?" we asked. But, as was pointed out to us by a lot of people, having a gift registry accomplishes some very important things. First, it gives people a direction. Left to their own devices and wanting to do something special for you, they might buy you a giant fertility statue covered in sequins if not for the sanity of the wedding registry. Second, if you are going to get gifts, why not make it stuff you actually want?

So, being the modern people we like to think we are, we registered both at Crate and Barrel (traditional) and Amazon.com (modern). This way, we could get things that older relatives might think are more in keeping with the gravitas of the day (dishes, linens, etc.) and others would have the chance to buy us cool stuff like a jet pack or an authentic storm trooper costume. I'll dig deeper into registries in a later installment, but for now I'd like to tell you a cautionary tale and how Crate and Barrel saved me from destruction.

Before we were married, my wife and I were living together in a rent house on the northeast side of town. We knew we were going to look for a house, but we didn't anticipate doing so until after the wedding. As interest rates began to slowly climb, we changed our approach and got aggressive. Literally, the first day we seriously looked, we found a new home and about six week later, we were moved. It was crazy.

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At the time, we were still a few months out from the wedding and very few people had bought anything from either registry. When I moved, I had to change my address with my bank and, as a result, needed to change it with Amazon, where I regularly purchase things and had a debit card on file. But, since I hadn't bought anything from Crate and Barrel, I didn't change the address there. I think you can see where this is headed.

About a week before the wedding, I realized that for weeks packages were being shipped to our old address. I immediately flew into a panic imagining some new people serving dinner on our dishes and laughing at us like crazed maniacs. These are the kinds of things that go through my head.

I also realized this was ENTIRELY my fault and while they are only things, I did not want to be responsible for both the disappointment my wife would suffer at the loss or the sadness our friends would feel because they bought a double boiler for total strangers.

Fortunately, there was a kind and gentle soul named Dawn on the other end of the Crate and Barrel customer service line who not only talked me down of the ledge, but helped me sort through what had been sent and what was still being sent.

Now, the even weirder part. The address I had entered on the Crate and Barrel website, the new address I had changed only a couple days earlier was WRONG. I swapped around the street number and anything being shipped to that address was being sent to a place that didn't exist.

FACEPALM!   As I sat on the phone with a very patient Dawn for nearly an hour, I began to realize how much work all this is. From the registries to the caterers to the musicians and photographers, weddings are crazy. So far, we had averted disaster at nearly every turn and I'd be damned if a clerical error was going to cost us kitchenware and accoutrement like bath sheets.

Dawn told me to calm down and take an aspirin or valium or whatever was available (I think I actually heard that in my head, but I'm going to attribute it to Dawn because, at this point, she may as well have been the equivalent of a medical practitioner for the assistance she was providing) and I called my former landlord to explain the situation. She called me back and gave me the number of the new tenants at the house as I was speeding back towards my old digs.

When I got there, I spoke to my fantastic former neighbor who helped me load THREE C&B boxes from the front porch into my truck. With no one home, I called the new tenants and was told they had all our stuff in their living room. Apparently, they hadn't even fully moved in and thought they might be for the landlord. I could get them on Friday, the day before the wedding.

I got back on the phone with Dawn, who had achieved near sainthood in my view by this time, and we went through every package. She caught several of them before they left the warehouse. Some were recalled from the shipper, something that took her several hours and a tremendous amount of additional effort. They were now being re-routed to the CORRECT new address and all appeared to be well.

My wife and I both agreed we were very lucky because, for all we knew, the new tenants at our old house could have had one hell of a garage sale before we got to them. Thankfully, they were honest and helpful and all's well that ended well.

As for Dawn, I want to send her a fruit basket or a Crate and Barrel gift certificate or perhaps my firstborn. I can tell you one thing for sure, I will certainly buy from Crate and Barrel with a level of confidence heretofore unknown by me when it comes to home decor establishments.

The moral of the story: don't move before you get married and, if you do, make damn sure to change the address on your registry!


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