08 March 2011

Wedding Cultural Experience : Registering for Gifts

We're down to 3 months and 17 days before the "Big Day," so Fab and I have started to register for gifts here in France.  Being the lucky, multicultural couple that we are, our friends and family are on both sides of the Atlantic, so we could have chosen to have a registry on each continent or in one country...as if we didn't already have enough decisions to make !  I asked Fab what the deal was with French wedding registries, which was met with a funny "I've never been married in France before, so dunno !"  Given that the Galeries Lafayette & Printemps have more trendy items, we decided to look at BHV first.  Thus began our adventures in wedding registries.

We went on a cold February afternoon just before my trip to the USA, and were ready to do some registering.  Seriously, we were pumped about some bakeware and coffee machines.  In my mind, I was thinking about the little barcode guns that they have in the US, and how fun it would be to run around a big Parisian department store, adding items that we would love to have in our apartment.  As we got to the 3rd floor, where a new list must be open, our excitement hit a brick wall.

The girls were sweet.  We really had, what we would say in the South, a "bless her heart" moment.  They didn't know what they were doing.  Even the girl who was training the other didn't know what she was doing.  They gave us the basics : a wedding registry means we can either A) sign up for gifts we want people to buy and people can either allocate money to several items or buy the present for us; B) sign up for a honeymoon package through BHV's travel agency and people could contribute money to our post-nuptual trip; or C) sign up for a philanthropic endeavor and people could contribute money to a good cause.  At least it sounded like we had options.  But regarding maintenance on the Internet or how to add items...they didn't really know because their job was only to open accounts...

We would have opened an account in store that day, but that required both of us having a pièce d'identité.  I had unfortunately left without my passport, because let's be real, I don't normally incorporate shopping with needing my passport.  And forget taking my titre de séjour out and about.  I waited 3 months for that thing and it takes an act of God to replace it.  It stays locked away in my apartment until it is imperative that I need it (aka time to renew it or travel outside of France).  So Fab opened our list online and we thought all would be right with the world...

We realized that not everything we would like to ask for was not available online.  Now, I am totally excited about potentially buying all of this lovely French cookware or having it bought for our household.  Honestly, I am in my zone with this country and its respect for cooking !  Le Creuset, Tefal, all the different table decoration possibilities.  It is such a great experience to go and shop for these things when you *aren't* registering for them for your upcoming marriage. 

Here we were, on the 3rd floor, two young love birds wanting to start their wish list.  "The 3rd floor is for opening accounts.  Maintenance of those accounts is on the 7th floor."  We walked with smiles on our faces to the elevator, thinking of an Astérix cartoon we had just seen, mocking this very situation. 

"In order to have the laisser passer, you need to go to floor 5, window C to get the blue form 76A." 

On the 7th floor, we were met by one person, as it was unfortunately still the lunch hour for many employees.  She was most disagreeable.  After some persistance (I leave that to Fab.  This is his system, and he knows how to navigate it) we were handed two sheets of paper to be filled out.  "For your list items.  You'll have to talk to a sales person once you know what you want." 

"Take the blue form 76 A down to floor 2, window F..."

Once in the cookware area, we started picking out pots and pans and other cooking gadgets.  We went and found a sales person to give us advice on how to write down what we wanted.  "Oh, we have to take care of that!"  "Wait," Fabien said, "You mean you have to follow us and write down what we want ?"

"Yes, you guys don't know what information is necessary to identify the product so for each area of the store, you have to find a sales person for that area to write down the product info.  But don't worry, we do this all the time !"

Essentially, for cookware, we have to find someone to write down all the items we want from cookware.  For electrics, like blenders and mixers, we have to find someone else from electrics to write down what we want.  If we ask someone who works in baking supplies to write down things in electrics, it will inevitably not be part of their job.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you register in store for gifts.

I told my French colleagues at work about this, and they couldn't believe it.  Neither could we.  In the end, all you can really do is laugh.  In my case, I can think of a great innovative product to offer department stores to facilitate wedding registries.  Too bad marriage rates are way down in France, otherwise I think that could have been my ticket to early retirement...

1 comment:

  1. That was a fun experience, all in all! We had a good laugh at all the typical examples of French "peculiarities" that just kept accumulating! Poor customer service, paperwork hassle, lack of modernity... :D