For brides and grooms, choosing flatware and china patterns, stemware and other essentials of wedded life is either a fun and festive occasion or one filled with stress and anxiety. Many feel that creating a registry is asking for gifts or being greedy; they may feel awkward registering for expensive items. And then there are the questions of where to register, whether there’s anything off-limits, whether those on their second, third or even fourth foray into marriage should register. Heads are left spinning.
Time, brides and grooms, for a deep breath. We asked a few Memphis registry experts all those questions you were afraid to ask!
“There used to be a lot of rules of thumb, if you will, but with all of the changes that have occurred over the last few years, I wouldn’t say that there are any hard rules for registering,” says Carmen Bond, co-owner of Social, a Shop for Gracious Living.
So let’s call the following guidelines, instead of rules.
Miss Manners is probably the only person who still disapproves of registering for gifts, as she pointed out in a recent column. ” … Miss Manners maintains that the gift registry itself perverts the custom of giving presents, which are supposed to be chosen, and voluntarily given, as a symbol of thoughtfulness and good wishes.” Ouch. Reality trumps Miss Manners in this case, we think.
While an invitation to a wedding carries with it the implication of gift-giving, conventional wedding wisdom holds that registry information should never be a part of the wedding invitation. Back in the day, it was up to friends and relatives to casually let people know at which stores a couple were registered. Thanks to wedding websites like The Knot and others, a couple can list their registries and even link to those with an online shopping feature.
Wherever a couple decides to register, they should book an appointment.
“An appointment is vital as our consultants will block out two hours for you to ‘play’ in our wonderful china room,” says Adrienne Oeding, manager of Babcock Gifts. “If you do not make an appointment, you may have to wait before a bridal specialist can get to you.”
Carmen agrees. “These ladies have lots of knowledge that will ensure a smooth and thorough registry, as well as lots of advice for things that you might not know you need.”
There’s no magic formula as to the number or kind of stores at which to register.
“Many brides like to register where practical household things can be purchased and also at a store like Babcock’s, which offers hundreds of china choices but also unusual gift items and linens to complement the china,” says Adrienne.
“Some shops have china and things of that nature, while other shops might specialize in beautiful bedding or home furnishings,” says Carmen, who notes that more stores give guests more options. “Others might carry things that the groom would really like. Some people might like to shop online, some might like to shop in their shopping district, etc. Plus this gives fair commerce to all of the shops in your town, and we all like to support each other as best as possible.”
Choose what you (and your future hubby) like, say our experts.
“Too many opinions very often get in the way of what the couple wants,” explains Adrianne. “There are times when as many as six people will come in with the bride, and often her tastes get drowned out during the process.” So think about your lifestyle, and choose a variety of price points in your registry so guests can find something they know you’ll love that’s also within their budget.
“And don’t forget the groom,” cautions Carmen. “Make sure that you pick out things that he will enjoy using as well.” She advises that if he doesn’t attend the registry appointment, don’t forget to include items with him in mind.
“In these new times that it is certainly appropriate to pick out non-traditional things such as art, home furnishings, antiques and garage items,” adds Carmen. “We have seen groups of friends go in together and get the couple a more expensive item on the registry. This gesture is a wonderful option as well as sentimental for the couple as they begin their life together.” Adrienne agrees, adding, “This is the time to get your beautiful china and crystal that you will love for many years.”
The Second (or Third, or Fourth) Time Around
Many couples tying the knot a second (or third, or fourth) time already have established households. And let’s face it, creating a registry for towels and coffee makers on the third go-round is just, well, tacky. There, we said it. Let’s see what the experts say.
“Occasionally a couple wants to choose a pattern for a china or crystal that is uniquely theirs, even though they do have these things already,” says Adrienne. “If they do not, we usually suggest a lovely piece of pottery or crystal, such as a vase.”
“Based on what I have experienced with a gift shop and bridal registry, these couples are just as excited to begin their new lives together, and most would like to start over with everything,” says Carmen. “I don’t feel that they are out of line with wanting their own things versus bringing things from their first marriage.”
With that said, she notes that some couples may not have a problem with bringing the fine china from a previous marriage, so they might just pick out a new salad plate or something special to add to the original collection. “This couple has friends who will want to buy them something special to commemorate this union, therefore I would suggest picking out a few special things,” Carmen shares. “This makes it easier on the customer, and the new couple can begin their marriage with some special things.”
Couples can now register for a honeymoon, a mortgage or other non-traditional gifts. So is there anything our experts say is totally off limits, or simply not a good idea to register for?
Carmen is not a big fan of cash gifts, although she knows cash is a more acceptable gift these days. “I am a shop owner, so you would expect me to say that, but I promise I would feel the same way if I weren’t,” she says, “but I don’t think there is anything that absolutely must NOT be included on a registry.”
“As a rule we do not think holiday items such as Christmas ornaments are ideal, as they cannot be exchanged,” says Adrienne. “The same would be true of any seasonal item such as candles, personal products such as lotions and bath products.”
The Last Word
Our experts have a little final advice for couples.
“It is always good for the bride to know that when returning or exchanging large quantities of wedding gifts, that it is always highly recommended to make an appointment with the bridal specialist to do so,” says Carmen.
“Remember, this is your time and enjoy every aspect of this wonderful occasion,” adds Adrienne. “Starting a new life together is so exciting!”