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The latest trend in wedding registry adds a twist to the traditional task of picking out items for the home. Forget about just flagging flatware and china. What about a lawn mower and a grill? Today's brides and grooms get the green light to have a little fun.
The new rule: If you need it, put it on your list without apologies.
That includes big-ticket, nontraditional gifts like refrigerators and cash for a down payment on a home.
Nancy Lee, president of MyRegistry.com, applauds a pragmatic approach.
“In the past, people thought they had to get that fine china,” she said. “Brides now want to be more practical ... They need a lot of other things that are not fine china or crystal.”
“I think it makes sense to register for practical items,'' says Elise Rutherford, a guest services representative with Target Stores in Omaha. “I have seen a lot of expensive but practical items, such as entire bathroom sets and patio furniture, purchased from the registry.”
Rutherford says that some of the most popular items on registries are humidifiers, camping gear, televisions, air mattresses, board games and DVDs.
“Couples with scanners start in the table and kitchenware section and end up in electronics and toys,” Rutherford says. “They're definitely straying from the registry norm.”
The former Beth Andreasen and Andy Mark of Milwaukee took a nontraditional approach to their registry and ended up with lots of things they love, including a tent, sleeping bags, camping cookware and a KitchenAid mixer.
“We thought that some of our friends would rather contribute toward our exploring and adventuring than purchase a Crock-Pot (although I do love my Crock-Pot),” says the bride, an Omaha native.
She and Andy made selections in three categories for their October 2011 wedding: practical, traditional and unique/fun. They registered at Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel and MyRegistry.com. Items on MyRegistry.com came from retailers like Anthropologie, REI and west elm.
Wedding experts advise showing a little restraint with the registry scanner. Your list, they say, should reflect things you're actually going to use.
In retrospect, the Marks wish they had registered for a heavy-duty food processor, a vacuum and bikes.
But overall, they're satisfied.
“We did a really good job of selecting items that are practical and that we know we'll use,” Beth says. “Admittedly, our china is still in boxes, and there are other items we aren't using due to space. When we buy a home, however, I know we'll use everything.''
She estimates that 50 percent to 60 percent of their 180 guests selected items from their registry.
Beth suggests thinking about whether you want to go the traditional route. She may have reconsidered registering for china.
“Although I really love our china, we visited a bunch of neighborhood garage sales after our wedding and saw several vintage china sets we liked for insanely marked-down prices.”
Omahans Cathy Wyatt and Dale Percival took a different approach to the no-regret registry. They represent a growing number of bridal couples who are asking guests to consider a donation to a favorite charity in lieu of a traditional gift.
The couple, who exchanged vows in May at St. James Catholic Church in Omaha, are in their 40s and have two children each from previous marriages. Having all the household items they need, they set up giving registries with the Nebraska Children's Home Society Foundation and the Alzheimer's Association Midlands Chapter.
“We are not here without the gifts God has given us: our faith, our family and our friends. So we thought we'd give something back,” the bride says.
“Dale and I are both adopted; Dale through the Children's Home,” the bride explains. “I had the privilege of working with the organization as a development consultant and board member. The Alzheimer's Association was a natural fit, in part because we both have family members touched by dementia.”'
Their wedding guests stepped up in a big way. The Children's Home collected just more than $1,000 and the Alzheimer's Association received about $2,000.
“The church and the Georgetowne Club (the reception site) were definitely filled with people who — like us — just wanted to make a difference,'' the bride says.
CTW Features and Chris Christen of The World-Herald contributed to this report.