Couples asking for more practical items on registries

Thomas Parker, 27, left, of Detroit, and fiance Laurin Gracey, 24, of Rochester Hills, Mich., scan a toaster for their wedding registry at Target (Detroit Free Press file photo)

Out with the fancy china, crystal stemware and sterling-silver iced tea spoons.

Today’s brides and grooms are a bit more practical when it comes to wedding gifts.

“Lifestyles have changed,” said Jim Radel, who co-owns Radel & Stauffer in Lancaster. “The big difference in the last 10 years (is that) casual dining seems to be where it’s at.”

Marshall Field’s is credited with starting bridal registries in 1924 as a way for the couple to indicate to guests their preferred china, silver and crystal patterns.

Registries are no longer limited to department stores, and today can be found at local boutiques, big-box retailers and online at sites like Amazon.

Radel and Darrel Stauffer have been helping brides create registries at the home decor and gift store for more than three decades.

A change of duties in the kitchen has helped registries evolve as well, Radel said. With more men taking over the cooking duties, some grooms want to get more involved with choosing the cookware.

At The Bon-Ton Stores, couples still register for formal china, but the store sees registries with more casual dinnerware and increased interest in cookware, bedding, small electric appliances and luggage, said Catherine Laures, the department store’s gift registry director.

“There is a trend toward practicality and usefulness,” she said.

At Radel & Stauffer, couples are also selecting casual tableware, bedding, towels and decorative accessories. But, Radel said, personal attention is what sets apart local businesses like his.

“We pretty much take a one-on-one personal approach with the brides-to-be,” Radel said. “We work with them at creating a lifestyle.”

The cost of convenience

Sites such as Traveler’s Joy, Honeyfund and Honeymoon Pixie garner donations for honeymoon wish list items including airfare, accommodations, meals, champagne, excursions, spa treatments and even souvenir shopping.

But watch out for fees. Many of these websites collect service charges varying from 3 to 7 percent of the purchase. Some also assess a fee for a credit card payment by the guest. When a guest makes a purchase, the amount is issued to the couple by check, to a bank account or to a PayPal account.

“You’re better off doing something with a travel agency yourself,” said Cathy Ruby, owner of Travel Leaders, 2474 N. George St., Manchester Township.

The agency arranges honeymoon travel and they sell gift certificates, a convenience for guests who don’t know what to get the bride and groom. The couple can then redeem the gift certificates for their travel expenses — fee free, Ruby said.

Cash in on your big day

Etiquette expert Emily Post said on her website that cash presents are “perfectly acceptable” for modern weddings — “as long the guest feels comfortable with the idea.”

She recommended telling parents and wedding party attendants that cash is preferable so guests can get the message by word of mouth and still have a traditional registry.

A more forward alternative? Ask for cash.

Couples seeking to save for a down payment on a house can register at online sites like Down Payment Dreams and Hatch My House.

Cash gift registries such as Deposit A Gift can help the couple fund anything from housewares to a honeymoon to their first home.

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  1. June 28, 2013

    [...] Couples asking for more practical items on registries [...]

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