Wrap that fridge with a bow, please
Share with others:
Nicole Girkey knew she was doing something a little different when she registered for an African safari honeymoon. But she and her fianc??, who were already living together, didn't need any household items.
"Some people like going to Linens 'n Things and buy you a towel to change your life," says Girkey, owner of marketing company High Performance Prose in Granbury, Texas. "But that wasn't us. We had furniture, since we bought a house together when we were engaged. We didn't need a blender."
Little did the 30-year-old know the drama their decision would create.
Since most of the 100 invited guests were older, they didn't know how to go online to the honeymoon-registry Web site. Or, they simply didn't want to.
"My mom got so many calls asking, 'Where else are they registered?'" says Girkey, who spent $20,000 on her 'elegant safari'-themed wedding. "They'd ask, 'What about towels? Do they have towels?' Looking back, I should have registered with at least one store."
Girkey isn't alone. Wedding-industry experts say more brides are registering for big-ticket, nontraditional gifts: refrigerators, down payments on their first home or flat-panel TVs, to name a few.
"Traditionally, the wedding gift was for the new home, but now couples are older or already living together," says Diane Forden, editor in chief of Bridal Guide magazine. "As weddings have become a lifestyle statement, so have the registries. For example, you'll find foodies who register for every kitchen gadget."
Nicole Kraft, editorial director of mywedding.com, says she is "all for" registering for camping equipment or other nontraditional things. She spoke with one Brooklyn, N.Y., bride who registered for a refrigerator -- and got it.
"People are sort of waking up to the fact that they don't want a panini maker or a crystal vase," Kraft says. "It may be a little bit controversial, but I think it's kind of interesting and makes the gift more personal."
BRIDES, DON'T GET TOO EXCITED
If you're a bride thinking if you register for that new leather couch, you'll get it, you might want to reconsider.
Bridal Guide recently did a survey of brides showing that most still register for traditional items, like plate sets and toasters. And while they may add big-ticket gifts onto their registries, most guests aren't buying them.
"A lot of registries now have furniture or mountain bikes, but they are still less bought than traditional things," says Debi Lilly, a Chicago wedding planner who's planned major events for Oprah.
In fact, for this story, we couldn't get a single guest to comment on a bride's registry. All the experts and brides we talked with stressed the fact that gift-giving is a very touchy -- and personal -- topic.
"Guests sort of feel they don't want be taken advantage of and don't want to be invited to just give a gift," says Forden, who authored "How to Plan the Perfect Wedding ??? Without Going Broke (Grand Central, 2003). "And they get their back up a little bit. But most couples aren't that greedy. When we interview couples for 'What you registered for,' a lot were concerned about guests and went to stores where they thought it would be easiest for them to shop."
No matter what a bride registers for, though, guests will complain. And don't forget the idea of sentimentalism -- that the china set or unique painting you get from your grandmother is something you'll cherish forever. Some brides really do want that. But others don't, something else that's changing.
"For example, years ago women were apt to save wedding gowns for daughter, but that's not done too much anymore," Forden says. "The bride today might borrow a piece of the lace and incorporate it into her veil."
HOW DOES IT ALL WORK?
Companies have now created registries that are veiled ways of asking for money. For example, at a typical honeymoon registry, a guest can give you the gift of "a nice dinner out," or "a massage at the spa." You receive the cash, minus the site's fee, and can then use it for your honeymoon expenses. (That's how Girkey's site worked, but it all went into a general "safari" fund). Some banks and mortgage companies have bridal registries for down payments.
Some Web sites allow you to ask for money for just about anything you can think of -- in the form of American Express gift checks.
But asking for money, no matter how you go about it, is a dicey topic in the etiquette world.
"People ask me, 'Can we tell guests to just give us cash?' I say, no, you've crossed the line; that's not what a wedding is about," says Forden. "It's not fund this, fund that."
The key is -- if you're dead-set on doing this -- that you absolutely can't write it anywhere. "I think it's a little tacky to tell guests, 'This is what I am doing.' I think if you want to set up a registry like that, you have to handle it delicately."
In Girkey's case, her mother fielded all the phone calls from confused guests. Girkey says she got so tired of people saying it was rude that she was "asking for money" that she finally told someone, "People don't realize it's about the bride and groom and not them."
The main thing to remember is to stay true to yourself -- and your cultural beliefs.
"Americans think money is so taboo to talk about," Kraft says. "My friend who got married in India said that over there they were just bombarded with cash. Their perspective is that they want to help the couple start out on the right foot. What a cool way to look at it, instead of this silly Emily Post social etiquette thing."
First Published September 10, 2007 4:15 am