A guide to getting your registry right

A wedding registry is a wish list, but couples need to keep sight of its true intention: convenience for loved ones wishing to give the couple gifts. It takes some finesse to find that perfect balance. Experts say the key is to start early, plan for the future and keep guests in mind.

“Setting up a bridal registry is an opportunity to start with the best of everything,” said Bari Fagin of Bed, Bath & Beyond. “Brides are always looking for a set of cookware and knives. And most brides assume at some point they are going to bake, so they are always looking for their stand mixer.”

At the same time, she adds, “you want to include all the things you wish you had, not just the things you think you should have. And remember that your taste may change. You don’t want to say, ‘I wish I had registered for fine china when I had the chance.’ This is the time to look ahead.”

Experts also advise couples to look beyond traditional wedding gifts. A set of crystal champagne flutes would be nice, but what about the day-to-day necessities? Practical items like cleaning supplies or storage organizers may help couples get started quickly.

Also less traditional but nonetheless welcome in many modern households are electronics, which make up a growing trend in bridal registries, according to Tari Bird, who oversees hard lines at Target.

“Video games, compact discs and DVDs are growing in popularity as men make more of the choices,” she said. “You can usually tell whether it’s the bride or the groom making the decision based on the item.”

Still, traditional style seems to prevail, said Tina Klopfer, a bridal consultant at Famous-Barr. Brides seem to prefer casual formal when it comes to china, bypassing the platinum-edged china for a plain or gold edge pattern, she said. Famous-Barr offers a registry checklist and most people follow it fairly closely. Klopfer has yet to receive any unusual registry requests. In fact, most brides consistently choose casual china, stand mixers, bar sets and crystal at the store. Calpholon pots are also increasingly popular, she said.

Fagin advised that listing a variety of items at different prices gives guests “the leeway to choose something they are comfortable with.”

Crafting the perfect registry takes time and requires input from both the bride and the groom. It’s important to start early and involve your partner in the process.

“The registry is for all of the different stages in the wedding process,” Fagin said. “It’s for engagement gifts, bridal shower gifts and wedding gifts, so it’s never too early to start. Once you get engaged, friends and family will be looking to get you gifts. You might as well make it easy for them.”

A registry may require an occasional tweaking. As guests purchase gifts, couples may need to replenish the list to maintain a balance between the pricey and the practical. Think of it as a work in progress. Many stores offer bridal registry consultants to help with the process.

“We’ve tried to take some of the stress and the initial work out if this,” Fagin said. “Our in-store bridal consultants will walk you through a checklist of the basics. We can tell you how many towels you need to get started, then you can just focus on picking out what you like.”