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Smart Selections

With so many options to choose from, your registry experience might be a bit like being a kid in a candy store. From basics such as linens and cookware, to potential heirloom pieces like silver candlesticks and serving platters, your gift registry will cover a large array of household wants and needs. As you plan for your home together, you will likely find this part of the wedding-planning process filled with fun and excitement. We share with you here just a few suggestions to consider before reaching for the scanner to register.
Some wedding professionals suggest registering for a few items immediately after you announce your engagement. These selections provide close friends and family with ideas for engagement gifts. This is especially helpful if you are planning an engagement party. If you are not planning an engagement party, you can create your gift registry six to nine months prior to any showers or your wedding date. Keep in mind that many products you list may become unavailable over time, so periodically check on your registry accounts to determine if you should select additional items.
It is best to select two to three stores when registering for your wedding. These stores should include gift selections with prices spanning from low to high. Since guests will need to follow their own budget when selecting your gift, it is thoughtful to include options across a wide array of price points. Also, keep in mind where your guests are located. If you select retail stores that are not located within driving distance to your guests, it will force them to purchase your gifts online. While this may be convenient for out-of-town guests, it may be an added expense for those who live in the area. Registering with a store that provides either option is an added convenience for guests.
An important step in determining where you wish to register is to educate yourself on the store’s registry set up and return policy. Large retail stores have simplified the registry process. These stores are able to record your guests’ purchase history and any shipping addresses, thereby making thank-you notes a breeze. However, some stores may limit the number of returns or exchanges without a proper gift receipt, making it difficult to return or exchange duplicates. A one-of-a-kind boutique or smaller retail store may have a printed copy of your registry available in the store, but not available to out-of-town guests. Simply ask the store (1) about their return policy, (2) if they keep a purchase history of your items and (3) how guests will be able to access your registry selections.
Another option increasing in popularity is online-only gift registries. There is a wide variety of sites offering services – some with a particular niche appeal, such as a site for the environmentally-conscious bride. On this site, a couple can register for gifts from green merchants as well as cash gifts, such as donations to charities. Many sites also include a “partial” gifting option to accommodate the couple that wishes to include more expensive gifts. Some sites even include the option for guests to contribute a cash gift to the wedding couple’s honeymoon fund or house fund. Whether using a cash or product-driven online registry site, a benefit is that guests can save time and money by avoiding busy stores, expensive gift wrapping and possibly shipping costs. Should you decide to register with an online service, remember it is important (1) to make certain the site is user friendly, (2) to fully understand the associated fees for the site and (3) to understand the site’s registry and return policies.
Before you begin selecting items for your registry, take a thorough inventory of your belongings and those of your fiancé to determine your needs. Are you still using towels from college? Do you have an incomplete dishware set? Take note of any items that you are currently missing or that need replacing. Tip: Compile your list categorized by room so you can easily remember these items when you hit the stores. 
Another consideration before you visit the store is to envision your home in five to ten years. You may not host dinner parties now, but will you in a few years? Do you see yourself hosting holiday events such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? Before skipping over certain areas like serveware, anticipate your future lifestyle. That wine decanter may not seem like a good fit now, but in a year or two you may find a need for it. 
Just like wedding planning, you should first cover your basics when developing your gift registry. Items like sheet sets, mattress pads, towels, pots and pans, cutlery and stemware are everyday needs that you will use for many years to come. When looking at the basics, we suggest sticking to white or ivory in color. Crisp white sheets and towels not only match any change of décor, but are easy to treat and protect. Investing in a neutral palette will extend the life of your gifts beyond those trendy animal prints that you may desperately want in your master bathroom. 
After you cover your basics, move on to other items that you wish to acquire. Items like crock pots, kitchen mixers, coffee makers, laundry baskets, decorative lamps and soap dispensers are great registry selections that guests love to choose. Keep in mind that selections should include low, medium and high price points.
The last items that you should add to your registry should be unique and special gifts like china, silver serveware or engraved picture frames. These items may appeal to close family members and friends who wish to give you a wedding gift that will become a true keepsake, standing the test of time. These items should not be trendy, but rather classic and timeless in design, thereby assuring you will use them over and over again. If you can’t resist something on the less practical side, by all means select a few fun and charming items that strike your fancy. They will likely become conversation pieces in your home for years to come.
After you complete your selections, check back with each store from time to time. You might wish to add items that you missed the first time around or to rebuild the list after receiving items from your showers. When receiving gifts prior to the wedding day, it is proper etiquette to send a thank you note within a week or two, so the guest knows their gift arrived and that it is deeply appreciated.
If there are gifts remaining on your registry after your wedding, many stores offer a completion program. This program may provide you a discounted price, often 10% to 20% off any items remaining on your list. Some stores send a completion coupon several weeks after your wedding, so it may be wise to hold off splurging on big ticket items until then. |NWD|