Saturday, March 29, 2003

Give yourself, guests the gift of a plan, experts say

By Michele Day
Enquirer contributor

Registering for wedding gifts can be overwhelming. Jenny Fruechtenicht of Mount Washington recalls the panic when she arrived in a Lazarus store two weeks before Christmas to set up a registry for her June wedding.

"At first I was like, `There are so many options, how am I going to pick?' " she recalls. "I thought, `How am I going to know what I want for the rest of my life? What color am I going to paint my walls so it matches the sheets and towels?' There's so much to think about. I kept thinking, `What am I forgetting? Do I need the wooden spoons?' "

Wedding experts say some anxiety is part of every bride's life, but they offer these suggestions for making the gift-receiving process easier.

• Do register for gifts. "I think of registering as a gift the bride and groom are giving to their guests," says Margaret Lahrmann, wedding gift registry director for Dillard's Midwest Division. "People really do appreciate being able to select something they know you'll like."

• Do prepare before going to a store. Take stock of what you have and what you need and want, Lahrmann says. Also, determine color preferences and decorating style in advance.

"The worst thing to do is go into a store and start using that (scanner) gun to pick out everything," says Linda Stallings, president of Aunt Linda's Weddings and Events in Madeira. "You'll be overwhelmed."

• Do think about guests' point of view. "Guests like to give you the things they want to give you," says Julie Raimondi, executive editor of the Knot, a Web site for wedding planning. "You have to market your registry in that way. You have to have things in all price ranges. And you don't want gifts that seem awkward or odd. If you put a spatula on there, chances are nobody's going to get it. But if you put a spatula with other kitchen utensils, you might get it."

• Do register online, but make sure you're clear about all the rules for using the registries. Online registries are convenient, particularly for out-of-town guests. But some have limitations on the variety of merchandise available and how often you can change or update your wish list. "Sometimes people think they can do everything online, and they can't," Raimondi says.

• Do get a printout of your registry and check it closely. "Sometimes there's human error involved and they write down the wrong style," Raimondi says. "I say this as a person who got the wrong flatware because somebody screwed up."

• Don't wait until the last minute. Lazarus bridal consultants recommend couples register at least six months before the ceremony. Also, don't plan to do it all in one day. Extending the registry process over several days or weeks reduces stress and increases the likelihood that you'll remember everything.

• Don't limit yourself to your current lifestyle needs. "I know a lot of people who regret not going after what they really wanted in their registry because they already had some version of it," Raimondi says. "Now's the time to get what you'll need. Even if you think you're never going to bake a cake from scratch, ask for a good mixer. The chances of you wanting to spend $300 on a mixer later are very slim."

• Don't duplicate items on different registries. That's how you end up with four toasters and three hand mixers, Stallings says.

• Don't list your gift requests on your wedding invitations. "I just totally cringe when people put it in the invitation," Stallings says. "Those are the weddings where I send my regrets because I know it's not going to be a very nice one."

Stallings recommends that family members and friends spread the word about gift desires. But if you really want it in writing, include the information on a "save-the-date" card that you send out several months before you send out wedding invitations, she says.

• Don't expect to get everything you ask for. "People forget that a gift is not your right as a bride and groom," says Raimondi. "It's still a gift and it really needs to be perceived like that."

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