Technology makes it easier to register for, purchase gifts

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— Gifts -- giving them and receiving them -- are a big part of a wedding. Knowing what's appropriate and the protocol surrounding the gesture fill chapters of wedding books and etiquette manuals.

The best starting point is a gift registry.

"I highly encourage couples to register and a highly encourage guests to respect the registry," said Jill Waldman, wedding planner and owner of The Main Event in Steamboat Springs. "There's nothing worse than getting gifts that don't fit you and are non-returnable.

"Brides and grooms register for things they want in order to avoid receiving gifts they don't."

Guests are expected to bring gifts that should be valued at no less than the cost per plate at the wedding. It's a hard figure to determine, which is why sticking to a registry is so important.

"I think a good shower or wedding present is something you know they need and is possibly a little better than they would buy themselves. It doesn't have to be expensive," said Nadine Daszkiewicz, owner of the Kitchen Shop in Craig.

Almost all department stores maintain a bridal registry, but options for today's couples are becoming more varied. For instance, home improvement and discount chains offer registries -- a practical choice for couples who might need a garden tiller more than they need finger bowls.

"When people register, the advantage is that they get the things they like," said Helen Bennett, manager of Trinkets, Trash and Treasures in Craig. "Sometimes, people go crazy."

In the Yampa Valley, nearly every store will help couples establish a bridal registry. Brides need only speak to a sales clerk or store manager to see if a registry is available.

It's a good idea to include at least one store with branches nationwide or with an 800 number that will allow guests to shop by phone.

Most stores will accommodate a registry even if they've got no procedure for it.

"We could put someone's name on a list with suggested items and remind our clerks it's there," Napa employee Donna Orlich said, considering how an auto parts store would handle such a request.

So far it hasn't been made. "You really don't think of something like what we carry when you're getting married," she said.

Brides and grooms have the option of going from store to store registering for gifts, but they're not limited to what's on Main Street.

The age of technology has put Tiffany's, Nordstrom's or Saks Fifth Avenue within reach.

Via the Internet, couples can register at nearly every store that has a Web site.

There are even Web sites, like weddingchanel.com, that allow people to register at several stores at once.

"Most everything is available online and it's easy to register online," Waldman said.

Couples can create their own Web sites (also a service of www.theknot.com) to list their wedding information and post their registry for easy access.

That solves an etiquette question of how couples ensure their guests know they're registered and where.

It's considered bad taste to send a registry with a wedding invitation, so traditionally, guests have asked the mother of the bride or groom for gift information.

The World Wide Web simplifies the situation.

Brides and grooms ask for all manner of things as gifts, but Waldman recommends couples think long-term and about things they wouldn't buy themselves.

The most popular requests fall into three categories: silver, crystal and china, with Waldman's highest recommendation being fine china. "That's something you'll use 20, 30 years down the road and probably won't ever buy yourself," she said.

Wedding registry Web sites often have spaces that request cash to be spent on a specific thing -- the honeymoon is the most popular.

"It's fine if that's what the couple wants," Waldman said.

Brides and grooms registering for gifts should be mindful of their guests and choose items in every price range.

The price of gifts varies by region, Waldman said, getting as high as $400 on the East Coast. In this area gifts usually are $50 or less.

"I think it's inappropriate to go to a wedding and bring a $20 gift," Waldman said. "Particularly if a lunch or dinner is served. Don't insult the bride and groom."

It's also important that couples register for gifts in a low price range that are suitable for bridal shower gifts.

"No one ever comments negatively on a registry list," Daszkiewicz said. "Guests like to know they can get a present taken care of without having to spend days shopping."

Another benefit is that sometimes the purchase can be taken care of with a phone call.

Many stores will choose a gift from the bride's list and deliver it if needed.

"We've had calls from people who are traveling to a wedding and want to have a gift wrapped and ready to pick up the day of the wedding," Daszkiewicz said.

Another gift-giving tip?

Waldman recommends that all gifts be sent to the couple before the wedding and not brought to the reception. It's too easy in that case for gifts to get lost, damaged or separated from their cards.

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