NEW YORK (AP) ? Running around a store with a scanner tagging gifts to add to your wedding registry may sound like fun, but the continuing economic uncertainty means couples must balance their wishes with what guests feel comfortable spending.
Remember the praise Will and Kate got for their charitable registry? And the criticism Kim Kardashian received for the over-the-top items on one of her registries?
It’s important to maintain perspective, especially with increasing numbers of alternative registries making it easier than ever to ask for everything from napkin rings to help with a mortgage down payment.
“You need to stop and take inventory of what you already have and what you will need for your lives together,” says Jodi Smith, an author and the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.
Here are some tips for developing your game plan.
? TRADITIONAL REGISTRIES: If you don’t already have a complete household’s worth of goods ? or two ? you may want to consider a traditional registry. You can avoid some of the returns, exchanges and “regifting” if you think carefully about what your guests are up for when you choose where to register, what you ask for and how much people will be expected to spend.
THE STORE: You may love a little local boutique, but it’s not likely to be convenient for all your friends and family. Some may prefer seeing their gifts for you in person. And there still are people who never buy online. So try to register with at least one store that has locations around the country.
THE PRICES: Find stores that regularly provide coupons, like Bed Bath and Beyond does, or have frequent promotions, like Macy’s. And offer variety.
“If you register at Tiffany, do maybe Tiffany and Target,” suggests Smith.
Plus, if you include gifts that cost less than $20 or $50, guests may be happy to give you a pair, like a set of baking sheets with a set of mixing bowls, explains Amy Eisinger, associate editor of weddingchannel.com.
If there are a few expensive items you really want ? like a $600 vacuum cleaner or a $1,500 set of pots and pans ? it’s fine to add them to your registry because a group of family members or friends might want to pitch in together, Eisinger says.
THE SELECTION: Choose items that last, like china and linens, so they feel more special as gifts. And include a mix ? everything from barware to gardening tools ? so guests find something they resonate with.
THE POLICIES: Know in advance how stores handle returns and exchanges ? especially those that don’t involve a receipt ? and choose retailers that are flexible. Some stores also give couples extra “perks.” Eisinger says many retailers offer a discount to couples to help them complete their registries once the wedding is over. Others offer free gifts or services, like monogramming, once the total spent on items in a registry passes a certain amount.
? ALTERNATIVE REGISTRIES: A growing number of websites offer new takes on wedding planning and presents, though most essentially boil down to ways to receive cash payments online or to send donations to a favorite cause.
There are honeymoon registries, at www.honeyfund.com and www.honeyluna.com and other sites; charitable registries like www.greenwish.com , www.alternativegiftregistry.org and www.justgive.org ; and even cash registries, such as www.ourwishingwell.com and www.featherournest.com , where you can save for a mortgage down payment.
Smith recommends pairing any alternative registry you choose with a traditional one.
“There will always be guests who don’t want to give money,” she says.
? KEEP TABS: It may seem taboo, but it doesn’t hurt to occasionally check what your family and friends are choosing from your registry.
A quick scan as the big day nears (ask a bridal party member to peek if it makes you uncomfortable) can help you determine if you need to add or change your selections to ensure your guests have options and feel included in your plans and your future.
The AP’s Smart Spending column offers tips and insight on reining in the cost of everything from jewelry to groceries and from spa services to utilities. Email comments and suggestions to retail(at)ap.org.