Brides building their bridal registries today are thinking twice about china cabinet classics, turning instead to home items in which the luxury is a bit more casual."Five-piece place settings are for my mother's generation," says new bride Julie Mathers, 31. "We wanted gifts that would work with our lifestyle and help make our home more inviting and luxurious -- and luxury for me is a home where my husband and I can escape from the world."
Like many brides, Mathers is finding her own definition of luxury in home décor items that she says are embraceable, such as handmade pottery serving pieces and Egyptian cotton bath towels. Absent from her registry were more formal items including fine china, sterling flatware and silver serving dishes.
"Silver is fine for some people, but we wanted gifts we knew we would use," says the North Carolina native.And since Mathers and her fiancé had separate homes before they married -- today's average bride is 27 and her groom is 29 -- they already had many of the essential items needed to set up a household. They used their bridal registry to embellish their home, asking for patio furniture and a gas grill for casual entertaining and choosing high-end linens and towels and an oversized showerhead to make their bathroom a home spa.
"Bridal registries are becoming less utilitarian and more personalized," says Leslie Gillock from Wamsutta home fashions, which recently launched wamsuttabridal.com to help brides organize their bridal registry thoughts. "Brides are still using registries to outfit their kitchens and build their linen closets, but they're also adding an eclectic mix of home décor items that are fun, functional and luxurious.
"That's the case for bride-to-be Lani Britten. "How often would I use fine china? In my lifestyle, it's impractical, and my taste will probably change over the years," says the 28-year-old South Florida bride. "I will put luxury in my bedroom though," says Britten, who registered for high-thread count, 100 percent cotton sheets, a silk comforter and even a bedskirt and throw pillows. "Nice sheets will never go out of style," she says. "Plus, they're something my fiancé and I can both enjoy.
"Along with hopes of possibly getting her first set of Court of Versailles 500-Thread Count sheets, Britten is excited about adding soft chenille rugs, a spa bath pillow and a CD player to her home -- items she defines as indulgent yet practical. They will allow her to create the bedroom retreat sheís always imagined. And since Britten and her fiancé like to entertain, they're hoping their bridal registry will allow them to add finishing decorating touches to their home with artwork, outdoor games and barbecue tools.
"We want a nice home, but we want it to be comfortable for us and welcoming to our friends," she says. "Some day, we may decide we need fine china, but right now, our lifestyle is casual, and our luxuries unpretentious."
Bridal Registry Tips
Keep these guidelines in mind when creating a bridal registry:
Select items from two categories What you really need -- such as utensils and dishes -- and what you really want -- such as that set of indulgent Court of Versailles 500-Thread Count sheets.
Give gift givers choices
Men might like to buy their buddies a gas grill from a Wal-Mart, and girlfriends will enjoy the decorative selections at home stores such as , Finest Linens and Things, and Bed Bath and Beyond.
You'll want at least eight to 12 dinnerware place settings and utensils, three sets of sheets for the master bedroom and enough towels for you and your first guests.
Review your registries periodically to take off items that you've already received and add new items as you plan your new home.