Where to Go for your Wedding Registry

Get savvy about the bridal registry process—and get ready to welcome wedding gifts that are tailored to your couple style
by Colleen Brewer

Worried about being bombarded with toasters and soup tureens when the wedding gifts start to roll in? Don't be. Here we've broken down the registry process so you will learn to master the game of gift-getting. Every couple's needs are different, so we've got some sneaky tips to help you customize your wish list. For the domestically challenged, we've even put together a handy “cheat sheet" of terms so you'll look like pros -- now you'll really know a highball from a double old-fashioned! Here's the lowdown.

Department store

You'll probably register at a minimum of one department store for its wide selection of tableware, kitchenware, and bedding. You'll usually work with a bridal consultant to help you include the full range of items.

Specialty store/national retailer

These retailers may have a more eclectic selection of merchandise often presented in a more interactive environment of displays and registry kiosks. You will probably select your items independently, and may be given a scanning gun to point at SKUs on merchandise -- once you zap something, it's on your list.

Online registry

Most brick-and-mortar stores offer this service for the sheer convenience and added value. You'll also find online retailers with bridal registries. You should have at least one online registry for guests who wish to purchase gifts via the Internet. The bonus is that you can also manage your registry when that early a.m. wedding-anxiety attack strikes.

Hometown specialty store

If you prefer the more personal experience that a store in your hometown might offer (for guiding you in the selection of your china pattern and bed linens, for example), you might want to set up a registry there. The merchandise selections may be narrower and the shop may not offer an online registry, but if you're hosting a wedding in your hometown, this might be a good bet for the service and convenience.

Wild-card registry

Include at least one of these alternative registry options on your list to mix things up and ensure fun gifts. We're talking about stores like The Home Depot, The Sharper Image, and REI, where you can go beyond conventional gifts (like cookware) to more innovative ones, like camping gear.

Registry Cheat Sheet

School yourself on these household terms so you'll be an expert (or at least sound like one).

Anodized aluminum: The second-best heat conductor for cookware (copper is best).

Bone china: Fine china that gets its strength (yes, it is sturdy stuff) and bright white color from bone ash.

Double old-fashioned: A short, wide glass for drinks on the rocks.

Egyptian cotton: Exceptionally long cotton fibers that produce incredibly smooth and durable sheets.

Euro sham: An oversized, square decorative cover for a bed pillow.

Highball: A tall, narrow drinking glass for cocktails like Tom Collins and mint juleps.

Iced beverage: A stemmed glass with a much deeper bowl than a regular wineglass.

Matelasse: A woven fabric with a quilted appearance that is often used for bedspreads.

Percale: A smooth, tightly woven cloth with a thread-count of at least 180.

Pilsner: A tall, footed glass used for beer; it's narrow at the base and broad at the top.

Porcelain: An incredibly strong type of china, it has a thin glasslike body.

Silver plate: Similar in body to sterling silver but less expensive, silver plate is pure silver that's bonded to a base metal.

Tang: The part of the knife blade that extends into the handle. A good quality knife will have a full tang.

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