Contemporary wedding registries straying from tradition

Why ask for bowls and towels when you don’t have a house to put them in?

At least that was the thinking of Alexis and Yale Miller when they set up their registry for their April 2011 wedding at Wilshire Country Club.

The couple had packed their tiny Santa Monica apartment to the brim with the stuff they already owned and they knew that their ultimate goal was to buy their own home.

So they asked their friends and family to help them reach that goal, with the aid of website There, they designed their dream home and wrote an impassioned plea for cash instead of gifts.

“Everybody’s tight on money these days and I thought it would be nice to ask for something we actually wanted instead of going through the motions,” says Alexis Miller, 32. She says they felt that requesting money through a formal website with an obvious objective was “a little less gauche way to ask.”


Though this may seem like a bold move in some circles (and, possibly, in poor taste; etiquette expert Lisa Gaché of Beverly Hills Manners says that “financial requests of that kind should really be reserved for family only,” otherwise you’re asking “friends to fund [your] lifestyle”), it paid off for the Millers. At the beginning of June, they moved into a Santa Monica town house paid for with a down payment that included the nearly $22,000 they received in wedding gifts.

Not only was this registry strategy helpful for the Millers, it also fits into the larger wedding trend of making every bit of the event more personal. After all, as the median age for first marriages continues to rise and more couples are living together before they make it official, it’s no wonder that people are all set with the tableware and furnishings and their definition of things they need (or want) has changed.

“For the couple planning the wedding, it needs to be about who they are,” says Anja Winikka, site editor of “That’s why they even have couples registering for wine of the month clubs.”

She points to sites like Traveler’s Joy and Honeyfund, which let guests pay for parts of the honeymoon, or chain hotels like Marriott, which make it easier to upgrade the newlyweds’ room or pay for a special excursion., which is owned by the Knot, works as an online and mobile scanner gun, allowing couples to create one giant registry from a variety of stores and websites.

The social gifting site GiftSimple is particularly handy for big-ticket items; it lets registrants add products to their wish lists and lets them choose which friends to alert through Facebook so they can divvy up the bill.

There’s also been a growing focus on the groom, with sites like offering engraved beer steins and poker chip sets.

After all, “he’s probably paying for the wedding too,” says Winikka, and this is “stuff that he’s going to be using.”

Yet, despite all this revolutionary registry thinking, it is inevitable that some people will stick with tradition. Miller says she is still thankful for the gifts of salad bowls and champagne flutes — she even received a birdhouse. Because of this, Winikka suggests that couples should still opt for a more traditional registry, albeit a more curated one.

“Your friends and peers will understand because they’re in the same boat when they’re getting married,” she says. “But you have to balance it out and be sensitive to older guests who may not be so keen on the idea of registering for DVDs and games and stuff. Look at your registry and give it a little sweep to make sure there’s stuff on there that the grandparents and the older generation would feel comfortable giving. Because, honestly, if you don’t put them on there, they’re going to get you something you probably really don’t want.”