As President of Schreibman Jewelers East, the bridal registry is a subject that I have devoted my life to quite passionately and I want to warn you ahead of time that I’m quite opinionated about the subject. I still get a thrill when as a consultant I can help a young woman create a look that is distinctly her own and not a cookie cutter lifestyle that can be purchased out of a catalog by just anyone. I can always tell by the happy smile that appears when we’ve got it just right and when that happens I know that I’ve done my job well!
I remember when my mother began our bridal registry so many years ago. She was influenced by how she had been brought up; hers was an age of beauty, personalization and exclusivity. I remember her saying to my father that her goal was to create a beautiful, easy and personalized bridal registry experience for each young couple that walked through the doors such that they felt that they had created a style that was unique and special. So, with the help of my father they slowly built a bridal registrythat by the time we closed our doors in 2003 had demonstrated that philosophy with incredible success.
Our goal was to make sure that no two registries were the same. We brought over 3500 brides and their fiancés through our doors and spent hours with them helping them to choose their patterns. We registered them for lots of other gifts too, beautiful and functional pieces that we knew that they would need not just now, but in twenty or thirty years. We displayed patterns from companies that were exclusive yet affordable and westocked a wide range of giftware that was chosen not only for its longevity but would accommodate every taste and pocketbook. We did not sell complete sets but instead helped our young brides put together mixed and matched sets for hertable that allowed her creativity to shine through. It was so much fun, definitely not the chore that registering seems to be these days. We wrapped all of their gifts in many gorgeous patterns of wrapping paper and often personally hand-delivered them. It was a wonderful time to be in the giftware business!
Mother and I fought the trend early and distanced ourselve’s from the stampede of marketing that was encouraging our customers to buy only full sets of things. We knew that the emphasis on selling china that way was a by-product of an industrythat had learned that it was less expensive to sell and deliver all of these products in boxed sets. Now for the most part because of an economy that has driven a lot of good specialty stores to have to compete with internet pricing, the full set hasbecome the industry standard.
Why? It’s more efficient and less costly for all of us to sell dishes this way because quite often we have to compete with price and not service. It’s a philosophy that kills creativity and that thought leads me directly to the point that I wish to make!
So often, my customers would come in, look at the registries and say to me, “Beth, I don’t want to be a part of a set. This young woman is so special to me and I want to give her a beautiful gift, something that everytime she sees it, will remind her that I gave it to her.”
I inherently understood that desire. I own many different sets of dishes, service plates and glassware. None of them match. They had been chosen as gifts for my parents and grandparents and it was understood that that they had been chosen to convey love, respect and individuality . It was up to the couple to decide how to use them. I’m not advocating a return to that completely, but I am a strong believer that a personally chosen gift is more satisfying to the gift giver and in many cases more delightful to receive. Quite honestly it didn’t matter a fig to me if a customer went off of the registry.. I’ve had customers who said to me, “ May I please see the bridal registry for _______.” Then they would sheepishly say to me, “I’m going to Ireland next month and I want to bring her a special piece of crystal”. Did I think to myself “there goes the sale”? To be more than honest with you, sometimes I did, but more often then not I knew that it was because this particular customer needed and wanted the experience of buyingsomething much more personal. So I would give them the information and guess what? They’d buy the wedding gift in Ireland but would always come back to me to purchase all of the shower presents!
Why did I do that? It made me happy to know that the bride was getting something wonderful and it was up to her to figure out how to incorporate it into her lifestyle! What I always hated was losing a sale due to price. There’s no magic in that sort of sale and after all, what else is the engagement year supposed to be full of?
I know that there will be stores reading this that will think that I’ve fallen off of my rocker! I really haven’t. I’m simply advocating a return to a time when gift giving wasn’t a chore. There are some wonderful gift stores in Cleveland like Peter Danford, Mulholland and Sachs, Alson Jewelers and La Bella Vita to name just a few that still provide the experience of quality and service that let the bride and her guests know that their happiness is the most important thing at stake while providing the service that demonstrates it.
But enough said! Here I’ve compiled several things to keep in mind if you are wanting to purchase a personal gift for someone that is not necessarily on their bridal registry.
If the stores gift registry is a good one, they will really have captured the very essence of the couple on their registry. Ask to be shown who they are , not simply what they want. At Schreibmans we spent hours “interviewing “each couple to discover their personal likes and dislike and that’s the knowledge that we brought to each sale.
Even though you want to purchase something unique, let the sales associate show you the pieces that the young couple truly loves. Often you’ll find something right there that resonates with your desire to purchase a truly special gift!
Don’t worry about not being a part of a matched set. Yes, that’s what the bride may think that she wants, but in the end she’s not going to remember who gave her which bread and butter plates. If you want to buy the bread and butter plates that’s great, but it’s not necessary.
In the very beginning of my career as a registry expert, the dishes, stainless and crystal were considered to be shower presents. A bride’s sterling and fine china was usually a gift from the parents or grandparents. The wedding gift was always to be a unique and beautiful demonstration of love . Let that impulse guide your choice and you’ll never go wrong!
Finally, in the end if there is nothing that you like on the list, you absolutely have my permission to have fun and buy what you want to! It’s up to the young couple to be gracious, write their thank you notes in a timely fashioned and be honored that you took an hour or two to choose something unique just for them!
Picture courtesy of William Yeoward Inc
Freelance Writer, Herbalist, Aromatherapist, Lover of all things Fragrant and Beautiful, Lifestyle, Bridal Registry ~ Gifts and Tableware Consultant, Personal Shopper and Food Concierge!