What do wedding registries say about modern couples?

Can the gifts a couple registers for tell us about how their relationship works? Retailers believe their gift choices offer insight into the homes and expectations of the modern couple.

The Wall Street Journal talked to four major retailers, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Macy’s and Crate and Barrel, to glean what couples want today.

From The Wall Street Journal:

“At Macy’s, premium kitchen cutlery has rocketed to the top of wedding registries in the past five years, partly due to grooms’ influence, says Susan Bertelsen, group vice president, wedding and gift registry, for the retailer. She also credits men for helping drive sales gains in home bar ware, such as ice buckets and cocktail shakers. And Michelle Mesenburg, director of marketing for home items at Target, says grooms-to-be are helping drive the growing popularity of electronics or camping gear as wedding gifts….”

“These days, family-sized barbecue grills, bamboo bath accessories and sports gear are cropping up. Grooms are also requesting more household items, since they take a larger role in housekeeping, now doing one-third of the cooking, says Stephanie Coontz, author of several books on the history of families and marriage….”

“…When couples make up gift lists, “they choose them together, and they will use them together,” says Ms. Coontz, co-chairwoman of the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit Chicago research organization. In the past, wedding-gift lists tended to be “cookie-cutter affairs” with young brides asking for “big-ticket items that would be used once a year, if ever,” Ms. Coontz says — china, linens and glassware.”

The article says that couples in most urban areas are living in smaller homes so gadgets and cookware have to perform multiple duties. At Crate and Barrel single use item, such as toasters, have fallen out of favor.

They also want towels and such to be neutral so they can work in many homes as they need to move.

The Wall Street Journal also offered a sidebar of stats:

“A look inside wedding registries, based on a survey last summer of 11,582 couples by the wedding websites TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com:

• An estimated 1.5 million couples registered for an average of 151 items in 2010, up 10% from 2009.

• Couples register at an average of three retailers.

• 7 in 10 men are involved in picking registry items.

• 49% of gifts received by couples were cash or gift cards.”

Michael didn’t go with me to register for things but he was ahead of his time 18 years ago having way too many opinions about pots and pans (which he rarely if ever cooked back then) and lots of opinions on bedding (no florals at all and I am a floral kind of gal!). Back then I found it kind of annoying. My dad just sat on whatever couch my mom wanted. I wonder how modern brides feel about compromising on decorating and outfitting their home?

So what do you think: Did your husband have any say in the gifts you registered for? Should they get a say or only if they help? What do you think using gift registries for insight into modern-day couples?

51 comments Add your comment


June 15th, 2011
1:15 pm

I so agree with you all about the cash gifts – tacky, tacky, tacky! I’m so sorry but it is not your guests responsibility to fund your dream home or honeymoon. Wedding gifts were just like HB stated – intended to help the bride and groom set up a working home life. I was married in 1999 and we registered at 3 places: Macy’s, Target and Home Depot. My husband went with me to register and he didn’t really have but a few preferences, which I honored. I got to pick out about 90% of the items just because he really didn’t care. As we had a home for 2 years prior to marrying and had lived away from home for 9 years, we didn’t need things like toasters or sheets. I registered for the traditional china, silver and table linens. We included things from Target because I have always been taught that your registry should include things in all price fields to accommodate all budgets. We chose some inexpensive linens for the guest room, lamps, picture frames and such at Target. Of course Home Depot was all about my spouse. He registered for power tools and some yard equipment. He was happy because he had a lot of bachelor friends who felt more comfy shopping Home Depot than Macy’s! LOL! My husband has also had pretty easy gift giving situations over the years, too. I just tell him to buy something from our registry (yes, I have a copy). I’m pleased every year to get another piece of china, silver or crystal. He says I’m the only woman he knows who is happy to get a fork and spoon for her birthday! LOL! Silver is expensive you know! I appreciate all our gifts and I really do think lovingly of who gave us a gift when we use it. Hubby is amazed that when he pulls out a tray or a vase, I can tell him exactly who gave it to us and which shower it was.