Q: I fell in love with a china pattern, but I found out it will be discontinued next year. What should I do? A:
Fortunately, this isn't too common a problem, so to prevent this, always ask the salesperson whether a pattern is a seasonal release or a longstanding bestseller. If it is going to be discontinued, think about whether the pattern is flexible enough to work with other patterns in the event of breakage. Or, ask if the designer has a similar pattern -- one with plans for a longer shelf life. If you really can't part from the original pattern, go for it. Most brides register for 12 place settings for entertaining crowds. Consider registering for additional settings in case there is unexpected breakage. Good news: eBay.com and ChinaReplacements.com are great places to find discontinued china.
Q: We've already received a lot of gifts even though our wedding isn't for another few months. Is it okay to start using them?A:
Since you've probably opened many gifts in front of friends and family at your shower, there is no harm (unless you or your fiance are superstitious) in testing these out before your wedding day. However, hold off on entertaining with your china, silver, or crystal until after the wedding -- a suggestion that's driven less by etiquette rules than by sentimental considerations (it will feel more special if you wait until you're officially husband and wife to initiate these pieces). Above all, write a thank-you note within two weeks of receiving the gift whether you open it or not. If you have used an item, let the person know how much you've enjoyed it.
Q: Is it tacky to register for the same item at two stores so that there is a better chance that we will receive it? A:
Well, the purpose of a gift registry is to give guests a clue as to what you need, while eliminating the chance of receiving, say, five toaster ovens. As long as your guests don't know your (slightly greedy) reasoning behind registering for similar items at different stores, it's fine. But it can be embarrassing for a shower guest to watch you open the duplicate of their present. Plus, do you really want to deal with the hassle of returning repeat registry items?
Q: I received a ton of really cute and stylish bowls and teapots at my shower, and I love them, even though I didn't register for them. How can I show these off?A:
Believe it or not, these creative gifts may become some of your most treasured pieces. By mixing and matching different heights, textures, and contrasting colors, you can add character to your kitchen, dining room, or even an entryway. You might not drink enough tea to keep three pots whistling, but you could start a cool collection by sitting three pretty pots on a high kitchen shelf. Or, consider showcasing an assortment of bright bowls in varying sizes stacked together in a glass-encased cabinet or armoire.
Q: How can I display our professional wedding photos so they look sophisticated, not self-absorbed?A:
Gorgeous wedding shots will look great anywhere, but a grouping of framed pics on one wall or on a photo ledge will make for a chic and modest display. The reverse tactic -- placing an 8" x 10" photo in every room -- may give off a wedding-obsessed vibe instead of the artsy look you intend. (Exception: an additional frame on your bedside table.) An odd-number grouping is more visually appealing, so go through your photos and choose three, five, or seven pictures. While a mix of color and black-and-white candid shots and portraits will make for an interesting display, remember that the frames' color or material (silver, black, or natural wood) should be consistent. If you haven't already, add a few frames to your registry!
Q: What's the deal with wish lists? Do they function like registries?A:
In a sense, a wish list is just a synonym for a gift registry, but it applies to all types of occasions, not just weddings. You can create a wish list for your birthday or any holiday. Almost any store in the mall has some kind of wish list feature, though not all of them function as conveniently as a wedding registry. For example, if you create an online wish list for a particular store, some websites will send notices to friends and family about the items, which is a major etiquette gaffe since asking for gifts is a big no-no. Also you'll miss out on the fun of setting up your registry in the store, as you won't get the chance to zap your favorite items with a scanner gun. You will, however, be able to access your list online to see which items have been purchased, and update as needed. Each store's policy is different, so be sure to ask about the terms and conditions when creating your list.
Q: Should we create separate registries for the engagement party, shower, and wedding?A:
In general, the answer is no. The registries you create when you first get engaged are there to last you through the wedding and beyond. That's not to say, though, that you can't add to a registry or create a new one later on, but you don't have to worry about tailoring different registries to each party. What's more important is registering for products in a range of price points -- a guest should spend more on a wedding present than a shower gift, so you want to make sure there are plenty of options for each party.
Q: Is creating a registry absolutely necessary? There's something about asking for gifts that leaves me uneasy.A:
Put it this way: By not setting up a registry, you leave yourself open to getting things you don't need, or even worse, things you can't return. And, guests appreciate the gift guidance! A registry gives them insight into your couple style (maybe you guys are all about cool cookware, modern table accents, or traditional china). If you're really concerned, set up a registry with a charity organization and ask for a gift that keeps on giving.
-- Edited by Krissy Tiglias and Meredith Gray
See More: Registering for Wedding Gifts