The Local Way to Register

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Traditionally, big-name department stores have been the go-to source for bridal registries. After all, with their extensive online catalogues and tech-savvy methods of tracking and logging items, they make a convenient option. But what if you’re looking for something a little more … different?

Enter the world of small-scale, locally owned boutique registries. “Brides and grooms that are registering at smaller stores are looking for something a little different than what all of their friends have received,” says Kirstin Martin, owner of Smitten Boutique in Chicago. “They are usually people who really love that statement piece or that special find that no one else they know has.”

But in registering at a smaller, local boutique, brides-to-be must bear in mind that each shop is as unique as the items they carry. While some boutiques may offer an online registry, many do not, and that’s just the beginning. Make sure you and your guests are up-to-date on your shop’s practices and policies before you commit to registering.

“It's important to know what the return policies are for items received from the registry,” Martin says. “Also, the owner should walk couples through how their friends and family will be able to purchase the items – online, over the phone, et cetera.”

Preview potential registry items to ensure their quality meets your standards, and do your own research on the products offered, says Kim Clayton, a bridal registry coordinator for Princess House. “Make sure that the nontraditional stores have longevity to their business and product base,” she says. “There is nothing worse than loving a pattern today, but then it’s gone in three months from now.”

And don’t forget that many of your guests will likely be unfamiliar with a lesser-known boutique. “Supply guests with a phone number and Web site,” Martin says. “Since it's not as well-known as a Crate and Barrel, guests may have a harder time locating the correct store.” At her shop, Smitten, the bridal couple can create two separate lists to show guests which items they need most, and register for a slew of nontraditional items, like cases of wine or cooking classes, to enjoy together after the wedding.

“Smaller shops may not be as technologically advanced as some of the larger stores,” says Martin. “We don't have a kiosk where guests can print out your registry or electronic guns that scan and add items to the registry.” But, she notes, most small shops offer personalized services to couples, tailored to their wants and needs.

When it comes to registering, the road less traveled by may not be the most effortless choice, but it can provide a custom experience – and unique items – as you prepare for your special day.

[Image: Smitten Boutique]

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