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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Registering!

Registering has probably been one of the most fun parts of wedding planning so far. It's all the fantasy (remember the days of just imagining your imaginary, budgetless wedding?), without the cold reality (uh, negotiating those 17 distant cousins spots on the guest with your mom). Seriously, what girl doesn't love to hardcore window shop? And if your husband to be is anything like mine, he loves gadgety kitchen toys.

Our first registry experience was with Sur La Table. We LOVE this store. This is our toy store. They have all kinds of amazing things and the value for the quality of the products is great. My favorite Christmas present ever from Mr. Fairfax is from there--it was a tomato knife. Yes, I am a woman who gets excited about a really nice tomato knife and the man who would think to give me one. This is just the kind of people we are. I think it says a lot.

Here's the run down on Sur La Table:

PROS
  • High quality kitchen goods, everything from knives to pots and pans to automatic soap dispensers.
  • We registered at the Pentagon City store. The staff there is AWESOME. Very friendly, very helpful. They treated us like gold even though they were very busy and in the middle of inventory. It made the day very special to such great customer service.
CONS
  • We broke the scanner. Whoops. We dropped it and the laser broke (SORRY!!!). So if you plan to register, make sure the scanner works, and don't drop it. Typing all those SKUs in by hand is a...
  • The website is pretty terrible. The registry website link is on the bottom of the main Sur La Table page and open in a separate window when you click on it. The website does NOT like Firefox, open it in Explorer for the best results. Even then, many of the items don't have pictures, and the item descriptions are more like stock room jargon than English. We ended up transferring any items available at other stores to another registry and deleting some items from the SLT registry. Bummer. I will be writing a letter to company about this.
All in all we loved picking out items and really like the variety and quality of items available. One word of caution: try to go to the Pentagon City store if you can. After we accidentally broke the scanner we went to the Tyson's Galleria locating to finish up (we got tired of typing in the SKUs), and they were not very friendly. They didn't seem busy, but the staff was quite curt and short with us. Pentagon City though, they're AWESOME.

Bed Bath & Beyond

We ended up doing BBB for a few reasons. Some of the items at Sur La Table were also available at BBB and we opted to transfer them there and not force out guests to decipher the SLT website. Also, we wanted to register for our pots and pans there, a vacuum cleaner, and a few other general home items not available at SLT.

PROS
  • This is easy for you and the guests. BBB has everything and most people are familiar with the store.
  • The return policy is crazy awesome.
  • The website is very simple and straightforward for you and your guests.
CONS
  • Nothing really, though it's a slightly more generic experience compared to SLT because it's such a big store.

Crate & Barrel
We attended the final Crate & Barrel "Wedding Party" of the season this past Sunday. It was FUN! I'm sorry I didn't get to blog about it earlier and recommend it, but hopefully a number of you have been or will go when they offer the next round. Basically, C&B invites couples into the store on Sunday morning from 9-11am to register while the staff can A) give you their full attention (they even had coat check!) and B) offer product demonstrations (waffles and pancakes! yum!). We had a ton of fun.

Word to the wise--be sure to RSVP. They aren't kidding about that. We showed up without RSVP-ing (because this bride was being a bad citizen) and they let us play anyway. We kind of had to be quick though in order to not deprive another couple who had RSVP'd of their scanner. We took a scanner for 30 minutes, returned it for about an hour while we browsed, ponder glassware (direct quote from Mr. Fairfax: "I didn't think picking out wine glasses would be this hard") and had some pancakes. We got a scanner again at 11am and make quick business of scanning all the other things we liked. It worked out very well, actually.

PROS
  • Who doesn't like C&B? The Big Sister said most of their guest gave gifts from C&B, people just really seemed to enjoy picking out the items. And the gift wrapping there is pretty sweet.
  • Again, the the website is super easy to use.
  • Registry completion bonus! Get a 10% discount on items still on your registry after the wedding. Other stores offer this as well.
CONS
  • I don't think you can say CON and Crate & Barrel in the same sentence...except I just did.
MyRegistry.com

There were a few "fun" items we knew we wanted to select from stores that don't offer registries like sleeping bags from L.L. Bean, a diploma frame, some coffee mugs from a little pottery in the town where we got engaged, a paper shredder (this is fun, what?) and Mr. Fairfax's favorite: a grill!

There are a number of websites these days that will allow you to list items from multiple stores, so why did I go with MyRegistry? No reason, it was just the first site I went to.

PROS
  • You can download a button for your browser from MyRegistry that allows you to add items instantly. For example, if I'm browsing L.L. Bean and see a LED camping lantern I must have, I hit the "add to my registry" button, a window pops up where I log in, enter the relevant information and the item is added. Pretty cool.
  • It's neat.
CONS
  • Although I can see the guest view, I'm not 100% sure how intuitive the purchasing process is.
  • The return policy will depend on the individual store, not MyRegistry (as far as I can tell) so keep that in mind.
Macy's

No, we didn't actually register at 5 stores. I originally wanted to do Macy's for china only, but we had a less than stellar experience so when we figured out the pattern we liked was also available at BBB, we opted to close our Macy's registry. We made a special trip to the Tyson's Galleria location because we thought they would have the best selection and samples of all the china. Hmm, well I know the economy is bad, but really? Macy's was a sad sight. The Registry Associate was perhaps a little overeager, and we were very disappointed to find that they did not have the china we wanted to see. Since there wasn't anything else we wanted, we ended up wandering the store for a respectable amount of time, returning the scanner and heading home. I don't think my experience is representative of all Macy's, everywhere, but I wanted to share.

PROS
  • If you want nice sheets, or love the Martha Stewart stuff they carry, definitely go to Macy's.
  • They have lots of registry rewards, as well as a completion discount and I understand there is also a very liberal return policy.
CONS
  • We were personally disappointed that some of the china patterns we wanted to see where not in available.
  • While I love good customer service, the Macy's associates had a hint of desperation about them. It was a bit awkward to say the least.
So that was our experience for better or for worse. Just to sum things up here are a few thoughts from Mr. Fairfax and I on the whole process.

  • Don't try to do it all in one weekend. If you do multiple stores in one day, really make a day of it and build in a relaxing lunch and coffee breaks.
  • Make a plan. Pick a day together and plan to go out and register. I was ready to go ANYTIME, but I think Mr. Fairfax was much happier knowing what days we were going, and where we were going so he could be prepared.
  • Set up the registries online first. You won't have to sit around in the store while you tell them your address, and your fiance's address, and your mom's address three times each.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • If there are big ticket items you would like (say, furniture at C&B), but you are hesitant about having that $500 head board on the registry, add them the week of the wedding. That way you can utilize the completion discount after the wedding to add these pieces to your home.
  • Register for pots and pans separately. If you can register for the individual items versus registering for the set, do it. A $400 set of Calphalon pans is pretty big gift. A single saute pan or sauce pan might be a little easier.
  • Go wild and crazy in the store, add EVERYTHING! You can edit online.
  • We probably over-registered, I am in the process of giving everything a nice trim. But I also want to provide options. I've purchased wedding gifts at the last minute when the couple didn't register for much at all and what was left was not a fun, exciting gift I wanted to give (uh, Brita Pitcher or Vacuum Cleaner bags anyone?).
  • Hit all the price points. The Sur La Table sales associates said that gift-givers frequently purchase a "big" gift and then want something little to go with it, like a set of wooden spoons or some dish towels.
  • Finally think about the things that you really will have for a long time, that you'll use to build your home add these types of items to your registry. Obviously dishes, china, and silverware are the prime examples. I know these are the types of gifts I know I like to give when I am a wedding guest.
These are just my experiences and my honest thoughts on them. Anyone else have some good tips or experiences to share?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Miss Cleveland Park said...

Also, people LOVE using those BB&B coupons (I am guilty of collecting them too) AND they let you return for cash. I have heard horrible things about returning registry items to Target! Which is why we didnt register there.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Miss Fairfax said...

Same here. And most things at Target you can also get at BBB.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:52:00 PM  

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