Love and lifestyles

Gift store operators can generate better-than-average revenue from the proper merchandise of their bridal registries. Some of the items that could be marketed effectively are picture frames for the bridal portrait, rings and jewel boxes, and an assortment of wedding invitations. Retailers can also offer items that will reflect the varied religious and other backgrounds of the couples.

Rings and jewel boxes

Rings and jewel boxes

Rings are an important part of weddings and are one of the oldest wedding traditions. The wedding ring is a mark of both spiritual bond and commercial contract. Usually, it’s a diamond engagement ring for the bride with both bride and groom receiving rings for the popular double ring ceremony. You don’t sell wedding rings? But do suggest that the bride list a ring holder or small jewelry box on her registry. Both are excellent shower gifts. If it is to be a “couple” shower, as so many are, listing a jewelry box for him would be a nice gift suggestion. How about ultrasonic jewelry cleaning machines as an excellent wedding or shower gift?

Invitations vary

WEDDING

One of the greatest changes in the rituals of weddings involves wedding invitations. The classic traditional engraved invitation, with black ink on fine-grade paper, is often by-passed for pastel borders, floral designs, theme-related or photo-featured invitations.

Today, invitations often include the names of both his and her parents, or all parents and step-parents if there has been divorce and remarriage, plus, in many cases, the couple’s names as well, “jointly” inviting you to share in the happy occasion. The joint effort is as old as invitations themselves, but “new” again in this decade.

While many brides will opt for the “new age” invitations, those selling invitations will need to know the “why’s and wherefore’s” of traditional invitations to advise the bride on what is the “preferred” way.

Then there is the matter of showers. Friends throw “him and her,” “his or hers” and “her” showers. A “him and her” gift registry shower list would include do-it-yourself tools or kits and gifts that could serve the couple jointly, such as clocks, cookware, small appliances, games, gourmet baskets, breakfast trays and travel diaries.

“His or her” shower gift suggestions include mugs, breakfast trays, bath and desk accessories and informal patterns of dinnerware, flatware and stemware. Traditional shower gifts for brides include lingerie and personal gifts such as a purse mirror, lipstick caddie and items for her dresser.

Gifts for varied backgrounds

Gift

Couples in 1996 will often celebrate their differences in religion by having a marriage ceremony that includes the blessings of dual officiates and the lighting of a Unity Candle, which brings disparate backgrounds in religion into harmony. Are you prepared to meet these needs by having Unity Candies and pedestals available, as well as a Bridal Mail Box for collecting gifts of money brought to the wedding, shower and guests registry books, pens, wedding planning books, cake tops and sixpence? Marriages today may be multi-racial, multi-religion and multi-family. If there are children from another marriage, do you suggest a family medallion for each child to help the child relate to the new marriage in a positive way.

Since many of today’s brides and grooms both work, couples are pitching in together to make an apartment, condominium or house a home. They blend decorating ideas from their years alone into one creative environment. Cooking, cleaning, children or children-to-be demand their combined energy. Many find that “take out” food is an alternative to cooking as they settle in for some quality time. Wine glasses, lap trays, napkins, mats, napkin rings, fun dinnerware, flatware and stemware are appreciated, so suggest them.

For the do-it-yourself couples, gifts such as coffee, espresso and cappuccino machines, bread-making machines, blenders, mixers, kitchen gadgets or any small appliances make the perfect gift.

Favourite Gifts

The all-time favorite hobby of Americans today is gardening. With many “gardens” planted within the confines of a window sill, patio or balcony, your bridal registry should capitalize on the trend by displaying an array of garden-related items. There are water fountains, bird baths, statuary, bird feeders, planters, cachepots, vases in all shapes and sizes, tools, sundials, wind chimes, watering cans and herb kits with seeds and pots. They should be a part of today’s bridal registry suggestions.

Fiscal reasons for registries

The bridal market encompasses $35 billion, as measured by 159 products and services. Since the bridal market represents only 2.6 percent of all U.S. households, amazingly it accounts for 11.5 percent of small kitchen appliances, 10.4 percent of linens and domestics sold, and up to 75 percent of all fine china dinnerware sales. The bridal couple clearly represents a disproportionately high share of all total retail sales.

There is a reason: high acquisition rates in a short period of time, particularly when compared to established households. The bridal couple must acquire a wide array of products and services within a brief period of time. They have a deadline no other customer has — the wedding date. It’s during this period of compression that marketers must have an impact on these prospects with their messages.

Today’s couples have grown up during a period of the greatest prosperity and affluence in our nation’s history. In entering their lives, their aspirations and expectations have never been higher. Nor has their ability to fulfill them been greater. They belong to a generation of young women and men who are the most sophisticated, highly educated, economically capable consumers in history. Career-oriented, acquisition-conscious, confident of themselves, today’s newlywed couples are determined to begin their new lives together with the best of everything. Is your store prepared to meet their needs and expectations with your bridal registry?

DORIS NIXON, a registered bridal consultant, is director of educational services for the National Bridal Service, Richmond, Va., which provides advertising, training and merchandising services to more than 400 member stores. Mrs. Nixon is co-author of the books “Your Wedding and How to Enjoy It” and “Make Room for the Groom.” A leading retailer for many years, she is considered an authority on creative table settings. She will be happy to answer your questions.