1 of 12
When it comes time to browse for your wedding gifts, consider pairing your traditional destinations with one or two unexpected ones. With years of expertise and unrivaled customer service, these local stores and mom-and-pop shops prove to be no small potatoes in the registry business. What's better? Their craft in curation can keep you on track, so you don't lose focus on your dream items -- like that Lenox china or a Le Creuset cast-iron Dutch oven.
2 of 12
With a 7,000-square-foot retail space at its flagship location in San Antonio, Texas, Hanley-Wood can offer hundreds of china, silver, and crystal patterns for the modern bride; some popular choices include Juliska in “Berry and Thread” and Spode in “Woodland.” It’s no wonder that registries make up around 50 percent of this 47-year-old shop’s business. Even with a lengthy list of bridal clientele, associate Kathleen Mackerer ensures service is never compromised. “Our bridal-registry consultants spend hours working with each bride to help her craft the perfect registry and have helped generations of South Texas brides,” Mackerer says. A second retail location operates out of Corpus Christi, Texas.
3 of 12
When brides stop by California-based Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, they may leave with a persimmon-and-slate-gray Shallow Salad Bowl or an aqua Multi-Stem Vase, both designed and produced by the company. “Options!” communications director Regina Connell declares, are what separate Heath from the pack. Its brick-and-mortar “conventional registry” is for brides who want the classic experience of building their wedding wish list in person. Brides can also opt for Heath’s virtual registry without sacrificing selection or availability -- now, or later: “Many of our ceramic shapes and glazes have been in continuous production since the 1950s, so registrants can add to their collection for years to come,” says Connell. “As we evolve our products and glazes, we make sure that they'll blend beautifully with pieces that have come before.”
4 of 12
First opened on Martha’s Vineyard in 1998, LeRoux Kitchen operates with the hospitality and service of a local shop but with the selection and prices of a larger retailer. It has quickly evolved into a Northeast go-to gadget store for practical homeware and kitchenware, like Wusthof cutlery, All-Clad cookware, and Le Creuset bakeware. With additional locations in Portland, Maine; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Scarborough, Maine, and a user-friendly website to boot, its colorful and marine-designed merchandise is splashing into the homes of couples from all zip codes. Don’t sign off on your registry until you’ve added one (or two or five) of this shop’s imported oils and vinegars, in flavors like Summer Peach and Tuscan Herb, to your wish list. The kitchen staples are bottled on-site and will give you just one more reason to head back long after you say “I do.”
5 of 12
Edgecomb PottersThe descriptor “everyday porcelain” may seem like an oxymoronic classification of china, but products of this variety –- durable and beautiful –- fill the shelves of Edgecomb Potters. Although its handcrafted staples, like mussel trays, whale-tail mugs, and serving platters, feel one-of-a-kind in their own right, the company will also sell unique one-off pieces from its collection if a couple so desires. Pottery pieces shine as this shop’s main attraction, but wares made from mediums other than clay are sure to grab your attention. Find the retailer in Portland, Freeport, and Edgecomb, Maine, or arrange a personal tour of the Edgecomb-based production facility.
6 of 12
There is no shortage of shoppers or shops lining downtown Charleston’s King Street, but bride after bride elects Vieuxtemps among the hustle and bustle to oversee their registries. Manager Natalie Taylor explains, “We know our brides and therefore can steer their guests who come in or call in to purchase for them.” Bridal registries add up to about 65 percent of Vieuxtemps’s business, and it has a carefully curated and extensive inventory to show for it. Registrants can dress their formal dining tables with pieces by Herend China and Simon Pearce Handblown Glass, among others, which blend easily into both inherited collections and mixed ones. With a genuine interest in each couple and a dedication to help craft the perfect registry, the ladies of Vieuxtemps seem to take on the role of an unbiased mother of the bride rather than a salesperson. Even so, brides can choose to maintain their registry lists independently through a personalized and shareable link.
Swipe here for next slide
7 of 12
Ladles & Linens Kitchen Shoppe
Ladles & Linens Kitchen Shoppe, first opened in the sleepy Southern town of Lexington, Virginia, stays stocked with high-quality kitchen basics, like stainless-steel measuring cups and sharp-bladed knives. The practical inventory of long-lasting essentials created a loyal following and called for expansion to Richmond and Roanoke, Virginia, to meet demand. Registrants will enjoy the attentiveness that this smaller operation can offer, like complimentary gift-wrapping for out-of-town purchases, because it is coupled with the benefits of a nationwide department store. For example, the store uploads a store credit equal to 10 percent of the amount purchased from the couple’s registry onto a gift card, so the couple can round out their homeware needs once they return from their honeymoon.
8 of 12
TableArt, based in L.A., has the reach of a chain store because it is dedicated to tiered pricing -– categorized as “small, medium, and large” –- and sells its own branded collection alongside a sizable list of unique entertaining pieces. Home-dining registry favorites include Dibern Bone China in “Black Forest,” Adam Gold Matte flatware, and TableArt Tumblers, but you can view the complete product list on its meticulously updated website. TableArt celebrates quality and quantity. Its beautiful merchandise might have gift givers wondering if the pieces are in fact functional because like its name suggests, the products truly are table art.
9 of 12
Kneen & Co.
A Chicago-based private salon, Kneen & Co. challenges the notion that there is no place for luxury on a registry. Since 2010, president Mary Jeanne Kneen’s discerning eye for exquisite products has helped couples craft dream wish lists. With the selections, after all, “You are truly building the foundation for your home and life together,” explains Kneen. For this reason, consultants assist a couple until the final piece -– whether classic Le Creuset cookware or personalized silverware –- is tracked down. Just as couples are not limited to a prescribed inventory, they are also not subjected to stiff counts: All items can be purchased individually or as a set. Brides in cities from the Windy City to international locales choose Kneen & Co. because they seek a registry full of pieces that are sure to be future heirlooms.
10 of 12
We categorize Gretel Home, an online-first shop, as a small business because of its pop-up-style marketplace that hits the Miami area annually. The Web business is based in Florida but ships to every corner of the U.S. Because Gretel Home connects with shoppers typically through an interface, “it’s important that products have an emotional element to their designs and are handmade or have a handmade feel,” explains owner Abby Kellett. “These qualities bring warmth and personality to our customers' homes and help make them uniquely theirs.” How does this little fish compete with the larger fish in the online registry business? Easy: It partners with myregistry.com, streamlining the technical process, so it can devote more time to hunting down the pretty, modern finds that its clients adore, like Mepra’s Linea Ice Oro gold-plated flatware, Nouvel Studio’s Apollo tumblers, and Neo’s crocheted rubber bowls.
11 of 12
The idea that wedding registries can and should include fun items inspired the online boutique HORNE, which launched in 2008. Gifts like this orange propane fireplace by ModFire and twisted chandeliers by Workstead tempt couples away from a list limited to conventional kitchen needs. Couples with a modern aesthetic will find HORNE’s selection liberating, and free shipping will keep all gift-givers happy.
12 of 12
Reaching brides from the capital to the beach, A Mano believes its “classic approach” to building a bridal registry is what gives its brick-and-mortar stores -- one in Georgetown and a second in Naples, Florida –- staying power. While some shoppers may find on-site shopping and the largely French and Italian tableware collections restricting, other brides are drawn to the worldly inventory and individualized service. “We are not for everyone,” explains owner Adam Mahar. “Our customers have a discerning eye and allow us to help them create unusual table settings that can’t be found everywhere.” Julia B. linens, like the couture covers shown here, are a popular pick among brides, as is William Yeoward Crystal.
Swipe here for next slide