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Don't yearn for china or crystal? Rather have a scooter — or a trip to the south of France — than silver? These days, you can register for just about anything.
From the 2002 New York Weddings Guide
Jasper Morrison Sofa
When Young Mi Kim and her husband, Tim Talbot, moved in together a year before their wedding, they realized that they had more household wares than they could possibly ever have use for. "I'm 36," Kim explains, "and he's 39. We had way too much stuff. So when it came time to register, I went on all these Websites like Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy's, and I realized we didn't need any of it." But Kim did have a little crush on a co-worker's scooter. "It was a little white Scarabeo," she says. "It's less well known than a Vespa, but so cool." So Kim and Talbot, who are from San Francisco, hunted down a local dealer for the Italian manufacturer, Aprilia, and asked if they could register for the bike. Wedding guests just called up and made contributions until the bike was paid for. "It was fun," she says. "I wouldn't have done it any other way. Now we're not stuck with enamel egg poachers and gold-plate toilet brushes that we need to re-gift."

Kim and Talbot are typical of a lot of couples getting married these days. Brides are rarely blushing their way out of their parents' homes on their wedding days, setting up apartments for the very first time. Many couples already live together by the time they decide to marry, and have, out of necessity, stocked up on all the blenders and Pyrex they'll need. Sure, they might want fine china, silver, and crystal for formal dinner parties they plan to give in the distant future — and they register for those, too. But if you live on take-out sushi, and don't know where you'd store a soup tureen — let alone what you'd do with it — the concept of asking guests to contribute toward something more lifestyle-compatible can be seductive. "We registered for Tiffany white china," says Sasha Charnin Morrison, the fashion director of Allure, "but we also registered for a Nintendo and games at Macy's. It was just so much more us."

BMW Roadster
Enter the unusual registry. Basically, you can register for anything you want. Brides who register at Barneys and Bergdorf's in the housewares department and then take a store credit, which they put toward Balenciaga handbags, are old news. "I hate the idea that I gave my friend shoes for her wedding," admits one wedding guest. In general, your friends want to give you something that you need and want, but they'd also like it to have a longer shelf life than a season or two — and that doesn't necessarily mean they have to buy you a gravy boat or a pair of silver candlesticks. At the Mercedes dealership on West 41st Street, you can register for, say, an SL500 convertible. On, a wedding-planning Website, you can register for everything from croquet sets to BMW roadsters.

Another increasingly popular choice is to register for art. "I like this idea because it's something we'll have forever," says Anne LeVine, a photographer who will be married in September. Most galleries are glad to take contributions toward large pieces. The Pace/MacGill Gallery, for example, helped a couple who are photography buffs register for a Michael Rovner photograph. The gallery doesn't have a registry system, but when the couple asked, the management was happy to work something out.

Nurseries also take donations toward trees and shrubs for country houses and backyards. Marder's Nursery in Bridgehampton does a lot of trees-as-gifts. "People like to get trees for their weddings because they are a permanent living gift that will mature over the years and have memories attached to them forever," explains James McWilliams, a Marder's salesperson. "Flowering trees are pretty popular because when they're in bloom they'll be noticed. Cherry trees, pear trees. And specimen trees, like a copper beech or a beautiful evergreen, really make a statement. There's the romantic notion, sure, but it's also a gift that's not going to go into a closet and be forgotten."

Flat-screen TV from Sound by Singer.
And then, of course, there's furniture and electronics. "We're trying to figure out how to get a plasma-screen TV," confessed one bride. Sound by Singer, the high-end audiovisual store in Union Square, sets up large gift certificates to which guests make donations. The couple can then apply these toward a home-entertainment system. "Hey, it might be the only time getting that $20,000 plasma set is no problem!" quips David Lalin, a salesperson at the store.

Melissa de la Cruz and Mike Johnston have been living together on the Upper West Side for four years and are true design buffs — he's an architect, she's a fashion writer. They've spent the past few years renovating their small apartment, with visions of the modernist furniture they long to live with. For years, they've visited their favorite sofa, a Jasper Morrison design at Capellini; now that their wedding is approaching, they've registered for it — and for a couple of side tables. They've also registered at Moss, where they've spent many an afternoon staring at the sleek steel and porcelain sinks.

For the couple that really does have everything they need, guests can even make contributions to honeymoons. When Eric Lewandowski and Holly St. Clair got married last summer, they couldn't figure out what to ask for. "What we really hadn't had was time off together," Lewandowski said. "Just a week here, a week there. We'd always wanted a longer time to travel together, but it's hard to take the time, and hard to afford the trip." A monthlong trip through Italy was the best gift they could imagine, so they registered with, one of several sites that perform the service. They planned the trip themselves, itemizing all the expenses they would encounter. Then, they listed the itinerary online. Guests visited the site and paid for days of their vacation: dinner in a special Florentine restaurant, or a night at a hotel in Rome. After the couple got married, Honeyluna mailed them a check (after lopping off a small commission) so that they weren't locked in if they wanted to change their itinerary. "I just got a thank-you note from some friends for the tribal-dancing lesson they took on the beach in Bali," said a guest from another wedding with a travel registry.

Usually, it's just a matter of figuring out what it is that you want. One New Jersey couple asked for donations on their mortgage. "I wonder if we could register for a prewar classic six," one bride-to-be mused. Unfortunately for this bride, Corcoran is the only place we've found that doesn't have a registry.

Photographs by Kenneth Chen.