Many of the gifts Tammy and Joe Esposito unwrapped after their April wedding had arrived in neat little boxes -- the crystal vase, for example, and the silver photo frame. But cardboard and white-and-silver gift wrap couldn't hide the long, odd shapes of the lawn rake and garden shovel they also received.
Garden tools? These were among the items the couple wanted.
They registered for the rake and shovel -- and French-door handles, a front-porch light, a doorbell and patio lights -- at a Home Depot hardware store.
"I've been on my own for 10 years and I have a lot of practical things -- the bakeware and all," Mrs. Esposito said. "We bought a house six months ago, so we decided to register for things to go toward the house."
The Espositos and an increasing number of couples around the country are forsaking traditional silver and china registries. Some are selecting gifts at hardware, craft and houseware stores in addition to department stores. Their choices reflect their lifestyles.
"Brides are getting older," said Elizabeth S. Bailey, a Baltimore wedding consultant. "They aren't coming out of their parents' homes, and they have everything they need -- sometimes two."
For couples merging two near-complete households -- or couples starting from scratch -- many options for gift registries exist in this region. Here are just a few:
Two years ago, the hardware chain's Southeast regional manager heard about a bride who returned her department-store-bought gifts and used the money to buy things she wanted at Home Depot. The manager proposed a gift-registry service for the chain, and it has met with success in many cities.
At Home Depot, an employee will accompany a bride and groom through the store to help them select items. At the Towson store, for example, one couple wanted friends and family to give them materials and tools to add a deck to their house. Home Depot helped the couple make a list of everything they'd need.
Known mostly as a kitchen store, Williams-Sonoma offers practical and trendy cookware, electric appliances, porcelain dinnerware and furniture. Stores are located in Glen Burnie, Baltimore and Towson. At the Towson Town Center's Williams-Sonoma, a couple may include in their registry items from Hold Everything (also in the mall). The two stores are owned by the same company. Hold Everything sells such items as hampers, hangers, jewelry boxes, sweater bags and compact disc holders.
Crate & Barrel
This store, located at Towson Town Center, offers items for the home, the kitchen and the yard. Patio furniture, linens, fajita skillets, even birdbaths can be found here. The gift-registry packet is organized and informative, allowing couples to browse through the store and log the items of their choice.
Pier 1 Imports
The home-furnishings chain sells furniture, stoneware, ceramics, baskets, planters and picture frames, among other items. Some stores in the chain offer a handwritten gift registry. The list is available to shoppers only in the store where the bride or groom registers, but some stores will send the list to other Pier 1 stores. (Neil Sawyer, customer service director for the Texas-based corporation, says a computer registry allowing buyers to check the list from any Pier 1 store has been proposed. It may be available by next March, he says.) Check the location nearest you; the chain has eight Baltimore-area stores.
At this travel agency in Hunt Valley, couples can register for their honeymoon. Gift-givers contribute to the cost of the trip. The registry program includes bonuses, such as travel discounts and champagne.
The Bombay Co.
The store features 18th- and 19th-century English reproduction furnishings, and has a card-file registry system. Out-of-town guests can inquire at any Bombay Co. store about a bride's registry at another store. Stores are located in Columbia Mall, Marley Station Mall, Owings Mills Town Center, Towson Town Center and White Marsh Mall.
Accents in Bath Fashions
A bath boutique in Towson Town Center, Accents offers a handwritten registry for towels and bathroom accessories.
For 30 years, this Ruxton gift shop has had a handwritten registry helping brides select from items including crystal, photo frames, furniture and casseroles. Gift-wrapping and delivery are among the services offered.
Linens & Lingerie
This boutique in Ruxton has a card-file registry allowing the bride and groom to choose monogrammed linens and towels. Lingerie
for shower gifts is also available.
A specialty department store at the Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, it has a handwritten gift registry. The store sells housewares, garden items, hardware and furniture.
Tomlinson Craft Collection
This craft shop at the Rotunda shopping center in Baltimore and at Towson Commons in Towson showcases pottery and blown glass. In a handwritten registry, couples may choose from handmade vases, pie plates, place mats and other decorative accessories. Custom framing is available.
It's an eclectic store carrying handcrafted goods, including colorful pottery and linens. There are 15 stores nationwide, including stores in Towson, Baltimore and Annapolis. Handwritten registries kept on file at one store can be faxed to other locations.
Wicks N Sticks
This candle store offers a handwritten bridal registry. Stores are in Towson Town Center, Marley Station and White Marsh Mall.
ACCENTS IN BATH FASHIONS
A bath boutique in Towson Town Center, Accents offers a handwritten registry for towels and bathroom accessories