James Dickinson photo
Let the inspired ideas from these Richmond shops take your wedding registry beyond the standard gift fare.
"The experience of registering and receiving gifts should be fun and exciting," says Joe Smith, owner of Hampton House (285-3479). Since the 1970s, his shop has offered a wedding registry; six years ago, the registry became available online, too. Hampton House specializes in china, crystal, silver, English antiques, and other rare or original high-end gifts. The shop also stocks more casual items such as bakeware, cutting boards, lamps and mirrors.
Hamptonhousegifts.com provides photographs and descriptions of all products, which couples can register for online. Items can also be added to the registry later, either at the store or online.
To offer ideas for compiling a Hampton House registry, the shop developed a gift guide; couples can peruse the guide online or in hard copy at the shop.
Hampton House offers free gift-wrapping and delivery in the Richmond area and can ship worldwide. Return policy: Anything regularly stocked (not special-ordered) can be returned for store credit.
Becoming a Chef
"Couples who register at The Compleat Gourmet are not necessarily people who love to cook, but they realize they will be," says owner Leslie Fellows. She adds that no two registries placed at The Compleat Gourmet (353-9606) are alike. "Everybody needs cutlery and cookware, but we always see a variety of different gadgets."
Favorite registry items at The Compleat Gourmet include the avocado masher, electric garlic roaster and FoldTuk Bakeware (collapsible and safe for the dishwasher, freezer, microwave and oven).
Couples can find other kitchen basics such as corn holders and springform pans, but The Compleat Gourmet emphasizes creative gourmet cooking and hospitality.
Newlyweds may want to host an authentic Swiss dinner for four with the help of a small raclette, which prepares a meal, similar to fondue, based around melted cheese. The shop recommends serving the cheese with a dark bread, boiled potatoes and pickled vegetables such as cornichons. Another dinner idea may be Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops in a creamy wine sauce) served in authentic scallop-shell dishes, sold in a box of four.
While The Compleat Gourmet has a Web site for registry ideas, Fellows says it's best to come into the store and work with her to develop the registry, which then goes live online at thecompleatgourmet.com .
Gifts purchased at The Compleat Gourmet can be wrapped and delivered or shipped. Return policy: If the bride has a gift receipt, the gift can be returned for cash; otherwise, the gift can be returned for store credit.
M.A. Hadley Pottery of Louisville, Ky., has been around since the 1940s, and it's extremely popular with couples who register at Murphies (359-4898). Artists apply their free-hand designs directly to unfired clay, then coat it with a porcelain-like glaze. The pottery is fired once for a permanent, signature style that will last for years.
Manager Courtney LaFonde recommends that couples work with Carol and Michael Murphy, the shop's owners, to choose the pottery for their registry: "They help the couple look at the different pieces and pricing."
First, the couple selects pieces from a list of baking dishes, plates, bowls, platters, cream and sugar sets, and pitchers. Then the couple chooses from the 15 M.A. Hadley patterns, such as the country life collage.
The handmade art glass, including the Berni candlesticks, is another very popular gift. Also called "marriage sticks," these items can be intertwined as one.
Family and friends who want to purchase gifts from a couple's registry can stop by the store or call. Murphies can also assist with shipping. Return policy: Items can be returned for store credit.
This last shop doesn't offer a registry, but it does stock gifts worth checking out.
Belle Kuisine (272-2811) highlights specialty housewares and gourmet gifts inspired by the region. The shop also can create custom gift baskets for the couple. For the bride and groom who love food and wine, the Virginia Wine Delights basket features two bottles of Virginia wine, along with snacks and candy from around the region. Gift baskets also can include cookbooks, utensils and kitchen accessories.
With all the wedding-planning decisions that need to be addressed, it can be tempting to set up your gift registry at the same chain all your newly engaged friends flocked to. But consider the inspirations from these local boutiques, and take the time to create a home that's truly yours.