We know you don’t want to look greedy, but when folks find out you’re getting married, one of the questions you’re sure to encounter is, “Where are you registered?” So get on it!
National wedding magazines and websites tout the world’s Targets and Williams-Sonomas, but did you know some Southeast Wisconsin small businesses offer registries, too? These boutiques sell stand-out wish list items from hand-crafted and heirloom-worthy pieces to interior design hours. Read up on four of them—your registry is about to get a whole lot more interesting!
Why you’ll love it: “Embelezar is best described as a well-traveled home furnishing store for those with a bent for gracious living,” says owner Suzanne Rafenstein, whose Third Ward boutique showcases exotic, artisan-made furniture, textiles and accessories from here and abroad. Right now, some of her favorite items are hand-painted coasters from Peru, hand-blown glass lamps from Rhode Island, boiled wool throws from India and hand-dyed silk velvet pillows from Philadelphia.
“I like to support small businesses as much as possible,” Rafenstein says. “Just as a couple would consider their wedding a special and unique day, registering at a small store emphasizes the consideration they have for making the day their own.”
How to register: Simply stop in. Rafenstein or one of her associates will help you compile your wish list as you browse the shop, which has been curating registries since the original Chicago store opened in 1997. When you’re finished, they’ll email you the final list, along with photos of each item. Guests can work with associates in the store, by phone or via email to make purchases—Embelezar doesn’t offer online shopping. Once it’s been selected, “your gift will be packaged and shipped with great attention,” Rafenstein says.
When to go: Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday: noon to 4 p.m.; or by appointment
George Watts & Son
761 N. Jefferson St., (414) 290-5700
Why you’ll love it: One word—tradition! A family-owned institution, George Watts & Son has been setting gift-giving trends since 1870. “Our customers know that we scour the earth for products that are unique and stylistically a ‘cut above,’” says CEO Sam Watts of the company’s heirloom-quality merchandise, which hails from labels such as Wedgwood, Seguso Viro, Mary Jurek and Baccarat. “Whether it’s sterling silver flatware or fun, funky giftables, Watts is truly an emporium for all home and gift-giving connoisseurs,” he says.
Though the items found here may be a bit pricier than those in big-box stores, Watts explains that it’s value at work: “Value is more than price and brand; value is an inherent quality that allows items to transcend time,” he says. “Your home is unique, you are unique, and you want to outfit your surroundings with things of quality and meaning, not junk that you’ll toss into the Dumpster in two or three years.”
How to register: Visit the store when you’re in the neighborhood (perhaps dining at their tea shop) or make an appointment. Either way, a consultant will work closely with you through the whole process, making recommendations based on your lifestyle and tastes. “We make sure things are done right the first time, and when the few inevitable errors do occur, you know how to get them resolved and how to find me,” says Watts.
Well wishers can select gifts in-store or online, and Watts ships anywhere in the U.S. (there’s free shipping on online purchases over $150). Registrants will enjoy lots of incentives, including a post-wedding completion discount.
When to go: Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
383 W. Brown Deer Rd., Bayside, (414) 247-9976
Why you’ll love it: Past Basket adds a hint of lavishness to your daily life. “We offer everything from stemware to bed linens,” says Ashley Evans, manager of the luxury home shop. Though some of the store’s offerings change with the seasons, the goods always appeal to a wide variety of tastes.
“Choose items you love and that you can use often,” Evans suggests. While couples certainly could celebrate special occasions with items from Past Basket, many of the brands carried there are geared toward the day-to-day. “Simon Pearce glass is one of our favorite things,” she says. “The products are beautiful, well designed and can be used for everyday living.” She also nods to their Juliska tableware. “It is made of stoneware, so every single piece in the line can be put in the dishwasher, microwave and oven.”
How to register: Though Evans recommends at least one store visit to see your gift choices in person, the entire registry process can be done online—initial selection, list adjustments and purchases. Past Basket, which has offered registries for about a decade, ships gifts and provides complimentary packaging. And after you’re married, you can take advantage of the registry completion program to check off remaining items at a discount.
When to go: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Susan Fredman at Home
401 E. Silver Spring Dr., Whitefish Bay, (414) 332-4600
Why you’ll love it: “We like to think that we offer that something special—that thing or things that really make a home not just functional, but fabulous,” says Jessica Arendas, Marketing and PR Director for the Susan Fredman Design Group which also has three boutiques (here, in Chicago and in Michigan). “We are a small shop with big design dreams, so the attention we give you is unparalleled anywhere else,” she says.
Having designed spaces for 36 years, the pros at Susan Fredman can help add character to your home from floor to ceiling. “The caged light chandelier and the chevron-hide rug we have in our Whitefish Bay store are my absolute favorites right now,” she says. “We also have a pretty killer selection of dinnerware…and if you can’t find exactly what it is that you’re looking for, chances are we can custom-order most anything for you,” she says. Perhaps the shop’s most unique registry item isn’t an item at all, but interior design hours, which newlyweds can use to refine their look.
How to register: First, Arendas says, “it’s important to take a step back and look at what you both already have, and then plan out your space, either with us, or on your own.” Then, meet with a registry consultant at Susan Fredman at Home. “You’ll walk the store, point to things you love (and hate) and tell us about your ideal home,” she says. The consultant will pull together personalized suggestions and assemble the registry, which features several perks for you and your guests in-store or online. Gifts can be picked up in person or shipped to your door or theirs.
When to go: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
So, where do you plan to register? What tops your wish list?