Oh no, not another crock pot!

Today’s bridal registries go beyond appliances and towels

Courtesy Of Abbott and Jamson Photography

Once upon a time bridal registries were intended to help young couples get settled in their new home. But with people getting married, and remarried, later in life, registries aren’t what they used to be. Many brides and grooms already have enough dishes, towels and wine glasses to make a small fortune at a garage sale. As a result, couples are populating their bridal registries with things they want, instead of things they need.

Why ask for a crystal vase when what you really want is a romantic dinner at a fabulous beachfront restaurant in Kauai? Many couples agree, and they are opting for gifts to defray the cost of their honeymoon. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to open an account with your favorite travel agency and have guests contribute to it.

A proliferation of new Web sites makes it easy for guests to “give” specific components of a honeymoon, like show tickets in Las Vegas, a helicopter ride in Maui or a night at a Florentine villa. On HoneyLuna (www.honeyluna.com) and The Big Day (www.thebigday.com), couples can register for such elements of their honeymoon. All the money ends up as one big hunk of cash for the happy couple to spend as they wish, but the site gives the impression that guests are buying something tangible rather than just writing a check. This convenience comes at a price: these sites charge various service fees, so make sure you read the fine print. Both sites offer honeymoon planning resources and you can even book your trip online through HoneyLuna.

The Wedding Channel (www.weddingchannel.com) also offers a honeymoon registry for anyone with reservations at a Sandals all-inclusive resort or a Starwood property. Guests simply contribute with their credit cards and the couple receives the total amount in cash.

Specialty gifts
Home Depot has become a popular registry destination for new homeowners; after all, if you just bought an old fixer-upper, you’re more likely to need paint and power tools than a crystal serving plate. You might not wear a headlamp with your wedding gown, but if you and your hubby spend every weekend hiking and camping, a registry at REI is a great option. Wine lovers can uncork their true desire by registering for their favorite varietals and wine accessories at Morrell Wine (www.morrellwine.com). If you’re looking to avoid the monotony of big-box retailers, see if your favorite boutique offers a gift registry option. For example, Atmosphere Home in Midtown (www.modernatmosphere.com) does.

Couples who either don’t know what they want or want it all can register for everything from cookware to electronics to scuba gear on www.amazon.com. Felicite.com (www.felicite.com), while specializing in baby registries, also connects you to a number of independent retailers selling everything from kitchen gadgets and bedding to fine art and Italian pottery.

Even social causes don’t escape bridal registries these days. The environmentally conscious can shop for recycled and sustainable home and garden products through Organic Weddings (www.greenfeet.com) and socially conscious fiancés can turn to Global Exchange (store.gxonlinestore.org) for fair trade gifts, food, home decorations and more.

Charitable gifts
If you’ve got enough stuff and feel like your guests’ presence is an ample gift, consider asking guests to give a donation to your favorite charity in lieu of a wedding present. You can also use the I Do Foundation (www.idofoundation.org) and JustGive.org (www.justgive.org) to set up a registry through which your guests can make an online donation to the charity of your choice. These sites maintain a list of the donations made in your name so you can properly thank your guests. The I Do Foundation also offers another way to drum up charitable contributions: If you create a wedding registry through its Web site at a number of partner stores, such as Linens and Things, Amazon, Macy’s, Target or REI, up to eight percent of your guests’ purchases will be donated to the charity you choose.

A word about etiquette
While it’s becoming more common to stray from traditional gift registries, you still don’t want to overlook traditional social decorum. Consider these rules of etiquette:

Most wedding consultants agree that it is tacky to include registry information in your wedding invitation. Instead, spread the word about your registry through friends, relatives or a personal wedding Web site. (Including registry information in a shower invitation is okay, experts say, since the primary objective of those events, other than wearing silly hats and playing even sillier games, is gift giving).

Register for items in a variety of price ranges to accommodate guests with varying budgets.

Consider setting up one “typical” registry (e.g. Macy’s or Target) for guests with more traditional leanings.

Always send a thank-you note, preferably within three months of the wedding.