When Cindy Lok, a 31-year-old personal manager, got married in September in Universal City, she expected guests to fulfill her bridal registry requests for fine china. But she was delighted to discover that two friends honored her request for something not so traditional: an outdoor barbecue set.
"We have a little patio area, and we thought it would be nice," she said. "Sometimes we just don't like to dirty up the kitchen. It's very convenient to barbecue once or twice a week.
"Also, since we're a two-career couple, time is of the essence. It's important that we just make time to sit outside, eat and relax. I also registered for plastic plates. I thought they would be great, but no one bought those."
Lok and her husband, Richard Grad, a 30-year-old corporate litigator, discovered that, after living on their own for years, they did not need to register for items such as a toaster or coffee pot.
"We both had tons of everything possible," Lok said. "We registered for that china because we thought it would be just nice to have. But you know what? We never use it."
Bridal consultants from a variety of stores in the San Fernando Valley report an upsurge in requests for unusual wedding gifts: Fine china is fine as long as couples can dine alfresco or pop a tape into their new VCR.
What has prompted this break with tradition? Many men and women are postponing marriage to devote their energies to their careers.
"People are probably waiting longer to get married because they want to wait until they become productive," said Mark Imhoff, a psychologist at Toluca Lake Psychological & Counseling Services in Burbank. "You usually want to wait until you have something to offer."
That something to offer may very well be an apartment full of domestic goods.
"The brides are a little older," said Dolores Bragg, bridal consultant for Robinson's in Woodland Hills. "Some are repeat or encore brides who already have all of the basics. Or, you're getting a bride and groom who've lived together, and they already have a lot of things. Or, if they've lived separately, they're coming together with two households."
Request for Computer
Electronic devices top the list of non-traditional requests. "Someone asked for a cordless phone; someone asked for a large-screen TV. One person asked for a home computer," said Lisa Barad, a sales associate at the May Co. in Sherman Oaks.
"The bride who registers at our store is very interested in electronics," said Errol Masliah, manager of the Van Nuys Adray's china and crystal department. "People are getting very modern. Brides register for stereos, VCRs, microwave ovens and TVs. We have this cordless phone with a clock on it that's a very popular item."
As for the brides themselves, "they're definitely in their mid-20s up to their mid-30s," he said.
At the Broadway in Sherman Oaks, brides have listed VCRs, answering machines and camcorders. "The brides are still trying to be traditional with their china and they're very concerned with their table tops, but they also ask for electronics," said bridal consultant Judi Mosby.
Pursuit of fresh air and sunshine seems to be the motivation behind some of the requests reported by Valley stores.
"Dinnerware is still the most important item in registries," said Cheryl Jackson, assistant manager at the Pottery Barn in Woodland Hills. "But about one-third of the brides ask for unusual items. A lot of brides have asked for hammocks."
"Beach umbrellas, beach chairs and picnic baskets are very much a favorite," said Mosby. "People also ask for barbecues and all the utensils."
At the May Co., garden tools are suggested as one of the items under "miscellaneous," and brides-to-be have penciled in such requests as lawn chairs "and a wooden picnic table with wood benches," said Barad.
Items of a more personal nature--perfume, jewelry, lingerie--are showing up on bridal wish lists. Said Mosby: "We do a lot with the lingerie, yes. They can select particular sizes and colors. Of course, some brides don't want that kind of information out--it's too personal for them. It really depends on how shy the bride is."
According to bridal consultants, most women aren't shy about including their grooms in the decision-making process.
Grooms Come Along
"I'd say 80% to 85% of my brides bring in their grooms," said Mosby. "The grooms are very, very active in selecting. Fifty percent of those grooms do all the cooking, so they are the ones who select all the cookware and the electrical appliances."
Leslie Hyde, assistant manager at Williams-Sonoma in Woodland Hills, agrees. "Brides come in and say, 'My husband-to-be is very serious about cooking. He's going to pick out everything.' "
And what do all these galloping gourmets select? "People get carried away," Hyde said, laughing. "They'll ask for our bread baker, which bakes a loaf of bread in four hours. You just throw in the ingredients. And they're very interested in our Italian ice-cream makers and espresso makers."