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OLDER AND BOLDER : Ask and Receive : Registering at a store--even the hardware store--is perfectly proper for the over-40 bride, consultants say.

June 21, 1990|AURORA MACKEY ARMSTRONG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the over-40 bride, the idea of registering for wedding gifts may seem, well, a bit presumptuous.

After all, with enough stuff accumulated over four decades to make any house bulge at the seams, it isn't exactly as if she and her intended are starting out from scratch.

And then there is the issue of good friends. Many have already been more than generous, arriving with lovingly wrapped offerings each time she made a trip to the altar.

Bridal consultants say that registering is fine. What's more, they say, it's especially important for older women planning a large ceremony--even if it's not their first trip down the aisle.

"People will want to give gifts, but they don't have a clue what to get the older bride. So registering is really a service to your guests," said Millie Martini, associate editor of Bride's magazine in New York.

On a more selfish level, Martini said, there also is the practical side to consider. "You may have a set of dishes," she said, "but not the set of china you always thought you and your husband would have. Or, if you bought crystal goblets years ago, chances are you only have a few left."

Toni Valley Johnston, a 42-year-old public relations director in Marina del Rey who married for the first time last year, noted another advantage to registering. "To put it delicately, when you get married at an older age, your friends can match your personal taste. They're in a position to give you what you want. A friend of mine registered at Gump's."

But if brides think the only items they can place on their wedding wish lists are the typical fare such as china and crystal, they should think again. When it comes to registering for gifts, Martini said, the only limitation is the imagination of the bride and groom.

"You can register in hardware stores, for lawn furniture, in museum shops so they can give you a replica of an incredible work of art you adore, or in some gourmet and specialty stores," she said. "This is for people who say to you, 'You have everything. What can we get you?' "

Oxnard bridal consultant Myrna Kessler said she tells clients that they can register virtually anywhere. "Almost anywhere you go in and make a selection, they will take it," she said.

"You can walk into a pet shop and say, 'I want these dogs for my wedding.' Registering is not a romantic issue," she added. "It's financial."

That isn't to say that some registries are perhaps more tasteful than others. Kessler, for example, frowns on what she said is a popular place to steer gift-hunting wedding guests.

"People are registering at travel agencies for their honeymoon. It's kind of tacky," she said. "They're also doing it for sports equipment, as if, sure, the bride really wants a good set of golf clubs."

One thing to keep in mind, bridal consultants say, is that just because a bride has asked for a certain present, it doesn't ensure that she'll get it.

Tracy Cabot, author of "Marrying Later, Marrying Smarter," learned that lesson seven years ago, when at age 42 she married for the first time. "I needed dishes like a hole in the head, so I asked for sod for the front lawn," she said.

"No one would give it to me, though. They gave me rosebushes instead."

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