What Couples Want Now
Wedding and bridal shower gifts for the inspired home.
Wedding couples need you more than ever. As they plan to set up their homes, after paying for an expensive wedding — the national average wedding cost for 2014 is $26,347, according to TheWeddingReport.com — they look to their wedding and bridal shower gifts to fill their home with essentials.
And these days, since wedding couples are marrying at older ages and combining two fully stocked households, the word “essentials” now extends beyond a blender and sets of towels. Now, wedding couples want unique, stylish housewares and décor items to paint their dream lifestyle. Bridal and home magazines call this dream lifestyle “inspired living.”
Keep this keyword in mind when it comes to ideal wedding and bridal shower gift offerings: blending. Couples are blending their homes and their lives, and the housewares and gift industry has some blending of its own going on.
“One gem of today’s wedding gift trends is the blending of elegant housewares and gifts as categories in the retailer’s mind,” said Perry Reynolds, vice president of global trade development for the International Housewares Association. “We’re seeing these come together.” It’s all in the design of those charger plates, the high-style elements of housewares that can be proudly wrapped and given as gifts far more satisfying to the giver than “I gave them sheets,” and far more satisfying to the recipients to receive items that help detail their dreams, as they emulate the room and entertaining styles they pine for on inspiration sites like Pinterest, Lover.ly and Houzz.
“Two years ago, we saw that weddings were starting to include home accessory products in wedding and bridal shower design,” said Kerry Amidon, product manager for Checkerboard. “Wedding couples now regularly buy housewares and décor items for their wedding and bridal shower — such as colorful pillows for lounge areas at weddings — and then take those décor items home.”
Amidon said that monogrammed pillows are especially popular. “After adding to the Big Day, these wedding-used décor items remind the couple every day of their happy occasion, adding a level of joy and sentiment to their home.”
Given wedding couples’ penchant for stylish, high-design items, you become a prime source for those unique finds that depart from home supply store usuals. Here are some standouts in the three top gift categories:
Gift items in this category add style to everyday dining and entertaining, to impress couples’ cocktail party guests.
• Platters and trays. In wood or bamboo, the natural look for platters or handled trays is a top choice; platters also may be classic bisque to coordinate with china patterns. In the Bordallo Pinheiro collection, textured serving plates in themes of cabbage, tomatoes and other edibles are on trend.
• Cutting boards and food boards. Themes like fun foodie, rustic and retro top the trend lists for useful boards. Look to Joseph Joseph’s glass worktop savers, in top designs such as bento box, tea crate, orange, red onion and new meatball and hotdog designs to suit a culinary flair.
• Trivets. Heirloom-style trivets, or elongated modern trivets like Joseph Joseph’s Stretch 100 again blend style with safety, protect that pricy dining room table from hot platters and add to the appeal of the holiday-set table.
• Flutes. The classic flute gets an artistic makeover with a metallic-rimmed edge, or with a thumb notch, as in Govino’s 8-ounce notched flutes pairing with other glassware.
Additional houseware ideas include noncardboard coasters, vases, cheese and knife sets, chalkboard-front carafes and tea accessories like loose leaf tea balls and tea presentation boxes.
• Framed art. Hung on the wall or propped on a tabletop behind a bar or dessert table, artwork later adds to the inspired home. Amidon said that Checkerboard’s framed art, including an ampersand print, also has been used at weddings behind the guest book and by the wedding gift envelope birdcage.
• Bowls. Wedding couples can’t get enough of stylish little ceramic or faux leather bowls that can be used as mini organizers, to drop keys in at the front door, to drop change in and so on. For a wedding blend, Paloma’s Nest based in East Lyme, Connecticut, makes sentiment-stamped ceramic bowls — a top sentiment is “Be Happy. Be Loving. Be True.” — used to present the wedding rings during the ceremony later become a home display item.
• Lanterns. Rachel Elvgren, manager of Tommy’s Folly in Cape May, New Jersey, said that a top décor item that wedding couples love is lanterns, in various sizes, such as her best-selling bamboo lanterns by Roost. For indoor or outdoor use, lanterns set a stylish tone for entertaining and range from classic European looks to rounded Asian-inspired metallic designs.
• Decorative plates. As wall hangings and shelf décor, decorative plates add home magazine-style to inspired living. Look to collections like Vista Alegre’s collaboration with Christian Lacroix, such as the Lacroix Forum collection inspired by a 19th century French town, and the colorful mosaic Lacroix Picaissiette collection.
Additional décor items include frames, charger plates, bud vases (especially 1920s/1930s-inspired ones,) small heirloom-style mirrors and candlesticks.
‘The Little Things’
• Self-inking stampers. “Much like a wedding, wedding correspondence is personal and intimate. Every detail in thank you notes and in future married correspondence should be personal and reflective of the bride or couple,“ said Libby O’Regan, sales and marketing director for Bluffton, South Carolina-based PSA Essentials. A monogrammed stamper, notably one with a multi-use like PSA Essentials’ patented Peel & Stick technology that lets you change out a wedding theme for an everyday monogram design, adds to the thrill of being married with each use. “Self-inking stampers are on trend because they have that DIY (do-it-yourself) feel that brides love, but in a very nice way.” PSA Essentials carries a fashionista collection of stampers designed by Bonnie Marcus, with best-selling styles being Wallace and, for weddings, the Jacobson.
• Boxed stationery sets. In your mind, blend the elegance of fine stationery with fashion, such as stiletto motifs for the bride’s personal stationery, and for the couple’s stationery set, think neutral colors such as top-trending gray, eggplant and berry, with a simple flourish or monogram letter.
• “Blended” wine accessories. Elvgren said, “One of our most popular gift items is a Cape May wine opener and bottle stopper set, handmade for us in Mystic, Connecticut, by M&W Coastal Goods, at a price point of $40.” Think wine duos or packaged sets of wine accessories to make more of a high-value impression than a single bottle stopper.
• Ice cube trays. An entertaining goal is to have a fabulous bar and serve drinks with flair. Look to Tovolo’s King Cube ice cube trays for party-pleasing square cubes, as well as the company’s highball cylinder ice molds for ideal add-on gift potential.
Additional ideas include decorative-cover boxes of elongated matches, coasters, quote-printed trays, bottle openers, drink pourers and heirloom-style magnifying glasses.
2. Personalized items with a monogram letter for the couple’s new last name or the especially trendy first initials divided by an ampersand.
3. Capturing a special location, such as where the couple married. Rachel Elvgren, of Tommy’s Folly in Cape May, New Jersey, said: “We sell a lot of big-day-reminiscent beach-theme items, like ceramic shell serving bowls by Two’s Company and hand-painted turquoise and coral photo frames by Bella Fiore in New York, as wedding gifts. ‘Location’ items, then, convey the locale’s feeling, without needing to be stamped with the city name.”
4. Unique sentiments. “Live, love, laugh” has been around a long time, so while couples love statement décor pieces, they want the quote to be unique. Also on trend, French wording, as seen in Casa Alegre’s C’est Magnifique line.
Wedding Gift Registries
If you have or plan to establish one, terrific. A registry can establish a relationship between the wedding couple and your store, but so too can offering gift cards. It’s now etiquette-okay for wedding couples to add to their personal wedding website’s registry page a note sharing your store’s URL for gift cards “that will allow us to shop at our favorite gift shop now and in future seasons.” So be sure your gift cards don’t expire. Wedding couples will come in to shop for seasonal items they didn’t register for.