Wedding registries have officially gotten crazy. Once an expected melange of baking tins, vases, dishware and linens, today brides and grooms register for cash, sports equipment, nights at a hotel for their honeymoon, art, and whatever else couples dream up. Probably because most couples already have many of the things that were once registry items (due to getting married later or living together first), the registry has definitely become more fun over the years—now there are even themed registries, with a popular one for conscious couples being a green or eco-friendly registry, which can include charity donations as well as sustainable items from green vendors (see more below). Wth the average wedding cost now having risen to $28,000, (or around $200 per guest), we guests are expected to step up and bring good gift. 

But this new world of registries can be confusing. I for one, have never bought anything from a registry for marrying friends, which Nancy Lee, president of a site that looks to make that process both easier and more customizable (you can register for stuff from various different sites),, says is probably in poor taste (though she does say it nicely, below). Here are some of her tips for what to expect from modern registries and how to (hopefully) get it right: 

MNN: Why have wedding registries changed?

NL: Thanks to the internet, where you once had to confine yourself to registering at a few conventional department stores, now you can register for absolutely anything from any store on the planet, even if the item comes from a store that does not have a gift registry.

MNN: What is an eco friendly registry? What kinds of items could a guest expect to see on them?

NL: Without a question more people are thinking about the environment and are very conscious about all of the waste that can be involved in planning a wedding. Using an online gift registry is a great place to start. You can go paperless with your registry announcements; choose items from stores that are conscious about packing and shipping materials and fill your registry with items that you believe in, like recycled glass dishes, composters and organic linens. Other eco conscious brides choose some of their favorite charities for contributions or strive for a carbon- neutral wedding through their registry.

MNN: What is your advice on deciding (as a guest) not to buy something on the registry?

NL: Gift registries are for helping the couple get the items that they want and need to start their new lives together. A lot of thought goes into creating a gift registry, and now with the flexibility that they offer, couples really do register for the things that they want, and they do not need to compromise. People who choose not to buy something from the registry are risking giving a completely obsolete or unwanted gift, which defeats the purpose of giving it. The greatest joy we get in giving a gift is knowing that it will make the couple happy and that they will use it.

MNN: Any more changes in registries on the horizon?

NL: Universal gift registries are capturing about 10% of the bridal industry and growing rapidly as more people learn about them. They make sense, and afford a flexibility, that you cannot get from just registering at a large department store. So they work perfectly for everyone from the most traditional bride to the most non-conventional one. Modern couples want a combination of items from big box stores and smaller boutiques as well as one of a kind items or vintage products. There is no one store that can cover everything, and thus, the universal system ties it all together. In particular, we find a lot of eco-friendly brides flock to

There is no green superstore at this point, and most of the items that they want come from smaller specialty websites; we enjoy being able to open up that possibility for them.

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

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