edding season is officially here. And just like the bride and groom, as guests you, too, have lots of plans to make. There are travel arrangements to be made, outfits to plan . . . oh, and don’t forget the gifts.
When it comes to gifts, items related to the kitchen are dominating wedding registries. More than 90% of couples register for bakeware and kitchen appliances, according to a poll from TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com.
According to Kristin Koch, senior editor at WeddingChannel.com, now is an especially great time for foodie couples to get married.
“New innovations and technologies have really made their way into the kitchen,” she said. “There are so many cool gadgets on the market to make your life easier.”
But what exactly should you get these cooking-loving couples?
The new age of weddings
A generation or so ago, getting married at 21 was the norm, and living together before marriage was taboo.
These days, the average age for a bride is 29 and for a groom, 30. And 73% of these couples cohabit before getting hitched. So it’s safe to assume that many couples already have a good stockpile of kitchen gear before they even register.
“That’s why registries are especially helpful now,” Koch said. “You know you’ll hit a home run with a good gift because they picked it out.”
But what if all the good stuff is gone? Or nothing is left in your price range?
“If you get them something really personal or thoughtful, couples really appreciate it,” Koch said. “Or if you know the couple very well, it’s totally fine to stray from the registry.”
When Oak Creek residents Erica Foregger, 34, and her husband Chris, 36, got married in 2007, their registry was like a big kitchen wish-list. “Before Chris, I didn’t cook at all,” she said. “When we were dating, we’d cook a big meal every Sunday. And when we moved in together, it really became part of our lifestyle.”
Some of their favorite wedding gifts were big-ticket items, including a coveted KitchenAid Stand Mixer and a bright red Le Creuset Dutch oven. Less expensive items, such as a wok and cast-iron pan, also were big hits because they use them constantly.
“I also love gadgets,” Foregger said. “We use our pineapple corer, mango slicer and lemon juicer all the time.”
Soon-to-be married couple and foodies Brittney Horn, 24, and Ryan Lynn, 25, of Waukesha are excited about their nuptials this September. But after living together for a year and a half, they’ve acquired more hand-me-downs than good-quality kitchen items.
“I don’t even care about the bedroom,” Horn said. “Our registry is all about the kitchen.”
A local food blogger, Horn loves creating healthy dishes, such as homemade pizzas and vegetarian entrées, with Lynn. Although they would like to receive kitchen basics, such as a nice set of pots and pans, they are most excited to get fun kitchen items: a compact ” griddler,” crème brulee torch or non-stick silicone baking mat, for example.
Buying the latest trends
In the past, fine china, real silverware and fancy serving platters were must-haves for newly married couples as a way to entertain. According to Megan Potter, owner and wedding planner of Milwaukee’s Dare to Dream Weddings, couples these days are much more casual.
“More people want to cook and entertain informally at home,” Potter said. “There is a push for supporting local farmers and making things from scratch.”
This is what makes more offbeat items, such as an immersion blender, popular. It’s great for making puréed soups and salad dressings from scratch – a perfect way to prepare or adorn in-season produce.
Mandoline slicers are great for preparing vegetables or making your own potato chips. “They are a big thing right now,” Potter said. “Before, people didn’t even know what they were. Now they are on every registry.”
Eco-friendly consumerism also is a trend, embodied by everything from bamboo cutting boards and silverware to bowls made out of recycled materials.
Totally Bamboo specializes in products like these. According to its website, bamboo is a 100% renewable resource, and it can be replanted every 4½ years after harvesting. Some fun gifts for couples include its Puzzle Party Platters ($14.99 for two), Sushi Gift Set ($35) and dishwasher-safe GreenLite® cutting boards ($11.50-$40).
Weddings aside, buying local has been a huge trend for years. Milwaukee Food Tours is one way to support local businesses while diving into local food culture. Wedding guests can purchase gift cards online, and the bride and groom can select a tour route and date that works for them, from the famed Bloody Mary Brunch Tour to a walking tour through Brady Street.
A different neighborhood or food theme is explored during each tour. While sampling flavors from the area’s best restaurants, a guide also points out architectural highlights and shares historical trivia.
With two locations in Milwaukee, The Spice House makes buying local easy. With more than 30 gift boxes, there is a seasoning set for every type of cook and baker. If you’re looking to play it safe, the Spicy Wedding Deluxe Gift Box is stocked with items every cook can use, including Garlic Pepper Butchers Rub, vanilla bean sugar and even a pepper mill ($49.95). The Basic Spices Deluxe Gift Box offers variety and value – $39.95 for 10 jars, including Hungarian sweet paprika, Greek oregano and chili powder.
For the coffee lover on your list, consider buying a coffee-of-the-month subscription from Milwaukee’s own Alterra Coffee Roasters. A six-month subscription starts at $110; a 12-month subscription at $195 (available only online). In Alterra’s stores you can find a variety of coffee brewing devices, including the Moccamaster ($279).
Rishi Tea makes gift-giving easy with 12 different sets. The Green Tea Gift Set ($45) features organic Japanese steamed Sencha and organic Chinese pan-fired Dragon Well green teas, plus a Tsuki teapot from Japan.
Although digital recipe collections are quickly becoming the future of cooking, vintage cookbooks are timeless gifts. According to Joe Desch, district manager of Half Price Books, you can pass them down from generation to generation. Books he suggests keeping an eye out for include Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” “The Joy of Cooking” and old Betty Crocker cookbooks.
“They make great gifts because there is an emotional tie to them,” Desch said.
And when it comes to any wedding gift, isn’t that what really matters?