Tuesday, September 21, 2010

myregistry.com vs. Amazon Universal Registry Review

The concept was so cool.  Pick anything for sale on the internet and have it listed on one centralized registry site.  Unfortunately, myregistry.com was one of those "better in theory" registries for us.  It ended up being our least popular registry.
Screen shot of main page
While it was fairly easy to add things on our end, it was a pain to manage once the items were added.  Unless I ordered every item manually, the site ordered items by price (so my bamboo cutting boards got separated from the mineral oil to clean them, etc.).

 Screen shot of the manual sort function
Also, I think it was not user friendly from the guest side.  Unless the guest knew exactly what they wanted to buy after browsing the initial page, the site would open a new window for each item, making it difficult to navigate back to the browsing page.
 Screen shot of separate windows
Anyregistry, our Macy's and Pampered Chef registries were completely cleared out and we had about 70% of the stuff still on myregistry.com.

My MOH, Emily, set up an Amazon registry that also allows you to add items from any internet site. 
Screen shot from Emily's registry - notice the cool priority ratings!
She had a few (ha! I should say she sent me a very thorough review!) thoughts about using the registry, and though she qualifies her insights as pre-wedding, I thought you'd find them really useful. 
  • It's too easy.  The little "add to registry" button installs in no time and lets you browse/add from anywhere that has a website. I also like that it adds an item picture and you can add comments. For universal registering adding, it's awesome. 
  • Inspiration is handy. The features like Top 100 Registered For Items and browsing Most Registered by Region are great sources of inspiration. There's also Most Registered by product category and a registry checklist, all with links. You can also browse other couples' registries - Amazon essentially recommends registries to you if you share an item or similar items, so you can see what else they have that you might want. But if you're squicky about privacy, this might be a turn-off, finding others' so easily - and knowing random people can also view yours. 
  • Prioritizing. Pretty sweet, and something I wish more registries had this function. If I want to let you know, without having to let you know personally and awkwardly, that while it's awesome that you want to buy us anything, we really wish you'd pass up the towels and go for the cordless drill, I just change the priority. (Remember to save your changes as you do this.) 
  • The organization is strange for both regular and Universal registering. I really wish they had a drag-and-drop, although I don't think traditional registries do this. But I want to change and arrange my registry like I do my Netflix. Amazon will add things as you add them. This means that if I add a balloon whisk, and then a day or two or a week later I add the flat whisk, they will be listed apart. If I want my whisks to show up together, I should delete the balloon whisk, then re-add it, and then add my flat whisk. Amazon will also add your Universal items as you add them. So yes, when we decided we wanted to register for additional sushi plates, I deleted the first one, and then added them all at the same time so they would be in a nice orderly row. If you are anal-retentive, this lack of symmetry will bother you, and you will end up doing this too.
  • Product Categorization isn't uniform: Amazon, not you, determines the product category. So even if I add them at the same time, my 10-inch cast iron skillet is listed in Other Kitchen, but my 8-inch cast iron skillet is in Sporting Goods. My medium and large cookie scoops are in Kitchen, but my small one is in Other Kitchen. I have no idea why they're different and I can't change it.
The offending skillet in the sporting goods section
  • The one long page of Amazon's registry is really nice; I don't need to scroll through multiple pages. In addition, it separates out my Amazon items into departments. Universal items are lumped together. You cannot change the default view from this and save it. You can temporarily arrange items to show by price or priority (which will include the Universal registers in the appropriate division) but you cannot save this. On your or your guests' next viewing it will show up again as the default.
  • The Guest/visitor view is a nice addition as well. I can see how my registry appears to a visitor. This shows how a guest views the registry, all cleaned up of empty categories. 
  • Amazon has a Shop This Store versus Buying Elsewhere feature. Amazon allows guests to 'reserve' purchases of items, in case they prefer offline shopping or hopefully find it cheaper elsewhere. We have not yet put this into practice, but I like the in theory concept of it. However, for Universal items, before viewing the item on its outside host website it asks you to confirm a reservation for purchase - I suppose the logic is that people would buy an item and then forget to mark it as purchased, leading to duplicates or confusion. But I don't know how you un-reserve an item if, for instance, someone wants to look at our tools and so reserves them on our registry for purchase, but then decides that with shipping it's too much. I'd assume there's a cancel feature in their confirmation email, but it's not addressed in the FAQ and I'm curious.
 Nice feature, but could get tricky if guests later change their mind or can't find in-store availability
  • No completion discount: This is only really pertinent if you compare Amazon to a traditional registry. As a Universal registry, of course they can't offer this, and it doesn't make sense. But we opted to create small in-store registries when we found ourselves registering for 10 items at one store, rather than adding to them to our Universal, in order to take advantage of a traditional completion discount. For non-Universal items, it would be awesome if Amazon offered me say even 5% completion on items registered for and not purchased through Amazon, but I don't see this happening.
  • Know your guests! We chose Amazon because our wedding is mostly peers and colleagues, as we both have small families and most are familiar with the internet and online shopping. We liked it because we can do massive online research to find the best products at the best deals and then add them - all without turning off the game or getting out of our pajamas or needing to find time when the store wouldn't be crowded. We haven't picked up a scan gun yet, and I don't think we'll miss it. For most of our guestlist, Free Super Saver Shipping is already a way of life, and so we hope there's ease for them as well. Amazon has great prices for most items, but be aware that you or more importantly your guests may be able to get a better deal on some items with sales or coupons elsewhere. And not everyone is on-board with online shopping, or they may just prefer to shop in physical stores. Expect this and be prepared for backlash if you have relatives or friends like this. This was also a factor in setting up a small in-store registry.
Next time I'll have Em do all of my reviews.  Seriously, home girl is THOROUGH. Must be all that grad school.

If you registered, did you have a registry flop?  What was your most popular registry?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Finds - Everyone but the Bride

I found a darling flower girl dress.  Then I found a handsome bow tie.  Followed by earrings perfect for the mother of the bride.  Rounding it out, I couldn't pass up these lovely satin bowed shoes.  And I found it all while looking for a wedding dress!  That's the way it goes sometimes.  I happened to be a bride who found my dress first, but I've heard many a story of a frantic bride finding a dress mere weeks before the wedding.  They were beautiful.  So all's well that ends well.  Even for this week's Friday Finds.

Clockwise from Top L:
Raleigh Vintage - Vintage 1950s Wembley Bow Tie
Nicole - Satin Kitten Heels
Mid State - 50s Silk Chiffon Party Dress
Flipping Out - Gold Filled Pearl Flower Earrings

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reflections on Marrying a Family

They say that you don’t marry a man, you marry his family.  They turned out to be right.  

We’ve been married 8 months and for 1 month of it, we’ve spent the majority of our time at the hospital.  With the family.  With our huge Jewish and Italian mix of a family who call it “The Family” as though we just stepped off the set of The Sopranos.  Where people yell first (they call it talking) and then eat.  Manga, manga!  

You think that you can control your family interactions.  You think you can control your life.  You can’t fully control either when someone is in the hospital.  You just have to show up and deal.  Sometimes, it’s a riot.  Everything is funny, everything is a joke.  Sometimes, it’s a riot.  Everything is like tear gas grenades and rubber bullets.  

Life is the place where dysfunction intermingles with quirks, grooms personalities, and intrudes into relationships.  The hospital is the place where dysfunction meets grief.  In the throes of that grief is where you realize you just married the family.  There’s no controlling it and there’s no escaping it.  

Thankfully, you also realize that you just married the family.  The family is full of life, faith, and hope.  The family is full of grandparents who take an interest in your work (welcome) and your love life (less welcome).  It’s full of enough people who love to eat that you know you’ll never go hungry as long as you’re in the family.  And it’s full of people who say, “Welcome to the family!  We’re glad you’re here.”
Photo by Sam Hughes
What has your experience been like marrying a family?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Friday Finds on a Monday - Pink and Blue Weekday

When life gets in the way sometimes you postpone a post.  Other times you get married on a Monday.  In the spirit of changing things up, of doing the unexpected, and weddings on a weekday, this Friday Finds is all about a city hall wedding.  I thought of a whole story, how the couple has had it up to *here* with wedding crapola.  How they dress in their Sunday best and turn their case of the Mondays into a marriage on a gorgeous day.  They say, "I Do" and then picnic at noon time in the city park.  Now that's cheery!
Clockwise from L:
Ties-Necktie - Striped Light Blue Silk Tie
Urban Pink Photography - City Hall
Ingenious Rehab - Vintage Feminine Powder Pink Organza Party Dress
Heirloom Angel - Guildcraft Glove Box and Two Pairs of Gloves

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Finds - Sew in Love

When I bumped into the round, stitched Song of Solomon verse, I felt that warm, almost autumn feeling where you want to wear a cardigan and sip pumpkin spiced lattes (or apple cider, or mulled wine!).  The color, the handmade elements of needles and thread - yes, they spoke to me of fall and falling in love.  From there, I found darling shoes for the teensiest of ring bearers, an ornament to commemorate your first holiday, sweet bobbies to hold your coif, and sampler style cake toppers.

Clockwise from Top L:
Cherie Wheeler Designs - Folk Art Christmas Ornament with Squirrels and Love
You Are With Me - Your Eyes are Doves
Magasin - Pair of Cross Stitch LOVE Hair Grips
Amu - Custom Baby Shoes
Primitives for Sale - Primitive Folk Art Sculptured Vintage Sampler Love Birds