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Smart couples say 'I do' to value in wedding registries

From custom cakes and invitations, to flowers, linens and finding the perfect dress, today's brides face a flurry of expenses tied to the big day. Couple those costs with a not-so-blushing economy and it's easy to see why many are paring down their platinum wedding plans and saying "I do" to more budget-friendly options.

Whether it's trimming the guest list or cutting out couture for something more demure, happy couples in 2011 are finding smart ways to curb their dream wedding costs but still throw chic, personalized affairs that won't break the bank.

This reasonable approach is perfect for piecing together the all-important gift registry, too. These essentials will be what take you and your new mate well beyond the honeymoon, so it's important to cover all bases. But even this can get costly. According to bridal website The Knot, 88 percent of couples establish a gift registry with lists topping out, on average, at 151 items total. Remember, your guests are feeling the financial crunch, too.

So when you're setting out to select your shiny-new registry finds, follow these helpful tips from Black & Decker. That way, you'll be sure to score great items without putting too much strain on your guests' pocketbooks.

* Stay practical. Everyone loves a splurge. That's part of the fun. But for the majority of guests, pricey presents can quickly add up. Cash crunch or not, family and friends are forced to spend, on average, between $79 to $146 on wedding gifts. And for guests feeling the effects of a slumping economy, this can sometimes make for a significant financial hit. Scanner-happy brides and grooms should remember practical picks, too, keeping in mind that lower prices don't necessarily mean having to skimp on high style and function. So it's always thoughtful to choose useful items that don't break the budgets of your RSVPs. After all, guests just want to help you start your happily ever after off right. Help them help you ring in the matrimony by picking budget-friendly options that carry style and value across the threshold.

* Kitchen essentials. Food for thought: Never ditch the kitchen. A whopping 90 percent of registered couples ask for kitchen appliances and electrics. After all, it's the heart of the home and the perfect place to stock up on go-to gadgets for culinary crusades with your new spouse. The toaster, for one, is a classic and coffeemakers are key to starting every morning off right. Space-saving starter homes can always use a countertop oven when cooking for two, while blenders are perfect for whipping up smoothies, milkshakes, salsas and dips. There's no telling what the future may hold. But with brand-new kitchen appliances, you'll at least be covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two-and any new additions that may come up along the way.

* Newfound newlywed features. Marriage may not always be easy. But your new appliances can be. And since home is where the heart is with your better half, register for products touting the latest technology and features to at least help your cohabitation run smoothly. Irons, for one, are anything but flat these days as cord-reeling features make for easy storage and vertical steaming capabilities help you skip the ironing board and knock out wrinkles right off the hangar. Toasters have gone digital, blenders come with to-die-for die-cast stands and the latest coffeemakers, like those from Black & Decker, are touting Sneak-A-Cup technology (for quick cups on the go), plus the always-practical programmable brew settings for no-fuss his and hers cups so you can greet the dawn effortlessly each day. So tie the knot. Just let high-functioning features help free up your time together.

Visit for more information on smart solutions for registry essentials.

- ARA Content