Everyone registers at Crate and Barrel or Target because it's easy and practical. But is it any fun? Do you really want to pour over one more Crate and Barrel registry looking for those wooden salad bowls? I think it's okay to shop off the registry, especially if you know the couple well and can buy them a meaningful gift without pestering them with questions about what they really want.
Why not a gift from the couples' (or your) favorite museum? For some ideas, visit this slideshow from the New York Times website: Help Make Their Home A Showplace. You may not have the budget for the $125 fruit bowl shown here, but you can get framed art prints, or coffee mugs, or a vase, or stationary sets... There are dozens of practical yet decorative ideas.
We reluctantly put together a registry and while I love every gift we received, I was pleasantly surprised by the off-registry ones. It was so touching that people knew us so well.
Of course, if you're dealing with a bridezilla who will not tolerate a unique, original gift, then you'd better go back to Crate and Barrel.
Photograph by Raeanne Giovanni-Inque.