Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on January 7, 2010
Today we’re joined by one of Australia’s oldest and most renowned gift registry founders. Karaline Loiterton founded Wedding List Company in 2003. Now they have a fantastic user freindly website and four retail outlets (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane) allowing couples the ease and simplicity when creating a wedding registry.
Tell me about yourself?
I studied Business Degree in Marketing and Finance, but I started my professional life as a Fashion Office Assistant at Vogue Australia. I then realised that my call was in the marketing arena. After two years as Product Manager with Yardley Australia, I moved to London with the L’Oreal Luxury Group where held marketing positions on Helena Rubinstein, Giorgio Armani, and Lancôme. When I left London, I was the Marketing Director of Clinique for the Estée Lauder Group.
How did you come up with the idea of starting a wedding registry business?
The idea for Wedding List Co came when I was living in London and planning my wedding in Italy. Already a logistically challenging wedding to arrange, with guests arriving from all over the world, I suffered further agony having to contend with the only available, outdated gift registry in Australia at the time. So following my less than inspiring experience with a department store registry I identified a clear gap in the market for a service driven alternative. From conversations with friends, many commented that it was the least fun thing about their wedding. It should be one of the best! You should feel like a child again and all your Christmases have come at once. So I wrote Wedding List Co’s business plan while still in London and continued to research the market and brands on return to Australia. And I haven’t looked back since!
The Perth Wedding List Company store
What is the ‘mission statement’ for your business?
We aim to “under promise and over deliver”. We are totally focused on providing a registry experience for the couple and their guests over and above the department stores.
How do you choose the products that you feature? What inspires you?
The buying team visits the Gift & Homeware fairs and pore through all the latest interiors press locally and overseas. Often new product or brand suggestions come from our customers. They might have returned from overseas and seen a great new brand or item and ask us to see if we can get it.
We aim to offer unique and niche gifts that you cannot find anywhere else, but also all the popular brands found in the department stores. With most couples already living together before marriage these days, they often tell us they have all the basics, so we are always looking for gifts that will excite the guests as well as the couple.
How do you differentiate yourself from other wedding registries?
The best service, the biggest range, plus four stores around Australia for couples to choose their gifts and guests to purchase from. We were the first specialist registry in Australia and continue to lead the way with the most comprehensive website and greatest choice of gifts. We not only offer great homewares but a huge choice of unique options such as artwork, Coco Republic furniture, and a Contribution Registry™ where guests can contribute to a honeymoon, mortgage or other lifestyle options.
Most other wedding registries are online only. This is very limiting for older guests who prefer to come in to a store to choose the gift in person. Couples who set up their list in store with us do so with the help of a Gift Consultant who gives advice from which plates fit in the dishwasher, to what cookware works on induction. These are questions you would be hard pressed to find an available sales assistant in a department store to answer.
We are dedicated to making the registry process the fun and stress free experience it should be. The complimentary drink while choosing gifts in store certainly helps with this!
In sourcing new products to add to your business, is it an instinct that tells you whether the product will sell?
Instinct but also 3000 registries with 80,000 gifts delivered in 6 years…so experience plays a big part now in what couples want, but just as importantly, what guests like to buy.
How should couples go about setting up a wedding registry with you?
For regional or overseas couples they can set up and choose gifts entirely on line. For those living near one of our stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or now Brisbane, we encourage them to come in for a consultation with one of our Gift Gurus who will give them help with choosing gifts and set everything up for them. All they need do is sip champagne and point!
What are the basic homewares couples should buy when setting up their first home together?
Most couples will already have the basics – an everyday white dinner set, some mixed glasses, cookware they bought while at University. Their bridal registry allows them to choose more qualitative items that they will use for entertaining and enjoy using everyday. We enquire as to their entertaining style and get them to think about what suits their lifestyles. Are they more likely to have friends over for a BBQ than a formal sit down dinner party? At the same time they need to think about entertaining in the future – will they host Christmas lunch or Friday night Shabbat? Guests prefer to buy gifts they know the couple will use for a long time. Many electricals and appliances only have life spans of up to 2 years these days. We encourage couples to keep their more traditional guests in mind when choosing gifts so there is something to suit every guest’s taste and budget.
Tea Set by Legle de Limoges
Do you ship your products overseas?
Many of our couples live overseas and we can organize the gifts to be shipped to them.
What do you see for your business in 3 years time?
To be the most recognized and respected bridal registry in Australia so that when a guest opens a wedding invitation and sees our name they are delighted as they know they will have a choice of beautiful gifts at great prices. And that every couple who comes to us will do so because not just 1 but several of their friends recommended our outstanding service.
What are your favorite wedding ideas?
We had a couple recently who said all they wanted was a beautiful dinner set. They decided upon the divine Legle de Limoge dinnerware from France in a rainbow of colours. As each piece is not inexpensive they said to their guests they wanted them to just buy one piece – a plate, or cup or bowl etc. They monogrammed the initials on the bottom of the guest who purchased it after they received it. They then invited them all to dinner (possibly at different times!) so they could appreciate their contribution. I thought it was so touching and will be a truly memorable symbol of their marriage.
What are the biggest mistakes you see couples making when setting up a wedding registry?
More recently there has been a trend in couples saying they would like to ask for cash in lieu of a gift. We undertook a survey* asking over 1000 guests their thoughts on this. An overwhelming 89% responded they felt it was distasteful and were uncomfortable. Many of those said they would just take a gift of their choice instead. The 11% who didn’t mind were of cultural backgrounds where giving cash is the tradition – such as Chinese, Greek and Lebanese weddings.
Vera Wang natural 4 piece place setting
Couples need to remember that the registry is as much about their guests as it is about them. Just because you ask it doesn’t mean you will receive! Guests will buy a gift or other as they choose and don’t feel pressured to use your registry or respond to your request for cash. The best way to encourage guests to use your registry is by choosing gifts with a large cross section of prices, ensuring there is plenty to choose from right up to the week before, and giving them the option of buying online or in store. These are things that Wedding List Co. offers.
*For full results see the attached press release “Guests prefer gifts”.
Cleverest ideas you’ve seen?
To be honest – some of the new functionality on our website! Couples are able to:
• Add a personalized message and photo to the top of their registry
• Mark a gift as a favourite to helps their guests in their choice
• Split expensive gifts into shares so guests can just buy a portion
5 things a bride should consider?
For her registry:
1. Will my guests have the option to buy online or instore?
2. Will I be able to easily add more gifts across different prices as they are bought or will I have to go back into the store (as with the department stores).
3. Will there be flexibility to swap some items in case of double ups or incomplete sets being bought?
4. Are there enough unique gifts for my friends who will want to buy something more personal?
5. Will I have to stay home on a weekday (as with the department stores) or can my gifts be delivered on a weekend (as with WLC!)
Thanks for joining us today Karaline! You can find more from Karaline and visit her in store via the Wedding List Company.