Bride-to-be Nina Petersen-Perlman has been lusting after one since high school and can't wait to get past the wedding so she can spend more time with the love of her life: a shiny, apple-green KitchenAid stand mixer.

Like many brides of generations past and present, Petersen-Perlman put the iconic mixer atop her gift registry at Macy's. These brides say the best thing about getting married -- besides falling in love -- is finally being able to satisfy their thirst for nostalgia and adorn their countertops with the Holy Grail of wedding presents.

"I even joked that the main reason I would ever get married would be to get one," said Petersen-Perlman, of Minneapolis.

The mixer has had a longtime following and continues to be a coveted wedding gift, according to wedding industry experts. In a recent poll on TheKnot.com, 65 percent of brides said they registered for a KitchenAid mixer.

Cooks say it's the small appliance you can't live without, but even brides who don't cook or bake want one to display in their kitchens.

Then there's the occasional mixer enthusiast whose devotion runs deep -- from naming the appliance and working it into divorce agreements, to getting a tattoo and taking it with her to the grave.

"You can't imagine the things I've heard," KitchenAid's brand experience manager Deb O'Connor said of the woman who loved her mixer so much she asked to be buried with it.

Just like grandma

For cooks who grew up watching their grandmothers or mothers make homemade meringue and bread, the KitchenAid mixer is just as much a symbol of nostalgia as it is a kitchen tool to be passed down through the generations.

Jessica Gessner of Richfield registered for and received a mixer in Empire Red a few years ago. Even though she rarely uses it, she wanted one because its presence on her kitchen counter triggers memories.

"My grandma had a pink one, and I specifically remember her teaching me how to make her cookies in her mixer," Gessner said. "I tried to pick a color that would transcend through the years -- one that when my kids thought of growing up, they'd think back to making cookies in the kitchen with the red mixer."

KitchenAid now offers the mixer in nearly 50 colors and finishes such as Pistachio, Raspberry Ice and Yellow Pepper. The most popular color for newly married couples, however, is white because it goes with any decor.

No wedding, no problem

Known as the workhorse and the "John Deere of the kitchen," the appliance is valued by most users because it makes cooking easy and fun.

In 2008, Marina Schlesinger didn't see herself getting engaged anytime soon, but she desperately wanted a KitchenAid stand mixer. As the bakery manager at French Meadow Bakery and Cafe in Minneapolis, she was tired of digging out an old hand mixer to make her favorite breads and desserts at home, so she decided to splurge (the popular Artisan series retails for $350) and buy one for herself.

"It saves me and my hands so much time to continue prepping other ingredients. I don't have to stand and watch as things mix together," she said. "Funny enough, I did get engaged by the end of the year, but my machine had already gotten a lot of use."

Superstition has gotten in the way of Petersen-Perlman using her new mixer. She used it once for pizza dough before someone told her it was bad luck to use wedding gifts before the wedding. In the meantime, she pats it lovingly and waits for the day when she can reunite with the love of her life.

Aimée Tjader • 612-673-1715