If you already have the home staples, an alternative wedding registry might suit you better than a traditional gift registry.
When Kristian Navickas and Anuj Thirwani were planning their May 2016 wedding, they knew they didn't want to use traditional gift registries. “We're almost 30 years old and have everything—we have two sets of everything,” Navickas says.
So they asked guests to skip the boxed gifts. Instead, they opted for an alternative wedding registry, along with a small Amazon gift registry for their guests who preferred to send traditional gifts.
Gift registries traditionally were meant to furnish a newlywed couple's recently combined household. But younger generations are seeing more couples who are getting married later in life and cohabitating before the wedding, meaning they've already established themselves and don't need the same help stocking up on everyday essentials.
“I think, in general, people don't want things that they have to re-gift,” says Laura Frazier, founder of locally based Bliss Honeymoons travel agency. “A lot of them are already living together and already have a home.”
For partners who are already sharing a living space and—like Navickas and Thirwani—already have excess from merging their belongings, or those who simply want to prioritize other expenses over items, honeymoon or other alternative wedding registries can be a better fit than gift registries at big-box stores.
The Gift of a Honeymoon
Honeymoon registries often are set up similarly to department stores' online gift registries: Couples decide what they want to do during their honeymoon—whether it's scuba diving or a winery tour—and each activity is listed individually with a cost on the registry. Many registries also include allotments for accommodations and dining options. Alternatively, some couples go the crowdfunding route, asking guests to contribute to a general honeymoon fund.
Couples can choose between countless wedding registry websites, and some resorts and travel agencies, like Bliss Honeymoons, have registries built into their site. General registry sites are even more customizable. Although Navickas and Thirwani planned a honeymoon in French Polynesia, they decided to use Honeyfund to set up a “down-payment fund” registry to help save for their first house. Navickas says some of their friends liked the idea and later used Honeyfund for their own weddings.
“I think our honeymoon registry is very tastefully done,” Frazier says. “We put a lot of different items on the registry, anywhere from $50 to $500. We include excursions, spa treatments, tours, meals.”
Frazier estimates that 95 percent of the couples her company works with use a honeymoon registry. And while they're very popular with her Central Ohio clients, she does still occasionally see certain stigmas associated with honeymoon registries versus the traditional gift registry route. That's because while items on honeymoon registries are typically associated with a specific intended use, the gift comes in the form of money.
“It seems to be an upbringing thing,” Frazier says. “Some people are raised [with the notion] that it's tacky to ask for money, and some people don't have an issue with it.”
Caryn Coomer, founder of Lewis Center-based Calyco Travel, says many of the couples she's worked with in the past have been hesitant to use a honeymoon registry for the same reason. So as an alternative, she offers group gift options for friends or coworkers who want to pool their money and contact her directly to purchase a honeymoon experience gift, like a candlelit dinner or dune buggy excursion.
While Navickas says she and Thirwani weren't worried about negative perceptions of an alternative wedding registry among their families, it was mostly guests their age who used it.
“Everyone knows that millennials are very experience-oriented and want to spend their money on that instead of things, so I wouldn't bat an eyelash if I saw a honeymoon registry,” she explains.
Like all other wedding-related decisions, it comes down to what's right for each couple and their families.
How It Works
First, you'll want to choose a registry website, unless you're working with a travel agency or resort that has its own. Popular wedding registry sites include Honeyfund, Honeymoon Wishes, Traveler's Joy and Wanderable.
Next, you'll need to decide what type of registry to use. Honeymoon registries typically are free to use, but fall into one of two categories in terms of how they make money, according to Frazier.
“They either take a percentage of what the bride and groom get, or they charge the person giving the gift a small fee,” she says.
In creating Bliss Honeymoons' registry process, Frazier wanted to ensure that couples receive 100 percent of their gifts, so the registry charges a fee with each purchase.
“The fees are super small,” she says. “On a $50 contribution, I think the fee is like $4.50. And if you think about how much it costs to get a gift, wrap a gift, ship it, it's actually pretty convenient.”
It's also important to consider the timing of when you'll need the money versus when you'll receive it. “Most people make contributions [to a registry] a couple weeks before the wedding, and the honeymoon has to be paid for in full 45 days before departure,” Frazier says of honeymoons booked through Bliss. She advises her clients to plan to pay for the trip beforehand and use the funds from the registry to essentially reimburse themselves or as spending money while traveling.
“I'm actually finding more and more that the couples that are getting married are more experienced travelers than maybe 10 years ago,” Coomer says. “So I think it's interesting that people now are wanting to do your more exotic vacations.”
Frazier echoes that sentiment. “We have been booking a lot of Iceland [trips] this year,” she says. “We've gotten a lot more requests for Thailand and Bali this year, and of course the Caribbean and Mexico are always super popular.”
Whether you're planning a trip that'll be relaxing, adventurous or both, honeymoon registries can include a wide variety of activities. Popular experiential gifts include tours, cooking classes, bed-and-breakfast stays, zip lining, museum visits and more.
“I think a honeymoon registry can be really tasteful,” Frazier says. “It gives their guests a convenient way to give [the couple] a gift that they know for sure they're going to use.”