Creating your registry is arguably one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. From perusing beautiful hand-made table linens to fantasizing about your first honeymoon dinner – you get to include items you’ve been dreaming of but maybe wouldn’t particularly prioritize buying for yourself. So, how do you choose the right type of registry for you, especially with the endless registry options that are now available?
From honeymoon funds to charitable donations, registry options have become multiplied and that can make choosing a registry daunting. Do you pursue the traditional wedding registry of tangible items and keepsakes, or do you choose an experiential registry that will create life-long memories? It is a good question and you want to get it right.
We’re here to help. We’ve provided insights on the traditional and experiential registries available to help you navigate the options so that you can make the right decision for you and your partner.
Brief History of Wedding Registries
The original purpose of a wedding registry was to help a newly married couple make their first home together. The initial version was called a “hope chest,” where a woman would collect items throughout her life in preparation for marriage. The bride’s family were typically the sole contributors and it was seen as a transitional symbol, from daughter to wife.
The first wedding registry was created in 1924 by Marshall Fields, now known as Macy’s. It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that registries, as we know them, became popular. At that time, people were limited to a handful of local retailers, and the items consisted of homemaking necessities like silverware, dishes, linens, and appliances. All the things to make a perfect home at the time.
Thankfully, with the rise of e-commerce, couples are no longer limited to a few stores and can create their dream registry from hundreds of retailers with thousands of items. Today wedding registry options are only limited by our imaginations.
Traditional Wedding Registry
For many brides and grooms, your wedding registry helps you build the physical and functional foundation of your life together – your home. As newlyweds, you are building your new life together and a wedding registry can help you create the home of your dreams.
Often when two people are physically coming together into a shared home, they are bringing together a clash of items and it can feel jarring when styles predictably conflict. With a traditional registry, you get to start over and pick what you want together. You have the opportunity to build your dream home with your partner.
There are endless options when it comes to creating traditional wedding registries. The top wedding registries in the U.S., according to Business Insider, are Amazon, Zola, Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, and Target.
The stores that have physical locations offer in-store consultations, home design and events. If you are feeling overwhelmed with choices, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn about what you want and need by shopping in-person and getting expert advice.
Traditional wedding registries may also offer a huge perk that can benefit your bottom line. Many registries offer discounts, sales and financing options for your guests and also for you.
For example, Amazon wedding registry provides your guests with alternative financing options when selecting a gift. And Zola offers 20% off any items on the registry that weren’t purchased by your wedding guests. If you aren’t in love with your gift or have changed your mind, almost all registries allow gift returns, but check their return policies before committing to be sure.
On the flipside, many people are getting married later in life. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average man is 30 and woman is 28 when they get married. More and more people have had the time to build their home with pieces that they love. Traditional registries may not be a great fit for them because their needs and their priorities lay elsewhere. Instead of the Cuisinart blender, they want to collect money for a deposit for their first home.
Another thought to consider is that most local and artisanal stores do not offer products on registries. So if you like curated and local goods, there aren’t any really great options for you at the moment.
Experiential Wedding Registry
Recently, there has been a huge trend in couples opting for experiential wedding registries. People want to create memorable and shared experiences over collecting more things.
Honeyfund is one the top experiential wedding registries available and has endless options for you to create beautiful memories and fun adventures on your honeymoon. Many couples see their honeymoon as the biggest trip of their lives and want to go all out. To have all expenses paid, or partly paid, can alleviate a lot of pressure and stress before and after the wedding.
There are many important considerations. With registries, you book in advance and there are no guarantees that your hotel room will be covered by Aunt Julia. So plan accordingly and do not overextend your budget. The weeks and days leading up to your wedding day are stressful enough that you don’t want the added pressure of dealing with taxing financial pressures of your honeymoon.
Also, if you don’t enjoy your purchased sunrise surf lessons, you cannot return your experience. Make sure to read reviews and to think through if it is an activity you’d really enjoy.
For altruistic couples, a recent theme has been creating a wedding charity, where all donations go to the couples’ charity of choice. This has gained tremendous popularity as minimalist couples don’t want a lavish wedding or honeymoon and want their wedding to have a higher purpose like giving back to their community.
Another great option is to opt for cash gifts! This is especially true for the aforementioned couples who have already created a home together and have no need for more home items. With the cash option, you can create categories for people to gift towards – basically crowdfunding for a financial goal. Some popular categories include starting a family with a four-legged fur baby, paying off student loans or creating your dream kitchen. We recommend choosing a fund that people are really excited about versus stating you want cash. Get them excited about supporting you with a tangible goal.
But be aware that Aunt Julia may get annoyed that she has to pay a service fee to give you the gift of cash. Typically you have the option to put the fee on yourself or for your guest – the choice is yours. If you choose to accept the fee for yourself, your guests will not know that there is a fee and that may alleviate any questions or concerns from your guests.
If you are having trouble making a decision on which type of registry to choose, we have great news! You can have the best of both worlds. Registries like Honeyfund and Zola are making it possible for you to have your cake and eat it too – you can have your teal toaster and a honeymoon fund on the same platform. This makes it easy for your guests and you don’t have to settle. You can get exactly what you want without making any sacrifices.
Remember that no matter which registry you choose, your guests really appreciate an easy and convenient platform to provide you with the perfect gift that reflects how much they love you. Let your guests know what really matters to you and they will do their best to give you the gifts that truly celebrate your big day and union.