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If you’re in the process of wedding planning, it’s likely that your guests will be expecting you to provide them with a registry, but if you and your partner already have a home together — or if you live in a small apartment — you might not need or want many household things to help start your married life together. Gone are the days of registering for full sets of china and silver, but the truth is most guests are still going to feel the need to buy you a gift and if you don’t provide them some guidance with a registry, you may end up with a lot of things you neither want or need.
That’s why we recommend that couples sign up for a registry program that allows them to register for more than just stuff. Honeyfund, for example, allows you to register for literally anything you can dream up. Their fully customizable registry builder lets you add home items, experiences, cash, and even gift cards for services like Spotify and Sling.
Not sure how to build out a registry that’s right for you and your partner? We asked our vendors what modern couples are registering for, and here’s their top suggestions.
Money for the Honeymoon or a Dream Trip
Obviously, this is what Honeyfund was made for! Your guests can help you experience the honeymoon of your dreams either by giving you cash through Honeyfund, or you can register for specific experiences. Hotel rooms, airfare, meals, excursions, and spa treatments can all be added, and with the help of your guests your dream trip can become a reality.
“We had a destination wedding and my family purchased things for us to do on honeymoon,” says St. Louis wedding photographer Raquita Henderson of Pinxit Photo. “Things we might not have splurged on were splurged for us and it was great.” Your friends and family want you to have a great time! Don’t be afraid to ask them for what you really want.
If you aren’t able to take a honeymoon right away, you can always register for a future trip, possibly even one that you’ll take for your first anniversary. “Couples should register for honeymoon payments, or even payments toward a future trip that they always wanted to take,” says Richmond, Virginia wedding planner Jonelle McLeod of Bryck and Lace Events. “Or even things like luggage, Uber rides, food, and theater experiences.” With Honeyfund, you can easily add an Uber gift card to your registry and never have to worry about how you’ll get back to your hotel after have one too many glasses of wine.
Money to Pay Off Debts and Student Loans
If a honeymoon is not a priority, then it really is okay just to ask for cash. The average person between the age of 25-34 (aka Millennials) has about $42,000 in debt, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, with a quarter of that debt coming from credit cards and 16% from student loan debt.
“A friend of mine recently asked, as a joke, ‘Can I put my student loans on my wedding registry?’” says independent stationery designer Molly Cichy of Ephemora. “But like... CAN SHE??” YES, SHE CAN. While many couples are hesitant to ask directly for cash, starting your marriage in debt is a major concern for most couples, and many are putting off marriage, home buying, or having kids because they can’t escape their student loans.
All wedding gifts are an investment in your future lives together, and most of your friends and family will understand and respect that getting out of debt can be just as important to your future happiness as a toaster or stand mixer. Add an item to your registry for your student loan payments, and even though you likely won’t be able to cover all your debt, it will help ease some of your stress as you start your marriage.
Money for a House or Home Improvements
Since so many young couples are entering their marriages with debt, buying a home is no longer a given for some couples. But if owning your own home is important to you and your partner, there’s no reason not to ask for cash for a down payment or for improvements to a home you already own.
“I love seeing clients put a house fund on their registry!” says Connecticut wedding photographer Teresa Johnson. “I’ve also seen home improvement funds. I think the key is to establish a registry for it so the guest has the experience of giving a gift, for those who might not prefer to give cash or a check.”
Every homeowner knows how quickly household and maintenance expenses can add up, but your guests who are renters might not be as ready to hand over cash for your home. That’s why we encourage couples to include a mixture of different items on their registry so that guests can choose which items they feel most comfortable purchasing for you.
“For my own wedding, we had both a honeymoon fund and a new house fund,” says Durham, North Carolina wedding planner and florist Erica Greenwold Reisen of Folie à Deux Events. “Several folks were excited to give towards our future house projects and maintenance, particularly other friends of ours who are homeowners themselves and understand how expensive it can be!”
If you have home improvements on the horizon but don’t feel comfortable asking for cash, you can always register for tools and products that will help you build the home of your dreams. For example, one item that my husband and I registered for that we use constantly is a Shop Vac! Create a registry that is full of things you will actually use, and your guests will be more than happy to gift you those items.
Funds for Your Wedding Photo Services, Albums, & Artwork
Registering for your wedding photos, wedding albums, and artwork is another new trend that we are so in love with!
“I’ve had clients ask if they can ‘register’ payments towards their wedding album, and their friends and family bought them pages and upgrades on their wedding story,” says Raquita. “I always think that’s a sweet thing because a wedding album is a great tool to help you remember how much you love each other as you go through life. The first time it happened was at the wedding. Their families crowdsourced their whole album during the reception.”
Some photographers have even built this into their business model and offer the ability to set up a wedding registry for photography services and products. Greenville, South Carolina photographer Latoya Dixon Smith of One Union Studios lets her clients register for any of her services and products, allowing clients to get help covering the cost of wedding photography, prints for them home, or even anniversary photo sessions.
We’ve seen a shift in the last few years where couples are scaling back on the costs of their wedding day, yet more and more couples are understanding just how important it is to invest in great wedding photography. Including your wedding photography as part of your registry may help you hire the photographer of your dreams, and that’s an investment that will maintain value throughout the course of your entire marriage.
“I offer a photography gift registry, and more and more often, I'm seeing couples that might not be able to afford the kind of photography they want use this option to make up the difference between budget and desire,” comments Missoula, Montana photographer Meera Mohan-Graham. “I love it because I think they're choosing memories over 'stuff' as a gift (in a situation where that is a negotiable choice for them, especially couples that have been together for a long time and live together/have what they need), which is beautiful. It also makes my work accessible to people from a variety of socioeconomic circumstances.”
Functional Household Items Only
If you do decide to go the more traditional route and register for household items and products, make sure you’re selecting items that are functional, useful, and that you will love for years to come.
“Couples should register for functional things for the house you’ll get real use out of or things that make sense for YOU as a couple, not things you feel like you SHOULD have on there,” says Atlanta, Georgia photographer Raven Shutley of You Are Raven. If you are your partner are already living together, then I encourage you to take a look at your routine and ask yourselves if there are things that will make your daily lives easier, make chores go faster, and allow you to invest more time in each other. Additionally, are there household items that you want to upgrade, but have been hesitant to take the plunge? Make a list of items that you will actually want and use, and pick items for your registry that will either get regular use or will last for a long time. A few items on my registry that I use every day include an Aeropress coffee maker, a coffee grinder, a Litter Genie for our cats, a nice full length mirror, throw pillows, and planter pots for gardening. Every day when I use one of these items, I get to be reminded of the sweet friends and family that gave them to us, and it warms my heart.
Finally, when in doubt, asking for your guests to make a donation in lieu of gifts is a wonderful ideas. “Donations to charities and causes that mean a lot to you is also a great option for your registry,” says Raven. Some of our favorites to add to your registry include Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, the Human Rights Campaign, the Center for Transgender Equality, and The Native American Rights Fund.
No matter what you decide to put on your registry, make sure that you’re asking your guests for things that you really want and need, and they’ll be happy to celebrate this moment with you!
Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, accessibility, equality, and design into the Catalyst brand. When she’s not traveling the country working to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place, she’s writing on her couch and snuggled up with her husband and SUPER lazy cats.
Photo by Tiffany Josephs Photography