This is the first installment of a three-post series on wedding gifts. I’ll start off today discussing alternative gift ideas. The second installment, to be posted Wednesday, will cover some of the more popular online registry services available and how to integrate them with your wedding website. My wrap-up post on Friday will guide you through gift tracking and writing thank-you notes.
Weddings and gifts traditionally go hand-in-hand. There are gifts for your bridal party and each other, possibly special gifts for your parents and others who you’d like to thank, and gifts for your guests (i.e. wedding favors). Likewise, your guests will generally be expecting to provide you with a gift unless you let them know otherwise.
There are a number of reasons why some couples prefer not to receive wedding gifts. Some want to give their guests a break in this economy. Others feel like obligatory gifts are tacky. Still others are combining households, already have a double dose of kitchen gadgets and linens, and don’t particularly relish the idea of adding more items to their storage shelves.
First, keep in mind that a registry doesn’t have to cover traditional items at all. Maybe you’ve got your eye on the latest video game console, or landscaping items for your new backyard. I’ll cover more on gift registries, including “shop-anywhere” and nontraditional registries, in Wednesday’s follow-up post. But beyond that, here are some great alternative wedding gift options:
Sponsor a Charity
If you’d prefer not to receive wedding gifts, one way to let friends and loved ones contribute to your happiness is to ask that donations be made in the name of your favorite charity, or to a cause that is important to you. Post the information on how to donate at your wedding website’s registry page, or add a link to one or more online charity registries. With a charity registry service, you can select a charity or nonprofit organization of your choice to which your guests’ donations will go. Websites like JustGive (justgive.org), I Do Foundation (idofoundation.org) and GlobalGiving (globalgiving.com) are great places to start.
Honeymoon expenses. Home improvement costs. School tuition. Downpayment on a new home. New vehicle expenses. Do I need to go on? Look, the love of it may be the root of all evil, and it may not be the key to happiness, but cold hard cash sure can help a newly married couple fulfill needs and solve problems. The cool thing about cash registries is that you get to create your own gifts. A honeymoon registry might have gifts like a day’s car rental, for example, or a champagne luncheon. Your guests “purchase” your gifts for you, their purchases are tallied, and the proceeds go right to your bank account. Because your guests are actually choosing specific items for you, it makes writing those thank-you notes far more personalized (come back for Friday’s post to read more on this): instead of thanking someone for fifty bucks, you thank them for that great guided tour they sponsored for you on your honeymoon to the Greek island of Santorini. An example of a cash registry is available at GoGift (gogift.com). Like all other gift registries, you can add the link for your cash registry to your wedding website’s Gift Registries page for your guests to find easily.
Honeymoon registries are a specialized cash registry focused on your honeymoon expenses. Examples include HoneyLuna (honeyluna.com), The Big Day Travel (thebigdaytravel.com), and The Honeymoon (thehoneymoon.com); all will let you create a dream honeymoon itinerary, and allow guests to purchase individual items on your itinerary.
The one catch you need to be aware of when working with cash registry services, including honeymoon registries, is that these services will generally charge you a fee in the way of a percentage of your guests’ contributions. The fees range from service to service, but they can be as high as 10% or more.
If you have a website with WedShare, you have a cash registry service built right into your wedding website, with no fees at all, and which will allow you to set up honeymoon registries or any other cash-based gift list just like these third-party services. Just set up your lists, add imagery to spice it up, and enter in your PayPal details for easy online handling of guest contributions. It’s already built into your Gift Registries page, so everything is conveniently located in one spot, and all the PayPal integration is set up for you.
With the flexibility of online charity and cash gift registry services, there are a lot of options for your wedding gifts, including for those couples that don’t want to go the traditional route. Come back to read my Wednesday post for even more on online registries and how to link them to your wedding website.