Registering for wedding gifts sounds like a fun experience—you get to pick out all the shiny new things you want for your new life with your new spouse!—but ask most brides-to-be, and they’ll tell you it feels overwhelming, time-consuming, and maybe just a liiiittle materialistic.
When stores started offering wedding registries in the 1920s, it was a way for couples to get what they needed for their first home together. No one came to a union with mutually agreed upon barware. They were at square one in terms of "setting up house."
Now, two-thirds of married couples live together before tying the knot, and they’re getting married later than ever before—which means chances are, those couples already have all the wine glasses and pots and pans they need. They also are less interested in formal china and silver patterns than previous generations were. So registering for household goods at a department store? Not exactly necessary anymore.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t want gifts—or that your friends and family don’t want to give you something special to commemorate your wedding day. Forget the one-stop-shop registering, and try one of these cool ways to get the things you actually want without suffering through all of that price scanning.
1. Set Up A Universal Registry
The days of registering at individual department stores or home goods outlets are waning. Why confine your wish list to one or two places? On MyRegistry and Zola, you can register all over the internet—for everything from home goods at Anthropologie to appliances at Best Buy to outside gear at REI—and condense all of your choices into one easy-to-navigate list for your guests. On Blueprint, you can even split big-ticket items into “group gifts,” so your friends can split the cost, and on SimpleRegistry, everything you register for (even experiences) is cash refundable.
2. Make A Honeymoon Registry
The average honeymoon costs approximately $4,500—nearly three times a typical vacation. For couples who are also shelling out major bucks for the wedding (the average bride and groom contribute 42 percent of the wedding budget, according to The Knot), that extra cost can be painful. Sites like HoneyFund and Traveler’s Joy let you register for airfare, hotels, excursions, and more. And it’s not like your guests are just handing you cash; they can specifically choose to fund things like a romantic beach dinner for two, private sightseeing tours, luxury spa treatments, or whatever it is you want to make your honeymoon unforgettable.
3. Register For Cash
Money is one of the most common gifts for brides and grooms to want, and it’s not tacky to ask for cash — etiquette queen Emily Post says so! Also, frankly, most guests would love to be off-the-hook in terms of picking something from a registry. Tendr lets you register an occasion, then guests can gift you as much (or little) as they want; the money gets deposited directly into your bank account. (MyRegistry and Zola also allow for cash gifts.)
4. Register For Gift Cards
Gift cards may sound cheesy for a wedding, but they actually keep the gift-giving sensation going long after you open all your real presents. On Honeyfund and MyRegistry, you have the option to register for gift cards to everywhere from AMEX to Netflix to Starbucks. Use them throughout your first year of marriage for a bunch of “free” post-wedding dates.
5. Ask Your Guests For Charitable Donations
If you really don’t need anything or don’t feel comfortable asking your guests to spend money on you (at least, more than they already spent to celebrate with you), pay it forward. I Do Foundation, Changing the Present, and The Good Beginning replace traditional wedding gifts with charitable donations. (Donations can be set up on Blueprint Registry and SimpleRegistry, too.)
6. Fund Your First Home
You and your S.O. might own everything you want for inside a house pre-wedding, but the house itself? Not so much. Sure, it might feel a little weird to crowdfund your down payment on a site like Feather the Nest, but what could be a better gift than the home where you’ll start your new life together? And that kind of contribution is going to last a whole lot longer than the 400-count Egyptian linens your friends registered for.
7. Register For Wine
Yes, wine. Or alcohol. Because what newlyweds wouldn’t want someone else to supply the booze throughout their marriage?! At Thirsty Nest, you can select bottles and barware on your own, or choose from pre-curated collections like “Wine Bar 101” and “Mixologist Must-Haves.” (Plus, there’s an option to choose drinks based on the occasion you want to celebrate down the road, from date night to anniversaries.)