Looking back, I have mixed feelings about our traditional registries. On one hand, we really did need stuff. We would have been eating out every meal and living in an apartment without furniture otherwise. Those gifts were a huge blessing. On the other hand, every gift seemed to arrive in a giant box with never-ending bubble wrap. My “favorite” was a single serving utensil, sturdy and metal, which Crate & Barrel saw fit to bury in packing peanuts in a 2-foot-long box.
So, what’s a girl to do? You have enough on your plate between wedding planning and keeping up with the rest of life. Here are some ideas to get you thinking outside the over-sized box:
1. Ask for money
This may seem awkward, though there are several ways to warm your guests up to the idea. Include a note on your wedding website or with your invites explaining why you would appreciate cash or check. Maybe you’re starting grad school or want to create a nest egg for your future children. Maybe you want to start saving for the down payment on a house. Many guests would much rather help you realize your shared dreams than buy yet another gravy boat. In our case, we created an IKEA Fund as an alternative to our registries. About half of our guests took advantage of this option, especially because it saved them shopping time and allowed them to give anywhere from $20 to $400. After buying all our furniture, we still had enough left to pay off a credit card and start our marriage debt-free. So much cooler than a gravy boat!
Honeyfund.com allows guests to cover specific parts of your honeymoon, from lodging to dinner out or airfare. You’ll still book your travel and make the arrangements yourself, but Honeyfund allows guests to see what their money will go toward. You can also set up other funds for guests to contribute toward, if your honeymoon is already covered.
3. Local gift cards
Ever walk into the local art gallery and think oh, if only I could register for those gorgeous handmade pottery pieces! Well, who says you can’t? Provide a traditional registry (or request Etsy gift cards) for out-of-town guests, then add a note for local guests with a list of businesses you would love to receive gift certificates from. Include thrift shops and you may be able to get your kitchen supplies for just $20! (By comparison, I think that’s the same price as a napkin at Crate & Barrel.) To make it simpler, try to find a “universal” gift card at your city’s Chamber of Commerce or another agency that promotes buying local. These can be used at many different shops and restaurants. On shopping day, don’t forget to bring your reusable bags and a couple towels to cushion fragile items, as well as a tupperware for restaurant leftovers. And those Etsy gift cards will be great for hard-to-find items like reusable “paper” towels, produce bags, and sandwich baggies. Plenty of Etsy vendors focus on eco-friendly household goods, so browse away!
4. SoKind Registry
This is my favorite discovery–I wish I had known about it a year ago when I was getting married! SoKind encourages gifts of experience over stuff, so friends can give you anything from yoga classes to art pieces to second-hand items. I love how this registry encourages community and skill-sharing between friends–though also offers easy gift options like a donation to your favorite charity. You can use it to ask for all of the gifts mentioned above: local items, honeymoon help, contributions toward a kid’s college fund or even child care. Not only is this registry practical and eco-friendly, it is also has a great design so guests can easily browse through gifts.
Whatever option you choose, have fun with your registry! It’s exciting to build a life together and think about what you value, whether it’s a nice cast iron for fancy date night dinners or a hiking trip with friends. Find a way to ask for what you’ll love, and don’t bother with the rest.