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Wedding Registries Changing with the Times

Jan 29, 2016 05:24PM ● Published by Jennifer Monahan

The institution of marriage—in one form or another—has been around as long as people have walked the earth. And while the familiar adage that “there is nothing new under the sun” often rings true, it is also clear that wedding registries have changed significantly within the last few years.

Nicole Brough (photo by Tracy Brien Photography)
According to wedding planner Nicole Brough, owner of Your Big Day, many brides today are focused on creating a wedding experience that is unique, creative and less formal than the events of recent years. Brough credits websites such as Pinterest with sparking a new trend in ‘DIY’ or ‘do-it-yourself’ weddings and says that the focus on crafty, original DIY ideas for the wedding has likewise transformed wedding registries.

“Probably 85 to 95 percent of the couples I worked with this year were already living together, and many already have the traditional household items that they need,” explained Brough.

Consequently, couples are getting more creative with their registries. One trend that Brough has observed is couples opting for a honeymoon registry rather than a traditional list of china, linens and housewares. A honeymoon registry allows guests to contribute online to the couple’s chosen honeymoon trip, purchasing such items as dinner out at a restaurant, a horseback riding excursion or an afternoon at the spa.

Couples are often hesitant to ask for the cash or gift cards they might need because they do not want to appear crass, Brough explained, but said the honeymoon registry is a way to do that creatively and tactfully.


Earla Marshall
Wedding and event planner Earla Marshall of EFM Image Consultants has noticed similar changes to wedding registries. “I find couples today are a little more financially savvy and more realistic than in the past, and their registries reflect that,” she said. Marshall has recommended websites such as NEWLYWISH.com to her clients, and has seen couples register for honeymoon trips as well as for items such as funds for a down payment on a house or car, and fitness club or museum memberships.

“These kinds of registries offer a way to make the gift more personal and thoughtful. Couples can get things they really want or need, and guests have the satisfaction of providing that,” explained Marshall.

Wedding planner Tonya Edinger, owner of Weddings of Pittsburgh, added that today’s couples tend to be socially conscious, which has led some to ask their guests to make donations to a designated charity in lieu of purchasing something from a gift registry.

Tonya Edinger
For couples who do stick to more traditional wedding registries, all three wedding experts have seen both the process itself and the variety of items expand. Ten years ago, couples might walk into a department store and spend a few hours with a scanner, choosing items in the store for their registries. Today many people register on Amazon.com or similar websites, and the entire process is often conducted online, explained Brough.

In recent years, registering at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement has become increasingly popular, according to Marshall. Edinger agreed and added that she has seen men become more involved in planning all aspects of the couple’s big day, including the registry. As a consequence, registering for items like grills or lawnmowers has become more common.

Brough has also noticed an uptick in couples receiving gift cards. The convenience is a benefit for guests, she said, and brides have found ways to be creative here as well. Brough worked with one client who, rather than asking for traditional bridal shower gifts like kitchen or bath items, asked her shower guests to surprise her with a fun date night for the couple by providing gift cards for things like dinner, a trip to the movies, or a wine tasting event.

Whether it is with a honeymoon contribution, a gift card to a home improvement store, or a set of 800 thread count bedsheets, engaged couples today have a wide range of items from which to create a registry that reflects their individual tastes and wishes.  

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