No Gifts, Please. Just a Trip to Hawaii.

29 Mar

So we’re all more than familiar with the whole debate surrounding wedding registries: some people love them, some hate them, some people think they’re the height of convenience, others the height of tackiness. They’re more or less an accepted part of weddings at this point, though — the idea, after all, is to help the happy couple begin their lives together and save them the time and potentially marriage-fraying battles over different kinds of cutlery or linens. But what if the happy couple has already been living together for three or five or thirteen years and already has all the fitted sheets their hearts could ever desire?

Well, that’s where the honeymoon registry comes in.

Answer seriously: would you take a matching set of wine glasses over this?

The idea behind the honeymoon registry is essentially a good-hearted one. Let’s say your couple has been dating for eight years, living together for five. They probably have plenty of housewares already, and one more set of napkins isn’t going to make their lives noticeably better. What they may not have is money to pay for their dream honeymoon, so why not have guests pitch in to give them the ideal vacation, complete with special splurges that they might not otherwise be able to afford? Honeymoon registries include everything from exclusive hotels to beachfront horseback rides or couples massages — if you can think of it and find it at a resort, it’s on the list. Some resort and travel companies like Marriott and Sandals have even gotten on board with the whole thing, offering their own services through honeymoon registries for couples staying at their properties.

This looks so much more enjoyable than sitting on a pile of new high-thread-count bedsheets.

So is the whole thing tacky, or a smart idea to give couples something they’ll actually want (and use)? On the one hand, it’s easy to see how some guests can feel like they’re just being asked for money, rather than a tangible object they can see whenever they visit the newlyweds in the future. Plus, there’s the fact that these companies — like almost everyone else involved in the wedding-industrial complex — tend to raise prices when they know it’s for a honeymoon. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for giving a gift of an experience instead of that object (anti-materialists, this one is for you). Travel makes most people happy — it’s one of those times we tend to splurge on ourselves or others because of the whole ‘It’s the only time we’ll be here, might as well get as much as possible out of it’ mindset.

I personally think it can be a really lovely gesture, if done correctly. If the couple really doesn’t need anything that might be on a traditional wedding registry, why inflict a cut-glass punch bowl upon them just because it’s what’s normally done? When it comes to weddings, almost nothing is normal anymore, and if the happy couple would be made even happier by a moonlight guided tour of a beach in Thailand, why not give that instead?

Just make sure they promise to take lots of pictures and post them on Facebook, instead of forcing you to suffer through a two-hour slideshow of their entire honeymoon. No matter what a good friend you are, you don’t deserve that.

What do you think about honeymoon registries? Sometimes appropriate, always tacky or the best idea you’ve ever heard?

Be a good friend and save your favorite new couple from that terrible “planning” part.

My Pinterest and Facebook are never on vacation!

14 Responses to “No Gifts, Please. Just a Trip to Hawaii.”

  1. minimalistbride March 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    I think registries for serving dishes and wine glasses are infinitely more tacky than contributing to a memorable experience that will live on forever. As far as practicality, it doesn’t matter whether a couple lives together or not before marriage, they have each probably been living on their own for years and have purchased everything they need to live on far before cohabitation and marriage.

    Personally, I always give gifts of experiences for every occasion. For birthdays or Christmas I will take a friend/family member out to dinner of their choice or a fun activity rather than spending money on a thing that they probably don’t want/need.

    With the cost of weddings through the roof, people should consider that the newlywed couple would benefit more from being given a honeymoon experience as a gift rather than dishes or something like that. My sweetheart and I are both aspiring minimalists, so any objects given to us have end up in our weekly goodwill run anyways! Doesn’t it always feel better when someone is genuinely excited for what you have given them rather than the awkward, “Oh… uh… thanks! That’s so thoughtful…” and pretend enthusiasm that usually accompanies gift giving?

    For those that think giving money or buying an experience is poor etiquette, consider this: giving a gift is not about you, you should be choosing to give a gift based on love for a person, not because of some unspoken rule about what is “proper.”

    • photog March 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Thanks so much for writing, and I couldn’t agree more. We still have wedding gifts in our basement that have never come out of their boxes, and they’re starting to migrate to yard sales and church fairs. But the honeymoon trip that our relatives funded (Hawaii, where else!) lives on forever in the memories and the photos. I agree that we all suffer from too much stuff, and too much attention paid to it. Most often what lasts are the very things you can’t hold in your hand, but rather in your mind and your heart. And as for what’s “proper?” Who’s keeping score?

  2. Photographer Durango CO March 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    I also offer couples a Photography Registry. All they have to do is email their guests a link to my website and they can contribute any amount they want to an album, framed canvas, prints, etc.

    • photog March 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      What a great idea! As we photographers always point out, the pictures are the only things that last from the wedding day, and so much better than another serving platter.

  3. Courtney March 30, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    My husband ad I just got back from Hawaii where we spent an amazing 8 days thanks to our honeymoon registry! Funny timing for you to write this. At first when I created the registry it felt a little tacky but within a few weeks friends kept calling to tell me how much they LOVED being able to contribute to our honeymoon. They also loved not having to go to a store and search for our registry items. PayPal made giving us a wedding gift simple!

    I think having a “honeyfund” was one of the best wedding decisions we made. We got to do every excursion we wanted, buy every souvenir we desired, and eat all the fancy food we could find. Thanks to our friends and family, we truly had the trip of a lifetime. As thank you cards I ordered a photo collage card with pictures from our honeymoon! I figured people will like to see some of the things we were able to do!

    Great post, I hope it encourages people to create a honeyfund!!

    • photog March 30, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      Thanks, and I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip (how could you not?). We had such a wonderful time and those memories will live forever. I think the thank you photo collage is a great idea. I’ll have to pass that thought along in a future post. I’m hearing from a lot of people who have done the honeyfund and it seems to be a growing trend. Who knows? Maybe in a few years we’ll be talking about it as a tradition we helped start.

  4. Annia March 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Reblogged this on marryberry and commented:
    The honeymoon registry is one of those dangit-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that ideas. My husband and I didn’t get very many gifts at our wedding. We didn’t have a registry at any store because we had already been living together for 2 years and didnt think there would be enough [affordable] items worth asking for to even bother with it. Besides, we were mainly looking forward to our tropical honeymoon. I wish we had thought of having a honeymoon registry! What a fantastic idea!

  5. kmarowske March 31, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    We are getting married in June and have set up a honeymoon registry for our cruise to Alaska in addition to a traditional registry. So far it is working out great. For people such as our younger friends who have no interest in going shopping for linens the honeymoon registry allows them to give a “fun” gift.

    • photog March 31, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      That sounds wonderful! I took a (non-honeymoon) cruise up the Alaska coast some years ago, and it remains one of the high points of my life. You’ll have a great time, and everyone who contributed to your honeyfund can take the credit!

  6. Daile April 2, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    I love this idea! It’s always so difficult to figure out what to get people who have lived together before tying the knot. And I am a bit funny about just outright gifting of cash. At least you know where this is going and can see the money in use!

    • photog April 2, 2013 at 7:52 am #

      Thanks, and I agree that this is a great solution. When I get invited to a wedding as a guest (instead of as the photographer) I’m always nervous about whether they will like the gift I picked out. This is such a good idea because you know they will like what you’ve done for them, but it’s much more personal than just gifting money. I think this should be the new normal for weddings.

  7. bridemomma April 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Reblogged this on bridemomma and commented:
    I was just beginning to gather my thoughts for a post on registries and gifts, when this blog post caught my eye. When I first heard about the ‘financing the honeymoon’ trend, I was appalled, but now that my daughter has piles of the kinds of registry loot that I received in the 80s, I’ve started to reconsider my position on this. What do YOU think?

    • photog April 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

      I love this idea. All the feedback I have gotten has been positive. The prevailing sentiment is that experiences and time spent together are the really priceless items, and so much of the other stuff, even if the gifts are heartfelt, ends up being just stuff. I wish this had been a trend when I got married. We still have wedding presents in boxes in the basement, years after we got married. We don’t have the heart to give these things away, especially when they came from people who are no longer with us. But the best gift of all, mostly financed by my in-laws, was the trip to Hawaii, and memories that last forever. I’m all in favor of the “honeyfund”, and I haven’t heard a dissenting voice since I blogged about it. It may not be right for everyone, but it is clearly a nice option for lots of couples. Good luck with your decision!


  1. Friday Rant: Registries | Minimalist Bride - March 29, 2013

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