Until recent years, engaged couples usually signed up for wedding registries at home goods stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, and Target. But these days, many couples already live together before getting married, and because of that, many of them don’t need the endless barrage of blenders, sheets, and towels that come from using a traditional wedding registry.
Whether you’re interested in a luxurious honeymoon, fair-trade-only gifts, or saving up for a down payment for a home, there are plenty of options available to couples who don’t need another coffee maker or set of dishes. After all, wedding gifts are intended to help you begin your life together, and what better way to do that than with a gift that fits your unique needs?
Alternatives to a Traditional Wedding Registry
Zola is similar to a traditional wedding registry but includes some cool upgrades and benefits you might not find when signing up at places such as Bed Bath & Beyond or Macy’s.
Zola essentially functions as a repository for all of the things you find on the Internet that make you think, “I’d really like to add that to our registry, but I don’t want to set up another registry with another vendor.” Find a kitchen gadget you love at Williams-Sonoma but don’t want to sign up for an entire registry with them? Click the “Add to Zola” button, and you can add any item you find directly to your Zola registry.
In addition to regular registry items, you can also select gift cards for your guests to purchase. Gift cards are great if you know what stores you might like to shop at but aren’t sure what items you need, or if you prefer to wait until you’ve moved in before shopping for your home – and they allow guests to give you something a little more meaningful than cash in an envelope.
Finally, with Zola, you can also select a “cash fund” option so that guests can contribute to your honeymoon, home improvement project, or whatever else you need the funds for. For example, your cash fund may include things like a one-night stay in a hotel for a weekend getaway, a dinner at a luxurious restaurant, or a list of the items you need to remodel your kitchen.
Your cash fund can be for whatever you desire, so whether you want to adopt a new puppy or take a cooking class together, you can ask your guests to invest in your marriage by directly contributing to a cash fund that will be used for that specific purpose.
Zola boasts one of the lowest fees of the nontraditional registries with a 2.5% credit card processing fee per transaction. By default, your guests pay the processing fee so that the entire gift can go straight to you. But you can also choose to have the 2.5% come out of the total amount of the gift, saving your friends and family some cash.
Honeyfund was created to provide couples with an easy way to accept gifts other than traditional home goods. It primarily functions as a platform for cash funds and features three different types of profiles: custom registries, starter registries, and gift cards.
If you choose a custom registry, you can design your page to your specific preferences, down to the font and color scheme. Similar to other wedding websites such as The Knot, you can personalize your page with details about your love story, what you’re planning for your wedding or honeymoon, and why you’re opting for a nontraditional wedding registry. You can use prewritten titles for each gift selection, such as “Honeymoon” or “Down Payment,” or you can create your own and select the dollar amount of each gift, as well as the number of gifts you’d like to receive for each list item.
For example, you can ask guests to contribute to your honeymoon fund and request 25 gifts of $100 each, totaling $2,500 in contributions toward your honeymoon. Guests can then select how many gifts they’d like to give you, choosing as many or as few as they want.
Honeyfund also offers starter registries. These are gift registries that are carefully curated by the Honeyfund staff and have a specific list of items included. They offer dozens of prefilled registries that include everything you might need for a honeymoon to one of their included destinations, for your new home, and even a list of the top QVC essentials. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of creating an individualized registry, choose from one of the many starter registries, and your work is done.
As with Zola, you can also opt to have your guests purchase gift cards of your choice. If your guests are a little more old-fashioned and don’t prefer to donate cold hard cash, allowing them to give you a gift card is a great way for them to feel like they’re giving you something more meaningful while contributing directly toward something you want or need.
There are fees to use Honeyfund’s platform, but your guests will never pay a fee to give you a gift. In total, Honeyfund couples pay less than 2% for each gift, on average.
- Gift Cards. If you prefer to pay no fees at all, you can set your account to redeem all funds you receive via gift card. Your guests can purchase a gift that goes directly to you, and you don’t have to pay a dime to redeem it.
- Bank Account Deposits. When you opt to receive gifts in the form of cash contributions to your fund, Honeyfund charges you 2.8% plus $0.30 per transaction. You can have these payments automatically deposited into your bank account on a schedule that works best for you via your choice of either WePay or PayPal.
- Cash, Check, or Custom Payments. You can also allow your guests to send monetary gifts directly to you using whatever medium you prefer. For example, if a guest reserves a gift on your Honeyfund page, they then have the option to either give you the cash or check directly, send it to you by mail, or gift it to you in a card. You can also set custom instructions, such as for gifts to be sent via Venmo.
Like Zola and Honeyfund, Blueprint is a wedding registry for the modern couple. With a sleek, easy-to-navigate website that features light color tones and a relaxed, urban feel, Blueprint offers the following features.
Digital Wedding Planner
Blueprint’s beautiful premade templates, and the profile you’ll create with them, function more like a digital wedding planner than a registry. You can share your love story, track the progress of your event, and create schedules and timelines of events such as bridal showers and bachelorette parties.
When you sign up for Blueprint, you have the option to import other registries you’ve already created. Any registries or items you import will automatically update daily with information on pricing, availability, quantities, and purchases. That makes it easy to keep track of all your registry items in one place, similar to the gift repository feature on Zola.
Don’t worry about leaving out on the pricier items on your wishlist. Like many of the registries here, Blueprint allows group gifting, which means that multiple guests can contribute toward the cost of one larger, more expensive item. If you don’t receive enough contributions toward the full price of the item, you’ll still receive the total cash balance of the donations you received.
This feature is similar to the ones offered by Zola and Honeyfund. Blueprint charges a 2.5% processing fee per cash gift, which is comparable to Zola and slightly less expensive than Honeyfund. Your guests can contribute any cash amount they prefer, or they can select from a prefilled list.
Register by Room
One of Blueprint’s unique features is room-by-room visual blueprints, which allows you to see everything you may need and want in your new home. Instead of selecting items at random or compiling all of the registry items for your entire home in one place, the room-by-room feature helps you visualize exactly what you need. This streamlined process can be helpful if you’re struggling with where to begin with your registry.
Finally, Blueprint offers guides that can serve as inspiration if you’re having a hard time deciding what kind of registry to create. They also include great resources on all things wedding-related, such as helpful tips, product reviews, destination travel hacks, featured couple stories, and wedding planning advice.
For beer and spirits enthusiasts, there’s a registry dedicated to wine, liquor, and barware. On ThirstyNest, you’ll find just about every bottle and gadget you can imagine. From carafes to wine backpacks to a vast wine selection, ThirstyNest’s items are designed with you in mind.
If you’re not sure where to begin, ThirstyNest’s The Essentials is a starter registry that includes some of the basics you may want to consider. It’s a great starting point for couples who enjoy a good glass of pinot together but don’t know exactly what to ask for as a wedding gift.
5. Traveler’s Joy
Traveler’s Joy is the registry for globetrotting duos. Dedicated to funding your next adventure together, this platform allows your guests to contribute cash gifts toward whatever your next trip may be, whether it’s a honeymoon or vacation to faraway lands. Guests can contribute toward a general trip fund or a specific item on your list, such as transportation, meals, or hotels.
What separates this registry from other cash fund or honeymoon fund registries is that Traveler’s Joy is meant solely for travel funds. That said, they don’t require you to book anything upfront, so technically, you can use your wedding gifts however you choose. You don’t have to book with a particular airline or travel agency; you select all of your own travel details, no questions asked.
One of the best things about using Traveler’s Joy is their detailed travel guides to many popular destinations. They include general information about each destination, as well as reviews and recommendations for where to stay, where to eat, and what to do. These guides can come in handy if you’re not exactly sure where you want to honeymoon, but you don’t want to spend a ton of time researching your options.
Traveler’s Joy guides include destinations of all shapes and sizes, including popular places such as New York City, Rome, Paris, and Hong Kong, as well as lesser-traveled locations such as St. Lucia, Jackson Hole, and Breckenridge. There are dozens of guides to help you find your dream honeymoon, along with all the tips and tricks you’ll need to make it come true.
Traveler’s Joy also offers access to the registries of other couples who’ve chosen to make theirs public. These include detailed descriptions of the couple’s trip, the types of gifts they requested and listed for their trip, and examples of those gifts. If you need some help generating ideas for your honeymoon, this feature breaks down exactly what and how much you may need.
Traveler’s Joy charges a 2.95% credit card processing fee when someone gives you a gift via credit card. You can opt to have your guests pay the fee so that you receive the full amount of the gift instead of having the fee deducted from what you receive. If your guests choose to give a gift via cash or check, it’s completely free.
Access to this platform features the ability to create specific travel items for your guests to contribute to, gift redemption flexibility, and instantly-generated lists of all guests who have given a gift – taking away the headache of tracking thank-you card lists. Because of the simplicity of the platform, you get full access to the Traveler’s Joy at no cost, unlike other registries where you might have to pay an upgrade fee to access premium features.
6. Blue Apron
Cooking after a long day can be tiresome, especially if you have to find a recipe, head to the grocery store, and then spend hours in the kitchen. As newlyweds, what if you just had the food you needed for dinner already available, along with a recipe for a great meal?
You likely already know that Blue Apron offers home delivery service for premade meal kits, but a Blue Apron subscription also makes a great wedding gift. You can select Blue Apron as a registry gift on websites such as Zola, or you can ask your guests to purchase meal e-gift cards right from Blue Apron.
You can choose from preset gift amounts of $60, $120, or $240 or choose your own custom amounts. The $120 meal e-gift card is the most popular as it covers two full weeks of a two-person meal plan. However, it’s important to note that you must apply the gift card to a monthly subscription, and the amount of the gift will go toward your subscription cost.
Guests can also opt to give you a Blue Apron wine subscription, which allows you to receive six pairing-size wine bottles per month.
If you and your partner enjoy spending your evenings and weekends at art museums and local galleries, and you wish you could invest in personal, unique pieces of art for your home, UGallery is a great wedding registry idea.
UGallery features artists who are discovered and commissioned by the company. Each piece of artwork is exclusive to UGallery, which means you won’t have to worry about seeing the same thing on your relative’s living room wall. This website is intended and targeted toward the art connoisseur – those who value unique pieces of art and want to make them a part of their everyday lives.
Through UGallery, you have three different options for creating your registry.
Register Pieces of Art
Similar to any other wedding registry website, you can set up your registry and add specific gallery items to your wishlist. This is the most traditional option as it allows guests to select from your list exactly which piece of art they’d like to give you.
Allow Group Gifting on Pricey Pieces
For the couple who has a more refined – read: expensive – palate, UGallery allows you to select group gifting as a registry option. That means you can add pricier gallery items to your registry without making your guests feel like they can’t afford a gift for you. They can contribute toward the cost of a more expensive piece instead of gifting you an entire piece.
Gift Cards Toward a UGallery Purchase
Similar to the group gifting option, you can also allow guests to present you with a gift card toward your chosen item. Guests usually prefer this option when they can’t find a piece of art on your registry that they would like to give to you.
8. Seven Hopes United
Seven Hopes United functions like any other traditional registry, with one key difference: All of the artisans on Seven Hopes United are paid a living wage and have safe working conditions, and all items sold are ethically sourced and support workers’ rights and environmental sustainability. If you want to avoid registering for the same home decor as everyone else, enjoy having unique items in your home that tell a story, and want to support a cause you believe in, Seven Hopes is for you.
Seven Hopes offers three registry features that make it a great option for the socially conscious couple.
If you didn’t receive all of the items on your registry, don’t worry; for up to six months following your wedding, Seven Hopes offers a 10% discount on all remaining registry items. They want to help their artisans and producers make a living wage by selling their goods, so they’re incentivized to get you to buy their products. And while 10% isn’t a huge discount, every dollar counts when you’re just starting out in your marriage.
For each purchase made or gifted on Seven Hopes, 10% of the purchase price goes toward community growth and investment initiatives across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. This 10% comes directly from the revenue made on the purchase and is not a cost to you or your guests.
Top Registry Picks
If you’re struggling with finding items to put on your registry, don’t worry; Seven Hopes has a list of top registry items selected by other couples. From artwork and home decor to bed and bathroom items, you can browse from a wide variety of preselected items to give you some ideas for your own home.
Whether you already have a home filled with everything you could ever need or want; you want some rare, individual pieces to bring life and excitement into your home; or you want to take that dream vacation for your honeymoon, there are plenty of ways to have your guests contribute to your new life together without going the traditional registry route.
The wedding registries above allow modern couples to have their guests contribute to something much cooler than a blender or coffeemaker. While older or more traditional guests might still prefer to get you an appliance or gift card, there are plenty of options for everyone else.
Have you used any of these nontraditional wedding registries? What was your experience with them?