I’m a big fan of honeymoon registries – they give couples that already have enough ‘stuff’ a way to give their wedding guests a way to still give a gift – though in experiences rather than things.
But how exactly do they work?
How do your guests give gifts through them?
How do you get the money your guests give?
In this post I’ll explore how honeymoon registries work, and hopefully answer all of your questions.
Why a honeymoon registry?
For Sabrina and me, we both love to travel and already have most of the usual ‘wedding registry’ staples, so using a honeymoon registry for our around-the-world honeymoon was a no-brainer.
Some people still think that honeymoon registries are in poor taste – that even the hint of asking for money is bad form. I agree that in some cultural circles, something like a honeymoon registry won’t go over well, but that definitely does not apply to our family and friends, and as a result I have a hard time understanding this mindset.
In fact, usually the same people who say honeymoon registries are tacky follow-up by saying that people just ‘understand’ that you want cash if you don’t ask for it. Huh? I usually work under the assumption that it is always better to be perfectly clear with everything, especially when dealing with a large group of people.
Plus, the whole reason for a wedding registry is to give your guests a chance to help you out if they want to, right?
When I am a guest to someone’s wedding, I want to help them out! The couple is dear to me, and I want to give them something that will help them start their married life just a little bit happier.
Sometimes that means getting them some of that cool flatware (now that I’m planning a wedding, I know not to call it – gasp – ‘silverware’), but my favorite thing to get the happy couple is something personal and memorable to them. Maybe it’s just me, but when I can, I also try to steer clear of anything that 20 years from now they will dig out of a closet and ask “why did we ever want this again?”.
And since I love to travel, on some level I assume everyone else does too (I mean, who doesn’t love to travel?), so a lot of times I’ll end up giving them money and hoping they’ll use it to do something extra cool on their honeymoon – which isn’t really personal at all.
But with a honeymoon registry, I could give them a gift toward something specific – something like a fancy dinner or a wine tasting – things that maybe the couple would otherwise skip. I’d love to have them fondly remembering their honeymoon many years from now and have me associated with some part of it. Maybe I’d give them a brewery tour – something that I think they’d love, and also has a little bit of my personality thrown in there as well.
That, to me, is the whole point of a registry – as a guest I want to help create happy memories for the newlyweds, and maybe even be somehow associated with those memories.
We wanted to give our guests a way to feel like they were giving something specific, and possibly personal to them – even if in the end it really was just money. For us and our wedding, it makes sense.
Maybe it won’t for you – and that’s fine – but if you think you might want a honeymoon registry and just want to know what’s up with them, read on!
How honeymoon registries work
Most honeymoon registry websites are, in the end, just a nicer packaging for asking for money for your honeymoon. This is part of the reason why some people dislike them, but for me I like that your guests can actually point to an activity or something they helped you get.
How you create the registry
Usually, the process of creating a registry is as simple as signing up for an account with the registry of your choice (see my Ultimate Guide to Honeymoon Registries for a comparison of the big ones).
Once you’ve created your account, you enter in some information about yourselves, and maybe a little about where you are going on your honeymoon. At that point, you can start adding specific things to your registry.
What can you register for?
In most cases – anything.
For most registries, all an ‘item’ in your registry consists of is a name, a description, and a cost. That means you are only limited by your imaginations in terms of what you can register for.
You can register for activities like snorkeling, horseback riding, a wine tour, or a couples massage. You can register for food and beverages – champagne in your room or chocolate-covered strawberries. You can register for travel gear – maybe it’s time to upgrade your luggage or your camera.
To add an item, you usually just give it a name, describe it a bit so your guests know a little about it, then say how much it would cost – it is really pretty open ended.
In some cases, the company running the registry will have direct business connections with the actual honeymoon vendor(s) – so they might have a set of pre-made items that you don’t enter or set the cost of. Registries that work like that do things differently than those that just host your registry and process payments for you (sites like Honeyfund, Wanderable, and Traveler’s Joy to name a few).
How much does an item cost?
One of the more confusing parts of a honeymoon registry can be figuring out how you put the cost of an item on your registry.
Take something like a wine tasting tour. You look up the tour, and see that it is $100 per person. In the registry entry, what do you put? Do you register for 2 @ $100? Or do you just put a cost of $200? Or something else?
Usually, whichever registry you go with will have some way for you to split up more expensive things on your registry, so your guests have more flexibility in being able to give what they feel comfortable with.
For our wine tasting example, you might register for just the single tour, putting the total cost ($200) for the cost. Your guests would then be able to decide how much they would like to give toward that total goal – they would not have to pay for the whole thing themselves. This is how Wanderable works, for example.
For other registries, you might have to break up the cost yourself, perhaps splitting the $200 into 10 ‘parts’ at $20 each – all listed under the single ‘Wine Tasting Tour’ item. Your guests could then choose however many of the 10 ‘parts’ they might want to give toward.
With many registries, you can also set how you would like your guests to be able to pay – with cash/check, credit card, or a combination of the two. I’ll go over what those different options would mean in the next few sections.
How your guests give a gift
When your guests visit your honeymoon registry, they pick out something they would like to get you. Depending on which registry you are using, they usually also choose at some point how much they want to give toward the particular registry entry.
Sometimes, the registry also offers a ‘general honeymoon gift’ option, where your guests can enter their own gift amount to go toward your honeymoon in general.
Once your guest has made their gift decision, they pay for the gift – how they pay depends on the payment options you set up.
The simplest payment option is for your guest to pay with cash or check. With this option, the registry website does not collect any money, but instead allows your guest to print a card or certificate indicating what part of your honeymoon they are gifting to you. They then give that directly to you along with cash or check (bringing it to the wedding or mailing it to you themselves). In this case, the end result is essentially the same as if your guest just gave you money, though the gift is a bit more personal in my opinion.
The other option for your guest to pay (if you’ve set it up and allowed it), is to pay with a credit card. This is where things get a little trickier.
The company processing the credit card (whether it is the registry company or a third party like PayPal), will charge a fee (see ‘how the registry company makes money’ below) – you can choose during your registry setup whether you want to have that fee added to the cost of items or deducted from your gifts.
Let’s use our wine tasting example again. Say Aunt Lizzie wants to give $100 toward that, and she pays with her credit card. Our particular registry site charges a 5% fee for credit card transactions.
If we chose to have that fee added to the gift amount, Aunt Lizzie would see that she is paying $105 to give our gift: $100 + 5% (or $5).
If we chose to have the fee deducted, Aunt Lizzie would pay $100, but when we got the money, we would only get $95: $100 minus the 5% fee.
How you set that up is entirely up to you. Some people choose to avoid the whole fee thing altogether, and just stick to cash/check only gift options.
Personally, I never have cash, and hate going to an ATM or writing a check. I prefer to use a credit card, so I want to give that option to our guests if they want to use it. I also want the gift-giving process to be as simple as possible for our guests, so I chose to have the fees deducted from the gift.
How you get the gifts
Once your guests have given a gift from your registry, how do you get it?
If your guest chooses the cash/check route, they will give the gift directly to you, so nothing is really different form a normal registry in that case.
If your guest pays with a credit card, the registry company will usually hold on to the money for some period of time (usually just enough for the credit card charge to clear), then the money will be available to you. Depending on the registry company, they will usually have a couple different options for you to get the money at this point.
The easiest and fastest method is to setup an electronic bank transfer (or ACH transfer) so the money gets directly deposited into your bank account. There should not be an extra fee for this.
You may also be able to have a check mailed to you. Another option is to have the money sent to a PayPal account, but this is usually not a good idea since in this case you will usually get charged another fee by PayPal, further reducing the amount of your gifts.
If your registry works directly with the provider of the gift (such as the resort where you are going to get the couples massage), your gift might instead go directly to that vendor, and you will receive a ‘gift certificate’ that you can then redeem for the gift.
How the registry company makes money
There are several ways the various honeymoon registry sites make money so they can stay in business.
The most common way is to have some sort of fee associated with paying for gifts with a credit card. It costs companies money to process credit card payments, so in order to offset that cost (and provide them income so they can stay in business) the registries will also add an extra bit on to the gift. This fee is usually charged as a percentage of the gift amount. The bigger the gift, the bigger the fee.
This type of fee for accepting credit card payments is all but unavoidable, but in the grand scheme of things, usually isn’t too bad (as long as you pick a registry that doesn’t gouge on the fees!).
Another way registry companies make money is to have some sort of ‘account setup’ fee. There aren’t too many that do this, at least without also offering a ‘free’ version. Honeyfund has this type of fee structure, where you can choose to pay a fixed cost in order to add features to your registry (like pictures, more designs, etc). This is much less common than the percentage-based fees, though.
The last way (I know of) that honeymoon registry companies make money is if they work directly with travel providers, they may make a commission on the gifts/money they send to those vendors. In this sense they work much like a travel agent does.
I hope this helped make honeymoon registries a little less confusing for you. Have more questions? Ask in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do to help you!
Also, if you want to see some in-depth comparison of the most popular honeymoon registry sites out there, check out my Ultimate Guide to Honeymoon Registries!