If you’re a millennial woman in the midst of wedding season, chances are you’ve noticed the new trend of “honeyfunds” popping up alongside (or instead of) traditional wedding gift registries. For example, the gift registry website, Honeyfund, allows men and women to register their honeymoon or home down-payment so that friends and loved ones can make cash contributions in lieu of a traditional wedding gift. Newlyweds who insist they simply don’t need more “stuff” can instead ask to receive cash toward experiences like wine tastings, ski trips, guided historical tours, swanky dinners or a three-night stay at an elegant Paris hotel.
The first time I ever encountered a Honeyfund, I thought the idea was brilliant. The couple had lived together before marrying and already owned all the houseware items on a typical register. Newly initiated into the world of weddings and their etiquette, I mentioned the honeymoon registry during a phone call with my mother. “Isn’t it smart?” I enthused. “So much better than receiving three pairs of salad tongs or an antique salt shaker.”
My mom, who has asked for “experiences over gifts” for Christmas and her birthday in the past, was markedly less enthused. Apparently, once a wedding is involved, asking for experiences translates to asking for cold, hard cash. In her eyes, endearing descriptions of a cozy chalet in the Alps or the once-in-a-lifetime dive trip to the Galapagos couldn’t make this less tacky.
The worst offense? Technically, the couple can use the money for anything once they receive the funds. So, even if you think you’re buying a romantic dinner for two at the elegant Italian restaurant where the groom’s parents met, your wedding gift, minus the three percent processing fee charged by the online registry, could actually end up paying their car insurance bill. Do you think the couple will fondly remember the $200 you contributed toward their semi-annual State Farm payment? Probably not.
While I’m not at all offended by the general concept of a Honeyfund, when it came time to actually contributing to one, I felt a little lost. Limited by my budget, I found I could only afford a portion of each experience. Although the registry is set up to break down large costs this way, i.e. 2 x $75 for a spa therapy retreat, it felt strange to purchase a sushi dinner for one and hope another wedding guest would come along to pay for the other half of the couple.
However, a Honeyfund does allow greater diversity in a registry and let guests donate varying amounts of money right away without shipping or gift-wrap costs. Plus, the gift will always arrive on time (i.e. instantly), even if you picked it out last minute before the wedding.
While we all like to think the couple will lovingly cherish and admire the crystal cake stand we bought them (at least the two times a year they actually use it), it’s pretty hard to feel genuine affection towards a chip and dip platter or monogrammed beach towels.
Overall, the Emily Post Institute, a noted etiquette authority, endorses your right to ask for cash via a financial registry or travel agency, especially if you’ve already established your household. As the most courteous course of action, provide guests with a traditional registry in addition to your honey fund. This relieves pressure on guests who may strongly prefer to send a keepsake household gift or feel crass sending cash.
The key, as with any type of wedding registry, is to not mention the expectation of gifts on your wedding invitation. Instead, provide the address for your wedding website where guests can find information about your gift registries, be it cash contributions or traditional.
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