11 Unique Wedding Registry Ideas

One of the things I really didn’t know how to handle was the wedding registry, which seems silly, I know. You're basically given free rein to pick out stuff you want! How hard can that be? But, beyond a few practical items, the things I wanted went well beyond the basics and entered the realm of "I'm not comfortable asking someone to pay that much for a pasta cutting stand mixer attachment." Really, with a few exceptions, we have everything need. My fiancé and I have lived together for about five years and before our cohabitation began we each lived on our own. We did just move from a small condo to a small-ish house, and with more space comes the ability to actually have more than one friend over at a time without having to stack people on top of each other. So, yes, we could definitely benefit (or at least our friends will) from some guest bedding and dinner party supplies. Still, those are hardly requirements one needs to live.

To me, it felt rude to register for gifts just for the sake of registering for gifts. However, I was leery of not registering at all. I knew our wonderful family members and friends would want to get us presents, which is fantastic, but I didn’t want to wind up with duplicates or things we couldn’t use – not to mention that I didn’t want people wasting their time and money.

So we circled back to the registry.

Obviously, we are not the first couple to get married in our 30s. Nor are we the first couple to have an established household well before marriage. Alternative registries exist to serve this relatively new type of couple. It wasn’t that long ago – our parents’ generation or so – when newlyweds regularly did need the benefit of wedding showers and gifts to get started in life. Clearly no two couples are the same and this is still the case in plenty of instances, but things are changing and quite a few companies and services are starting to meet the need for something other than the usual registry.

After some research, we decided on a combo – we chose a honeymoon registry, two traditional registries at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Amazon and one “registry” where people can donate to charities that have personal meaning to us. We chose a few things we could update or outright needed on Bed, Bath & Beyond and selected a few fun things in Amazon like a fire pit and drink bucket for our new house's back yard.

Our reasoning was that some guests would not be on board with alternative registries and that’s fine. Different generations have different ideas about etiquette. Plus, it gives wedding shower guests some options. Even if you can’t fill an entire traditional gift registry with blenders and dishes, I bet you can think of a few things you could really use or replace. Or think outside of the gift box and consider how you spend your time together and with friends. Do you like playing board games with your partner? Register for a new one. Love to grill in the backyard with the neighbors? Add some lawn games to your list. Really enjoy wine? You can even register for wine-of-the-month clubs. The day I found out you could register for wine on Amazon was a revelation. There's also Bottlenotes if you want to get really serious.

The honeymoon registry we chose is Traveler’s Joy and the charity portion is handled through the I Do Foundation. Both track who purchases what so you can thank guests just as you would with a traditional gift registry.

There are more choices but here are a few reputable ones I found while looking into all this:

  • The Honey Fund – Honeymoon registry
  • The Honeymoon – Another honeymoon registry
  • Hatch My House – House (as in building or buying one) registry
  • Simpleregistry.com – A cross-company registry that has a huge range of options
  • zola.com – Another cross-company registry
  • MoMA – Funky registry at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC
  • Card Avenue – Specializes in gift cards
  • Bottlenotes – As mentioned above, this is for the couple that's really into wine
  • My Registry – Yet another that pulls from different companies and brands
  • Seven Hopes United – From the website: "Seven Hopes United specializes in marketing stylish, handmade, fair trade and eco-friendly gifts from around the globe. Your purchase of fair trade products ensures that our artisans are paid a living wage for their work, working conditions are safe, and no children are exploited."
  • Knack Registry – You can register for items, experiences and even services. Some of the items offered are not available at other retailers. A few things I've seen here range from a Kenyan safari honeymoon for around $2,000 (hey, you could have a long-lost relative who happens to be royalty!) to shower curtains for $40.

Initially, I really wanted to stick to my guns and just use the honeymoon and charity registries. I'm sure that would work for someone out there, but I was worried about offending guests, especially older relatives and friends. A friend of mine had both a traditional and honeymoon registry, which I remembered thinking was a great idea. I was excited to purchase my friends a couples' massage at their hotel through their honeymoon registry – in my opinion, giving them an experience together to remember forever was just as special as a physical item. One of the things I love to do best with the fiancé is travel and our many vacations and trips together are some of my favorite memories. To then have friends and family help us create the trip of a lifetime is, to me, incredibly meaningful. 

In the end, both types of registries felt like a good compromise. Every time we look at honeymoon photos or eat off our new plates (Can. Not. Wait to throw out our chipped Ikea set!) we'll be reminded of our fantastic loved ones. Choose what works best for you – the options are out there.

Categories: Planning