Move Over, Dishware: There’s a New Kind of Wedding Registry in Town

by Jessica Sommerfield · 8 comments

Wedding registries are the modern way to give newlyweds exactly what they want. Couples scan their homemaking wishlists into a virtual catalog, from which guests can purchase specific items as a token of congratulations.

Though this process is a staple of the modern American wedding, a promising new trend is gaining popularity: financial gift registries.

The Rise in Financial Gift Registries

I’m not merely talking about a gift of money slipped into a card, intended for use on some household purchase or honeymoon expense. These types of registries are designed to appropriate donations towards the couple’s financial planning goals, instead of current needs or wants.

These types of registries, run by sites such as HoneyFund, UponOurStar, Present Value, and WeddingFutures, allow couples to register for investment packages designed to help them fund the purchase of a home, pay off debt, or build their retirement nest egg.

Most accounts are free to set up, and are free or charge a percentage-based fee for their services. The process works much like a regular gift registry, but cash donations are “purchased” by wedding guests instead of gifts. Registries like these aren’t exclusive to weddings, either; accounts can be created for expectant parents, graduates, or even retirees, with the same concept in mind.

Why They Make Sense Now

The growing popularity of this alternative to traditional registries is a sign that Americans are becoming more focused on and concerned about their financial futures when approaching the marriage milestone.

Unlike previous eras, when toasters and table linen were a necessity for couples who were truly starting fresh, today’s couples are usually older and have been on their own for a while — so there isn’t as much need for the basics of setting up house. And, even though gifts of money are useful for whatever the couple needs, they aren’t intended for or easily converted into long-term investing.

 A Lifetime of Financial Security

There is, of course, the possibility that people may get offended at the request for financial donations, but, then again, people get offended no matter what you do. I believe most people would view goals such as becoming debt-free, establishing an emergency fund, buying a house, and planning for retirement as worthy causes to support, because they demonstrate a desire to be financially responsible.

What’s more, guests may appreciate knowing their gift will be truly useful and beneficial to the couple. And not just for a few years, but for their lifetime together, because investments aren’t just savings — they grow.

It may be a while before this trend truly catches on, because there are still so many things couples want now, and it’s hard to get out of that mentality and look toward the future. I, for one, wish I’d known about this option when I got married, because it’s something my husband and I might have considered as an alternative to a gift registry.

Marriage and establishing a household are commitments that are designed to last for “as long as you both shall live.” Why shouldn’t wedding gifts reflect this long-term commitment?

Do you think financial gift registries are a good idea? Would you be offended if someone asked you to give to one as their wedding present?

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  • Amanda says:

    It’s true, someone or the other gets offended no matter what you do. I for one think financial gift registries are the best thing since sliced bread, and no, I wouldn’t get offended being asked to give to one as their wedding present. In fact, I’ve set up a cash registry for my own upcoming wedding.

  • David @ says:

    Financial gifts for the bride and groom is the tradition in my country, and some interesting phenomenon develops.

    For instance, there are standard “pricing” for gifts depending on the venue – weddings held at hotels are more expensive than say, at a restaurant. These are for people you barely know of course. The closer you are to the couple, the more likely you are to give much more than what’s deemed “acceptable”.

    There are also some not-too-nice couples who, because they can sort of calculate how much they will net for the people they invite, would invite everyone they can in hopes of “making money” on their wedding.

    I think giving cash equivalents as wedding gifts are much more practical and a better system than material goods, but it’s not without flaws.

  • David says:

    To be honest, I think that most weddings are going the way of homes and college expenses. They are out of control. Too many families are put under a financial burden so that they can impress a few friends and make themselves feel like they are keeping up. Are they really being #moneyconscious?

    • David @ says:

      It’s a fine line between spending for the (hopefully) once in a lifetime event and being too over the top. I’m just glad Emma and I got married years ago because the bar seems to keep on being raised!

  • Zac @ Money Journal says:

    I think financial registries are a beautiful idea. If you think about it, it has become more and more common for the bride and groom to live together prior to marriage. As such, they probably already have all the staples of a home. What they really need is help paying down their student loans!

    I love it – wish I had known about this when I got married a couple years ago!

    • David @ says:

      It is the tradition in our country to give (and receive) financial gifts so it was easy for us to ask for them. Many people ended up giving us currency equivalents and it saved them from trying to think of what to get. It was a win-win all the way around!

  • Marie @ Gen Y Finances says:

    Yes I think financial gift registries are a good idea. We don’t have that here in our country but I think it is more valuable than material things. If ever it happens that I have been ask about it for wedding present, surely I will give. At least, I can help them. I already know how hard it is to become married esp when it comes to money.

    • David @ says:

      You are absolutely right that the money will help young couples out. Cash sounds tacky but they are much better than material goods because at least the couples can truly use every one of the gifts (big or small).

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