Paying for student loans, IVF with wedding money? Cash, charity registries increasingly common, study says

  • Jun. 26, 2018 4:03 p.m.

Wedding season has arrived, and strolling through Target to snag another dishware set or standing mixer can become redundant and unexciting. Lucky for you, it may not even be what the couple wants or needs.

Recently, The Knot released its 2017 Wedding Registry Study, which uncovers registry trends in the United States.

The study revealed that while traditional retail registries still reign supreme — 86 percent of couples set one up — there is an increase in couples using cash and charity registries.

In 2011, only 1 percent of couples used a cash registry, compared to 6 percent in 2017. Ivy Jacobson, senior digital editor at The Knot, says this increase is because asking for cash as a wedding gift is no longer a social faux pas.

“At one point, etiquette stated that it could be a little forward to come right out and say, ‘Instead of creating a registry for my guests, I’m just going to ask them for cash,’” explained Jacobson. “But because so many couples live together before marriage now, they likely have a lot of the things they already need.”

According to the study, 49 percent of couples with cash registries used the funds to help pay for their honeymoon, while 27 percent put it toward a down payment on a home. Other uses for cash gifts included paying down student loan debt, or supplementing adoption fees and IVF treatments.

Jacobson also noted that a couple’s location can play a role in opting for a cash registry over a traditional one.

“A lot of couples in urban areas may only choose to do a (cash registry) because living in cities like New York or Chicago, you may live in smaller apartments or condos and not have a big house with space to put all these big, new gifts.”

Jacobson says that couples should be ready to explain why they have chosen a non-traditional registry. She recommends using your wedding website to do so, which 85 percent of couples have, based on the study data.

“Your wedding website is a great way to put all your registry information, like what everything is going toward, explaining why you don’t have a retail registry and why you only have a cash fund. It’s a great way to level set with everyone and let them know why you’re choosing the registry you’re choosing,” she said.

Jacobson says the same goes for couples who decide to incorporate a charity gifting option into their wedding registry, which 10 percent did in 2017, according to the study.

“As more and more couples have causes that are important to them, be it animals or a loved one affected by cancer, (a charity registry) is a really great way to ask their guests to give back and a great way for the couple to get the word and awareness out,” she said.

When charity registries were available, 15 percent of guests contributed, and couples received an average of $338 toward their cause. Among the most popular charities chosen by couples in 2017: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The Humane Society and the American Cancer Society, Jacobson said.

When it comes to which style of registry is the best option, Jacobson said it “really depends on the personality of the couple and what stage of life they’re in when they get married.”

“One isn’t any better than the other,” she said, “but if you layer them all together, it makes your registry stronger.”

Here are some of the unique benefits of each registry style.

— Traditional. “You can show guests your sense of style; they will feel like they have a peak into your home and life. Plus, people like to give something they can put in a box.”

— Cash. “The sky is really the limit with asking for what you like, whether it’s a down payment on a home or a puppy fund, you can tailor this option. With Knot Newlywed Fund (the brand’s online cash registry) guests don’t see how much is being contributed, and don’t see how much others have contributed; it’s very anonymous.”

— Charity. “So many couples have a cause that is important to them and some guests may not even know it. This is a good way to highlight that and it gives your guests the opportunity to give to something meaningful.”

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