Passing on wedding gifts, millennials prefer cash | Wedding Zone Local

Passing on wedding gifts, millennials prefer cash

When it comes to registering for gifts, a generational sea change has developed, with more and more millennial couples asking their guests to consider holding the gravy ladles and shelving the dishes in favor of gifts of a very different sort.

Young couples are opting instead to register for cash, home-repair gift cards and lavish honeymoon experiences.


Source: Linda Marx, New York Times


“It’s a generational thing,” said Nina Vitale, who oversees weddings at the Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Skaneateles, N.Y. “During the past two years, guests have been bringing mostly envelopes, no gifts.” Because so many have moved away from registering for traditional dinner and cookware, she’s jettisoned the gift table and substituted cardholders.

The gift table also often goes nearly empty at the Chattanoogan in Tennessee. “It is the social norm now to give gift cards or cash,” said Casey Reese, the hotel’s wedding specialist. “One couple posted on their wedding website that they would rather receive monetary donations than anything else.”

Meredith Fish, 35, and Adam Kriegstein, 41, of New York registered with Bloomingdale’s once they were engaged, largely because “some of my mom’s friends are uncomfortable giving money or not tech savvy to do a gift on the computer,” Ms. Fish said. But they also went with SimpleRegistry, where they asked for contributions toward a honeymoon adventure in Vietnam and Thailand. Guests could pony up for a day at an elephant camp, a romantic table set for dinner on a secluded beach or snorkeling with whale sharks.

Jason Dorsey, the chief strategy officer and a millennials researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics in Austin, Tex., sees this as a change that is continuing to accelerate. With large student loans to pay, later marriages and often houses already purchased and filled with furnishings, millennials are bypassing traditional registries.

“Couples of this generation prefer experiences over stuff,” said Mr. Dorsey, who also works with retailers and companies that cater to millennials. “Less is more. This generation of couples live in smaller spaces and don’t need gifts. They would prefer a visit to a yoga retreat or tickets to a concert. They want more personal reflections of what they value.”

Dr. Arielle Kuperberg, an assistant professor of sociology at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is researching the rise of cohabitation and how marriage in general has changed since the 1940s. “When people have lived on their own for years, it is hard to register when they marry,” Dr. Kuperberg said. “This generation of couples also cohabitate in great numbers, entertain casually, marry later. We call this the ‘independent life stage’ in sociological terms. They don’t need anything more for the house.”

Instead, she said, “They ask for cash because they often have no savings and may want to buy a new home together or be prepared for an emergency situation.”

So are wedding registries, which were all the rage two generations ago, now done for?

“Five or six years ago, I thought asking for money or lavish honeymoon experiences was tacky,” said Xochitl Gonzalez, 37, an owner of AaB Creates in New York, a wedding-planning company. “But couples today don’t need kitchen stuff, and most don’t entertain formally. So they don’t need a $200 place setting. Why not give them the honeymoon experience they want instead of cluttering their house with a gift they won’t use?”

Etiquette advisers agree it is better to write a check, buy a gift certificate or give the bride and groom something they desire, even the latest technological gadgets, rather than stuff their apartments with sterling silver and fine china that they will not use and could help create another Dust Bowl.

“When couples already have china, crystal and silver, their wish list changes,” said the etiquette expert Peggy Post, the co-director of the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vt. “The nontraditional registries are fine as long as couples suggest and not demand money.”

The wedding-gift concept has morphed into doing what makes the couple happy. Some find they have gone overboard on the wedding and feel better using gift pledges to pay bills rather than on skiing in Switzerland or surfing in Hawaii.

Drew Dolinger and Paris Wood, both 30, who are to be married Aug. 1 in Key Largo, Fla., have lived on their own and need no bed, bath or baking items, so they set up a registry at Honeyfund asking for $100 donations toward a down payment on a home. “We wanted to establish a strong financial foundation for our future,” said Mr. Dolinger, who is the minister of operations at Calvary Church in Jupiter, Fla.

Other couples sign up with Hatch My House or similar registries, also geared toward a down payment on a home or aid in fixing one up.

“Since this was my second marriage, I already had everything that we could have received as wedding gifts,” said Carrie Lewis, 38, who married Matthew Lewis, also 38, last summer. The couple asked guests for gift cards or checks to help with restoring their circa-1850 house in Brandon, Vt. “We wanted to be practical and invest in our home.”

Websites that offer couples these options can charge a fee from under 5 percent to about 10 percent to either the giver or the recipient.

Sara Margulis, the chief executive of Honeyfund, said her site, though conceived for contributions toward wedding trips, also has options for home improvements and even fertility treatments. Ms. Margulis charges a fee of 2.8 percent when a credit card is used, and finds most of the more than 400,000 couples who have registered on the site since its inception in 2006, are in the 18-to-34 age range, with wedding guests spending about $115 per gift.

Mrs. Post suggests that couples stay mindful of their more conventionally minded, perhaps cash-adverse guests. “I encourage couples to also register for something from a brick-and-mortar store to give guests a choice,” she said. “No one wants to offend.”

Sarah Pease, a Manhattan wedding planner, said that couples who would prefer to avoid registering with big-box stores can turn instead “to smaller shops and well-curated items.”

For their March wedding in Milan, where they live, Cecilia Canavesio, 30, and Nathan Sutton, 33, were at first focused on requesting gifts of money to be applied toward a wedding trip to Japan. But they came to recognize that sending money might not be acceptable to some of their guests. So they organized three registries. The request for honeymoon help was sent to like-minded friends, and for those who were disinclined to write a check, they selected La Rinascente, a department store, and Molteni & C, a home-design website with items they love.

Cathi and Chris Claflin had each lived on their own before their wedding in Miami in 2008. Yes, they registered for some fine china they loved. But higher on their wish list was their Napa Valley honeymoon, which helped fund, with one guest, for instance, paying for the couple’s hot air balloon ride, and another buying them dinner at the restaurant French Laundry.

“These experiences were so much better than receiving another gravy boat,” Mrs. Claflin, 43, said.


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