Navigating the Honeymoon Fund
It's no secret that honeymoon funds have been on the rise for several years, often in lieu of traditional wedding gift registries.
And that makes a lot of sense as the average age of couples, the percentage living together before the wedding, and even the number who already own a home together has been rising. These couples already have homes filled with everything they need, so asking for a few additional knick-knacks in a traditional gift registry can feel a bit tacky.
Younger couples are opting for smaller residences over larger houses and tend to value adventure and travel over material goods. They're opting for registries that help satisfy their wanderlust, provide them with mutual experiences they'll both cherish, and provide some kind of stability in their lives together, all without adding clutter in their homes.
However, despite their rise in popularity, honeymoon fund and cash registries are still a topic of (sometimes rather heated) debate. Older wedding guests tend to see them as rude or in bad taste. That's why we've created this guide to honeymoon fund etiquette. We'll take you through the nine things you need to know when creating your honeymoon registry.
1. Choose the right fund
When it comes to choosing your honeymoon fund registry service, there are several factors to consider, which may include aesthetic, reliability, security, and fees, just to name a few. With at least a dozen well-known registries out there, choosing which one to use can be a daunting task. We've listed a few of our favorites below, but encourage you to do your research to find one that works best for you.
With an average of 18,100 Google searches each month and a notable appearance on ABC's Shark Tank, Honeyfund is arguably the most popular honeymoon fund on the market.
Honeyfund can be used without any fees to you or your guests when you opt to receive your funds on a digital gift card instead of a bank transfer. If you do opt for a bank transfer, you'll be charged 2.8% + 30 cents per transaction. That means if your guest sends you $100, you'll only get $96.90 of it. Guests also have the option to send cash or checks, which are never charged a fee.
While Honeybook is free to sign and up and use, there's a $40 fee if you want to use its advanced features and custom designs.
I am a big fan of The Knot Cash Funds, especially since it integrates so well into The Knot's wedding website platform.
The big controversy here is the 2.5% processing fee that is charged to your guest. If they choose to send you $100, they'll actually be charged $102.50. There are some gift-givers who would scoff at this upcharge, but really, this is less than the taxes and shipping they would pay to purchase a tangible gift for you, so it's really not that unreasonable.
As one of the original platforms in the honeymoon fund market, Traveler's Joy has really figured it out. It's easy to use and gives you lots of ideas for honeymoon activities wherever you're traveling.
Their fee structure is set up so you decide whether you will pay, the guests will pay, or you split the fee 50/50. The service fee is 2.95% with an additional credit card processing fee of 2.95% + 99 cents. If a guest is sending a $100 gift, $6.89 will either be deducted from the gift amount, added to the total balance owed by the guest, or shared between you. Like with Honeyfund, their system allows for gifts by cash and check, which are not charged a fee.
While more registry platforms are trending this way, Zola calls itself the universal registry. That is because you can register for just about anything on their site. In addition to honeymoon fund registries and traditional registries through a variety of retailers (and Zola's own marketplace), you can also add items from other sources, like Etsy. No matter where or what you register, your items all appear in one place.
The processing fee here is 2.5% which can be charged to guests or the couple.
They are a universal registry and charge a 2.5% processing fee just like Zola, but they do not have their own marketplace of gifts to add.
With a 2.65% credit card processing fee to your guests and a whopping 7% service fee that can be charged to either guests or couples, Honeymoon Wishes is the most expensive entry on this list.
However, they are unique because they partner directly with resorts and businesses around the world to allow your guests to actually purchase your honeymoon experiences rather than sending you cash that you may or may not use as intended. It can feel a little more like a gift to actually purchase your beachfront champagne and dining experience than to send you $100 representing the experience.
2. Create an itinerary before you start your registry
While most of the honeymoon fund registries listed above offer excellent ideas for things to do while on your honeymoon, I recommend you take some time together to really think through what you'd like to do, see, and experience before peeking at the registry sites.
Before you register, think through (and maybe even book) the essentials of your trip. These include flights, lodging, and regular meals. Once you have these mapped out, you'll have a rough timeline and be better equipped to add items to your wishlist. If travel logistics make you cringe, consider hiring a travel agent. Most will work for zero additional cost to you (they make their money from the resorts, airlines, and businesses they're booking for you). At Woodland Events, our preferred travel agent for honeymoons is SunKissed Travel. We'd love to put you in touch!
Once you've got the essentials down, list the things on your registry that you would really like to do. Maybe your honeymoon is at a beach resort and you really want to swim with the dolphins. Or perhaps you're going on a cruise and a certain excursion is calling your names. These are the perfect things for your registry!
Finally, create a list of "would be nice to have" experiences to fill in the rest of the time on your vacation. If nothing is coming to mind, this is also a great time to explore all of those great suggestions on the registry sites. Think outside the box and have fun when you come up with this list!
3. Let people know why you're opting for a honeymoon fund
As I mentioned before, some of your guests may find your honeymoon fund registry distasteful. That's why it's a good idea to write on the registry page of your wedding website your reasons for starting the fund. It may be that you already have everything you need to start your lives together or that you live in a small apartment for now and don't have enough room for many tangible gifts.
Whatever the reason, let your guests know.
4. Set up a separate bank account for funds to go to
If you are having funds from your honeymoon registry direct deposited to your bank account, it's a good idea to start a separate account exclusively for this money.
I've found that some couples who have the funds placed into their regular checking account tend to accidentally dip into those funds to pay for things other than their honeymoons, like their rent, a new toy, and upgrading to delivery instead of pickup from local restaurants.
If your guests are gifting you money designated for your honeymoon, you should be using it for your honeymoon.
5. Be descriptive about your plans and opt for a larger number of smaller items.
Generally speaking, people prefer to know they paid for a special part of your vacation. They'd rather cover the cost of "The bride's Saturday night rooftop dinner at [insert name of fancy restaurant here]" than paying for 1/16th of your round trip flight.
Take the lists you made in step two and break them up into small pieces. Try to keep most of them to $100 or less (though you can have a few "luxury" items in the $300 - $500 range).
6. Include at least a few items in a traditional registry
No matter what you say or do, there's going to be at least one person (probably your Aunt Karen) who will insist on giving you a tangible gift. Even if you only include 2 or 3 items each from Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Williams-Sonoma, your traditionally-minded guests will feel at ease.
7. Don't include the registry information on your invitation.
This has always been and remains true. Whether you're doing a traditional registry or a honeymoon/cash fund, you should never include your registry information in your invitation suite.
Instead, opt to send a link to your wedding website, which has a page with your registry on it. Otherwise, rely on word of mouth from your parents and friends.
8. Be flexible with your vacation details.
While you should be spending the honeymoon funds you receive on your honeymoon, it's okay to make some changes to your itinerary and use funds in different ways. I cannot tell you the number of times I've created an itinerary jam-packed with things to do on a vacation only to arrive at my hotel and fall asleep through the first evening.
And that's okay. It's vacation!
But if your friend gifted you tickets to see a special symphony performance and you miss that because your plans shifted, try to find something else to do while you're away (maybe treat yourselves to an extra special dessert the night of the concert).
9. Send special thank you cards
Your guests will love seeing how you used their gifts on your honeymoon! Once you return, be sure to send thank you cards with photos of you doing the activities people paid for. If your aunt and uncle paid for your couple's massage, send them a cute photo of you two waiting for your massage in your robes.
For that friend who gifted you symphony tickets that you missed, acknowledge the original intent and let them know you weren't able to make it, but you still had an INCREDIBLE creme brulee at a historic French patisserie! Be sure to include a photo of you clinking your spoons before the first bite!
Have additional helpful tips? Want us to add or change any information? Have a question we can answer in a future post? Let us know in the comments below!
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