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Honeymoon Registries: A Guide to Asking for Your Honeymoon as a Wedding Gift

Is the cost of your wedding putting the honeymoon of your dreams out of reach? Not to worry; if you already have all the kitchenware and bedding you need, and if you have generous friends and family, your problem might be solved by setting up a honeymoon registry.

A honeymoon registry is much like a wedding registry. Just as a wedding registry allows you to create a list of gifts you would prefer to receive at your wedding, a honeymoon registry allows you to create a list of places you would like to go and things you would like to do on your honeymoon. The honeymoon registry enables your wedding guests to purchase portions of your honeymoon. Yes, your guests could just contribute cash toward your honeymoon, but somehow giving a particular portion of the honeymoon—dinner at a fancy restaurant, or a carriage ride, for example—is more meaningful.

Type the phrase "honeymoon registry" into your favorite search engine, and you'll get thousands of results. There are three basic kinds of honeymoon registries:

  • Registries that require you to book your travel through the travel agency offering the registry.
  • Registries that allow you to book your travel either through the sponsoring travel agency (or other affiliated travel agencies), through the travel agency of your choice, or on your own. Usually these registries charge an extra fee or higher service charge if you choose not to book travel through the registry's parent travel agency.
  • Registries that are not affiliated with any travel agencies, requiring you to make travel arrangements on your own or through a travel agency of your choice. If a honeymoon registry sounds like the perfect solution for you, then here is a quick guide to choosing, creating, and using one:

1. Choosing the honeymoon registry
Search for the term "honeymoon registry" on your favorite search engine, and you'll come up with plenty of results. How do you choose the one that's best for you? Here are a few basic tips:

  • Take a "virtual tour" of several different registries. Start by looking for the registry's FAQ page, then look at a few examples of honeymoon registries.
  • Look for professionalism. Does the site provide a thorough explanation of its services, including all fees and service charges? Does it explain who you can contact or what you can do if you run into problems? If the honeymoon registry is run by a travel agency, does the FAQ explain the company's policy for cancelled or delayed travel?
  • Contact couples who have actually used the registry. You can find couples by looking up old honeymoon registries and doing a web search for their e-mail addresses. Or look for e-mail addresses associated with wedding home pages hosted by the registry service. Send a friendly e-mail explaining your situation and asking for advice; most couples will be happy to offer their advice.
  • Talk to someone from the registry service, either by phone or e-mail. If the registry service falls short on customer service when you're signing up, don't expect better service if a problem arises.
2. Creating the honeymoon
First, you submit some basic personal information—your names, the date of the wedding, contact information, and so on. Then you create your registry, which is an itemized list of all your honeymoon expenses. Some registries charge a setup fee, usually between $100-$150; others charge nothing to the wedding couple, but charge wedding guests a "service fee" when they buy part of the honeymoon. Most honeymoon registry websites allow you to create your registry right away over the web. Other sites put you in touch (by phone or e-mail) with a representative who helps you create your registry.

What can you list on your registry? If you can buy it, you can list it. Typical registries list transportation, lodging, activities, special amenities, and meals. Expensive items are usually broken down so guests can choose to pay only a portion of the item. For example, a honeymoon registry might list 10 gifts of $100 each toward your $1000 airfare expense.

Some honeymoon registries allow you to personalize your registry with a message to your guests and descriptions of the different parts of your honeymoon, perhaps even allowing you to upload pictures to the registry.

3. Announcing the honeymoon registry
Once your registry is set up, you need to let your wedding guests know that it exists. Many registries will provide you with printed cards announcing the registry and its web address; you can either mail them with the wedding invitation or separately. Some registries will e-mail your wedding guests if you provide their addresses.

The more tactful approach is to let your guests know about your registry indirectly. Let your parents, close friends, or wedding party members know that you have a honeymoon registry; they can pass the word along to guests. Or create a wedding web page with up-to-date information for guests, and include a link to your registry on that page. You can then list the address of your wedding web page in your invitation without directly bringing up the issue of gifts.

4. Buying gifts from the honeymoon registry
Guests look up your registry by typing your last name(s) into a search box on the registry website. After reading what you want, they click on the item(s) they want to buy and pay for the items over the website. Most registries also allow guests to purchase items by phone.

The gift-giver usually receives a certificate that is either sent to the wedding couple or to the giver (to hand on to the couple in person); some registries charge a fee to mail this certificate. Other registries notify the couple of the gift by e-mail. On any registry, you can track how many gifts you have received simply by logging into the registry.

It's important to note that most registries require guests to pay a service charge for the privilege of contributing to your honeymoon. The service charge is a percentage of the cost of the gift; the registries we surveyed had service charges ranging from 3.5% to 15%. So if a guest wants to pay $100 toward your airfare and the honeymoon registry website imposes a 10% service charge, she will end up spending $110.

5. Paying for the honeymoon
The wedding couple are ultimately responsible for paying for their honeymoon expenses. That means that any portion of the honeymoon that must be paid prior to the wedding (airfare, room deposits and so on) comes out of your pocket. Some or all of those expenses might be picked up by your guests, although most couples' honeymoon expenses are not completely covered by their registry. It's wise not to plan a more extravagant honeymoon than you can pay for yourselves.

Whatever money wedding guests contribute toward the honeymoon is placed in a holding account. The registry sends the couple a check (or electronically deposits the funds into their account) on a predetermined date, usually a week before the wedding. Even though the wedding guests paid for certain parts of the honeymoon, the couple is really free to use the money for anything they want.

6. Thanking guests
It's important to write thank-you notes to guests who bought part of the honeymoon (just as you would write thank-you notes for any wedding gift). It might actually be fun to thank guests for the honeymoon, though, because you can describe your experience in the note—you might even include a picture.

Jerry Windley-Daoust runs the Creative Honeymoon Ideas website, where you can learn more about honeymoon registries, including a side-by-side comparison of six popular honeymoon registries.

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