Wedding Review: Gift Registries

Friday, December 9, 2016

It turns out the corporations have discovered that the convenience of wedding registry services are a gold mine. There's one million monetary schemes and ploys for gift registries, all preying upon your guests' desires for convenience and value and expressions of support. Here's a quick overview of a few we considered:

  • Thankful Registry - Not a retailer, so you pretty much just make a list of a bunch of websites’ stuff. No completion discounts because of this. Can password protect your registry. $30/year covers credit card fees.
  • Amazon Registry - A totally legitimate option these days. Pretty straight forward for all but the Internet-avoidant. Free. Can redirect guests to different websites to buy items from other retailers. 10% completion discount on select items from registry for up to 30 days after the wedding.
  • Zola - Free, because they’re a retailer of their own items. Also lets you add stuff from external sites. Some of the lowest credit card fees on external/cash gifts (2.7%). Tells you who bought what as soon as they purchased it (it's apparently possible to send thank you cards too promptly). Also lets you decide when to ship items. Main downside is that any purchase a guest makes under $100 comes with a $10 shipping fee, although the couple can later take back that $10 and spend it how they like as Zola credits. 10% completion discount on entire site for a year (some brand exclusions).
  • Physical Stores - You can register in several physical stores and then post them all to your wedding website. Crate & Barrel (10% completion discount all store items, some brand exclusions, for 6 months), BB&B (completion discount: 10% off select registry items, 20% off all store items at in-store event), REI (10% off registry items for a year), whatever. Not many places have both lovely silverware sets, and lightweight backpacking sleeping pads, it’s okay ;)
  • Honeyfund - Be very careful with honeymoon/cash registries. It's possible to offend followers of traditional etiquette. Etiquette would suggest that if you don't want physical gifts, then don’t open a registry and pass by word-of-mouth that you're saving up for a house/teacup pig/whatever.
There's some things you need to consider when choosing a gift registry:
  1. Can grandma order something from the registry?
  2. How much does it cost?
  3. Does it allow cash gifts? If so, who pays the credit card fees? (This should NOT be your guests!)
  4. Can I put items from other stores on the registry? (If not, just list 2+ registries on your wedding website)
  5. How publicly discoverable will my registry be?
  6. Gift/Thank You tracking? (How useful is that to you?)
  7. Customizations? (i.e., add personal photos or messages to guests, ways of organizing gifts, couple determines when items ship, etc.)
  8. Restrictions on the completion discount? Both physical stores and online registries offer some sort of “completion discount”. Basically, after your wedding you are given a discount to complete your registry, and this discount often extends to everything in the store, not just what’s on your registry. The details on the restrictions is worth investigating before selecting an option.

Personalized Zola Registry
After considering these questions, we ended up with Zola. It was really nice to be able to determine when purchased items are shipped, so they did not arrive on our doorstep the week we were not at home. Unattended packages have been known to be taken hostage by porch pirates around these parts!

Yes, this means that Zola is essentially a cash registry, as when guests buy a "gift" they're actually giving the Zola credit for that gift. If you wait too long to order your items, those specific items may not even be available anymore. However, if an item is sold out there's likely a close equivalent so it all works out okay. Shipping is $10 for purchases under $100 that your guests pay, but that shipping fee can be converted into additional Zola credits if you only ship gifts when they add up to over $100. This is all rather questionable by traditional standards of etiquette, so proceed with caution.

We added images and introductory text to personalize the registry a bit. And it was really nice to be able to put a personal note on each item, so that guests could have a little back story about how the gift fills a void in our life ;)

Zola can function as a honeymoon/cash registry, allowing you to add random 'house fund' cash items and group gifting which is useful for larger items. You can also promote items from other stores, providing lots of options for your guests in one place. No need to navigate to multiple registries. You also have the option to make your registry discoverable on zola.com or not (i.e., guests would need the specific URL). So if you're a privacy nut that can be really nice.

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