Manners & Misdemeanors
Are Honeymoon Registries Tacky?
An etiquette expert weighs in.
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Planning a wedding brings up numerous etiquette questions: How should you word the invitation? Who hosts the bridal shower? Do you have to feed the band?

But perhaps no one issue is so hotly debated as the registry. With millennial couples increasingly cohabitating before marriage and prioritizing travel over possessions (thanks in no small part to Instagram), it's unsurprising that so-called "honeymoon registries" or wish lists of experiences are gaining in popularity.

"More and more couples are living together; they already have what they need...and more and more people are aware of how many amazing experiences are out there waiting for them in the world," explained Sara Margulis, chief executive officer and co-founder of Honeyfund, a leading digital honeymoon registry site.

"That wanderlust is deeper in this generation than previous generations, and overall there's a trend toward experiences over things. I think people getting married now are a little bit OD'ed on consumerism," she told T&C.

"The etiquette question has been asked and answered by the Emily Post Institute. They came out and said a honeymoon registry is no different from any other registry."

But are they proper? Guests give couples items on their registry (think plane fare or a massage at the hotel spa) and then the newlyweds receive the money to pay for the experience. It's the cash part that gives some people pause, especially considering couples can add pretty much anything to their Honeyfund registry from a cruise to a home improvement project to fertility treatments.

But according to Margulis, "The etiquette question has been asked and answered by the Emily Post Institute. They came out and said a honeymoon registry is no different from any other registry."

"It's simply a wish list expressed by the couple to guide wedding guests toward a gift that they know they'll enjoy," Margulis continued. "As always, registries are just suggestions and a gift should always come from the part and it should always be met with gratitude. We really take care at Honeyfund to make sure that the giving experience is good."

Indeed, on the Institute's website there is an entire section devoted to registry etiquette, affirming that honeymoon registries are perfectly acceptable. "[It's] okay to set up honeymoon registry (as one of your "up to three" registries), reads the site.

"Where possible, describe how different contributions will be used: "$80: rental car for a day of Rob driving us through the hills of Tuscany. Donation registries are also fine, but draw the line at anything controversial. A local food bank, yes; a political candidate, no."

Etiquette expert Myka Meier, founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette agrees. "Traditionally, the idea behind a wedding registry was for those who were invited to the wedding to purchase items a couple would need to help fill the first marital home, as decades ago it was considered inappropriate to move in together before getting married," she told T&C. "In modern times however, many couples already live together and therefore have all of the home goods they need. It is nowadays absolutely appropriate and socially acceptable for couples to set up a honeymoon registry."

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However, the key, she says, is to choose a registry that identifies specifically where the money is going, for example, dinner at a local restaurant, or a scuba diving excursion. "It's more tactful than just listing an amount of [cash] and makes the person gifting feel as though they have given you an experience and not just handed over a lump sum of money."

She also suggested that the wedding couple pay any and all fees associated with the registry and that if you're choosing to have a honeymoon registry, it's a good idea to have a traditional one as a second option for those guests who would prefer to give a physical gift.

Registries of any kind should never be included on the official invitation. "Instead, it's now quite common to have a wedding website, which would be a perfectly appropriate place to include the links to where you were registered," said Meier. And all guests, whether they sent you a toaster or on a safari, deserve a prompt thank you note.

"Thank you notes for honeymoon registries should be handled the exact same as if you were to receive a tangible gift," said Meier. "As your registry would have listed the experience that someone contributed toward, it is easy to write in your thank you note (without ever mentioning the dollar amount!) something along the lines of 'Thank you for the most incredible wedding gift! We absolutely can't wait for the scuba dive experience you gifted us on our honeymoon- it's been a dream of ours to do for years!'"

And finally, a word on that so-called one-year deadline: "Thank you notes should be sent out within 3 months of receiving the gift; however, whenever possible, the sooner the better."

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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