Meet: A Wedding Registry Game-Changer

Oh, wedding registries. Couples both love and fear the wedding registry. Love comes from the fact that you get to make a huge list of items you want to start your new life and home, and your friends and family generously purchase some of them for you. Fear comes from registering for too many things, for the wrong items, or the fact that you may end up with that weird butter dish you had to register for to get the cool extra gift, rather than the new coffee maker you have been lusting for. And taking the bar-code-scanning-thingy to use to your heart’s content in Macy’s is actually really fun, but quite time consuming!

But times, they are a-changing! Like nearly 90% of everything we do, registries can now easily be made through stores’ websites. This actually can be quite handy if that perfect place-setting isn’t available in your local store. And thanks to everyone’s favorite website–that would be Amazon.com people–you can now build registries full of items from a wide variety of stores. You are no longer restricted to picking 2-3 stores.

Another great new trend revolves around the simplest gift of all: cold, hard cash. Card boxes seem to fill more easily than the gift table at weddings and gift cards are sometimes the easiest option to select (especially if you waited until the day before the wedding!). We know people think you need to take the time to pick out that personal, thoughtful, “this made me think of you!” gift, but that is a really hard thing to do! Luckily, cash is no longer viewed as the impersonal gift of choice.

So, let’s combine both of those new trends–the internet and cash–and present to you what could be the end-all-be-all for wedding registries: Zola.com. This amazing little site (which is still in the start-up phases) allows you to do so many things:

  • Create the cutest little registry site with greetings and photos.
  • Add any gift from nearly anywhere: you can shop their featured items and brands or put direct links to items from any website. For other websites, Zola will pull all the relevant information and send the cash for that gift directly to you to purchase.
  • Barcode scanner. Miss the experience of finding items in store? Upload a pic of the bar code and Zola will upload the item for you.
  • Want a big ticket item? No problem. You can create “group gifts” meaning people can contribute any amount towards that item. Even if you don’t get 100% of the money for the gift, Zola will still send you the funds.
  • Want people to contribute to your honeymoon or directly to the wedding? You can make different wedding categories or honeymoon experiences for people to contribute cash funds to. Similar to Paypal, there is a small processing fee, but you can give people the option to cover that fee for you.
  • One of our favorite things: experiences. Available in a few select cities (including Los Angeles!), guests can actually purchase curated experiences or services. Cool options include cooking classes for the couple, farmers market meal delivery service, CSA subscriptions, even cleaning/painting/handyman services!
  • Makes shipping super easy. The website allows you to decide when gifts should arrive (like after the honeymoon!), and how and when you transfer funds from the website into your own personal account. Another interesting option? You can convert cash gifts into credits to use for items in Zola’s online store.
  • Gift tracking all in one place. Addresses are logged for anyone that purchases you gifts (including the group gifts), so thank you’s are a breeze!

Pretty awesome, huh? We are sorting of wishing we could re-do the registry thing now… Happy shopping!

Do I Have to Give a Gift??

Wedding gift etiquette.  It’s a tough one and can sometimes be super awkward when you’re not sure what’s an old custom and what’s the current requirement.  So we’re gonna give a little breakdown for you, though keep in mind, some of these you have to use your best judgement. There is not always a “right” answer for everything.
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1. How much do I spend?
This totally varies.  Are they a really close friend or family member?  Are they someone you work with and don’t know exceptionally well?  Is there one or two of you attending?  Are you doing well financially or are you 22 and just starting off on your own.  All of these are factors.  In general, you spend a little more on close friends and family than you may have to on a casual friend.  But a range of $75-$150 for a single person to a couple is acceptable, and a gift from $100-$200 is acceptable for an older couple who is more well off and of close familial relationship.  To give a gift determined by how much your dinner costs per person is just an old and silly rule.  No need to spend $400 because you go to a fancy $200pp wedding!

2. I can’t make the wedding – do I have to send a gift?
This one is your call, believe it or not.  I think the common misconception is that you have to send a gift if you’re invited to the ceremony.  But the truth is, if you’re not close with them, you can make the call if you’d like to send a gift.  It is not mandatory. Sometimes sending a congratulatory card is nice.  Really, the couple should consider who they’re inviting before they send invites, because it does put pressure on a person to feel they need to send a gift.

3. It’s a destination wedding and I am already spending so much.
Sorry, this does not automatically mean you don’t have to give a gift.  I know the costs add up – travel, hotel, bridesmaid dress, eating out, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t also give a gift.  It 100% allows you to scale down immensely on the price of your item.  Sending something small but thoughtful is the best way to go.  And if you really can’t find the extra money, send a card thanking them and congratulating them.  They will at least know that you thought of them and it will be understood that you couldn’t afford a gift as well.

4. Should I give off their registry?
I am married to someone who likes to go strictly from the registry.  I personally hate to give gifts off it!  I want to shop and seek something out that feels like “them”, but my husband wants to make sure they get something they want (and then reminds me of gifts we didn’t particularly love).  My advice: go with your gut.  But if you buy something off registry, include a receipt so they can always exchange it.  As for cash, perfectly acceptable to give inside of a card.  It’s 2013.  Everyone gladly accepts (and appreciates) cash!

5. Do I bring the gift to the wedding?
This depends on the location of the wedding.  If it’s a local wedding (to them!) and in their hometown, then yes, you can bring the gift.  But if you are going to a wedding in your town and the guests are not from there, think of what a pain it will be to have to drive or send their gifts home.  Bring a card or ship their present ahead of it.  Same goes for showers.  Feel free to ship the present if you know they are visiting from out of town.

6. I forgot to buy a gift, do I get a year after the wedding to send one?
Nope.  Sorry to bare the bad news, but this is pretty unacceptable. I have yet to meet one bride who actually received a gift one year after their wedding from a friend who forgot.  It is rude and inappropriate when you have known for so long about the wedding.  The maximum time you get is 3 months to send a gift, or it’s just not polite.

7. I’m a plus one – do I have to bring a gift.
Technically, no.  But it is appropriate to talk to your date and offer to contribute to the gift.  Chances are they will say no, but you should certainly make the gesture in case they were feeling like you should contribute since they asked you along. If you are the date of a sibling, then you should definitely give a gift! Especially if you are just a friend and invited to keep them company. The sibling won’t be giving a typical gift, so make sure you contribute or give a gift of your own.  At least give a card to the couple to say congratulations.

8. My whole family is on the invite, do I have to give my own gift?
If you’re 20 or younger, probably not.  But if you are 22 and living on your own (and especially if you’re bringing a date!), then you absolutely need to bring a gift.  You are an adult now and should show appreciation for an invitation in an appropriate manner. Feel free to spend closer to your budget, even if that means you spend $30 at Crate & Barrel.

9. It’s the second marriage, do they need a gift?
Not necessarily.  If it is a second wedding for both newlyweds, then you do not need to send a gift.  You can and it is always appreciated, but it is not frowned upon if you do not.  If it is the second marriage for one of them and you are friends with the first-timer, then yes, you should give a gift. If you are friends of the other spouse, it is polite since they are still starting a life with someone new, but it is not mandatory.  You be the judge, as it should really be a judgement call on the couple, their needs and your relationship.

10. I’m the bride, how do I tell them where I’m registered?
This is one of those thank God for the internet moments, because you can put where you’re registered on your wedding website.  Where not to list it? Your invitation.  It is definitely looked at as inappropriate to put where you’re registered on your invite.  If you would like to give your guests a reminder, you can include an insert that reminds them ti visit your website for complete details.  Otherwise, it’s up to your mom and family to spread the word.  Don’t worry, people will find out.

While you have to use a lot of circumstantial judgement on these tips, they are good rules of thumb to go by.  When in doubt, send a small gift and a card.  Everyone loves acknowledgment!

The Perfect Gift

Well of course the planner in me would tell you that there is no such thing as a “perfect gift” that fits every bride or groom. But I have say, this comes pretty close. Not in the sense that this will get “used” the most like new dishes or the perfect knife set (I strongly recommend registering for a tomato knife, it will change your life), and not in the sense of of satisfying the “need” category like an actual good vacuum or wine glasses that don’t have a vineyard’s logo on it (yes, wine glasses are a need in my book). But this is a gift of different meaning – a gift of sentiment. A gift that will be kept forever and touch anyone’s heart.

I had the fortune of meeting the lovely Lindsey Passen just a month ago at a soiree, and of course immediately fell for her delightful personality and chic style. It was only then that I found out that she was an artist, as all cool people are. Even better? She specializes in drawing bridal gown illustrations! My heart melted and I instantly knew we had to be friends.

So remember that feeling how your fell in love with your dress and you couldn’t stop looking at a picture of it every day and you would just *sigh*. Now think of how cool fashion designers are (Project Runway anyone?) and you see them sketching their fab ideas on paper which look like mini pieces of art in their own right. This is kinda the reverse. The talented Lindsey Passen takes an image of YOU in your gown, then goes backwards and whips up a delectable drawing of you in your gown for you to keep forever. It’s your own artists sketch of what your dress is, on you, as art. So that fortune you spent on the gown? Not gone to waste, because it’s essence has now become artwork on your wall! And the best part? You don’t have to starve yourself to fit into it again because you’ll forever be remembered as that perfect size!
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Whether for yourself, your sister, your bff or someone who deserves a bad ass gift, Gown Illustrious is the way to go. Or you could always just leave the website open for your new spouse to see … Check out Lindsey’s work here and learn more about her process and how you can get your one of a kind image and the perfect gift! And of course, she ships everywhere:)