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Minnesota Bride,
Fall/Winter 2007

A Gift of Memories

How a honeymoon registry can send you packing

By Kelly Westhoff

Sarah Stepec wasn't looking forward to all the gifts she was going to get at her bridal shower and wedding reception. "I really didn't want a lot of expensive gifts," she says. "My husband and I are older. We already had a house full of stuff. Besides, we don't have a lot of space. Our house is small. I didn't want all these new things I was going to have to store."

Stepec turned to Traveler's Joy, an online honeymoon registry. She already knew that she and her husband, Seth, would be honeymooning in Cancun, Mexico after their August 2006 wedding in Hermantown near Duluth. Traveler's Joy allowed her to create a registry that listed prices for fancy dinners she wanted to eat and day tours she dreamed to take while vacationing in Cancun. With the help of a honeymoon registry, Stepec hoped her wedding guests would give the gift of experience rather than the gift of stem ware.

More and more couples are waiting to get married. Some couples live together for years before finally making it official. Some concentrate on earning higher degrees and establishing careers before settling down. Whatever the situation, many of today's wedding couples are finding their homes are already established, furnished and full. Yet brides at any age feel pressure to register for a toaster, a soap dish or even a garden hose. Wedding guests have come to expect a couple will have a number of registries from which to choose potential gifts.

"We did register at Target," Stepec explains. "We knew that some of our guests wouldn't be comfortable with a honeymoon registry. It's completely online and some of the older guests wouldn't use the Internet. They probably wouldn't be comfortable charging a gift online." Yet Stepec knew that some of her wedding guests wouldn't shy from a virtual registry. About 30 couples gave gifts towards her honeymoon registry that totaled more than $700. "Those that used the registry thought it was really cool. One couple specifically bought us dinner at the Hard Rock Café because they ate there when they were in Cancun and thought it was fun," she says.

Traveler's Joy pooled the incoming honeymoon gifts in an account for Stepec and her husband. At the time of their wedding, it collected a 7.5 percent service charge from the account, then mailed the couple a check for cash. "It was so nice just to get the cash," Stepec says. "It was enough to cover all the extras we wanted to do, and it was versatile. We weren't bound to any of the things we'd registered for." While Stepec had registered for a day tour, but it rained on the day she and her husband had planned to take it. She was relieved the tour hadn't been pre-booked. "It was fun to have the freedom to do what we wanted," she says.

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Brandon Warner, president of Traveler's Joy, understands the importance of giving wedding couples the travel flexibility that cash offers. "The average total of our registries is well over $1,500," he says. "It all depends on how well the couple promotes it." Couples often include Traveler's Joy calling cards in their invitations. And since the honeymoon registry is completely online, many couples post messages, links, pictures and video clips on their registry page and e-mail it to all their family and friends.

Traveler's Joy, Warner stresses, writes couples a check. "There are lots of honeymoon registries based out of travel agencies, hotels or resorts. Those registries make you book through them. Traveler's Joy is geared toward independent travelers who are Internet savvy. We don't do any booking." Warner's site has hosted honeymoon registries for many couples seeking far-flung adventures and the necessary cash those travels demand. He remembers one couple who registered for a stay at an eco lodge in South Africa and another who registered for a trip to China . Another couple went to Brazil; still another planned a six month road trip starting in Alaska and culminating in South America.

The remainder of this article can be found in the fall/winter 2007 issue of Minnesota Bride.


Get Booking

The following Web sites are not travel agencies and do not book travel. They host honeymoon registries. It is free to open a registry account, but there are fees.

Traveler's Joy

www.travelersjoy.com

Guests choose an item from the registry and charge the straight dollar amount to their credit card. Gifts accumulate in an account under the couple's name. The couple can withdraw money and receive a check for cash as many times as they like; however, each time money is withdrawn, a 7.5 percent service fee is taken off the top of the account's total.

The Honeymoon

www.thehoneymoon.com

Guests are charged a sliding percentage, like a tax, on top of their gift choice. Gifts under $500 are charged an additional 8.58 percent; gifts over $1,000 are charged 5.58 percent. Gifts accumulate in an FDIC account under the couple's name. The bride and groom are sent a check for cash at the time of their wedding.

Wedding Solutions

www.weddingsolutions.com

Guests are charged a 10 percent service charge on top of their gift choice. Gifts accumulate in an account under the couple's name. The bride and groom are sent a check for cash at the time of their wedding.

The following companies are travel agencies that book vacation packages. Each will arrange a honeymoon registry for clients. There are no fees for the couple or the guests, but travel specifically must be booked through them.

Enchanted Getaways

www.enchantedgetaways.com

Guests call the agency and charge a gift of any amount to help pay down the final price of the honeymoon package. If a guest would like to arrange a specific experience, such as breakfast in bed, the agent will pre-book the arrangement with the resort.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel

www.carlsontravel.com

Guests call the agency and charge a gift of any amount to help pay down the final price of the honeymoon package. If a guest would like to arrange a specific experience, such as a candle light dinner, the agent will pre-book the arrangement with the resort.

Mountain Travel Sobek

www.mtsobeck.com

Specializing in off-the-beaten-trail package tours for truly adventurous couples to Botswana , Nepal , Iceland , the Galapagos Islands and more. Guests call the company and charge a gift of any amount to help pay down the final price of the tour package.

The following hotels offer honeymoon registries. The wedding couple gets the gift in the form of a gift card or gift certificates that can be spent at any hotel within the company's chain.

Marriott

www.marriottregistry.com

Pre-book or create a Marriott wish list, collect a gift card and book travel at a later date.

Sandals Resorts

Book travel first, then register at www.weddingchannel.com.

Starwood Group

Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Le Meridian, and W hotels.

Book travel first, then register at www.weddingchannel.com.

Some privately-owned hotels also offer honeymoon registries for couples who have pre-booked travel to their resorts, like The Inn at Robert's Grove in Belize (www.robertsgrove.com). If you're thinking of booking a honeymoon at a smaller resort, call and ask if a registry is something they can provide.
 

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