The new register: needs versus wants

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As couples continue to adjust their wedding plans due to the pandemic, it’s no surprise that marriage records are also different.

Many have become more practical and considerate.

The requests for fine china and ornate linens have been replaced with outdoor furniture and grills. Airline gift cards are on the decline and Grubhub and streaming services are on the rise. And this pandemic puppy needs some loot, too. Couples are now signing up for four-legged themed items. About Zola a popular registry service, pet gift cards are up 78%.

Meredith Maher and Rich Carmody, who got engaged in July 2019 and postponed their September 2020 wedding to next July 9, changed registers last April and then again in December.

“Money is tight. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to hand out their savings to give us a nice gift, ”said Ms Maher, 29, who picked up her $ 1,000 Juliska bar cart and big-ticket items from Waterford with everyday cutlery and a ‘house fund.’ In May, the couple did not renew their Manhattan lease and now live with their parents in Connecticut.

“I never thought we would put a ‘house fund’ on our list, but a house is more exciting and more necessary than an expensive jug,” Ms. Maher said. “A lot of people we know have added sofas and furniture to their registry because they had to move due to the pandemic.”

Zola saw spikes in air purifiers, up 43%, coolers, outdoor fireplaces, vacuums, air fryers and beach towels. “Yeti cooler” is the second highest search term on the site, just behind the cutlery. And the company has created a “home workout” category that includes over 100 items, such as a Peloton bike, exercise mats, and weights.

“Within weeks, couples expanded the scope of their registries to include the hobbies they discovered during the pandemic,” said Maya Simon, senior vice president of registry and e-commerce at Zola. “They have embraced this new lifestyle with more enthusiasm than we expected to see.”

The couples greeted the artistic endeavors with surprising enthusiasm. Online courses, virtual experiments and passionate DIY projects have become pandemic stress relievers and antidotes to boredom.

“My fiance started cooking because we have so much free time now so we are making things we never would have done before like homemade bread, pasta and gravy,” said Chelsea Zesch, 30. years old, who lives with her. fiancé, Josh Jones in Cincinnati. They got engaged last April and since the pandemic their registry has shifted to home improvement, entertainment and kitchen items.

“We added a number of things that we didn’t think we needed at the start; a fancy weed eater, an extendable ladder, lawn chairs for eight, a badminton set, and specialty cooking utensils like a pizza stone and a Dutch oven, ”said Ms. Zesch, whose marriage is scheduled for September 18. “As the pandemic was occurring. we bought things on our register ourselves like towels, bedding and a hammock, because we were so at home.

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Honeymoon sites have been hit hard as many couples halt travel plans or choose to explore locally. “We pivoted when we saw couples delay their weddings,” said Brandon Warner, founder of TravelersJoy.com, a honeymoon wedding registry specializing in providing unforgettable travel experiences.

“People were moving on to local experiences and stay-at-home registry requests, like online yoga or virtual cooking and cocktail classes, so that’s what we added,” Mr. Warner said. .

“Couples get creative. This could include asking for a giant Jenga game, the ability to hire a luxury car for the day, or a host of high-tech camping gear. Before that, no one had signed up for bikes or puzzles. Now it’s on people’s lists.

In June, the site reoriented its focus and categories towards more local and experiential activities. “Stay at Home” suggested items like a disc golf set for two and other lawn games, while “Stay at Home” offered monthly subscription services like coffee, flowers, and grass. Classes. “We also added US instant check-in destinations, like Charleston, Palm Springs and Vermont,” Mr. Warner said, where previous locations could have been snorkeling in the Maldives or a train ticket from Madrid. in Barcelona.

In 2019, 24,000 couples took trips thanks to gifts received through Traveler’s Joy. In 2020, that number was only 9,000. Six thousand of those trips were local, and only 3,000 ventured out of state. “These are not typical places for your honeymoon. We send couples to exotic places like New Zealand, Japan, Amalfi Coast. But that says couples still want to find a way to celebrate their marriage and have a sense of exploration. “

Other companies have not managed to navigate as successfully.

Honeyfund.com is a cash wedding gift registry that acts as a crowdfunding site for couples to fundraise for their honeymoon. Last year the company lost 75% of its revenue, but it hopes to recoup most of that loss this year.

“There are fewer gifts because couples are postponing their wedding or running away, so the wedding guests are delaying sending their gifts or buying them because everything is imminent and they don’t know what to do,” said Sara Margulis, a founder and CEO of Honeyfund.com.

“Since Covid, we’ve created a new ‘flexibility fund’ where clients can add to what couples need. Instead of using the money for a honeymoon, couples are raising money to pay for their wedding. himself Others who have lost money on their deposits try to get it back from their guests.

For Ms. Maher and Mr. Carmody, and others like them, changing their lists came down to simple things. “People see their marriages and their registry differently now. It’s what I need, rather than what I want, ”she said. “Our priorities have changed. It is not a question of who gives what. It’s about offering flexibility to others and asking for things that we will really use instead of expensive things that we will only use once a year.

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