By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Baltimore Sun – 04/22/2001 – 12:00am
During the 10-day honeymoon Robert and Kristin McCollum had in Italy, they enjoyed romantic gondola rides in Venice, relaxed near scenic Lake Maggiore and blew hundreds of dollars on beautiful glassware from the
famed island of Murano.
The Dallas couple had no worries about the myriad honeymoon indulgences burning away their savings. In fact, the McCollums didn’t even pay for the trip — their family and friends did, using a honeymoon registry
that allowed them to buy items like gondola rides, cappuccinos and hotel stays for the newlyweds.
“There are only so many vases and gravy boats that you can have,” said Robert McCollum, 29, who was among the
first to sign up with the honeymoon registry company Afterido.com when he got married in October 1999.
“It was a great idea because if we didn’t do it, we probably would have just stayed in Venice, gone for a shorter amount of time and it would’ve been bread and cheese every day, as opposed to going out to dinner
at nice restaurants.”
Call them crass or practical, but honeymoon registries are the latest hot trend in the wedding industry. They work like traditional registries, but instead of listing butter dishes and place settings, honeymoon
registries offer items like sunset dinner cruises, snorkeling day-trips and pocket money for nice, romantic dinners. And they’ve rapidly gained popularity in the last two years as more and more newlyweds have
decided they’d rather have friends and family give them a memorable vacation than dishes and wine glasses that they often already have.
“Couples are getting married older, and if they each have their own place, they may already have two of every item on traditional registries,” said Lori Seto, travel editor for wedding Web site Theknot.com. Honeymoon registries “make a lot of sense. Sometimes people end up getting 14 blenders when a nice honeymoon is what they really want.”
These unorthodox registries first surfaced about six years ago with the founding of the earliest known honeymoon registry firm, Honeyluna.com. Nancy Bombace, who started the Northern California company,
said the idea came to her as she was planning her own wedding and realized she and her fiance didn’t need any household items.
However, they had planned a six-week European honeymoon and were trying to figure out how to enjoy themselves without going into too much debt. So they decided to create a registry where friends and family could buy them items like tickets to a jazz festival in Hague or a night at a hotel.
“Our friends were relieved when we told them about the registry because we had said, ‘We aren’t registering anywhere,’ and they were mad because they wanted to honor our wedding with a gift,” said Bombace, whose registry ended up covering 60 percent of her $10,000 honeymoon. “Our friends were so enthusiastic because they knew us and they knew how much we love to travel. And we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves on our honeymoon and not feel so guilty about this elaborate trip.”
Bombace was so happy with her honeymoon registry experience that she launched Honeyluna.com in 1995 and has doubled her business every year since. She now has more than 200 active registries on her Web
site at any one time. About 50 percent of her clients do the honeymoon registry as a supplement to a traditional one.
Bombace now has competition not only from travel agencies that are beginning to offer the service but also from honeymoon registry companies like Afterido.com and Yourhoneymoonregistry.net.
The registries are gaining popularity for many reasons — the biggest being that men and women are getting married later in life and have already established their own homes, dishes and all. In 1980, the average age for a groom was 24.7 years and 22 years for a bride, according to the U.S. Census. In 1998, the average age had climbed to 26.7 years for grooms and 25 for brides.
Many of these older, modern couples are living together before marriage and are bucking tradition by paying for their own weddings. Honeymoon registries help to ensure that they have a good first vacation together as a married couple — even after footing the bill for their nuptials.
Then there’s also the increase in second marriages in America. Susan Walker said she signed up with Yourhoneymoonregistry.net for her May 26 wedding because she’d been down the aisle before and didn’t need another set of china. Instead, the registry for her 10-day honeymoon in Hawaii features items like windsurf rentals, breakfasts in bed and a kayaking tour followed by a picnic on the beach.
“We really didn’t need anything,” said Walker, 37, an interior design vice president in Jacksonville, Fla. “My philosophy is, I think my guests would rather know that they gave us something that we’re going to enjoy,
rather than something that’s going to sit in the closet or get returned for money.”
As practical as honeymoon registries are in modern times, they do have some drawbacks. While most places like Crate & Barrel or Macy’s don’t charge couples for traditional registries, honeymoon registries sometimes come with a fee — especially if the trips are to unusual destinations.
Honeymoon registry companies report that Hawaii, the Caribbean, Tahiti and Europe are the most popular picks for newlyweds, so couples seeking places far off these well-trod paths may have to pony up extra cash to custom-design their vacation. And couples also risk offending guests who might see these newfangled registries as thinly disguised, gauche requests for cash.
However, Sue Fox, author of “Etiquette For Dummies,” assured couples that honeymoon registries are perfectly acceptable.
“It could maybe be in bad taste if the bride and groom had both been married before and they were doing really well professionally, so it doesn’t look good for them to ask people to pay for their honeymoon,” Fox
said. “But if it’s done in good taste, there’s nothing wrong with it. People need to remember that etiquette changes with the times.”
Fox cautioned couples to discuss the registry with close friends and family before signing up so they won’t be shocked. But many couples who have created honeymoon registries said their friends seemed more thrilled than shocked with the idea. Darinda Sharp, a friend of Robert McCollum’s, said she can understand how some might feel that buying a portion of a honeymoon isn’t as good as giving a physical item that the couple can keep for a lifetime.
Honeymoon Registry Tips
• Start putting together your registry eight to 10 months in advance to ensure airplane and hotel availability. It’s April and lodgings in Tahiti for September already are 90 percent booked up, so start planning early to avoid disappointment.
• Do your research before picking a place to register. Some travel agents that advertise honeymoonregistries have it set up so friends and family mail checks to the company to pay for the trip. If you’d prefer a more specialized registry where guests can buy you specific items like a sunset catamaran cruise, try a firm that just does honeymoon registries.
• Look for a flexible registry. Some companies charge a fee if you want to add items or make other changes after the registry is fully set up. Be sure to ask if this is the case.
• Make sure that you can afford the core items — lodging and airfare — so you can still go on your honeymoon even if no one gets them for you. Family and friends often prefer buying the fun stuff like scuba diving or horseback riding, so those items get snapped up first.
• Try not to appear greedy. Registering for a $300 dinner every night, for example, might turn off your guests.
• As with traditional registries, let guests know about your honeymoon registry through your family or bridal party. The information should not come from you and it especially should not be included in the