Brides and grooms turn to crowdfunding for gifts

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff and Joseph Pisani - Associated Press

March 19, 2016


Erin and Peter Juzenas celebrate their wedding last August at the Barn at Trinity Peak in the Town of Oconomowoc.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Schlicht from Fresh Frame Photography

WAUKESHA - Wedding registries have morphed in recent years from blenders and Tupperware to board games and compost bins. Now, brides and grooms are increasingly forgoing the registry and instead creating an online crowdfunding campaign to help pay for their honeymoons.

Lindsay Rocamora, owner of Rain or Shine Events, said because more couples already have the items needed for their homes, they will turn to alternative gift ideas.

In fact, the Milwaukee area wedding planner said she has one couple in their early 30s who plan to set up a crowdfunding campaign for their honeymoon.

Crowdfunding websites such as Honeyfund, GoFundMe and Honeymoon Wishes make it easy to raise cash from family and friends for a post-wedding getaway. The sites charge fees for their services — as much as 10 percent of the total collected — but people are warming up to the idea, despite the cost.

In this March 1 photo, Nicole DePinto, left, and her husband, Anthony, pose for a photo with their crowdfunding page displayed on an iPad, in New York. Websites such as Honeyfund, GoFundMe and Honeymoon Wishes make it easy to raise cash for a post-wedding getaway.
Associated Press

As couples increasingly live together first and marry later, they already have toasters and towels, so traditional gift registries don't make as much sense. Honeymoon registries also provide a polite way of hinting to guests to give money instead, without breaking wedding etiquette.

Sites that help couples raise cash for honeymoons have seen their popularity soar recently. Honeyfund users, for example, raised $90 million last year, a 50 percent jump from the year before, says co-founder and CEO Sara Margulis.

Last year, 22 percent of people using the Knot, a wedding planning site, said they also used honeymoon registries, according to a survey of 6,500 customers. That's the same as the year before, but up from 17 percent in 2013 and 13 percent in 2012.

Rocamora said physical wedding gifts are less popular than they once were. She said guests don’t feel like carrying gifts with them to the hotel or ceremony and are instead opting for cash envelopes or boxes containing cash.

“I usually advise my couples not to expect a whole lot of gifts,” Rocamora said.

For those who like to know where their cash gifts are going, a crowdfunding site offers more accountability. Rocamora likes to give a gift of money, knowing that it’s going to something that encourages love for the couple, such as a destination honeymoon.

Asking for cash in the invitation is a wedding faux pas, said Kristen Maxwell Cooper, deputy editor at The Knot. But passing around a link to a honeymoon registry works, because couples can explain to guests exactly where the money will be spent, she says.

GoFundMe has collected $2 billion to date for all sorts of personal campaigns, raising money for medical emergencies, crime victims and other local causes. But the site does have a weddings and honeymoons section where users have raised $4 million since GoFundMe was launched six years ago, says media director Kelsea Little. Honeyfund, meanwhile, is more focused on honeymoons. Couples can list exactly what the cash will pay for, from hotel rooms to sightseeing tours to massages.

Major resorts and cruise lines are jumping in, using Honeymoon Wishes to power honeymoon registries built into their sites. At Carnival Cruise Line, for example, couples can ask wedding guests to pay for scuba diving excursions or horseback rides.

Other wedding trends

Rocamora said there are other wedding trends, such as people not wanting to have a large cake. Instead, the bride and groom will choose to serve pie or ask guests to bring a meaningful dessert to share. One of Rocamora’s clients requested the female guests bring a signature family dessert and they ended up with four tables of treats and making doggy bags for the extras.

The shabby chic wedding remains popular, Rocamora said, especially in Wisconsin, but in the future she things the trends will be really dramatic with sparkle and golds.

Overall, people remain cautious about how they spend their money.

“(They are) not wanting to spend $50,000 on one night,” Rocamora said, adding they would rather do things themselves so they can pay for a house or go on a honeymoon.


Want to raise cash for your honeymoon? These sites do that

NEW YORK — Thinking of setting up a registry to raise cash for a honeymoon? You have options. GoFundMe, Honeyfund and Honeymoon Wishes are among the sites that help couples ask wedding guests for honeymoon funds. The sites charge fees, so make sure to read what each one charges before committing. The companies say the fees cover payment processing and website maintenance.


How it works: This crowdfunding site, best known for collecting donations for medical emergencies and local causes, also has a section for weddings and honeymoons. GoFundMe campaigns are public and can be found by anyone, although family and friends you send the link to are most likely to donate. Fees: 7.9 percent plus 30 cents per donation in the U.S. and Canada. Fees are lower in other countries.



How it works: Couples create registries that tell guests what they’ll use the money for, such as hotel rooms, airfare, dinners or tours. Fees: 2.8 percent plus 30 cents per donation. To avoid fees, guests can send checks instead of credit cards.



How it works: Couples can use the site directly, selecting what they’ll use the money for, such as tours, dinners, airfare or hotels. Big resorts and cruise lines, such as Sandals and Carnival, also incorporate Honeymoon Wishes into their websites, sending cash directly to the companies that newlyweds use on their honeymoons. Fees: 9.65 percent. Couples can pay the fee or choose to have guests pay it.


-Associated Press