Guide to an Alternative Wedding Registry

Ah, the wedding registry. One of the parts of wedding planning that sounds so good in theory, and actually feels pretty challenging in practice. 

A traditional registry can be a great option for many couples, but for many others, it’s not. Maybe you’ve lived together for a while and have all the big stuff covered, or maybe you’re planning to move in the near future and don’t want extra possessions. Whatever your reasons, it’s totally possible to build an alternative wedding registry that still allows your community to shower you with gifts (they want to!) without more physical stuff. We’ll show you how.

How to Ask for No Gifts 

First, you need to explicitly say no physical gifts (sometimes referred to as “boxed gifts”) and explain why. For example, “Tricia and Brian are getting ready to move to a new city! As such, they kindly request no gifts they’ll need to pack up.” This information should be on your wedding website and provided to anyone who is hosting a bridal shower, engagement party, etc.

Why Register for Services & Other Non-Boxed Gifts 

The thing is, people still want to get you something. So, it’s helpful to have a plan for what you want people to get you in lieu of boxed gifts. These options give the gift giver an opportunity to feel like they’re getting you something tangible, and will benefit you and your partner!

bride opening gift on wedding morning
Kelsey Regan Photography

Alternative Wedding Registry Ideas

Register for a honeymoon fund 

This is common these days; many couples even include it as a line item on a traditional registry! 

Here’s how to tactfully ask for money toward your honeymoon: “Your presence is the best gift of all – we can’t wait to celebrate with you! We truly have everything we need at the moment for our home, and kindly request no boxed gifts. However, for friends & family who have inquired, we have set up a fund to help us make the most of our honeymoon to [destination] together!”

You could do this as a cash fund (many sites like Zola make this really easy) or register for experiences via a site like Airbnb

Subscriptions to Add to Your Alternative Wedding Registry

What do you and your partner love to do together? Register for more of that! Or, think about what would make your lives easier and add that to your list. Some ideas include…

  1. Wine or beer of the month club (local friends: Salt & Bubbles Coup Club is great!)
  2. Floral bouquet subscription (Farmhouse Flowers and A Clover and One Bee both provide this for Vermonters!)
  3. Meal kits or food subscriptions like Blue Apron or Butcher Box 
  4. A CSA membership to a local farm would be a great gift
  5. You can also register for subscriptions that make your life easier like a year of Amazon Prime or Instacart

Date Night Registry Essentials

This could be such a fun option and provide you with a year – or more – of fun date night ideas! For example:

  1. Movie tickets to the local theater 
  2. Passes to a local museum or attraction
  3. Gift cards to local restaurants (provide examples)
  4. A gift card to a local spa 
  5. Entertainment subscriptions like Spotify, Netflix, Disney+ etc. 

Couple kissing at bottom of ski slope after their Vermont winter elopement
Juniper Studios
A white couple pops champagne after getting married at Sterling Ridge Resort, VT
Jenna Brisson

An Adventure Lovers Alternative Wedding Registry

If you and your partner are adventurous, fuel your passion for the outdoors with a registry that helps you to get out and explore more. Consider:

  1. Passes to your local state park (or a National Parks Pass)
  2. Ski passes 
  3. Mountain bike passes 
  4. Gift cards to a gear shop you love so you can pick out something together

Register to Preserve Your Wedding Memories

Savor the feeling from your wedding for years to come with a thoughtful gift! 

  1. Floral Preservation – preserve your wedding bouquet in a one-of-a-kind piece of art. We love that this idea is sentimental, functional, and gorgeous! You can register for a gift card and work with their team to create a item that you’ll treasure for years.
  2. Wedding album –  a heirloom album can add up, so consider registering for a gift card (or fund) to create yours!
  3. Picture frames to create a gallery wall (affiliate link)

Register for Charitable Donations

In lieu of a registry, you could ask for donations to a charitable organization that holds a close meaning to you both. (This is also an excellent option in lieu of favors!)

Final thoughts on the Alternative Wedding Registry

I can pretty much guarantee that no matter how many times you say no gifts, someone is going to hand you a big white bag with a bow on top and a gift inside at some point. When that happens, be gracious. Say thank you (here’s a guide to writing the best thank you notes) and know that person is just trying to honor your marriage the way they know best!

Have You Seen the Vermont Weddings Gift Guide?

Even if you’re skipping a traditional registry, we highly suggest browsing our Gift Guide – it’s unlike any other! We’re confident you’ll find something to give your partner, anyone who helped celebrate your wedding in a meaningful way…and lots of other ideas!

Your Next Read:

Looking for more wedding advice? Check out our post on how to have the best wedding morning

Want more relatable advice? Check out any of these.