Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Alternative Registry

Wedding gifts are a great way for couples to fill up their new home with all the essentials, and even a few luxuries, in preparation for their new lives together. For some of those couples who have been living together already, they've already stocked up on all the tableware, appliances, towels, etc. that they'll need. So to skip the Crate & Barrels, Macy's, BB&B and other scanner-gunned stores, I've compiled a list of alternative (and some green) registries:

1. Etsy - Who doesn't love Etsy? You can get anything from beautiful home furnishings, custom art and photography, sewing supplies and most importantly, wedding ware like veils, groomsmen ties. Although Etsy does not have a wishlist feature, you can post an Etsy Mini to your wedding website filled with items from your "favorites" collection.

2. 41 Pounds - Now this is definitely not your typical wedding gift. This org helps decrease all that junk mail you get every day. This is not only earth-friendly, but it will also lower your chances of ID theft since your personal info won't be on display via credit card offers and the like. You could post a link via your wedding website asking for the gift of membership, or give as gifts to your wedding party.

3. Branch - For those who are still in need of housewares, why not register for products that are made from sustainable materials? You'll still get that great salad bowl, but now you know it will be made from a renewable source such as bamboo.

4. Honeyfund - Sometimes it can feel tacky just asking for money straight out. Honeyfund is a great way of asking for the money to fund your dream honeymoon, and unlike other sites, there aren't any transaction fees. So all the money your friends and family send to you will indeed end up in your pockets, and not in some third party's. I just love that it was created by a couple that kept running into other honeymoon fund websites that charged so much, and therefore decided to create their own!

5. Native Energy - Weddings can leave a big carbon footprint on earth, so why not make everyone feel less guilty by asking guests to contribute to offsetting that impact? At Native Energy, you can have guests calculate their individual carbon footprint of traveling to the wedding from home, and make a contribution amount of their choice to offset it.

6. World Wildlife Fund - At the WWF, help can come from both directions. Guests can donate in your honor, or you can donate on behalf of your guests as a wedding favor. Either way, you're doing some good for the animals. You can't lose!

7. Changing the Present - Instead of having guests donate to just one cause, you can "register" multiple non-profit orgs on Changing the Present. Their site allows you to create a real registry of noteable organizations of your choice.

8. GreenKarat - GreenKarat is definitely an alternative registry, if I've ever seen one. When you create a registry at GreenKarat, you are asking your guests to send in their unwanted gold pieces to be recycled to make new pieces of jewelry. The value of their used gold pieces can be applied to buying your new wedding rings. Now each one of your guests can become part of a bold symbol that represents your union. Any excess credit can be donated to the charity of your choice.

9. Smarty Pig - Now Smarty Pig is a brilliant idea. It lets you create different funds for different goals. Smarty Pig is an actual bank (backed by FDIC), and opening a fund with them means you've opened an actual savings account. You can set a goal such as "Filling Our New Home With Furniture" or "Help Us Buy Our First House" or "Send Us On Our Honeymoon." You can invite your guests to contribute money towards something you know you'll use. Plus, you can collect interest on those funds. If you withdraw the funds via gift cards to one of their partner retails (e.g. Home Depot), you get bonus credit. This is a great way to fund big ticket items that you wouldn't normally put on a registry, like that big couch or beautiful dining table. Or if you just don't have the time to actually go to the store and set-up a registry of all the flatware, serving ware, cutlery, etc. that you will need in the future.

I'm sure there are a lot of great and alternative ways to register for fun stuff out there, you just have to think outside of the box!

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