Honeymoon Registries: Tasteful or Tacky?

PHOTO: Couples massage

As with so many things wedding-related, there's a fine line between tasteful and tacky.

Most people would probably agree letterpress is preferable to Evite when it comes to the invitation. And that an over-served bride with mascara running down her face errs on the side of tacky.

But what about honeymoon registries? It's a bit like asking for cash. Or is it? Maybe it's no different from any other type of store registry. After all, those items also have a cash value attached. But the honeymoon registry, though growing in popularity and almost mainstream at this point still begs the question: Tasteful or tacky?

"At the beginning, there was resistance. It wasn't seen as tasteful," said Donna Keane, director of Distinctive Honeymoons, a company that's been offering honeymoon registries since 2005. They were one of the first. "Now it is. Every year it gets more popular."

The rise in popularity can be attributed, experts say, to people waiting to marry and already having one -- or even two -- households full of items you would normally find on a classic gift registry.

That's the case for David Giardino and his fiancé Tiffany Shaheen. They've both been living on their own for a few years and don't have the need for many of the typical items found on a traditional registry. They "haven't officially decided yet" about the honeymoon destination or whether to do a honeymoon registry. They're considering Australia and New Zealand for the trip.

"Our primary concern is the novelty of it -- many guests may not be used to this type of online gifting," Giardino said. "They may be more comfortable purchasing items off a traditional 'in-store' registry, or prefer bringing tangible items."

Even if the couple decides to go ahead with the honeymoon registry, they will still have a few items on a traditional gift registry.

Which is exactly what Anna Post, co-author of "Emily Post Etiquette, 18th Edition," suggests.

"Guests who aren't comfortable with honeymoon registry can get you a lovely decorative baking dish," she said.

And with brands like Starwood and Marriott offering these registries -- parent companies of such venerable brands as St. Regis and The Ritz-Carlton -- how could it be tacky?

It's all in how it's done, said Post.

"For example, it's better to choose an experience than to ask for the money to go into a bank account," she said.

This is how the vast majority of honeymoon registries are set up: $50 for lunch by the pool, $200 for a couples spa treatment, $300 for scuba diving.

And never, ever, put registry information on a wedding invitation, Post said. You may, however, include information about your wedding web site, which can have a link to your honeymoon and other registries.

"Make it a bridge over to finding the information," she said. Or, the registry information can be spread through word of mouth.

Final verdict? Post said the honeymoon registry is, by and large "Just fine. But you can do this well or you can do this very badly. It's all in how you do it."

And as for the happy couple?

"Our guests have told us they want to contribute in any way that is significant to us, and to our lives," Giardino said. "They know that travel is a collective passion of ours, so we hope they will understand that this is a fun, unique way to contribute to an unforgettable honeymoon."

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