Tidewater Traveler - January 2009
Toasters, blenders, electric blankets, monogrammed towels, stemware, silverware - what do these things have in common with travel? They all make nice wedding gifts. Well, some may make nicer wedding gifts than others.
Following receipt of a wedding invitation in the mail, most of us have participated in a conversation that goes like this – “What can we get them? Between them, they already have most of what a functional household needs - maybe two of everything. Do we just give them money? That seems so impersonal. It would be so nice to give them something they will remember.”
According to Wikipedia (the Funk and Wagnall of the Internet age) the average age at first marriage in the United States has been climbing in the last four decades. In 1960 the average age at first marriage was 22 for men and 21 for women. Younger marriages prevailed through the ’60s and ’70s; and then the trend reversed.
In the last quarter-century, both men and women have shown a considerable increase in age at marriage. Men are now on average two years older when they marry compared to men in 1980. Women are three years older on average now, than in 1980. Today the average age for a bride is 26 and the average age for a groom is 27.
These are the average ages for first marriages. No one needs an analysis of statistics to realize that today there are far more second and third marriages than in the past. These trends complicate the dilemma of shopping for and choosing just the right gift for the happy couple, because in most cases they already have everything they need.
Do you remember the term “setting up housekeeping?” Years ago it was the goal of family and friends to help the young couple set up housekeeping through the careful choice of gifts for the wedding and wedding showers. Today – not so simple, unless . . . unless you start thinking outside the box. Outside the gift box that is! There is one thing that nearly all newlyweds want – a nice honeymoon!
A honeymoon?!? That’s expensive; we can’t afford to give them a honeymoon! Right – most of us cannot afford to buy the happy couple a Caribbean cruise or a seven-night stay in Jamaica. But think about it, back in the days when family and friends contributed toward setting up housekeeping, how did it work?
As soon as the engagement was announced, and sometimes sooner, the bride (and maybe the groom) would visit the local jewelry store and carefully select a silverware pattern, also dinnerware and glassware patterns; and then, they REGISTERED those patterns with the store, indicating precisely the type and quantity of items desired. Next, it would then be made known to the eager friends and relatives where the bride had registered her wishes.
Eventually department stores caught on to the gift registry idea and developed in-store and on-line computerized gift registries, allowing the couple to identify specific products. Think about it – most gift buyers did not purchase all the silverware needed to adorn an entire table for twelve. Instead, they bought just one place setting – one spoon, one knife, one fork, and maybe some extras - but certainly not enough to set an entire table. Why not think of a honeymoon as a set of independent parts and pieces also?
In recent years most travel agencies and travel planners have seen the value of offering a honeymoon registry for their clients. Just like the fine, patterned silverware, a honeymoon can be broken down into components, making it affordable for gift-givers to select something that can be a memorable gift for the newlyweds.
Imagine choosing from a list such as: dinner on the beach; breakfast in bed; swimming with the dolphins; hang-gliding; biking down the volcanic mountain; a sunset dinner cruise; a spa pampering; tickets to a concert or show; a round of golf; or maybe even travel insurance (if they need to use it they will never forget your gift!).
Sometimes the honeymoon registry is set up as a HoneyPot© that allows friends and family to contribute any amount they wish to a fund to be used toward honeymoon expenses at the bride’s and groom’s discretion. The HoneyPot©, or its equivalent, may mean the difference between staying in a standard hotel room or staying in the honeymoon suite. Maybe it could even get them upgraded to first class air seats or enable them to have a private limo at their destination.
Usually honeymoon registries are established by the bride and groom working with a travel planner. The couple chooses a destination and lists some of the activities or features they would enjoy. The procedure for notification of family and friends varies. Often the travel planner provides informational cards that can be enclosed with wedding announcements or in shower invitations. Sometimes folks are simply directed to a special Web page personalized with the bride’s and groom’s travel wishes.
The gift-giver decides how much to spend, contacts the designated travel planner and then chooses from the list prepared by the wedding couple. After the purchase an attractive gift card or certificate is usually made available for presentation to the bride and groom.
Next time you ask or hear the question “What can we get them?” check to see if the bride and groom have established a honeymoon registry.
May all of your travels be happy and safe!
George Sellers is a Certified Travel Counselor and Accredited Cruise Counselor who operates the popular travel Web site and travel planning service SellersTravel.com. Comments or suggestions about Tidewater Traveler articles may be directed to George@SellersTravel.com.