According to industry powerhouse The Knot, the average U.S. wedding costs $35,329—including $16,107 for the venue, $2,783 for a photographer, $1,245 for a deejay, $582 for a cake and $278 for an officiant. That’s an astounding outlay for a one-day celebration, and it is amazing that any of today’s couples have money left over for their honeymoons at all.
Some don’t—or at least not enough to cover the trip of their dreams. And many are choosing to forgo the usual blenders, toasters and silver gravy boats in favor of more adventurous gifts such as whale watching tours, cage diving excursions and jet ski rentals instead. How do they encourage family and friends to make such memorable contributions? They use Traveler’s Joy to create a honeymoon registry.
Brandon Warner, the company’s CEO and co-founder, recently spoke with RewardExpert about the inspiration behind this innovative service, how it works, and his best tips for funding a dream honeymoon of your very own.
Traveler’s Joy’s Founding and Growth
In the early 2000s, Warner and the company’s other co-founders, Tony Alexander and Kyle Duffy, were at that age when many of one’s friends start to get married. “We were in our early- to mid-20s,” he recalls. “And we found ourselves going to a lot of weddings and buying a lot of things that we couldn’t believe we were actually purchasing, such as silver spoons and place settings.”
“We were also big travelers, and would try to go all over the world whenever we could,” he continues. “So, we thought it would be cool if our friends—who also loved to travel—could register for trips, such as expeditions to New Zealand, instead of all this stuff that we knew they probably didn’t really want.”
One day, while sitting on the stoop of Warner’s then-home in Brooklyn, the three realized that between them they had all the skills they needed to make such a dream possible.
“Tony had the development background to actually build the platform, and Kyle and I had the marketing backgrounds to share it with brides and grooms to be,” Warner says.
Less than a year later, in 2004, they launched Traveler’s Joy.
“In the beginning, it was mainly geared towards couples who were taking trips to exotic locations,” Warner explained. “Since then, it has become more common for people to register whether they’re going to Southeast Asia or Disney World.”
With offices in Durham, North Carolina, as well as Cincinnati, Ohio, and 10 full-time employees, Traveler’s Joy has since helped more than 341,000 members create honeymoon registries. The service’s popularity is steadily increasing every year.
“In 2016, we saw a 20 percent increase over 2015,” Warner says. “People are getting married later in life, combining households or already living together. They don’t need the traditional, typical housewares registry. The honeymoon registry market is increasing as a result, and we get such a good feeling from helping folks do this.”
How the Honeymoon Registry Works
Registration is free and requires little more than your names, mailing address and email address as well as the creation of a password and selection of a security question. Traveler’s Joy then creates a custom URL for your registry, which you can begin building immediately using the Instant Registry feature or from scratch with your own travel plans, gift images, videos and descriptions.
Once your registry is complete, you can send the URL to friends and family, include it in your invitations, and publish it on your wedding website. Guests will use the URL to navigate to your registry page where they can then make monetary gifts towards the activities and experiences you’ve listed. While there is a small fee for contributions made by credit card, cash or check gifts are 100 percent fee-free.
When you’re ready to make payments towards your trip, you can cash out your gifts by bank check, wire transfer or PayPal transfer. Because Traveler’s Joy is a registry service and not a travel agency, you can book your flights and adventures through whatever companies you choose. And when your honeymoon is over and it’s time to let your guests know how much you enjoyed your adventures, you can use your registry to automatically generate a thank you list.
Best Practices for Building Your Own
“I always suggest that new members use our Instant Registry functionality to build a foundation,” Warner says. “We have Instant Registries based on themes—such as mountains or the beach—as well as specific destinations—such as Paris, London or Cairo. Choose one and then it will be easy to remove, add or otherwise edit the experiences within it.”
He notes that brides and grooms to be should never be shy about putting everything possible into their registry. “As soon as you’ve picked your destination, sit down and write out every conceivable experience you’d like to have on your honeymoon,” he says. “A lot of our couples have been surprised at how generous their guests have been when it comes to paying for really awesome activities such as camel journeys in Morocco and jeep tours through the Sahara.”
To that end, he suggests being as colorful and creative as possible when describing each gift. “I know that I personally would want to give a gift of something truly memorable rather than just airfare,” he explains. “Being creative and descriptive for each experience, item or activity on the registry is really important.”
“My final tip is to include a photo from your honeymoon adventures in the thank you card,” Warner continues. “We’ve had couples take beautiful photos—such as in the rainforest in Costa Rica—and then create thank you cards out of them. Other couples actually print out pictures of themselves experiencing each activity and include those in a more formal thank you card. I think those are just the coolest ways to thank your guests for your gifts.”