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For Modern Newlyweds Who've Already Got It All

Couples who don't need china plates or crystal goblets are opting for memorable vacations via honeymoon registries.

April 27, 2001|CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN | BALTIMORE SUN

During the 10-day honeymoon Robert and Kristin McCollum had in Italy, they enjoyed romantic gondola rides in Venice, relaxed near scenic Lake Maggiore and blew hundreds of dollars on beautiful glassware from the famed island of Murano.

The Dallas couple had no worries about the myriad honeymoon indulgences burning away their savings. In fact, the McCollums didn't even pay for the trip--their family and friends did, using a honeymoon registry that allowed them to buy items such as gondola rides, cappuccinos and hotel stays for the newlyweds.

"There are only so many vases and gravy boats that you can have," said Robert McCollum, 29, who was among the first to sign up with honeymoon registry company Afterido.com when he got married in October 1999. "It was a great idea because if we didn't do it, we probably would have just stayed in Venice, gone for a shorter amount of time and it would've been bread and cheese every day, as opposed to going out to dinner at nice restaurants."

Call them crass or practical, but honeymoon registries are the latest hot trend in the wedding industry. They work like traditional registries, but instead of listing butter dishes and place settings, honeymoon registries offer items including sunset dinner cruises, snorkeling day trips and pocket money for nice, romantic dinners. And they've rapidly gained popularity in the last two years as more newlyweds have decided they'd rather have friends and family give them a memorable vacation than dishes and wine glasses.

"Couples are getting married older, and if they each have their own place, they may already have two of every item on traditional registries," said Lori Seto, travel editor for wedding Web site Theknot.com. Honeymoon registries "make a lot of sense. Sometimes people end up getting 14 blenders when a nice honeymoon is what they really want."

These registries surfaced about six years ago with the founding of Honeyluna.com. Nancy Bombace, who started the Northern California company, said the idea came to her as she was planning her own wedding and realized she and her fiance didn't need any household items. However, they had planned a six-week European honeymoon and were trying to figure out how to enjoy themselves without going into too much debt. So they decided to create a registry from which friends and family could buy them items such as tickets to a jazz festival in The Hague, Netherlands, or a night at a hotel.

Bombace launched Honeyluna.com in 1995 and has doubled her business every year. She has more than 200 active registries on her Web site at any one time.

Bombace has competition not only from travel agencies but also from honeymoon registry companies including Afterido.com and Yourhoneymoonregistry.net.

The registries are popular for many reasons--the biggest being that people are getting married later in life and have established homes. Many of these older, modern couples live together before marriage and buck tradition by paying for their own weddings. Honeymoon registries help to provide them a good first vacation together as a married couple.

Then there's the increase in second marriages in America. Susan Walker said she signed up with Yourhoneymoonregistry.net for her upcoming wedding because she'd been down the aisle before and didn't need another set of china. The registry for her 10-day honeymoon in Hawaii features windsurf rentals, breakfasts in bed and a kayaking tour followed by a picnic on the beach.

"We really didn't need anything," said Walker, 37, an interior design vice president in Jacksonville, Fla. "My philosophy is, I think my guests would rather know that they gave us something that we're going to enjoy rather than something that's going to sit in the closet or get returned for money."

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