Turning To The Crowd — And Gift Cards — To Fund Honeymoons

Millennials could care less for crystal stemware or fine china as wedding gifts. They want experiences — and that’s a trend turning the $19 billion bridal registry business on its head, says Sara Margulis, CEO and co-founder of Honeyfund. In the latest Payments Powering Platforms Tracker, Margulis discusses how crowdfunded bridal registries are opening new revenue streams for a host of new merchants — and offering experiential giving options for those who say “I do.”

Modern consumers — millennials, in particular — couldn’t care less about receiving fine china, crystal stemware or other knickknacks as wedding gifts.

In fact, recent research reveals that many are opting to receive cash for experiences instead of tangible gifts, hoping to fill their memory banks rather than their china cabinets. This shift has allowed wedding registry platforms to see the revenue opportunity, and they are now working to help satiate millennial consumers’ desires for experiential giving.

These platforms include Honeyfund, which offers an online wedding registry designed to help couples raise money for a range of expenditures they may not be able to afford, according to CEO and co-founder Sara Margulis — like a far-flung honeymoon, a down payment on a dream home, cooking classes, tennis lessons or even a year of housecleaning.

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Margulis explained how Honeyfund has expanded its presence since its 2006 founding by offering modern newlyweds a way to fund the experiences of their dreams. 

“We attribute a lot of what we’ve done to givers who visit couples’ pages and get super enthusiastic about the idea of contributing to the snorkeling, or [to] the VIP river cruise in Paris,” Margulis said. “We found that wedding guests love giving toward a couple’s honeymoon. A lot of that has been the result of that experience-giving trend.”

Payments-Powered Honeymoons

Margulis originally came up with the idea for Honeyfund when planning her own wedding. She wanted to raise money to fund her honeymoon, but relevant platforms required high fees and expensive booking charges. As such, Margulis and her co-founder husband, Josh, decided to create an online platform that would not only allow newlyweds to raise money and accept gifts via credit card, but would also allow guests who give gifts offline to completely avoid credit card fees.

“We wanted couples to have a way to raise money online [that was] completely free,” she explained. “But, at the time, the only way we could think of doing that was facilitating an offline gift. So, we always had the option for couples to put up a gift list and have the wedding guest pledge to pay for part of that list, and then bring them a check [in person] or mail it with a wedding card.”

The original payment process was far from perfect. The Honeyfund team had to “crack the code” on fee-free online payment processing, and did so by turning to gift cards.

“We created a system that allows couples to redeem their funds through a network of digital gift card partners,” Margulis explained. “We worked to bring together all the different partners they would need to put together a honeymoon, and we now have dozens of [them].”

These partners include travel service providers such as Princess Cruises or Hotels.com airline booking platform Skyhour, and retail firms like Amazon for guests looking for more traditional bridal registry items.

Couples create personalized web pages that can include wedding details, information about the honeymoon or experiences for which they hope to raise funds and a list of other suggested gifts. Guests then pay with a credit card, which is processed via WePay, and fees for credit card processing are covered by the margins from gift card sales, Margulis said. This allows Honeyfund to offer “zero-fee online crowdfunding for weddings.”

The Future of Experiential Commerce

As the Honeyfund team worked to embed payments into its platform, the crowdfunding industry seemingly sprang up around it. Online crowdfunding wasn’t a concept in 2006 when the company was formed, but it’s now become a common practice. Experiential giving has also seen a massive boost, and has become a bustling market in its own right.

“Crowdfunding wasn’t even a word in 2006 when we started Honeyfund,” Margulis said, noting that the wedding industry has helped to pioneer the efforts. “Along with the growth of Honeyfund, we’ve seen Groupon really contribute to the trend of experience-giving.”

With crowdfunding and experiential giving in full swing, she doesn’t expect either industry to slow down. Instead, Margulis predicted that both will continue to grow, as companies of all shapes and sizes look to offer customers more connected and full-service experiences.

Honeyfund has similar plans of its own, slated to offer more retail partners and wedding content providers, catering to a more mainstream customer audience that may be unfamiliar with crowdfunded registries. The company recently integrated with Target, for example, which enables engaged couples to register for cash wedding gifts, home items and to set up Honeyfund registries on the retailer’s website or mobile app.

“That’s been a big leap forward in our customer acquisition strategy,” Margulis said. “It not only allows us to have access to a much bigger user base, but it [also] really elevated the concept of Honeyfund in society in general.”

Increased exposure and legitimacy are crucial for the still-growing company, she added, as is millennials’ growing demand for experiential gifts.

After all, if this group continues to turn to experiences over things, and wedding registries can enable easy payments on their platforms, stacks of china and crystal stemware might soon become a thing of the past.

About the Tracker

The Payments Powering Platforms Tracker™, powered by WePay, serves as a monthly framework for the space, providing coverage of the most recent news and trends, along with a provider directory highlighting the key players contributing across the payments-integrated platform ecosystem.