Wedding season is in full swing, so it’s likely that strolling through Target to snag another dishware set or standing mixer has become a regular activity. But whatever you pick up may not be what the couple want or need.

While traditional retail registries still reign supreme (86 percent of couples set one up), there’s a marked uptick in couples using cash and charity registries.

In 2011, only 1 percent of couples used a cash registry, but that jumped to 6 percent in 2017, according to the Wedding Registry Study by the Knot, which looks at registry trends in the United States.

Ivy Jacobson, senior digital editor at the Knot, attributes the increase to a change in social etiquette: Asking for cash as a wedding gift is no longer a social faux pas.

“At one point, etiquette stated that it could be a little forward to come right out and say, ‘Instead of creating a registry for my guests, I’m just going to ask them for cash,’ ” said Jacobson. “But because so many couples live together before marriage now, they likely have a lot of the things they already need.”

According to the study, 49 percent of couples with cash registries used the funds to help pay for their honeymoon, while 27 percent put it toward a down payment on a home. Other uses for cash gifts included paying down student loan debt, or supplementing adoption fees and IVF treatments.

Still, the practice is new enough that Jacobson advises couples to explain why they have chosen a nontraditional registry. She recommends doing so on the wedding website, which 85 percent of couples now have.

Jacobson says the same goes for couples who decide to incorporate a charity gifting option into their wedding registry, which 10 percent did in 2017.

“As more and more couples have causes that are important to them, be it animals or a loved one affected by cancer [a charity registry] is a really great way to ask their guests to give back and a great way for the couple to get the word and awareness out,” she said.

When charity registries were available, 15 percent of guests contributed, and couples received an average of $338 toward their cause. Among the most popular charities chosen by couples in 2017: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Humane Society and the American Cancer Society.

When it comes to which style of registry is the best option, Jacobson said it “really depends on the personality of the couple and what stage of life they’re in when they get married.

“One isn’t any better than the other,” she said, “but if you layer them all together, it makes your registry stronger.”

Here are some of the benefits of each type of wedding registry:


“You can show guests your sense of style,” said Jacobson. “They’ll feel like they have a peek into your home and life. Plus, people like to give something they can put in a box.”


“The sky is really the limit with asking for what you like, whether it’s a down payment on a home or a puppy fund — you can tailor this option.” The best cash registries don’t allow users to see how much others have contributed.


“So many couples have a cause that is important to them and some guests may not even know it,” she said, plus a charity registry “gives your guests the opportunity to give to something meaningful.”