There are lots of variations on how these work, but most follow the same pattern.
1. The couple creates an account on a honeymoon registry website. Setup fees range from free to $150 or more.
2. The couple arranges their honeymoon travel through their own or one of the website’s partner travel agents. The couple and the travel agent work together to make reservations, book flights, etc. The couple pays up front for any reservation or down payment charges.
3. The couple logs onto the registry website and creates their honeymoon registry. Some websites will post a photo of the couple and a paragraph about their honeymoon plans. The registry includes a list of your honeymoon plans and how much each activity costs (based on the couple’s own estimate). This cost can be broken down into smaller gifts. For example, a $1,000 airline ticket can count as two $500 gifts. The couple lists how many of each they need, and the registry will show a current count of how many still need to be purchased. Some registries show a small generic color photo next to each activity, while others have only text descriptions.
4. The guests are notified about the honeymoon registry. Some registries will provide complimentary postcards to direct guests to the registry.
5. Guests log on and choose a travel gift to purchase. They do not actually purchase the travel, but instead make a cash gift to the couple. When they check out, a service fee ranging from 5-20% is added to their purchase total to cover the cost of the registry website. Typically the gift is paid through PayPal or a similar service. The gift giver may be able to print out a certificate that states that a gift has been purchased. (This can be given to the couple but has no actual value.) When the couple receives the cash gift, they may spend it however they choose.
6. What happens to the cash gift between the purchase of the gift and the wedding is not always clear. A minority of registry websites state that they hold the cash in an insured bank account, and that the cash is never used to pay for the company’s expenses. The majority of registry websites do not state where the money goes in the interim. This means that they may use the couple’s cash however they please and the gift is not insured.
7. At a designated time, typically a week of the wedding date, the registry website company totals the value of the couple’s gifts and makes the funds available to the couple in the form of a check, direct deposit or Paypal. The company may charge a fee for a paper check or for rush processing of the gift. The couple may have to wait until after your honeymoon to receive the funds.
8. The honeymoon registry may offer post-honeymoon services, such as compiling a list of gifts given, or posting photos of the honeymoon.
9. The registry is closed between 1 week before the wedding to 90 days after the wedding. When the registry is closed, a final payment is made to the couple.