Millennials are waiting longer to get married, and it could wreak havoc on stores like Williams Sonoma and Bed Bath and Beyond

Ivan Galashchuk/shutterstockThe average cost of a wedding is $US28,000, compared to roughly $US16,000 a decade ago.
  • Millennials are cohabiting before marriage and getting married later in life.
  • This means they often don’t need traditional wedding gifts such as kitchen appliances because they already own them.
  • As a result, wedding cash registries and donations towards experiences have become more common. Analysts say this could cause issues for traditional wedding registry companies.

Millennials are heading into marriage clutter free.

Rather than signing up for traditional wedding registries at Williams Sonoma or Bed Bath and Beyond, engaged millennials are eschewing the traditions of their parents and asking for cash gifts instead.

There are two big reasons for this: Millennials are getting married much later than their parents, which likely means they have been living with a partner for many years before they take the plunge. So they likely already have their fill of kitchen appliances and home goods. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 20% of Americans aged 18 to 30 are married; 32% of Gen X-ers and 40% of Baby Boomers were when they were the same age.

Others simply don’t have space.

“People want the ability to have the cash to buy what they want,” Lizzy Ellingson, co-founder of online wedding registry company,Blueprint, told Business Insider.

“We’ve seen a big uptick in cash registries because of this,” she said.

Lizzy set up the business after she got married and was forced to return 50% of the gifts she was given because she didn’t have the space to accommodate them.

“People are becoming more comfortable with giving cash in multiple ways,” she said, and this wasn’t the case five years ago.

At Blueprint Registry, 70% of couples now register for at least one cash gift such as a honeymoon plane ticket or a contribution to help with remodeling a kitchen.

“We still see couples register for both physical and cash gifts, we just see more couples register for cash who may not have registered for any cash gifts 5 years ago,” Ellingson said.

This changing trend is likely to impact traditional wedding gift registry companies such as Williams Sonoma and Bed Bath and Beyond.

“Registry is a key customer acquisition tool [for Williams Sonoma],” Seth Basham an analyst at Wedbush told Business Insider. “They have highlighted success with the baby registry in the first quarter of 2017, and (the likely wedding) registry at in the third quarter of 2016. The fact that they haven’t highlighted since then suggests some potential pressure,” he said.

Williams Sonoma did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Bed Bath and Beyond declined to comment.

No longer a faux pas

Giving cash isn’t thought of as tacky anymore as it can be disguised in different ways.

“We are seeing an increase in travel and honeymoon registries which are secretly cash registries – you’re saying ‘these are things we want to do on our honeymoon,’ such as sky-diving or couples massages, but in actual fact, you’re getting cash to put towards it,” Anne Chertoff, a wedding industry marketing consultant told Business Insider.

“It can be a little misleading but I think at least with that guests feel their money is going towards something and not going to pay your electric bill,” she said.

There are now a host of popular sites that allow engaged couples to set up cash registries without directly asking for cash.

On Zola, for example, guests can buy experiences such as gift cards for Airbnb or Hotels.com for the couple to use.

“Couples today want to personalise everything to do with their wedding including their registry,” Shan-lyn Ma, CEO, and founder of the site, told The Week. “They don’t want it to feel like a cold, transactional checkout cart. We let couples fully personalise their registry by adding photos and explaining why they are registering for certain things.”

Since it launched four years ago, more than 500,000 couples have used the website to create a registry, The Week reported.

Savvy retailers are cottoning on to the popularity of cash registries.

On Monday Target announced it is partnering with Honeyfund, a website that allows you to donate towards a couple’s honeymoon, to offer this service on its own site.

“Wedding registry expectations have changed over time,” Dawn Block, Target’s senior vice president of digital, said in a statement.”Guests are looking for a complete registry experience, including product and honeymoon options.”

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