This Goldman Sachs-backed startup is banking on a new attitude millennials have about weddings

El Nariz/ShutterstockMillennials are opting for cash gifts.
  • Cash registries and donations towards experiences have become more popular with millennials.
  • On Thursday, wedding-registry startup Zola announced that it had raised $US100 million in a funding round that included contributions from Comcast Ventures, NBCUniversal, and Goldman Sachs.
  • Zola offers couples the option to register for gifts and experiences or to simply ask their guests for cash to go towards their honeymoon or other big expenses.

It’s no secret that millennials love experiences, so why not gift them something they want?

That’s the mantra of several up-and-coming wedding-registry startups such as Zola, Honeyfund, and VEBO, which are eschewing tradition and allowing couples to register for cash or experience-based gifts such as vouchers for Airbnb or

Wall Street is taking notice of the trend. On Thursday, wedding-registry startup Zola announced that it had received $US100 million in a funding round led by Comcast Ventures. Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Comcast Ventures also participated in the round.

“Unlike most e-commerce businesses, I would say it features a handful of really attractive attributes,” Ian Friedman, who led Goldman Sachs’ investment in the deal, told Bloomberg.

Zola offers couples the option to register for gifts and experiences or to simply ask their guests for cash to go towards the honeymoon or other big expenses.

One of the biggest benefits of Zola in the eyes of investors is that it doesn’t stock much inventory. The majority of its products are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer. It also curbs the hassle of returns by allowing couples to alter the list after their guests have gifted.

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

ZolaZolaZola’s ‘cash fund’ registry.

“Couples today want to personalise everything to do with their wedding including their registry,” founder and CEO Shan-lyn Ma, 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.”

Cash is the new norm

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

“We’ve seen a big uptick in cash registries because of this,” she said, adding that this wasn’t the case five years ago.

At Blueprint Registry, 70% of couples now register for at least one cash gift, like money to go towards 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 five years ago,” Ellingson said.

Giving cash isn’t thought of as tacky anymore since 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.

She added: “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.”

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