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Couples are waiting longer to get married. The average age for today's bride is 27 and for the groom, 29. Most have been out on their own in apartments and more than half have set up house together before they get married. Those statistics translate into a dilemma for bridal couples, albeit a pleasant problem. A recent survey of 66,000 prospective brides show that they still favor housewares as the registry gift of choice, but more than half admitted that what they would really prefer is cash.

Asking for gifts of cash breaks all the traditional rules of etiquette, but changing times, changing standards and mores, bring about changes in what is and what is not appropriate. It's no surprise then, that the Internet, which for today's couples is a must-have tool, should be in the forefront of expanding the registry concept and making it work for them.

Here's how it works. There are any number of web sites which offer guests the opportunity to "buy" a cash gift, thereby contributing to the couple's honeymoon, home, or even their nest egg. "Purchases" can be made toward specific honeymoon expenditures such as a "Romantic dinner on the town for $85.00, a "Fun evening at the beach bar for $50.00, or "Breakfast in bed" for $35, or toward the couple's stay at the honeymoon resort, "One night's" stay for $150.00, or, in increments, toward their plane flight. These registries allow friends and family to help out with the cost of the honeymoon, or to buy the couple an experience like scuba-diving lessons, parasailing, or a helicopter flight to a volcano that perhaps the couple's budget wouldn't allow.

Another of this genre of registries sets up a system by which guests can contribute toward the couple's purchase of their first-home. It was the Federal Housing Administration that first created the concept, but it was before its time and the FEDs dropped it. Real estate agencies and banks have set registries like this in-house for guests to contribute toward the couple's down payment.

Finally, there are the cash registries that are more generic and allow the gift-giver to contribute a monetary gift into a general fund which the couple will have as their nest egg for future, yet unnamed purchases.

Unfortunately it seems that every good idea has its complications and downside. Unlike a traditional department, or bricks and mortar store, registries which are usually free, on-line cash registries often charge service and handling fees, such as taking a percentage off the total contributed by guests, or a flat fee to the bridal couple and/or to the guests. In some cases, the site has the gift givers pick up the tab.

There is also a problem that the couple may face that can arise from a cash gift given toward a particular item (i.e., scuba-diving lessons). Should the couple be unable to "use" for whatever extenuating circumstance, they may be stuck explaining and find it awkward explaining that to the gift-giver waiting eagerly for feedback. All in all the concept, even to traditionalists, has its merit. Cash registries are very convenient to use and are really appreciated by their recipients. It appears from research studies, that the practice and acceptability of cash registries amongst the majority of gift-givers, will probably take a while, or may remain limited to a small segment of the population.


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