by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor
Anyone living in New York City while planning a wedding knows that there is a special “city test” that all plans must pass before you can move forward with them. Large scale DIT projects? Only if you don’t need the use of your couch for a year. And how does one transport a wedding dress in New York, exactly? Then there are the gifts. There’s been a lot of discussion here about the value of gift registries and allowing your loved ones to celebrate your union by helping to build your home. But the reality it is, for a lot of people living in New York, a gift registry is just not a practical option (I mean, forget about the space issues, let’s talk about the hassle of having to figure out where to have your packages delivered, amiright? Or the reality that most New Yorkers get married long after they’ve established their homes.) Unfortunately, so many of the alternative wedding registry options are less than ideal for APW readers. It’s not that they are inherently bad, it’s just that so many of them feed into the wedding itself (cash registry, honeymoon registery, etc.) which leaves those of us focusing on the marriage part of things without many options. But today I am delighted to tell you that there is a middle ground! And it comes in the form of our newest sponsor, Better Ever After, an alternative registry provider in New York City that focuses on experience gifts that enhance your marriage. Revolutionary? Perhaps.
It’s About What Comes After The Wedding
So here’s how it works: instead of registering for objects or experiences related to the wedding, you and your partner create a registry full of experiences that you can redeem weeks, months or even years into your marriage. And since all the experiences are hand-selected by Better Ever After’s team (who created Better Ever After as a result of frustrations planning their own weddings), they are, frankly, really rad. Gifts range anywhere from home brewing to graffiti tours to city adventures to cheese-of-the-month clubs, and beyond. (The next of my New York friends to get married is totally getting a pie-of-the-month-club gift, for the record.)
What makes Better Ever After stand out among other alternative wedding registries like cash registries or honeyfunds is this emphasis on life after the wedding (which is actually kind of a bonus gift in and of itself, because sometimes that adjustment period can be really hard.) When I talked to Olivia, owner of Better Ever After, she explained, “I started BEA to make wedding gifts fun again. I was so tired of buying my friends random kitchen stuff that I was pretty sure they didn’t really want and wouldn’t use. I never got excited about thinking of my friends using their new salad spinner… And then, when it came time to do my own registry, it was just boring and frustrating. Yes, the gun is fun, but trying to think of 100 pieces of something you can add to your registry is hard, when a) you live in a NYC mini-apartment and b) you already live together and already did all your major home shopping! To me, experiences are so much more valuable than things. The chance to still have fun date nights when you’re married, learn a new skill together, to create those memories that you’ll always treasure is so much more meaningful and important to building your marriage than random stuff. And they don’t take up room in your closet!”
Easy + Fun + Meaningful = Everybody Wins
The other point Olivia emphasized in our conversation is that Better Ever After is fun for your guests too. When I got married, I remember one of my aunts gave me a cash gift and then sternly told me, “Don’t you dare use this to pay off your credit cards.” At the time I was confused (and frankly, a little annoyed) at why she would preface her gift like this, but now I understand. She wanted the satisfaction of an exchange, of knowing that we used the money to create happy memories that would then be associated with her generosity. And while I’d argue that paying down credit debt creates some of my happiest of memories, I appreciate that Better Ever After affords people like my aunt the meaningful gift exchange they’re looking for without robbing space-cramped couples of closet space. Plus, since Better Ever After was created specifically to take the place of a wedding gift registry, almost all of the experiences fall withing the $60-$150, which means even fresh-out-of-college Maddie could have afforded one of these gifts (bonus points for not having to go splitsies with five other couples on something big, or having to reconcile the fact the you bought your best friend a salad spinner for her wedding because it was the only thing in your budget left on the registry.)
And just in case you’re worried that Better Ever After is going to be one of those Groupon-esque presents that accidentally gets filtered into your Spam folder, don’t sweat it. Better Ever After gifts are redeemed as gift certificates, which means that when someone buys you an experience off your honeymoon, you get this really nicely packaged present in the mail that you can still unwrap and then keep in a safe spot until you’re ready to use it. It’s kind of like all the best parts of the internet, combined with all of the satisfying parts of the US Postal Service.
Right now Better Ever After is only serving the greater NYC area, but they are looking to expand! So if you want Better Ever After to be available where you live, head over here and vote to have your city expanded to next. In the meantime, I know there are lots of you who just found the registry solution you were looking for. So have fun taking this afternoon deciding between glassmaking class and private home cooking lessons. It’s no scanner gun, but I’d wager a bet the end result is well worth giving that up.