Zola Registry is the Modern Registry You’ve Been Waiting For

Plus, get a $25 credit when you sign up today

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

When I think about how much wedding registries have changed in the past few years, all I can say is it was about damn time. When I was planning my own wedding (only six years ago, but that’s like dog years in the tech world), the hot new feature being offered by traditional wedding registries was… wait for it… that you could register online instead of having to go in the store and use a scan gun. So it’s been with great delight (and frankly, relief) that I’ve watched companies like Zola pop up and completely change the way we interact with wedding registries.

In fact, by making wedding registries less anonymous-feeling (you can completely customize your Zola registry and personalize it to your heart’s content) and so much easier to use, I’d argue that we’re actually getting back to the heart of why wedding registries were created in the first place (which is to make it easier for loved ones who want to buy gifts as a token of their support for the start of your marriage to do so—and to make sure you don’t end up with three different sets of weird pottery from your crazy aunts).

But Zola registry actually goes way beyond that. With their comprehensive list of features, they’ve basically eradicated the possibility for any complaints about your registry, even from your most etiquette-obsessed family members. Which is reason enough to celebrate.

1. It’s Personal. In theory, wedding registries are supposed to make gift giving a smoother experience for both couples and guests. But buying off a big box registry can often feel more like a transaction than a gesture (according to a recent study). Zola believes that a registry should be meaningful for both the couple, and the people who are, you know, actually buying you gifts. So they’ve created a platform that allows you to customize your registry and make it a more personalized experience with notes to guests, special collections that reflect your interests, and pictures of you and your partner. And since Zola is a universal registry, you can add gifts from anywhere online, or create a honeymoon fund, or even add unique experience gifts (like cooking classes, adventure weekends, or even a hot air balloon ride), so your wedding registry will actually look like it belongs to you. Which means you get the gifts you want, and your guests will feel like they’re genuinely contributing to your life together.

2. Group Gifting Is a Godsend. Let’s not pretend that creating a registry is as easy as they make it look in the movies (which always goes something like, “Scan gun is power! Do I even like crystal? Who cares?! Get it!”). For us, creating a registry was a really thoughtful process, not just about what we would want for our home, but what our guests could reasonably afford. Which meant a lot of the more expensive gifts (that we could have really used) were left off the table. But Zola solves that problem with group gifting that makes it easy for friends and family to contribute to more expensive gifts at a price point they’re comfortable with (not to mention they avoid having to write a check for $43.17 or whatever one fifth of your china cost).

3. Easy Does It. If you’re going to try and get your elderly relatives to use a new registry service, you better make sure it’s easy to use, or get ready for some phone calls. (Case in point: for Christmas this year, my aunt insisted on spending hours in department stores looking for the wallet I’d sent her a link to, because she had “never heard of any Zappos before” and therefore didn’t trust them.) Unlike other alternative wedding registries, Zola makes shopping super easy. For one, you get to include physical gifts, experience gifts, and honeymoon funds, all on one page (thus avoiding the need for multiple registries). Plus, your guests can check out with one convenient shopping cart, and never even need to leave your Zola page. Which means fewer chances for confusion and mistakes.

4. Keeping You Organized. When we got married, we made the oh-so-smart decision to move apartments only three weeks after our wedding. It was only after the boxes of gifts started piling up in our old apartment that we realized the error of our ways. Turns out, in the middle of planning a wedding and moving apartments wasn’t the best recipe keeping track of who had bought what, and when it had arrived. With Zola, you can decide exactly when you want those packages to arrive (would have appreciated that one!), keep track of who bought which gifts, and even do a virtual return and swap out items before they ship (for situations like when we accidentally registered for the wrong silverware because it looked so similar to the one we wanted. Did I mention we were kind of bad at registering?). With fewer things on your plate, you can focus on the important part, which is getting married. And not forgetting to write thank-you notes later.

5. Actual Customer Service: The one downside to shopping online is that there is rarely anyone to help you if you get stuck. (And by you, I mean my grandmother.) But Zola’s registry concierge is available from 10AM to 6PM Eastern every day of the week, in case you (or your guests) get stuck and need help. Which means your grandmother can call Zola directly instead of interrupting this week’s episode of Empire.

There’s much more to Zola than just the things that make it a better experience for your guests. For one thing, my favorite feature is their starter collections, which group gift ideas together to help you figure out what you might want or need for different parts of your home and your life. The Zola team has impeccable taste, so I have actually used them for regular shopping when I needed to replace items around my house. Also, they’re super up-front about how they operate. (Want to know how cash gifting works? Total transparency coming your way right here.) And they’ve got a ton of extra features that I haven’t even mentioned here, like an iPhone app that lets you scan items in the real world and add them directly to your Zola registry. As an added bonus, Zola is offering APW readers $25 to spend when you set up your registry at Zola. So go explore everything Zola has to offer and then create your registry today. Because with every other complicated facet of wedding planning, your registry should be easy. The twenty-first century owes us that.

APW readers get $25 to spend when you set up your registry at Zola. Click here to start your registry today!

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Oh, if only they could ship to Canada! *sigh*

  • Grace from England

    Is this the same company as the UK Prezola registry? Seriously considering using them!

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Different, it would appear! Just similarly named. :)

  • Anna

    Went through the process of setting up my registry, added a bunch of gifts, go to put in my shipping info and… no service to Canada. Would have been handy to know in advance it was only available in the US!

    • I had to read the terms and conditions to find a link to the shipping FAQ to discover that they are US only. Would be nice if they’d put that information right on the main page!

  • Alyssa

    I hate to be a debbie downer, but I kind of disagree with this. Currently my roommate is planning a wedding and decided to use Zola as her platform for registering. There are a few problems that they are working around, which makes it a bit cumbersome to use. Like if you add products from other sites than what Zola offers, they take a chunk of the cash. Meaning if you registered for silverware from Macy’s, and I buy you one set for $25, Zola gives the bride and groom $20 (just a guess, not sure the actual percentage) so they have to backfill some of the money. So, the bride and groom have to either up the cost of the item, or do what my roommate did, and ask people to go directly to the website to purchase it. All to say, they are using Zola then asking people to go around the website directly to a manufacturers website.

    • kate

      yes, thank you for sharing this. it seems like none of the universal registry tools are *perfect*, so it’s suuuuper helpful to hear actual user feedback to weigh against your particular group of guests and what might be a dealbreaker for them (or you as the recipient).

    • M

      We went with Thankful Registry to get around that. It costs something like $30 up front, but then your guests don’t feel like they’re sneaking off a percentage if you ask for cash (PayPal will still take their cut, obviously). It’s not perfect, but that was a major thing for me.

    • The Zola Team

      Hi Alyssa – Thanks for your comment. We want to clear up any confusion about how our external gifts and fees work. Our couples have two options when they add gifts from other sites to their registry.

      1. They can choose to get the cash value of that gift to purchase it themselves. In this case, we apply a standard 2.7% credit card processing fee, but that’s it. We don’t charge additional fees on top or keep any of the money. Our fee is the lowest in the industry.

      2. Couples can choose to direct people to the external site. In this case, we link them right to the product to purchase it and don’t charge any fees.

      Ultimately, it’s the couple’s call and our couples feel passionate about both options! If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email us at support@zola.com.

  • AnneBonny

    I wish features on universal registries would come out and say how it works for the guests purchasing gifts, which is the big problem with universal registries right now. Even on the Zola website I can’t tell whether, after making purchases, guests have to go BACK to the registry to indicate that they have.

  • Amy March

    As I guest, I really don’t like Zola. Like, at all. It seems to me that if you use Zola to add items from all over (which is clearly a selling point) and I “buy” you something from, say, Tiffanys, you don’t actually get that sparkling picture frame. You get cash. And then you figure it out. But I didn’t want to give you cash. And this registry made it feel a lot like I was doing what I wanted to do- making a picture frame show up at your house- but actually that didn’t happen.

    Last time I “used” Zola I found this do frustrating I just bought the gift at Bloomingdales and emailed the bride to tell her.

    I think it’s more than a bit misleading to say this resolves all complaints from persnickety guests.

    • Alison M

      This is why we decided against using it.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I understand that frustration. It didn’t occur to me that you would use a registry like Zola to swap out a gift for cash (from their FAQ, it looks like couples have the option to receive the physical gift, so it’s really on the couple to fulfill outside gifts as actual gifts.) That said, I think there’s no perfect registry solution that works around this issue. Bed Bath and Beyond has a flawless return policy, for example, which means even if you did buy that picture frame, it could still get turned to cash. I think the people who are going to do that are always going to find a way to do that. But for people who honestly want more flexibility and options, Zola is a great resource.

      • bbb doesn’t give cash refunds for registry returns, only store credit. at least in the nyc/nj area.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          Oh really?! Maybe they changed their policy. They used to give cash, and I think that’s a big reason why so many people were using them when I got married. Which is why I personally prefer registries like Zola. At least I’m going to be registering for the things I actually want with them.

          • Jules

            BBB has changed it – we did some reading before we registered. We still decided to go with them anyway because of the massive selection. But also, we were informed on Sunday when we went for an exchange (item came damaged) that it’s really up to the store manager whether they want to give cash or just issue store credit…so it seems case-dependent.

    • The Zola Team

      Hi Amy – Thanks so much for bringing this up. Your feedback is very helpful and we want to clear up any confusion on the gifting process.

      In addition to the 200+ brands we offer, we also give couples the flexibility to add items from any other website, and choose to either send their guests to the external site to purchase the gift directly or receive the cash value of the gift to purchase on their own.

      We’ve found that a lot of couples appreciate the flexibility of the cash option. Having said that, transparency is really important to us, so we have a note for guests on third party cash gifts, saying, “This item has been added from another store and cannot be shipped to you; the couple has chosen to redeem it themselves.”

      We take feedback like this really seriously and want both our Zola couples and their guests to have a great experience with us! We’d love to explain more or help answer any other questions about how Zola works. Just shoot us a note at support@zola.com.

  • Maddie Eisenhart

    ETA: For anyone asking about Zola’s policies, they’re pretty up front about how they operate. If you register for brands that Zola offers, it works just like a regular registry. The credits only come into play with experience gifts, cash registries, and items not available directly through Zola. If you want more info, their FAQ section is pretty robust and answers any questions you might have about how they operate.


    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Basically, since they can’t drop ship items from other stores, they’ve set up a system to make it easier for couples to redeem gifts without your guests having to leave the site to check out (since that’s been a complaint with other universal registries.) As long as you’re using it the way it was intended (aka not registering for things you don’t need so you can get cash), it’s a great option for an all-in-one registry. Certainly not for everyone, but definitely nice if you want to branch out of the traditional wedding registry mold.

  • Lian

    I love modern registry options – especially when the couple can add a phrase or two about why they registered for a particular gift. That just makes it so much more personal. And guests like it too – like our friends who bought us our pizza peel because the descriptive we’d put in was something like “PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA!” I know as a guest I want to know why someone picked those whiskey glasses (oh she loves whiskey and he loves tequila but he already has fancy tequila glasses and she wants in?) or that particular chef’s knife (oh you tried various ones in cooking classes and realized this is the thing that has been missing from your life?).
    Anyway. More personal registries – I’m all for it.

  • Vanessa

    I know this is not the point but COPPER KITCHEN AID MIXER ZOMG

    • Sara

      I felt that way about the picnic table on there.

  • Sarah D

    Do they do baby registries? I’m in the hunt for the perfect universal baby shower registry…

  • i used zola for my cash registry because, based on my research at least, they have the lowest credit card fee out there (2.7% fee taken from the cash gift instead of 5% like many other cash registries), and the couple can choose to pay it instead of asking guests to pay it.

  • abdouglass

    We signed up for Zola a couple weeks ago, and have found it to be a really nice way to organize our registry, as well as provide some descriptions of what we are looking for. Plus, where else would we be able to register for butchery classes as well as a decanter and rocks glasses. We are still in the building/private phase but it seems to be working really well for us.

  • shirley

    I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but found the site did not answer questions that i had. I ended up ordering, then received an email to confirm. Only problem was, I had given no payment information. I called and left a message and no one called me back. I called again, and just cancelled the order. Very disappointed in this site.

    • If you “ordered” then you gave someone external payment information? Like, perhaps you ordered an item from the Zola registry that forwarded you to Crate & Barrel? In that case, Zola doesn’t need your payment information it just knows that you clicked the link on the registry that sent you to Crate & Barrel. It doesn’t know if you bought the Crate & Barrel item, so it asks for a confirmation that you actually bought it from the other website.

  • It’s the $10 shipping charge on purchases under $100 that make Zola pretty much useless for any sort of shower. Just watch your guests perform a max exodus to Amazon, where they’ll find all your Zola registry items for much cheaper shipping…

    • Solution: if you convert the Zola item purchased into Zola credits, the $10 shipping charge is also converted into Zola credits. So then you can stockpile Zola credits, and order all the things at once (over $100, free shipping). The couple gains all the individual $10 shipping charges, and can buy additional items with that.

      But that doesn’t mean that people still won’t go searching for items from your registry for cheaper places/shipping than Zola.

  • Lizzie

    I know this is an old post, but I wanted to chime in and share my experience in case anyone sees this and is considering Zola. I don’t regret using Zola overall, even with my below (ahem) litany of complaints, because it gave us some great things – the ability to have a cash fund and a traditional registry in one site, the lowest cc processing fees around, shipping on request, a really intuitive and beautiful interface, and a great selection of items, to name a few. I found Zola to be way superior to Honeyfund, Thankful, MyRegistry, etc etc, for those reasons. I still do ultimately recommend the site, mainly because the headaches have been all ours to bear, and our guests loved Zola – and that’s the most important thing to me. We had an REI registry that created big headaches for our guests, and to me that’s absolutely unforgivable – I would never recommend REI to anyone for that reason alone.

    As for ME / US, though, post-wedding, Zola has been a pretty major pain in the ass. I placed an order in early May and am *still* dealing with the fallout from it, almost a month later. I have another several hundred $$ of stuff to order and I’ve honestly put off placing another order because I so dread having to deal with Zola again. (…and I LOVE getting fun stuff in the mail. This is saying a lot for me.) I have to maintain a separate section on my to-do list app that tracks what I ordered and when, so that I can stay on top of them and proactively nudge for information on where items are, what the delay is, when will something ship, why did this change to “out of stock” and is it coming back? (and why did it come back at $10 higher than before?), etc. The reps I’ve worked with have all been incredibly friendly and apologetic, so I do appreciate the kindness in communication.

    I think a lot of the problems arise because they’re basically a middleman company – so when you buy, say, 10 items from Zola, you don’t get one shipment of 10 items, you get 10 separate shipments from 10 separate vendors (and, by extension, 10 shipments to track and have potential issues with). This also means that when you request an exchange/return from Zola, they have to turn around and work with the actual vendor to process it. I think they’re often slowed down by working with unresponsive or slow vendors themselves, not by their own slowness. Still – the result for the end customer (me!) is a huge amount of information to keep an eye on, incredibly frustrating delays in shipping, and poor communication about said delays.

    For example: I’ve ordered several items that are available when I place the order, but then I learn weeks later – only after I’ve taken the initiative to reach out to customer service to see why it’s still “processing” – that, whoops! the item is out of stock indefinitely and here’s some Zola credit to buy something else. That feels shitty, frankly, and has caused me to spend my own money to buy some wedding gifts (from Amazon, of course, where they are still in stock) that I know were very thoughtfully selected, and that I want to receive.

    Another example: One of the items from my big May order was listed simply as “processing” for weeks, and, again, only after nudging customer service several times, I learned that the item won’t ship until August. August! And then, weirdly enough, the item showed up the next day. A lot of agita for nothing.

    Another example: A few items on our registry decreased in price – one by a significant amount ($50) – after our guests purchased the items. It ultimately was fine from our end, because it meant we had more Zola credit to work with, but I feel terribly that guests spent more money than the item ended up costing us. I would rather give our guests the extra cash back, but that’s incredibly awkward and impossible for several reasons.

    Another example: I requested a return for an item two weeks ago, and am still trying to get the information from customer service as to how I should go about processing it.

    COUNTER EXAMPLE: I received one item that was damaged in the mail, and the service rep was friendly, quick, and sent me a replacement set right away. That was a lovely Zola moment!

    OTHER COUNTER EXAMPLE: Their cash fund was a total breeze! Highly recommended.

    All of which is to say: Know when you go in that you’re gonna have to really *deal with* the shipping portion. Short-term headache for you, which may ultimately be worth it in the same way it was worth it for us.

    • We’re just in the pre-wedding phase of Zola usage now…and I’m glad you wrote this review so we know what’s heading our way post-wedding!

      • Lizzie

        Oh good – I’m so glad it was helpful! I would totally use it again for a ton of reasons. I hope with this info you just won’t be quite as bummed as I was to place a big order and then not be able to giddily track everything right away and get it all ASAP!

        Also, pro tip, which YMMV with item availability: You can convert any Zola gift given (not cash funds or third-party site gifts) into Zola site credits. You also get 10% off their whole site after your wedding. (See where I’m going with this? Heh heh…) I waited until after our wedding, then converted every gift we were given into Zola site credits, then immediately turned around and purchased the same item at 10% off. Purchasing everything at 10% off, we ended up having enough extra Zola credits to also buy a $200 food processor, too. I Am Into It. I like to think of it as a little bonus gift from everyone!

        The way that could bite you in the butt is, if you’re given a gift, say, 3 months before the wedding, and then you wait 3 months to do the credit switcheroo for 10% off, that item may have gone out of stock since then. That happened for an item of mine. But the overall discount we got was so much higher than the item price on Amazon, I didn’t mind just purchasing the out of stock item myself separately.

        Happy pre-wedding!!

        • Between this tip and the “convert everything to Zola credits so the shipping charges get converted to Zola credits, too” tip, APW is really helping out tons with this Zola-business!

    • Kat10

      Hi Lizzie, I know this post is from 7 months ago, but if you still check this: I’m considering using both Zola and REI. I’m wondering: what were the problems with REI and what would you have done differently to register for outdoor gear if you could do it again? And with Zola, were the problems mainly around using Zola credit or also with items that were purchased by guests? Lastly, did some items just go out of stock forever or did they eventually get you the item you wanted? THANK YOU! Your post has been the most useful information on Zola and online registries that I have found.

  • horriblekitty

    Transferring our cash gifts to our bank account has been a total nightmare. It’s been weeks since I received the cash gift on Zola, and now they are demanding my SSN in order to do the transfer. And I am not able to get ahold of anyone on the telephone to resolve the problem, and haven’t received a response to my email. So we have gifted money floating out there somewhere that neither we, nor the gifters have access too. This sucks.