*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
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.