Destination I Do

The Guest Book - Alternative Registry Ideas

Words by Jennifer Stein

The list of reasons is growing for couples seeking out something different than a traditional wedding registry. People are getting married later in life; most already own the toaster and blender of traditional wedding gift's past. Others are marrying for the second time, and feel uncomfortable having their friends and family schlep to the mall for preselected linens and china. Many destination couples are already straying from tradition by being married on the beach, in the mountains, next to the Eiffel Tower. Selecting a nonprofit as the recipient of their registry may just fit their personalities better than, say, that taupe gravy boat your mom can't wait to buy.

Esperanca is an international nonprofit health organization whose mission is to improve the health of women and children with sustainable projects. The organization, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, is currently working in Bolivia, Mozambique, Nicaragua and the United States on such varied health topics as HIV/AIDS care, malaria prevention, nutrition and improved housing. Esperanca also sends volunteer surgical teams to Bolivia to provide life-saving operations. Their medical volunteers provide care for villagers who would otherwise continue suffering, unable to access health services on their own.

alternative registry ideasHelping Hands in Africa:
Established in 1991, Helping Hands in Africa feeds approximately 1200 desperately poor children (many orphans of AIDS) on a daily basis. They also provide comfort care to victims of AIDS who have no one to else to turn to and AIDS education to young people in an effort to thwart the spread of the disease. As part of their poverty alleviation efforts, Helping Hands in Africa provided the seed money to establish a business in which women with no previous means of support make beautiful beadwork to sell. This business is now self-sustaining and allows the women to provide an income for their families.

Thirst Relief International:  
This non-profit was recently created by a pair of wedding photographers -- Jim and Lara Davis-Hicks, of "We exist to provide pure water for people everywhere," he says. Our primary means of accomplishing our goal is building and distributing water filters via a distribution network of missionaries and humanitarian aid workers. It only costs about $50 to put one in a hut or home and it works for the life of the family or longer." This couple also donates a portion of their wedding photography income to Thirst Relief International.

"Novel" Registry Ideas
Traditional Registry-Untraditional Gifts
Check out Macy's for their luggage collections. One of our favorites is the Diane von Furstenberg line called "Hearts". You'll need luggage for traveling to your destination wedding and honeymoon, so why not give it a romantic feel. This durable and well-engineered line makes it easy to spot at the baggage claim. Other great registries that carry luggage are Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Garnet Hill

Untraditional Registries
Books: Create an Amazon wish list and have your media dreams fulfilled by guests.

Nature: Get in touch with the great outdoors with your new gear from an REI registry.

Home Improvement: The tools, ladder and jigsaw your groom has been drooling over are available at Home Depot.

Travel: Can't swing that dream honeymoon on your own, register for it and chances are you'll get a gift that will live on in your heart for years to come. Good registries to check out online: and If you are a surf enthusiast, Quicksilver can set up the surf honeymoon of a lifetime. Log onto their web site for great destinations such as Fiji and Costa Rica.

charitable wedding giftsThere are many worthwhile charities and the one you choose should reflect your interests or concerns such as: Humane Society, Alzheimer's Association, American Cancer Society, Parkinson's Disease Foundation -- the list goes on. The I Do Foundation is a great website to check out if you are looking for ideas on adding a philanthropic option for your guests. Donating to a nonprofit of your liking is an excellent idea. And if nothing else, it starts your marriage off on the right karmic foot!


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