Why wedding gift registries are gaining popularity among millennials

Though adoption of wedding gift registries has been slow in the country, companies are relying on millennial couples to lead the way.
Why wedding gift registries are gaining popularity among millennials
Why wedding gift registries are gaining popularity among millennials
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When Chennai-based Ravi’s sister got married five years ago, he noticed how repetitive the wedding gifts were: An array of wall clocks, ceramic dolls, and photo frames. So, when it was time for Ravi to get married and a friend told him about wedding gift registries, he got on board quickly.

A popular concept in the US, but fairly new in India, a wedding gift registry essentially allows the couple to list out the gifts they would like, and offers guests the option of buying them through online store links. 

Though adoption of registries has been slow in the country, companies are relying on millennials to fuel the market. 

Ravi and his now wife, Rini, created a registry on Wedding Wishlist which mostly contained household items such as kitchenware, Home Centre coupons and so on. The website also provided the option of setting up a cash registry where guests could gift money to the couple. Ravi and Rini were able to use that cash to plan their honeymoon.

“Every time I gift, I want it to be useful rather than just decorative. We wanted the same for our wedding – we preferred gifts we could use and remember,” Ravi says.

And this – useful over wasteful gifting – is one of the core principles at Wedding Wishlist, says co-founder Kanika Subbiah. “It’s the dilemma of every big fat Indian wedding – guests don’t know what the couple needs, so they end up going with safe options that are not of real use to the couples. With a wedding gift registry, guests benefit too because they spend money on what the couple really wants,” she tells TNM.

Illustration courtesy: Wedding Wishlist

The industry

A gift registry allows the giftee to create a list of the items that they would like. Depending on the platform, you can choose from a variety of items – from appliances, to fashion, to experiences and even a cash amount for the couple to spend in their own time. For a gifter, the registry allows you to see this wishlist, pick your gift and purchase it for the individual or couple. 

The registry then either handles the logistics of delivery, or, if the gift chosen is from an online store, the logistics for delivery are taken care of by the store.

Wedding Wishlist co-founders Sathish Subramanian, Kanika Subbiah, and Tanvi Saraf

While three-year-old Wedding Wishlist caters only to weddings, the two other platforms featured here – Zibonga, and Wishtry – are gift registries for several occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, though most of their clients’ wishlists are still for weddings. 

Wishtry started with just 500 registrations when they launched in 2016-2017, but the number has now increased to 2,500 per month. “If we look at just wedding gift registries, there is an annual increase of 12-15% in 2018-19,” Wishtry founder Aditi Mehta says.

Wishtry co-founder Aditi Mehta

Changing choices of millennials

The wedding gift registry industry has its hopes set on millennials, whose ideas around gifting have evolved from earlier generations.  

For instance, Wedding Wishlist not only has the option of choosing from household items, fashion and accessories, but also money for travel, lifestyle experiences and social causes — or a combination of all. The Wedding Wishlist, for example, has tied up with organisations for child education, animal welfare, environment and health. The couple can then choose an amount and the causes they want their guests to contribute to.

Kanika notes that 22% of all couples have opted for social causes in the last six months. 

Aditi says that Wishtry has presently tied up with 30 brands like Amazon, Nykaa and Shoppers Stop for choosing gifts for the registry, also intends to develop and introduce an AI tool in the future. “A lot of times people don’t know what exactly they want. So the AI will give them suggestions based on their interests and past purchases,” she says.


The biggest challenge of the wedding gift registry industry is adoption. 

Sajan Abraham, founder of Zibonga says that though they get many registrations on the platform, people don't necessarily end up using it to buy gifts. “The sensitivity around the idea of ‘asking’ for gifts may not sit well with many. We have seen that the registry does go around in younger circles, but may not be shared with the parents’ generation.”

Zibonga founder Sajan Abraham

Aditi agrees. “We’ve noticed this hesitation about ‘asking’ for gifts comes only in a small percentage of the affluent class. Middle class families have been quite open and appreciative of the registries,” she says.

Wedding Wishlist’s Kanika also notes that adoption rates are changing. “Two years ago, we had 10% of the guests participating. Now, it has increased to 50-60%.”

Ravi experienced this too – his parents weren’t happy about the gift registry for the wedding. “But the relatives welcomed it, and we already knew that friends would. Everyone, including adults ultimately felt that this was a better way to gift,” he says.

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