Wedding bells used to signify the start of a new life together, with the first step often being buying a new place together. This meant doing the traditional pre-marital tasks such as setting a date, finding a venue, picking a gown, having a tasting menu and yes, registering somewhere for your ‘housewares.’ Well, thank goodness, someone, somewhere finally realized that traditional wedding registries no longer suited today’s modern couples and decided to use technology to kick it up a notch, with online registries making a really big splash just over five years ago.

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As in most cases, yesterdays tools don’t work so well today.  Particularly with more and more people living together before they get married.  The truth is that when they merge their belonging they typically have everything (if not more) than what they really need to start their new home life together. It turns out that what most couples getting hitched really need (and want) is, you guessed it… cash.

People are looking at ways to have wedding gifts contribute to bigger dreams. Couples needed a platform that could help them achieve these life goals, particularly when staring a new life together.  Home ownership is one of them and a down payment is still a big part of that. It doesn’t stop there though. It extends to experiences that will be part of their new life together, such as a honeymoon.

Previously, there were makeshift attempts combining Facebook and paypal etc., but let’s face it, if you’re going to ask someone for funds, you want it to be in the best light possible. You wouldn’t go for your mortgage application or job interview in your worst threads, would you?

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So things started to get a whole lot prettier fairly quickly.  Have a look at some of my faves. Granted, most are in the states (with plans to expand to Canada) a handful are sprouting here.

Feather the Nest – an online gift registry for real estate needs, whether it be to fund your down payment, home improvement or furniture – basically anything home related.

Zola – an innovative registry transforming how couples and guests share, buy, and ship wedding gifts. Driven by the desire to reinvent old systems and provide easy to build, easy to manage, and easy to share online registries full of products people actually want.

Envelope – Envelope is tradition + adaptation + function + form. It’s a marriage of all of the above (pun intended). They wanted to re-create the traditional wedding registry and adapt it to meet the changing times.

Wedding Republic – Offers a unique alternative to traditional wedding registries. It’s a better option for couples, because it gives them the freedom to choose the gifts they really want. From honeymoons to house down payment – nothing is off limits.

Tendr – Cash-giving site that lets you ask for down payment, honeymoon fund, charity gift, or anything else

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Some have group gift concepts for larger items and some offer individual and focus on home improvements. Transactions fees are still the downside nonetheless.
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But what about the fact that more and more people are delaying or foregoing traditional marriage? In 2011, for the first time in Canadian history, there were more single-person households than couple households with children.  Additionally, there are more common law households than married couples. In fact, between 1981 and 2011 the number of married couples increased by 20 per cent, however, the number of common-law couples more than quadrupled (+345 per cent). They however, have the goal of home ownership as well. Sometimes, delaying or foregoing marriage isn’t even part of the equation, as was the case with me.

My first experience living completely on my own (yes, in a Tridel condo) was over 20 years ago, shortly after returning home from University. Like most students returning to your (parents) nest, you very quickly learn that you miss your space, independence and freedom. I was the first to “rock” the boat and express the desire and the intention to move out on my own, in a family and culture where people typically lived at home with their folks until they were married. Without aging myself, I can admit that this is now, the norm.

Yet even those unable to pursue the dream on their own, are finding ways to make it a reality.  There’s a new model of home ownership termed ‘mingles’ – with singles (predominantly females) matching up and pooling their resources to attain homeownership.

Fortunately, most of these platforms don’t discriminate and are open to many who are pursuing a life goal that requires funds.  And when it comes to home ownership, this is no small feat. Even coming up with the dan payment can be a stretch for a lot of people.

An Ipsos Reid poll, conducted earlier this year found that almost 45 per cent of Canadians who planned to buy a home were first-time buyers, remaining the same as a year ago.  Half of them said the ‘wait’ was because they hadn’t saved up enough for a down payment.

So times are changing, and so should we. And as the saying goes, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Innovation when paired with beauty and intelligent design, has a way of helping us to think outside of the box. What seemed to be an awkward “ask” for most, has now become easy and convenient.  And think of it this way, you’re not just helping yourself… you’re helping friends and family too. This gives all of us one less difficult decision to make, without having to ask ourselves, “What should we get them?” So thank you.

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