12 April 2022


Amy Parfett


Wishing Well Vs. Online Wedding Gift Registry: A Comparison

Getting married? Congrats. Not only are you about to enjoy one of the milestone moments of your life, but you’ll be showered with gifts in recognition of it too. It’s not a bad gig, is it? 

It’s very common-practice to gift the happy couple something for their wedding. For most modern couples (and indeed, in many cultures), it’s customary for that gift to be cash. Makes sense right - the majority of people getting hitched have already got most of the domestic contraptions they need as we tend to live together before marriage. And what many of us really could use after forking out a potentially significant amount of cash on our nuptials are some funds to put toward married life (or, if you need other ideas we've got plenty). 

The modern couples conundrum is this: should we choose an online wedding registry or to have a wishing well at the wedding?

We’ll weigh up both options. But before we go any further, it’s worth taking a step back to ask what even is a wishing well? And what is an online wedding gift registry? 

What is a wedding wishing well?

A wishing well is a decorative basket/chest/box that’s displayed at your wedding for your guests to drop a card and cash-gift into.  

For many years, wishing wells were the go-to option for couples. Guests would receive a note on their invitation with a message that would read something like: “The best gift we could ask for is your company at our wedding. However, should you wish to help us celebrate with a gift, we ask that you contribute to our wishing well.”

It’s a simple way of asking guests for cash that is still very popular today, and there are plenty of wishing well boxes online - from clear glass chests to wooden boxes with a slot on top.

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What is an online wedding gift registry? 

An online wedding gift registry (or digital gift registry) is a custom website created by the couple that they populate with their gifting preferences and share with their guests so that they’re able to contribute from the comfort of their couch. 

Some online gift registries allow couples to add physical gifts that their guests can purchase that are then shipped to the couple’s address and some registries allow couples to collect cash in a personal way by communicating what they’ll be using those gift funds for. 

Most online wedding gift registries allow the couple to personalise the page with imagery, their wedding details, a message to their guests and provide a super convenient way to keep track of what each of their guests has gifted them. 

Couples typically will share their online gift registry with their guest by including the unique URL (e.g. on their wedding invitation and/or wedding website too.

Pros and cons of a wishing well at your wedding

Let’s look at both sides of the coin when it comes to using a wishing well. 

Pros of a wedding wishing well

  • Couple receives hand-written cards to open together

  • The outlay of cash to set up is simply the cost of the physical wishing well (which, bear in mind, sometimes may equal the cost of an online registry charge depending on the product you choose)

  • Wishing well simple to set up (literally just put a box at your wedding that’s marked ‘Gifts’)

Cons of a wedding wishing well

  • Somewhat impersonal and transactional for guests to put cash into an envelope and drop in the box at the wedding

  • Inconvenient for guests to have to remember to withdraw cash

  • Wishing well can be lost or misplaced

  • Wishing well can be stolen/cards from wishing well stolen (unfortunately an ugly truth

  • Guests feel uncomfortable and/or uncertain about the amount of cash they should be contributing.

  • Guests are only able to give cash rather than a physical gift (of course, this could be a positive in the eyes of some couples).

  • Less environmentally friendly than a digital registry (paper and product involved)

Pros and cons of an online gift registry

Righto, time to weigh up the digital option. 

Pros of an online wedding gift registry

  • Much more convenient gifting experience - guests can contribute to the gift registry from anywhere, anytime (no last minute mad dash to the ATM 10 mins before the wedding)

  • Much more personalised gifting experience: even if a couple is simply collecting cash as a wedding gift (super common), they can communicate what they’ll use those funds for - e.g. honeymoon fund, bathroom reno, puppy, wine subscription, charity donation etc. 

  • No risk of cash being misplaced or stolen as is transferred directly to your account when it suits you

  • Ability to make the gift experience contribute to the overall wedding experience - guests can interact with the couple’s registry, leave a kind message, view imagery and get excited about the wedding to come

  • Couples can even ask for things that don’t necessarily cost their guests money - just their guest’s time and skills to help them kickstart their married life. Gravy is a unique wedding gift registry in this sense: couples can ask for things like help painting the house, for dog-sitting next time they’re away, for an artwork to be painted for their home or for someone to bake their wedding cake. It’s a brilliant way for a couple to lean on their community’s talents and generosity for things they’d otherwise pay a stranger for or feel awkward asking for

  • Couples can communicate some of the movements or causes they’re passionate about and ask their guests to adopt those good deeds as a gift to them. Again, this is something exclusive to Gravy - ask your guests to donate blood, or join the organ registry, or buy a stranger a coffee, or sign a petition, adopt a koala or commit to a month of meat-free Mondays. Whatever good things you support, you can share them with your loved ones and ask them to support them too to create real-world impact.

  • Online wedding gift registries are known to receive upwards of 25% more in funds than physical wishing wells, according to survey data

  • More environmentally friendly (no paper, plastic, physical products or petrol used to get cash out)

Cons of an online wedding gift registry

  • You may not receive as many wedding cards (the way the mitigate this is to to share a link to your online registry on your invitations/wedding website with a note that says you’ll still have box for cards on the day if this is important to you)  

  • The digital nature may mean older guests like grandparents may have some technological challenges

  • Generally a fee to use an online gift registry (you may have the choice of paying an upfront flat fee or a small percentage commission on your contributions later)

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Which type of registry should I choose? 

It's a personal decision but some of considerations you might wish to weigh up when making this decisions include: 

  • How do we plan to use the funds that we receive? 
  • Do we think our guests would appreciate knowing what you'll be using their gift-funds for? 
  • Would we prefer to have the physical cash or for the funds to deposit straight into our bank? 
  • Are there any good causes or things we're passionate about that we'd like our guests to embrace on our behalf? 
  • Would we like to easily allow our guests to make a charitable contribution on behalf of us? 
  • Are we happy to handle the money on the night of our wedding, or do we have someone trustworthy that can be responsible for it, if we went the wishing well route? 
  • What registry option do we think will provide a more enjoyable, personal experience for our guests?


What is the most flexible online wedding gift registry?

Call us biased (because, well, we absolutely are), but Gravy is definitely ticking a whole lot of boxes on the digital registry front. 

Gravy allows couples to ask for *literally* anything. A beer subscription, a pony, IVF treatments, a coffee machine, singing lessons, a safari, a honeymoon fund… you get the gist. 

In fact, what sets Gravy apart is that along with cash and goods, couples can also ask for non-monetary ‘gives’ – like a free ride to the airport, extra hands while moving house or help at a fundraising event. There is also the option of asking guests to give to charity (with no limit on how many you can nominate).

For couples, it means creating a carefully curated registry that mirrors what they genuinely love, need and care about and for guests it makes the entire gift-giving experience much more meaningful by providing transparency over where their cash will go as well as the option to select the ‘gifts’, ‘gives’ and/or ‘charity’ that best resonates with them.

Gravy also give couples flexibility around when they receive their funds (eg. instantly or on a specified date) which is a big bonus when you’re trying to simultaneously save for married life and manage a lot of outgoings in the lead up to the wedding (take our word for it). 


Want in? Get started here. It only takes a minute to sign up for free and start creating a registry.

Curious to know more before diving in? Find out more about how Gravy works here