How COVID Has (and Hasn’t) Changed the Wedding Registry with Insights from The Dowry

There’s no denying that COVID has changed what weddings look like this year. It changed the size of the guestlist for many couples, but how has (and hasn’t) COVID affected the wedding registry in 2020?

For the answer to this, we are talking to Megan Hodges, owner of The Dowry. She is someone with a lot of experience with wedding registries. Her shop is all about helping couples redefine the registry with ethically-minded items from a curated collection of artisans.

Megan loves the details of a home that weave together the story of a life. She loves the ability to share that space and life with others while inviting them to make new memories together — which is what led her to create a unique store like The Dowry that helps newlyweds start a new part of their story.

Along with bringing heirloom-quality items to couples, The Dowry is on a mission to, “challenge historical dowry practices by bringing exceptional artisans and their collections into the homes of newly engaged couples through a curated gift registry, while generating awareness of the ongoing abuse created by conventional dowry practices.”

The Dowry has good insight into how COVID has practically impacted wedding timelines in 2020.

With over 6,000 brides with wedding dates in their database —

  • As of February, 90% had wedding dates listed in 2020.
  • As of May, about 80% had moved, changed, or postponed, but not canceled.
  • Currently, 50% of those weddings will be happening by the end of the year, 30% are happening in 2021, 10% are scheduled for 2022 and beyond. Another 10% are undecided.

Let’s dive into what that change in timeline means for the wedding registry.

WEDDING REGISTRY INSIGHTS WITH THE DOWRY

Q: How have couples been handling their wedding registry this year — as it relates to cutting down their guest list? Are they keeping registries about the same in size and type? 

A: The registry size has stayed the same! We have not seen an increase or decrease in product count, size, or dollar amount through COVID.

The blogs and articles out there have really stressed to brides, that even if they are now having smaller weddings, minimonies, or even two separate events (one small this year, and the large celebration next year) guests, friends and family STILL want to get them a gift to celebrate their wedding union and to celebrate love and this big life event. So we are seeing the same size and types!

We also know that brides are still registering at multiple retailers. Our brides register at The Dowry and usually one or two other places, and we still see that happening.

Q: What, if anything, has been the biggest change for wedding registries this year?

A: What has changed is the way guests find out about the registry, because most of these “guests” aren’t invited to the actual in-person wedding event. One registry of ours in particular invited only immediate family members to the in-person wedding but invited the other friends and family to tune into the wedding virtually through a link.

When they sent out the invitations to the virtual event they included their registry links and wedding website link on the invite. So even people invited or attending virtually participated in giving the newly married couple a wedding gift.

We are also seeing the average gift size has gone up slightly (between $20-$40 increase). I am not 100% sure about this, but I would assume because guests aren’t traveling to the wedding, or attending in person, they feel free to spend a little more on the gift!

Q: Are there any tips you’re giving couples about their wedding registry? (If they cut their guest list back, do you recommend cutting their registry back or leave it the same?)

A: I have stated in other articles that, sending a marriage announcement with a link to your wedding gift registry (or registries) is completely acceptable during this time of micro weddings, minimonies, increased elopements, and virtual weddings. Friends and family still want to celebrate you, your significant other, and give a gift even if they can’t be there in person. There is a really thoughtful way to include your wedding website or registry on the invite, and there are creative ways to include them in on your wedding day!

A: No, because The Dowry is truly focused on the core registry items of glassware, barware, serve ware, kitchen products, and tableware/place settings — the products that are being added to our registries are the same as they have always been. 

I could see how people would add unique or new items like workout products, or games — things that are now done at home, but I also think that engaged couples are still trying to find normalcy in their wedding actions and they still need their new homes stocked with practical and functional items, and so the registry is a place that would seem to stay the same regardless of the COVID situation.

Q: What are some items that you are recommending for couples to consider, which might not have been on their radar before? 

A: I think people are hosting at home more now! So I would recommend additional serve ware items, like home bar accessories (home bar cart —think mixing glasses, jiggers, cocktail stirrers, muddlers, decanters). 

Also, people are entertaining outside more. They don’t want their guests to come inside — they would rather have them come hang out on the front or back porch or yard, so the ability to have lighting, ambiance and barbecue accessories would be great additions.

THE HEIRLOOM TREND

Heirloom is a buzzword in wedding trends for 2020-21 — and will likely be around for a long time (no pun intended). From heirloom jewelry to heirloom furniture as wedding decor, there’s a renewed focus on items that last — and have deep meaning.

This is something that Megan knows about. In fact, it’s part of her philosophy. According to her —

“People and places have always been the essence of my life. I love waking up in the morning and going about my day surrounded by beautiful things in my home that nod to the people I love and places that have transformed me.

I consider it a triumphant gesture of self-actualization to create a home that represents me, with the goal of inviting people into that space, to share who I am on a deeper level, and in turn getting to know them better.”

Megan admits that this can be a difficult thing to achieve. It was in 2007 during her own wedding registry search when she discovered how difficult this task was — and that’s how the idea for The Dowry started.

We asked if she was seeing this heirloom trend in the wedding registry space —

“Yes! The idea for The Dowry came to me out of my own frustration of only having the option to register for mass-produced items for my 2007 wedding gift registry — even though there was a beautiful ceramic place setting that I really wanted from a local artist, but I didn’t have a way to send my guests to the artist to purchase. I ended up registering for a standard place setting, and two of my girlfriends ended up with the same one! Exactly what I didn’t want to have happened.

BUT if I would have launched The Dowry in 2007, I think it would have been before it’s time. There is a trend now for consumers to care about where their products come from, to know who made their products, to know the story behind why the product was created, and to know that it is high-quality work that will last for generations and be functional as well as beautiful.

The 2020 Deloitte Consumer Business report has stated, ‘The consumer product market, in 2020 and beyond, is looking for distinction of taste, preferences, customized products and personalization. Ethical and niche brands will be taking market share.’

The Dowry is here to help engaged couples do just that for the outfitting of their new homes!”

For more insights on consumers who care about ethical and sustainable products and practices, check out our blog on sustainable wedding practices.


Thanks to Megan Hodges of The Dowry for sharing her insights on the state of the wedding registry during COVID — and beyond. You can read more about the shop and its story here.

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Written by Corrie McGee
Photos Courtesy of The Dowry

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