As with most things in our lives, the culture around weddings is changing as technology evolves. Deloitte Digital conducted a social media study to uncover how couples’ experiences with their wedding registries are changing in the modern age.

Today’s culture around weddings is changing as technology continually evolves, and couples have far more options for registries than ever before. Deloitte Digital conducted a social listening study to uncover consumer perceptions about their registry experience in social media. We collected and analyzed more than 116,000 wedding registry-related posts across public social channels to better understand key themes and perceptions. Seven clear themes emerged.

1. Technology is changing wedding registry habits.

Technology has changed how we communicate and how we buy. The addition of online and mobile commerce can be a double-edged sword for brick-and-mortar retailers, allowing them to reach out to more consumers with the added convenience of web and mobile transactions, but it has opened the space for online-only merchants to compete. Because of this, brick-and-mortar stores offering traditional registry experiences are seeing increased competition from online-only retailers, new platforms for registering across a variety of retailers, and the rise of alternative “experiential” or donation-oriented registries.

2. Registering is social.

Couples used social media to share all different phases of their wedding registry experience, from excitement over grabbing a scanner to start their registry in-store, to complaining about a registry site being “glitch.” Some would also tag their fiancé, family member, or friend with whom they were registering. Many also created personalized hashtags when posting on social media sites.

"Honeymoon registry complete!!! Wohoo! #honeyfund #letsgetmarried #destinationunknown”– Eva

3. Consumers get overwhelmed and seek advice.

The dilemma of what to register for was a common topic by consumers on social. For some, it’s the first time they have set-up a household, combined a household, or had to make so many decisions at once as a couple. Advice was solicited on both forums and Facebook, where others could share their experiences and what worked (or didn’t) for their wedding registries.

4. Men are more involved (whether they like it or not).

While women were more likely to share opinions and experiences, men often mentioned stores where they were registering with their fiancé, shared their registry link with others, or were tagged in posts by their fiancés to get their opinion on an item. Men joked that they wished they could register at home improvement stores like Home Depot, or that they were in trouble with their fiancé for wanting to register for video games at Target. Other men simply shared their registry link on Twitter and Facebook (a few mentioning doing so at the request of their future spouse).

“Our Wedding is THIS SUNDAY! ***We are registered at Target***” – LaShunda with Terrance

5. Couples no longer necessarily need “stuff.”

Couples that already had household items, were re-marrying, or simply didn’t want more “things” were interested in more non-traditional gifts. Alternative registries were touted by modern brides, or those with an already-established household, as a great way to give guests an opportunity to gift the couple with experiences (like a dinner during the honeymoon or a boating activity) or to help with their new life together (such as a down payment for a home or repairs). Brides also talked about the practicality of a funds-based registry to accomplish financial goals or vacation experiences.

“My husband and I did not have a registry for our wedding, as we didn’t want to 'ask' for anything (not to mention we were already living together in a small space). We did set up a Honeyfund for money that could go for a house in the future, but we labeled this as purely optional.” – smileyface123

6. Gifting preferences illustrated an emerging generation gap.

Generally, older brides or those who had been married for several years were more likely to take a conservative stance when it came to “appropriate” gifts and sharing registry information. Some conservative women felt that only physical gifts should be registered for and considered alternative options “tacky” and “asking for cash.” Former brides provided etiquette standards, whether or not sought out. Etiquette rules most often were brought up when a bride was considering an alternative registry, registering for gift cards, or asking how to share registry information with guests. Modern brides and those who were merging two households were more open to alternative registries and less worried about others’ perceptions of their choices.

“Never put registry information in your invitations or on STDs (and throw away those registry cards). Also, I wouldn’t put it on your website either. What you can do is to have a link they can click if they have unanswered questions that will email you, and you can respond with the registry information if they ask you first – not the other way around. Otherwise, this has the appearance of a gift grab because you’re not supposed to 'expect' gifts even if guests are supposed to give you gifts. If someone wants to know where you are registered, they can ask you. I wouldn’t register for gift cards. One thing that shouldn’t go on registries is requests for cash, and gift cards are another form of cash, because many people are offended by requests for cash or gift cards.” – Jen4948

7. Stress and confusion can lead to negative experiences.

Wedding planning is a high-stress time for couples as they are spending a large amount of time, energy, and (usually) money to host the event. Advice, solicited or not, is accompanied by others’ opinions, adding to the stress. The amount of choices and variety available for household goods is overwhelming for couples who are already making a lot of decisions in the wedding planning process. Narrowing down preferences, style, features, and other details is made more frustrating when store staff can’t be found or are unable to answer questions, or when technology like in-store scanners or the website fails.

“Really getting frustrated. My wedding registry has been having non-stop issues when I try to edit it  #showerapproaching” – Amanda

Couples are changing the wedding registry landscape, but retailers have the opportunity to change along with it and build loyalty by innovating to provide consumers an engaging and positive experience. Stay tuned for our next blog post “Not Your Mother’s Registry Part 2: 7 Tips for Designing a Registry Experience.”

Footnote: A sample of 116,006 posts from October 2013 to October 2014 pulled from Radian6 was used for this analysis. Typical of social media conversations across industries, nearly 90 percent of all online registry posts happened on Facebook and Twitter.

Stephanie Tice is a senior research analyst on Deloitte Digital’s social intelligence team, providing clients with qualitative insights that address needs and give context to brand themes and perceptions on social.