Registry: Deposit a Gift Q&A with Founder Dana (the awesome) Ostomel

Let's be honest, while planning your registry you sometimes don't get things that you want…until now! Deposit a Gift is THE place for couples looking for something a little different, a little more them, that the standard registry. And that something different? The ability to ask for EXACTLY what you want…cold hard cash – but do it in a respectful and extremely tasteful way that won't alienate anyone you know.

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As a newly engaged couple, The Boy and I have been dipping our toes into the registry waters (see our experience at Target here and our Crate & Barrel expedition here). But, while we were able to fill all the kitchen and bed needs, we were stumped as to how to express to our friends and family that what we really needed was an addition on to our teeny tiny home. Basically, we needs us some cash. But seriously, even in this casual wedding day and age, it can be tricky to let people know that money would not only be appreciated – it would be used on something other than a casino or stripper's G-string (um, maybe.). Luckily, for situations like this – it's Dana to the rescue:

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Dana Ostomel is the founder and Chief Gifting Officer of Deposit a Gift – a truly tasteful cash gift registry service. Years before Dana got married, she wondered how anyone could store so many presents. And if they could – how did they find the time to unwrap, return (often), track, and use them all? Her marketing background led her to believe that she could simplify the registry process – and not just for weddings but for any big gifting event. And so Deposit a Gift, the next generation gift registry, was born. You can click here to read more about the always awesome (and inspiring) Dana (and remember to follow Deposit a Gift on Facebook and Twitter).

Dana was super sweet and stopped by KMT headquarters looking chic we emailed each other (at least one of us wore underwear…maybe) to discuss the awesomeness of her website and let you know everything that it offers.

What is Deposit a Gift?

Deposit a Gift gives engaged couples what they want most: flexibility. Our cash wedding registry lets friends and family to contribute monetary gifts toward the dreams and experiences they actually want, not ‘stuff’ they don’t. It's incredibly user-friendly and offers a great alternative to traditional registries. Simply put, it’s a less crass way of asking for cash.

Deposit a Gift works like a traditional registry to be easy on gift-givers, but allows couples to register for anything — from honeymoons to home down payments, newlywed activities to charities. We are also the only site that includes a free wedding website, and room to list your other registries, so it truly is a one-stop-shop. No shipping. No gift wrap. No need for returns.

What is the single most important thing for a couple to understand/think about before beginning the registry process with a cash wedding registry?

If I had to boil it down, I’d say that engaged couples fall to two camps: they’re either totally consumed by the registry process or they shy away from it. Either way, it results in awkward guest communications that are either too entitled or too apologetic.

So what I always tell our users is to remember that people will want to get you a wedding gift no matter what, so make it easy on them with a registry that is clear about what would be most meaningful to you at this time in your life. The key is to handle the registry in such a way that it works for you (meaning you get what you need, not ‘stuff’ you don’t) and is also a gratifying experience for gift-givers. This is something we don’t often think about: what would make this a good gift-giving experience so that someone would want to use my registry?

Sounds funny, but it’s true…think of yourself (honestly!) as a gift-giver: If you don’t like what’s on someone’s list (too ugly in your humble opinion, too cheap, too expensive etc), then you won’t use it. So I always encourage our users to be themselves and include as much personality and detail as possible, which will make it fun for guests.

The key things that successful registries have in common are:

  • Details: Make your guests feel a part of things with personalized and detailed gift lists and a note that shares your plans.
  • Choices: A variety of gifts from the practical to the whimsical, at all price points so that people can pick out something they connect with and feel good about.
  • Gratitude: Your opportunity to show your appreciation in advance. It goes a long way!

What should a couple look for in a registry website?

You want to look for a site that will meet your needs and allow you to communicate your desires in a classy and tactful way. We built the Deposit a Gift registry interface to look, feel and work like a traditional registry to be easy on gift-givers. We didn’t want guests to arrive at your registry and be confused about how to shop. What this means is that credit card acceptance is key. Some sites run on Paypal, but if you think about it, that’s not how a department store works. You want the experience to be seamless and easy for guests, or else they won’t use it.

Can you explain how your registry website works?

  • Users make gift registries just like people do with a traditional store registry, using a database of images or by clicking on a pre-made list. You can choose anything, from honeymoons to home down payments, newlywed activities to charity.
  • Guests choose a gift to purchase, finding the right price point for their budget. They are not actually buying the present, but it feels more personal than sending a check. The money gets deposited into the recipient’s Deposit a Gift account.
  • When users are ready to spend the money, they cash-out in the form of free direct deposit, personal check, or VISA gift card.

Can you explain the process of creating a registry on your website?

  • First, think about what kind of registry you want to create. Is it for a honeymoon or home down payment? Maybe for date nights and new bedroom furniture? You can create a gift list of anything you want and organize it by categories, but instead of the categories being cutlery and linens, they might be “Honeymoon to Thailand,” “Date Nights For a Year” or “Backyard Makeover.”

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  • We offer a Rapid Registry tool of pre-made lists organized by theme such as Home, Travel and Newlywed activities. There is everything from a ready-made ‘home down payment’ list to a list for taking a cruise. These lists make it so you don’t have to think of everything to register for…we’ve done it for you, cutesy descriptions included!

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  • Simply select the Rapid Registries that make sense for you and click to insert the images – Voila! Your registry is populated. You can leave it as-is or edit to make it feel more ‘you.’

How do a couple let friends and family know about your website (and not be embarrassed or pushy about asking for money)?

You handle a Deposit a Gift registry the same way you would any other registry. There aren’t many wedding dos and don’ts that I would say are anything more than based on where you’re from (tacky to one is normal to another), BUT the one rule that is widely accepted is that you don’t put your registry information on your invites. Thanks to the advent of wedding websites the problem is solved – because that is where you put your registry information (along with all of the other details for your wedding). So you simply include an insert in your invitation with the URL to your wedding website, advising guests that this is the e-home for the wedding where they can go for all the details such as travel, registry and attire.

The only exception is for showers because you are not throwing this for yourself. There is a host and the host can put your registry on the invitation. Since most showers are about the gifts – it’s expected that guests will want this information.

What is the average amount that couples register for on your website?

This really varies based on the size of the wedding and how many gift-giving events there are outside of the main event. We’ve had couples earn anywhere from $2,000-$10,000 on their registry, but you don’t need to set it up with a dollar amount in mind. The main thing is to create a gift list that breaks up your gift items into parts. I always suggest that you have various price points ranging from $25-$200. For anything over $200, simply request more units at that price. The good thing with a virtual registry is that you can always add more in seconds if your gifts are getting gobbled up.

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Are there any super-secret tips or code words that a couple can use while telling wedding guests about their registry on your website?

Well, I don’t know that I would call them code words, but here is the big tip: Don’t just ask for cash, or donations, or tell people that you’re going to use their money to pay your bills. Wedding gifts are special. Guests want to get you something that you’ll always remember them for; they don’t necessarily want to think that you’re spending it on groceries. Sometimes I see users create one “unlimited” gift called Donations without a word of thanks or explanation and it just doesn’t work. Or, they won’t put any gifts on their list and will just leave it open to accept general donations with our Custom Gift tool. Unfortunately these approaches don’t work as well. At this point, I can pretty much see any registry, and know if guests will respond well to it.

To help with the wording aspect of the registry, we offer a Greeting Bank on the Welcome page and a Note Bank on the Registry page. Any iteration of these messages works well because they provide some level of detail, are fun and appreciative. We constantly update our message banks, often with wording options we see working well for users.

Here is an example:

Thank you so much for joining us and being a part of all the joy, love and festivities! Many of you have generously asked if there’s anything we’d like as we start our lives together, and the truth is, what would be most memorable for us you actually can't register for at a regular store! Instead, we've created this registry that is designed to let others make partial purchases to contribute towards the very adventures we're embarking on: a cross-country road trip and our big move to San Francisco. Feel free, as well, to enter a “custom gift” if our trip inspires a vacation memory of your own that you'd love us to experience.

If you feel inclined to help make it happen, we would be most appreciative and look forward to sharing the memories and pictures with you. Hopefully you already know that gifts are not expected and what we ask most is that you celebrate with us on the big day! Thank you for being part of this exciting time!

All our love,
Michelle and Scott

What is your favorite type of Deposit a Gift registry?

I love all of the registries that our users come up with. My favorites are the ones that are really fun and reflect their personalities, like when they’re saving to start gardening for the first time or if they’re jonesing for a new mattress because all they really want is a good night’s sleep! One couple recently exclaimed with enthusiasm, “Turns out you can register for a new bathroom!” and they detailed their plans for the renovation they hope to do on their master bath, complete with pictures of what it currently looks like. And of course, who doesn’t love all the honeymoon registries…which give me an excuse to daydream about where I’d like to go next!

What is your least favorite type of Deposit a Gift registry?

I try to stay away from being judgey about what I don’t think is a good registry. My goal is to make sure that our service works well for you and gets you what you want. But as I mentioned before, I can pretty much spot which registries will work well and which won’t, so it’s not so much as what isn’t my favorite, but what I don’t think will be a favorite amongst the guests, and therefore not make you happy because it doesn’t get used. Though we all have expenses and bills to pay, try to think of other special ways that you will use the money and communicate that to your guests. Remember that at the end of the day, you are going to receive the money to spend as you wish.

Can you tell us any stories about couples registered on your website?

Working with our users is one of the best parts of running the site and whenever anyone will allow me to help them personally, it’s so great because I am able to really get to know them and customize the experience so it works perfectly for them. I’ll let these happy folks tell their own stories.

Is there any other information that you would like to share with Kiss My Tulle’s readers?

Customer support is hugely important to us. We want our users to benefit from the flexibility that comes with an online cash gift registry, while still not losing the personal support that they would get from an in-store registry. I try to make myself available to our users as much as they’ll allow, ensuring they know that they can count on us for anything they need during this important moment in their lives.

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So awesome Kiss My Tulle readers – if you have any questions that you would like to ask Dana directly, go ahead and email her at: support@depositagift.com. OR keep up with Deposit a Gift’s news: http://www.facebook.com/DepositaGift and Follow her: http://www.twitter.com/DepositaGift. OR you can ask her a question (or leave a testimonial) in the comments! She's totally awesome and loves helping KMT readers out!