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Forget blenders: Wedding invites now seek honeymoon cash

NEW YORK - Before they say "I do," soon-to-be newlyweds are increasingly going online to ask, "Will you pay for our honeymoon?"

Crowdfunding websites such as Honeyfund, GoFundMe and Honeymoon Wishes make it easy to raise cash from family and friends for a post-wedding getaway. The sites charge fees for their services - as much as 10 percent of the total collected - but people are warming up to the idea, despite the cost.

As couples increasingly live together first and marry later, they already have toasters and towels, so traditional gift registries don't make as much sense. Honeymoon registries also provide a polite way of hinting to guests to give money instead, without breaking wedding etiquette.

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"I didn't feel right saying, 'Hey, give me cash,'" says Nicole DePinto, who raised $2,900 on GoFundMe for an Icelandic honeymoon with her husband Anthony in December.

Sites that help couples raise cash for honeymoons have seen their popularity soar recently. Honeyfund users, for example, raised $90 million last year, a 50 percent jump from the year before, says co-founder and CEO Sara Margulis.

Last year, 22 percent of people using the Knot, a wedding planning site, said they also used honeymoon registries, according to a survey of 6,500 customers. That's the same as the year before, but up from 17 percent in 2013 and 13 percent in 2012.

The DePintos even crowdsourced the destination of their honeymoon, asking the 100 guests at their travel-themed October wedding reception to vote on Greece, Iceland or Japan. The save-the-dates came on postcards and the party favors were luggage tags.

"We did everything outside of the box," she said. They loved the natural beauty of the icy island in winter, and besides: "They're all places we wanted to go eventually."

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Most guests gave the couple cash-stuffed envelopes at the wedding, but the 14 donations they got online covered their hotel and airline tickets, even after GoFundMe kept more than $230 in fees. The Union City, New Jersey, couple also had a registry at Target, but asked for just a few things there since they had lived together for three years.

"In that time we've acquired tons of pots, plates, towels, throw pillows and bedding," they explained on their GoFundMe page.

Asking for cash in the invitation is a wedding faux pas, says Kristen Maxwell Cooper, deputy editor at The Knot. But passing around a link to a honeymoon registry works, because couples can explain to guests exactly where the money will be spent, she says.

Couples have a few options to turn to.

Crowdfunding site GoFundMe has collected $2 billion to date for all sorts of personal campaigns, raising money for medical emergencies, crime victims and other local causes. But the site does have a weddings and honeymoons section where users have raised $4 million since GoFundMe was launched six years ago, says media director Kelsea Little.

Anyone can see a GoFundMe campaign, but don't expect strangers to hand over cash - only friends and family will likely donate, says Little.

"It's a common misconception," she says.

Honeyfund, meanwhile, is more focused on honeymoons. Couples can list exactly what the cash will pay for, from hotel rooms to sightseeing tours to massages.

Major resorts and cruise lines are jumping in, using Honeymoon Wishes to power honeymoon registries built into their sites.

At Carnival Cruise Line, for example, couples can ask wedding guests to pay for scuba diving excursions or horseback rides. The money goes straight to Carnival and couples can redeem the gifts on board, says Nancy Williams, the business development director at Honeymoon Wishes. Couples can also go to Honeymoon Wishes and build their own honeymoon, without being attached to a certain resort.

"It's now socially acceptable," says Williams.

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