Elements or Lower

Thu, 05 Apr 2007

Buy Our Honeymoon

At long last, and just as the cobwebs on this poor old blog start to get cobwebs of their own, the Big Project that’s been rumbling away in the background for the past couple of years finally goes live.

It’s called Buy Our Honeymoon, a site that couples can use to compile wedding gift lists that, instead of the usual department store fare, ask for honeymoon experiences and upgrades.

Buy Our Honeymoon - honeymoon gift lists for the independent traveller

While we were planning our wedding back in 2005, we were also planning an epic, three-week, three-thousand-mile road trip across the Deep South of the USA. This was to be the best holiday of our lives: theme parks and plenty of them in Florida, the honeymoon suite at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, a touch of Elvis in Memphis, a touch of country in Nashville, the resplendence of Dollywood, the serenity of Savannah.

We realised that we really didn’t need any of the things traditionally found in wedding gift lists. We’d been living together for years, and had cultivated a fine habit of buying each other kitchen implements as Christmas presents. A normal gift list would have been slightly redundant and, frankly, a waste of our guests’ money.

And then Shelley had her genius idea: what if our guests could contribute to that wonderful honeymoon instead? But nobody likes to just dump cash into a big pot — we’d ask our guests for specific things we were planning for our honeymoon. Theme park tickets, a car upgrade, a cabin in the Smokey Mountains, meals, champagne. Actual gifts, not just cash contributions, and things we really wanted. Things that would make the honeymoon that much more special.

It turned out that honeymoon gift list services did already exist, but they weren’t quite to our tastes. We didn’t want our guests to pay a commission to the list company (we’d much rather have just paid an up-front fee), we didn’t want to be tied down to a travel agent’s packages, and we wanted our list to look great.

And, dammit, I’m a web developer. So we made our own.

Our guests loved it, many of them going well beyond the call of duty in their generosity. We asked for the dollar value of gifts in a card on the day, and promised to send photographs of us enjoying each gift on our return. Actually getting dollars didn’t really feel like just being given cash (the difference in currency made all the difference), and allowed for a palpable sense of decadence spending it. Paying for an upgrade to a convertible using cash is somehow as exhilarating as driving it (especially if you’d never have afforded the upgrade without the gift).

The honeymoon was everything we could have hoped for. A year and a half later, and I still get misty-eyed over it. A cabin in the Smokey Mountains. A cabin!

Off and on, we’ve spent the time since getting this ready to offer as a commercial product. We’ve put together a set of payment plans that range from the basic list to a list with 50 gift suggestions (individually researched by Shelley) and a custom design theme (hand-crafted by yours truly). Couples can ask their guests to bring the cash value of gifts on the day (just as we did), or to allow guests to pay by credit card immediately into a PayPal account. We don’t take any commission on gifts, and offer a no-obligation, 7-day trial of all list features.

From a geek perspective, the system to manage lists is dripping with Ajaxy goodness, and the magic of CSS allows us to offer a range of themes that transform each list from a database into a design.

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, and now we’re just waiting for the first trial accounts to be created.