After raking in $1.7 million, Clearwater-based wedding registry website Honeyfund launches a second round of investment. | Business Observer

It’s difficult to think of a cultural, social or economic trend the pandemic hasn’t accelerated or otherwise affected. One of them, most definitely, is the tendency for couples to delay getting married.

Even before the pandemic, the average age of a person entering holy matrimony had been steadily creeping up, from 27 in 2009 to 32 in 2021, according to US Census Bureau data. That means couples have more time to earn money and acquire stuff, so when they eventually merge households, they have little need for traditional wedding registry gifts such as toasters, cookware and vacuum cleaners.

Enter Honeyfund, the Clearwater-based startup that has won the backing of “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary. The firm — co-founded in 2006 by Josh and Sara Margulis, who moved the business from Northern California to Clearwater in July 2017 — has flipped the wedding registry concept upside down, allowing friends and family to directly contribute funds earmarked for a couple’s wedding, honeymoon or other specific use, such as cooking lessons.

“Our mission at Honeyfund is to foster a community of fearless and authentic people in love, who are preparing to commit to and build a lasting marriage together,” states Sara Margulis, the firm’s CEO, in a news release. “Honeyfund provides them with financial support, tools and information to succeed in planning and funding their wedding, taking a fantastic honeymoon and building a successful marriage.”

Honeyfund raised more than $1.07 million last year via the Start Engine crowdfunding platform, and in early January it launched a second investment round with a target of $3.9 million. So far, according to the release, more than 200 investors have collectively contributed $90,000.

“Our users want to be supportive of Honeyfund’s growth,” Sara Margulis tells Coffee Talk, adding that the service has generated some $700 million in donations to newlyweds. “Couples are appreciative that they can receive money in a tasteful way, and a lot of givers say it’s a great thing that they wish they’d had for their weddings.”

Honeyfund makes money from advertising and an affiliate network for travel agents, wedding planners and other industry partners who enjoy great exposure thanks to the site’s average of 34 million page views per year. That number seems certain to grow, as Wedding. Report, an industry market research firm, projects 2.5 million weddings — the most since 1984 — to be held in 2022 in the United States. The company also handles honeymoon giving for Target and Hilton, adding another source of revenue.

“There’s been a downward trend in consumerism,” Sara Margulis says. “Nobody needs a chest full of household items to start off their life together. What we often don’t have is the luxury of taking that dream honeymoon.”

(This story has been updated to correct the amount of money Honeyfund raised via crowdfunding last year.)


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