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Creating wedding joy through heartfelt gifting

In a world choking with overconsumption one woman is on a mission to return joy to gifting, starting with weddings.

“I’ve had two weddings, been a bridesmaid a few times, attended multiple weddings, and have even been to two of my mum’s three weddings, so you could say I am very skilled at weddings,” laughs Joyable founder and chief joymaker, Rochelle Sheldon.

Her global vision is lofty: to rid the world of wasteful gifting that causes a storm of stress and excess, and return people and their giving to a heartfelt celebration of joy, connection and love.

“We’ve lost our way. Giving gifts used to be inspired and exciting with handmade cards and presents. Now we buy more and more stuff, often last minute, and undoubtedly tokenistic. For weddings this means platters, glassware and throws. I want to give back the power of choice for recipients in every gifting occasion to get something unique and special to them.

“This is something I trialled with my own family last Christmas and we created our most joyful occasion yet.”

In April last year when Sheldon found a box full of unwrapped but unopened gifts given to her three children the previous Christmas she knew it was time for change.

“It was shocking. These gifts, however generous, didn’t connect to my kids emotionally or mentally so stayed in a box, forgotten,” she says.

“So last Christmas instead of buying presents, all the aunties, uncles, grandparents, Godmums and we parents gave the kids a trip to Fiji and all their present money went into that. My whole family came and we had the most wonderful time, and we talk and laugh about it to this day.

“I thought why not turn this idea into a gifting platform everyone can use, especially for life’s most heartfelt, beautiful event, weddings? And the seed was sown for Joyable.”

Joyable.co, which launched on 13 October, is an easy-to-use online platform where people quickly and securely transfer money to contribute towards group-purchased gifts and bucket-list experiences. Think Givealittle for gifting, Sheldon adds.

It’s ideal for weddings, engagements, hen and stag nights, and even has an event RSVP function.

Weddings are a multibillion dollar industry with big bucks spent on gifts to attend New Zealand’s 21,000 weddings. With gift registries in decline – because couples have what they need – wishing wells are rising in popularity, which is bringing another level of angst, something Sheldon knows all too well.

“For my second wedding, we decided we’d love to celebrate our wedding with once-in-a-lifetime experiences during our honeymoon in South Africa. But asking people to put money in our bank account was so awkward,” she cringes.

“Not only did we have to give out our bank account number but we knew it would be uncomfortable for people contributing because we’d see their contributions and not everyone can afford as much as they’d like,” she says.

Sheldon adds if it wasn’t for her “super organised, amazing mum” at her wedding, they may also have missed cash-filled cards people brought on the day.

“I’d have forgotten them because I was having too much fun dancing and celebrating our love with my new husband and friends,” she laughs.

With Kiwi guests spending between $75 to $150 on wedding gifts or wishing well contributions, Sheldon says the process of buying and wrapping gifts or getting cash out still lacks the joy, connection and celebration she seeks to create.

“This is why we have enriched the gift-giving process through our beautiful gift hub Joyable. As well as eliminating precious time and money spent on purchasing small value presents, we’re removing the additional cost and the wasteful environmental burden of cards, packaging, and postage, which not everyone can easily afford.”

“Every bride and groom deserves to be celebrated with something unique and special on their wedding day, and at Joyable we’re letting couples choose something they’ll remember forever, like an artwork or magical experience with their new husband or wife.”

To create Joyable, Sheldon pulled together her Kiwi dream team whose vision for elevating the wellbeing of people and the environment matched her own. She’s joined by sister and international actor Kimberley Crossman, friend, eco gal and writer Belinda Nash, and one of New Zealand’s most innovative web developers, Igor Anany, which forms the Joyable founding team.

While Crossman, who was bridesmaid at both of Sheldon’s weddings, claims “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”, she is no stranger to weddings.

“I’ve organised more than a few hens parties, bridal showers and high teas in my time,” laughs Crossman, speaking to New Zealand Weddings from her LA home.

“Collecting money has always proven a challenge with someone left forking out to cover the shortfall. I love that Joyable makes it so much easier to quickly manage funds and have all family and friends contribute to an event, gift or memorable experience for our most special friends.

“We can still book a dancing fireman or arresting officer using Joyable, but it takes the hassle out and puts the joy back in,” she laughs.

Crossman recalls her best friend wanting a KitchenAid for her wedding who instead gained a house full of platters despite having a gift registry.

“We could have used Joyable to give her her dream gift, which would’ve lasted a lifetime.”

A sore point for Crossman, which motivated her passion for Joyable, was when her Christmas gifts to family went AWOL.

“All my Christmas gifts I sent home got lost in the mail after I frantically shopped, wrapped, scribbled on cards, shoved into boxes and posted. It was not a joyful experience at all.”

Like her sister, Crossman values collecting memories above “getting more stuff”.

“I can’t wait to see Joyable be used not just for engagements and weddings, but for anniversaries, baby showers, birthdays, milestones like graduations, school leaving and any time people want to celebrate others. It’s so exciting.”

And what’s on her next birthday Joyable list?

“Flying lessons, definitely,” she laughs. “Or something my friends and I can do together, like an escape room, wine tasting or stand-up comedy.”

Fellow founder Belinda Nash travelled to Perth this year to be a first time bridesmaid at her sister Clare and bride-to-be Linda’s wedding in June. It was “kind of a big deal” as Australia had only legalised same-sex marriage just 18 months prior. While Nash had commissioned a bespoke artwork for the blushing brides, when asked by family what her sister and fiancée wanted, she knew they were building a life of experiences not a household of things.

“They didn’t want gifts because they have everything they need, but they did want inflatable paddleboards, or a spa experience on their Thailand honeymoon. But how do you say to guests ‘No gifts but here’s our bank account details’?

“Instead their very generous friends gave them a mountain of gifts, graciously received of course, but what they really wanted was those experiences with memories to treasure.”

Rochelle says that’s why her team created Joyable.

“When I look back at my life I think of learning to ride my bike with my cousins, playing at the beach and dancing to all hours of the night with my friends. I don’t remember things, I remember experiences, and that’s what I want to give people with Joyable.

“If we can be part of people having dream experiences while helping mental wellbeing and the planet’s wellbeing, then it’s a win win.”

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