I received this question from a bride-to-be regarding the etiquette of how to ask for cash wedding gifts.
"I was actually wondering if there was a nice way to ask for money instead of getting registered somewhere. Thanks."
This was my reply:
The dilemma of how to ask for money as a wedding gift without it seeming tacky is very common amongst couples planning their wedding. As more and more couples are financing their own weddings and with the cost of weddings rising it is totally understandable that they would prefer to receive a monetary gift. According to EmilyPost.com during a survey carried out by WeddingChannel.com in 2001 “42% of brides and grooms-to-be said that "how to request money as a wedding gift" is the most challenging etiquette issue they face as they plan their weddings”.
Whilst it is widely considered inappropriate to ask friends and family for any type of gift, more so this applies to cash gifts. Some guests might feel like you are asking them to contribute financially towards your wedding costs or to your domestic expenses.
Although some people consider it to be vulgar to ask guests for money, you will find that most wedding guests appreciate that for newlyweds monetary gifts are far more useful to them than a traditional wedding gift - they can put the money towards something they really need such as a down payment on a house, a car or to help pay for their honeymoon. This is exemplified in a nationwide survey carried out by i3 which proved that 78% of consumers prefer to give cash as a wedding gift. With the average age of couples marrying for the first time rising, most couples realize that having already fitted out their households with most appliances and homeware items they would prefer cold hard cash as an alternative wedding gift.
Whilst wedding etiquette definitely frowns on either coming right out and boldly asking guests for money or including a request for cash in your wedding invitations, there are some more subtle ways of putting the word out to friends and family that monetary gifts are preferable as far as you are concerned.
Put the word out
♥ You should understand that whilst every couple happily accepts wedding gifts given by friends and family they should definitely not expect a wedding gift. This is the reason behind not mentioning gifts when you send out your save-the-date cards or wedding invitations. You don’t want to appear rude in implying that your guests are obligated to give you a gift do you?
♥ The best way of getting the word out that you would prefer cash gifts is to let your parents, wedding party, close relatives and friends spread the news for you. Let them know that when guests ask they can tell them that you would prefer cash as a wedding gift. Don’t be embarrassed to ask them to pass on this information - you know them well enough so they will understand your decision to ask for money over traditional wedding gifts. They don’t have to go out of their way to let every wedding guest on your list know this, but there is no harm in them mentioning it if asked by a wedding guest or if your wedding is being discussed. Most wedding guests will ask around (particularly your immediate families and members of your wedding party) as to what they should give you as a wedding gift. As I have said above, your guests will appreciate being given the heads up on your wedding gift preference rather than dithering over their decision of what to buy you.
♥ It is advisable to decide in advance what your cash wedding gifts are going to be spent on. Whilst your wedding guests are not likely to go so far as to ask to see receipts to make sure that you spent their wedding cash gift on your honeymoon as promised rather than on Gucci handbag for yourself, it is courteous to give them some indication of how their cash is going to be spent. Guests will appreciate, and are more likely to feel comfortable, giving cash if they know how their gift may be used. For example if you are saving for a down payment on a home, renovation work for your existing home, household furnishings or money towards your honeymoon. Your guests want to feel they are giving you a gift (in a roundabout way) not just writing you a check!
♥ Whilst word of mouth is the most efficient method of informing your wedding guests of your wish for monetary wedding gifts, you could also consider directing guests to look at your personal wedding website. Some companies, such as ewedding.com, allow you to create a wedding website for free and they are a great idea for efficiently communicating, not just gift details, but also other wedding related information. Most wedding websites have a gift registry section where you can add in some wording such as: “Whatever you would like to give us is wonderful, the choice is yours, we are registered at XXX but money is at the top of our wedding wish list to help pay for ………….”. You could also consider listing there what you intend to spend the money on. Having details of your gift wish list on your website will help to reaffirm to the cynics amongst your wedding guests that you really would appreciate a cash gift rather than the traditional gift of an appliance or something for your household.
♥ Another more creative option is to write a wedding poem and have it displayed on your website. Mag.weddingcentral.com have a selection of wedding poems. My favorite is this one:
"If you were thinking of giving a gift, to help us on our way.
A gift of cash towards our house, would really make our day.
However, if you prefer to purchase a gift, feel free to surprise us in your own way."
Alternatives to asking for hard cash
Whilst in Chinese culture handing red envelopes full of cash to newlyweds is commonplace, handing over wads of money to Western couples on their wedding day is very out of the ordinary and might seem a little inappropriate. In saying that, anything goes! A close friend of my brother is a bit of a wheeler dealer and on the day of my brother’s wedding he pulled out his wallet, counted out $150 and handed it to him with a slap on the back. Although it seemed a bit improper it got him a mention in the wedding speech and the other guests either admired him for his honesty and inventiveness or envied him the fact that he had saved himself time by not shopping for a wedding gift. Here are some ideas to prevent you having to walk around with pockets bulging with cash on your wedding day.
♥ How about having a Wedding Wishing Well at your wedding reception? These are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a more tasteful way for guests to hand over gifts of cash to you. The concept is that you get the information out by word of mouth to wedding guests that you are going to have a wedding well at your wedding reception. The wishing well is then placed at your reception venue and guests can slip in their monetary gifts and/or wedding cards. You could decorate the wishing well with your wedding colors so that it blends in with the style of your wedding reception venue. Have a look on the internet as there are lots of different types available ranging from cardboard to proper wooden wells. You could place a sign near the wishing well with some wording explaining what it is for or (even better I think) a cute poem such as:
Because at first we lived in sin
We've got the sheets and a rubbish bin
A gift from you would be swell
But we'd prefer a donation to our Wishing Well!!
More than just kisses so far we've shared,
Our home has been made with Love and Care,
Most things we need we've already got,
And in our home we can't fit a lot!
A wishing well we thought would be great,
(But only if you wish to participate),
A gift of money is placed in the well,
Then make a wish .... but shhh don't tell!
Once we've replaced the old with the new,
We can look back and say it was thanks to you!
And in return for your kindness, we're sure
That one day soon you will get what you wished for.
Take a look at Mag.weddingcentral.com for more cute and creative wedding poem ideas.
♥ Popular alternatives to the wishing well are the wedding gift box, treasure chest or birdcage. These act in the same way as the wishing well.
♥ Have you considered registering for some traditional registry gifts? This will give your guests a choice as some (particularly from the older generation) might feel uncomfortable giving you money and might really want to give you something material for your wedding to remember them by. I suggest that you consider putting together a wedding registry for these guests - I’m sure you could find a few moderately priced items to put on the gift list.
♥ Alternatively you could register for cash - how perfect does that sound! Websites such as MatriMoney.co.uk or Felicite.com allow you to register for non-gift items, such as money for honeymoon expenses, moving costs or whatever you would like to spend the money on. You list on the website where the money is going to be spent. By registering for cash gifts you allow your guests to spend any amount they choose. The company then send you a check for the cash balance of the account on or after your wedding date. Do bear in mind that these sites do charge your guests a transaction fee in the region of 4.9% (e.g. if a guest chooses to spend $50 they will actually be charged $52.45). These websites also allow you to register for material wedding gifts too such as coffee machines, golf clubs or even a new car, alongside the cash option.
♥ TheKnot.com offers a “Create-A-Gift” registry which allows you to ask your guests to contribute money into the registry and you receive the money in the form of American Express gift checks which can be spent on anything you choose.
♥ American Express also offer a Gift Check in denominations starting at $25 that comes attractively packaged in a gold envelope - how perfect for a wedding!
♥ If you need money towards buying a new house once you are married then Sun Trust Bank has created a SunTrust Bridal Registry Account where wedding guests contribute cash wedding gifts and they are applied towards a down payment on a home.
♥ You might also want to consider a honeymoon registry such as TheHoneymoon.com where guests can purchase aspects of your honeymoon for you such as a scuba diving excursion, a massage treatment or a romantic meal for two. That way your guests will feel they have contributed towards your honeymoon. You receive the cash, minus the website’s arrangement fee, and you can then spend it on your honeymoon expenses. For more ideas on this read my article.
I hope these ideas help you to deal with this delicate subject. Hopefully your friends and family will appreciate that you need money more than you need a dinner service or a toaster! Personally I prefer to give friends and family money or something else they have specifically asked for as a wedding gift as it saves me from shopping for a gift they might hate and want to dispose of on eBay straight after the wedding! Remember it is acceptable to ask for money so long as you handle it with sensitivity and diplomacy.
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