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Should you ever put gift cards on a wedding registry?: Your guide to wedding etiquette

Isuru, Co-Founder of Hitchd
Isuru from Hitchd
Jul 15, 20225 min read

When it comes to a wedding registry, there are a lot of dos and don’ts. Do put more gifts on your registry than guests invited to your wedding. Don’t have too many expensive gifts. Do get your registry up at least six months before your wedding day.

In all of that confusion, you might be wondering whether you can add gift cards to your wedding registry. And we’re here to help!

Here’s what to know about registering for gift cards on your wedding registry and what else you need to do to make your wedding registry a success.

Can you register for gift cards for your wedding?

In short, yes. It is okay to register for gift cards for your wedding.

But that doesn’t mean you can have a registry filled with gift cards. There are specific instances in which it’s okay to have gift cards on your registry. As you know, following wedding etiquette is vital to the success of your wedding, so if you want everything to go off without a hitch, then you need to be sensitive when you think about adding gift cards.

When is it okay to add gift cards to your wedding registry?

Believe it or not, there are some instances when it is okay to add gift cards to your registry.

If you have a registry at a big-box store like Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond, then it’s usually a given that your registry will include gift cards to that store. Many guests choose this option when all of the other gifts have been picked over or all that’s left are gifts outside of their budget. In that instance, gift cards work as a great alternative. Some stores even add gift card options to registries automatically.

Not every gift card should have a place on your registry. Target and other chain stores also sell gift cards to other businesses such as Southwest Airlines, Airbnb and even Disney, but that doesn’t mean you should add them to your wedding registry. It’s one thing to get gift cards to the store you’re registered at, but it’s another thing to ask for gift cards to other businesses.

So where’s the logic behind this? Well, it’s actually a personal matter. If you ask for a Southwest gift card to help pay for your honeymoon airfare, then you won’t have a good way to actually use that money when you need it. Presumably, you’ll need the gift card when you make your reservation, but if it’s coming in a card either at your wedding shower or the big day itself, then it won’t do you much good to have it then when you really needed it a few months ago.

How to think about gift cards and wedding etiquette

As you know, wedding etiquette is the list of unspoken rules that inform how you should behave at a wedding. The rules do change depending on who you are: the bride, a grandparent, a wedding party member or just a guest. As one of the two people getting married, it’s up to you to make each guest feel welcome, appreciated and respected above all.

That’s why the way you ask for presents and what you ask for as presents are so important. If guests feel that you value what they can give you over their presence at your wedding, then they’ll be offended and reconsider coming at all. So however you choose to build a wedding registry and fill it with gifts, you should make it clear as day that all gifts are completely optional.

What does this mean for gift cards? In general, gift cards are a little impersonal as a gift. Sometimes there is no alternative, but a wedding is a meaningful, emotional moment in your life. Your guests, especially the ones who watched you grow, will want to mark the occasion with something more special or thoughtful. So if you fill a wedding registry with gift cards, it tells your guests that you really care about getting money from them.

But all that said, there are some other etiquette ideas to consider when it comes to gift cards.

Gift cards as a way to ask for cash

You know, of course, that asking directly for cash as a wedding present is a major faux pas. All guests should know that giving any gift is always appreciated but never expected. Because weddings are so emotionally charged, guests don’t want to give ust any present. They want it to be special, one that you’ll remember, which is why home goods have been so popular over the years. Aunt Susan wants you to think of her when you use that serving platter to cook your first holiday meal.

But at the same time, you might also really want cash as a wedding present! You’re not alone there, and it’s certainly understandable. You might be paying for your wedding and want some help paying for the honeymoon. Or maybe you and your partner want to start househunting immediately.

Some couples treat gift cards like cash, but they’re really not the same thing. A Target gift card won’t be much use for your honeymoon, and we’ve already established that asking for Southwest or other travel-related gift cards won’t help you much if you’re trying to book your honeymoon plans in advance. If you need help paying for your honeymoon, then it’s better to build a honeymoon registry so guests can give you honeymoon-related experiences as presents.

Guest budgets

All of the guests coming to your wedding will have different budgets set and different monetary obligations. For example, those who live close or are older or closer in relation to you may decide to spend a little more on your gift. Think grandparents or close aunts and uncles. On the other hand, you may have friends trying to get through graduate school or focusing on starting families. They may also be traveling to your wedding, and as such, they don’t have a lot of space in their budget to also buy you an extravagant gift.

You should be considerate of both types of guest budgets when thinking about your wedding registry. That’s why it should be filled with gifts at all different price points and have an option for guests to give their own preferred about, such as a gift card. But there are better, less impersonal options, than gift cards, which we’ll talk about in a minute.

Purpose

It’s hard enough keeping track of who gave you which gift and sent you which gift card worth how much money. Now imagine yourself writing your thank-you cards and having nothing much to say about the gift cards you received because you haven’t spent them yet.

With most thank-yous, you can describe how you are already enjoying the new blender or, if you have a honeymoon registry, how you loved ziplining or dining out at a fancy restaurant. It’s much harder to do that with gift cards if you haven’t used them on anything yet. Many couples wait to spend those cards, especially if they’re trying to buy a home or start a family.

Why cash funds are better than gift cards

Instead of filling the wedding registry with gift cards, more and more couples are turning to cash funds instead to fill the void and solve many of these etiquette problems.

A cash fund is basically an online money fund in which anyone can contribute any amount of money that suits their budget. Hitchd users who build honeymoon and hybrid wedding registries often add a cash fund to their registries as sort of a catch-all. It’s open to anyone who would like to give, whether they’re invited to the wedding or not, and there’s no minimum or maximum, so no one should feel obligated to give more than they can afford.

Cash funds may not seem much more personal than gift cards, but they actually fulfill several purposes while making your nuptials easier on you. Here’s how they benefit both you and your guests.

Asking for cash without asking for cash

You don’t want to break the rule that says, “Never ask for cash as a wedding present.” So how does a cash fund fit in?

Cash funds work best on registries when there are plenty of other gifts at different price points included. This shows that the cash fund is more of an afterthought than the main attraction of your wedding registry. If you have a honeymoon fund, then guests can always choose the more fun or exciting options on your registry, such as a spa package or a snorkeling excursion.

In this case, the cash fund is more of an add-on, something for people to contribute to if they feel like it. But no hard feelings if they don’t.

Options for personalisation

Remember how gift cards were seen as the impersonal option, something most relatives and close friends would like to avoid in lieu of a more meaningful, personal gift? A cash fund can be customised to fit a specific purpose, making it feel more genuine to those who choose to contribute. Most Hitchd users give their cash fund a purpose and interesting gift description to make it clear how the money will be used and what givers can expect.

Some popular cash fund purposes include:

  • Downpayments on homes: Use the gift description to tell people where you plan to buy a home and when you expect to start looking in earnest. If possible, add links to home listings that you love to give guests an idea about what you’re looking for in a new house.
  • Baby fund: Some couples can’t wait to start a family and they’re vocal about it. The baby fund helps them get a headstart on saving for furniture and other baby-related items.
  • Charity fund: Couples who truly don’t need anything use charity funds to redirect gift money to a good cause. Some choose nonprofits that fight certain diseases in honor of lost loved ones or ones that do good work in the couple’s neighborhood. If you build a charity fund through Hitchd, choose a day after your wedding that you will donate the money and include it in your gift description so everyone knows what to expect. Then on that day, make the donation and send the receipt or thank-you to everyone who donated to prove their money went exactly where you said it would. Hitchd keeps track of every giver’s email and what they gave to make this process easier.

Great for any budget

Much like a gift card, a cash fund has a wide range of budget options. Guests flying in for your big day can give an amount that feels good for them while other guests can feel free to give more generously if that’s what’s right for them. If other guests have already picked over your wedding registry, then others can still feel like they’re making a meaningful contribution by giving to your cash fund and its stated purpose.

Cash funds can also be a big help to those who are happy for you but not invited to your wedding. You may have coworkers who support you or old family friends who want to wish you well. Since they’re not invited, they’re obviously not obligated to give a gift, some coworkers like to go in on a small contribution. Having a cash fund helps direct well wishers towards something that would help you immensely.

So when it comes to gift cards on wedding registries, yes, you can technically add them. But they are limited, and there are better ways of asking for help paying for your honeymoon or just for cash in a polite way. It’s better to create a honeymoon registry or add a cash fund to your online wedding registry.

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