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How to politely ask for money instead of gifts for a wedding

Ollie, Co-Founder of Hitchd
Ollie from Hitchd
May 26, 20219 min read

When you were young, you loved unwrapping gifts and feeling surprised at whatever was inside. Even if the gift wasn't something you had asked for or already had, you felt elated because you had a new toy.

Now that you're an adult, however, receiving gifts, especially from people you love but don't see often, can be a little nerve wracking. You wonder if the gift is a duplicate of something already in your home or if it's something that you know you'll never use. You feel genuinely grateful for the person's generosity, but the thought of having to return the gift, give it away or store it in your already short-on-storage-space home feels daunting.

Engaged couples tend to feel this anxiety around wedding gifts because the one thing they really want — the thing that never goes out of style — is money, but it's also the one thing that's very hard to ask for as a wedding gift. If you're like other engaged couples out there, then you either don't need items for your home or the items you want, such as a couch or dining table, are simply too expensive to put on a registry.

If you don't want to run the risk of receiving weddings gifts that you don't need or will never use, then you need to learn how to ask for money instead of gifts for a wedding — the polite way. Here's how to do it.

What wedding etiquette says about asking for money as a gift

When you're thinking about how to ask for money as a wedding gift, you need to consider the correct wedding etiquette to follow. This will help ensure that your guests feel welcomed and appreciated at your wedding, no matter what gift they bring.

If you're unfamiliar with wedding etiquette or why it even matters, here's what you need to know.

What is wedding etiquette?

Simply put, wedding etiquette is the rules and norms that dictate what is considered polite or rude when planning a wedding. Unlike a more casual party, weddings often come with certain traditions and expectations that people, both the engaged couple and the guests, expect to follow. Deviating from wedding etiquette is not unheard of, but it can potentially insult guests or lead to hurt feelings.

When it comes to gifts, wedding etiquette dictates that all guests should feel welcome at your wedding regardless of if they brought a gift or how expensive the gift was. It's up to you and your partner to ensure that all guests know that their presence at your nuptials should be a gift in and of itself.

Now you and your partner can set up a wedding registry or a honeymoon fund (more on this later) for gift suggestions, should your guests decide to buy you two a gift, but it should be made clear on invitations that gifts are not necessary. Basically, it's okay to give gift suggestions, as it's pretty common to give gifts at weddings, but it's not okay to demand a gift from every guest.

It is also impolite to ask guests for money directly. This comes from the uncertainty of what will be done with the money. When guests buy a couple a blender, for example, they know how that gift will be used, but how will a guest know what you and your partner spent the money on after the wedding? Guests want to pay for things for your home or honeymoon — not your utility or credit card bills. They want to know that their money went towards something a little more important.

But wedding etiquette does change. Traditionally, the bride's parents paid for the wedding, but nowadays, that's not always expected. Many couples like to have control over their own weddings, so they decide to pay for it themselves. Sometimes, the groom's parents step in to help instead.

Why does it matter so much?

When you're planning your wedding, you might feel like following wedding etiquette is a waste of time, especially if you consider you and your partner to be a little more modern. Maybe you two already live together and you've already accumulated many of the household items that you'd usually put on a wedding registry. When it comes down to it, what you and your partner really need is money, maybe for a downpayment on a house or maybe to furnish your new home.

Although it may be tempting, completely ignoring wedding etiquette can lead to a lot of trouble around your wedding. While some guests, usually younger guests, may understand your plight, others, often older guests, may feel slighted and expected to give cash in order to attend the wedding. You may come off as greedy to some as if you're using your wedding as an excuse for a cash grab.

Your families love you and want to support you both, so don't run the risk of insulting them or making them feel unwelcome at your wedding. As tempting as it may be to ignore all rules of wedding etiquette, don't do it. Your wedding should be first and foremost a celebration, so keep it feeling festive and ensure no one feels slighted or forced into gift giving.

How to politely ask for money instead of gifts for your wedding

While wedding etiquette does dictate that asking for money as a wedding gift outright is considered rude, there are ways to circumvent that rule and ask for money in more polite, slightly less obvious ways. As long as you keep your wedding guests' feelings front and center, then you can gently encourage them to give cash as a gift without making them feel like they need to show up at your wedding with a check.

If you need ideas for asking for money as a wedding gift, here's what you can do to best encourage others to give cash as a wedding present.

Avoid the awkwardness of asking for cash. Start your honeymoon registry

Create a very small wedding registry at a store

For couples who could use a few small items for their home but would still prefer cash, you can try creating a small wedding registry with a store. The goal is to add enough items for only about half of your guests so that the registry will look picked over quickly, especially as your big day approaches.

Guests who have waited a little too long to order a gift will instead opt to give you and your partner money instead. This option often satisfies couples who did need just a few household goods but would still prefer cash overall. No one has been directly asked to give money as a gift, so your guests won't feel pressured.

This plan, however, is far from full-proof. Rather than give money, guests who cannot find a gift left on the registry may decide to give you gift cards to the store instead. While gift cards can be great to receive, they're not nearly as universal as cash. If you wanted the money to spend on a honeymoon or a downpayment on a house, then gift cards will not get you very far.

Some guests might also decide not to bring a gift at all if there is nothing left on the registry. They might think that you have what you need and instead bring just a card. Again, there's no wedding etiquette law that says your guests have to bring a gift, though it is encouraged, so some guests might just take this as a reason not to give a gift at all.

Overall, having a small registry can be a bit of a gamble. You might end up getting cash, but it could backfire. You also might upset guests if all of the items on the registry have been picked — something they don't find out until they get to the store. They might feel frustrated that the registry was so small, and now they've wasted time going to the store.

Launch a honeymoon registry

A honeymoon registry, like Hitchd, helps engaged couples raise enough money to pay for the honeymoon of their dreams. These online tools allow couples to create a registry with gifts related to their honeymoon, such as airfare, accommodations, luggage, tours, dinners and activities. Guests simply select a gift and send the money to pay for it directly to Hitchd, which holds the money until you decide to withdraw it.

At its core, Hitchd has always been focused on following proper wedding etiquette while helping couples ask for what they truly want as a wedding present. We designed our service and website to feel as intimate and welcoming as possible while ensuring that everything feels appreciative and tactful. Couples using Hitchd personalise their honeymoon funds, passing their excitement onto their guests. The result is happy guests and happy couples.

Creating a honeymoon registry takes very little time, and it allows you and your partner to get creative with what you decide to ask for. Many honeymoon registries on Hitchd include:

  • Airfare
    Large gifts are usually broken up into smaller gift amounts of $100 or $150, this allows more than one person to contribute to the same gift.
  • Hotel and accommodations
    Again, this gift is often broken up so multiple guests can contribute.
  • Tours and activities
    This could be a walking tour, bike tour, hiking or any number of other activities.
  • Spa treatments
    These $50-$150 gifts are fun to give.
  • Luggage
    Guests can give physical gifts through Hitchd, but they can only give you the money. You have to then go and buy the gift yourself.
  • Romantic dinners
    Nothing like sending the happy couple out for a delicious dinner!
  • A round of drinks
    Many couples price this gift at about $25, making it a popular one to give for friends who might still be at uni or co-workers who want to say congratulations.

Honeymoon registries like Hitchd can also support cash funds. On Hitchd, that means creating a “cash fund” gift that allows guests to contribute whatever amount they'd like. You're not trying to reach a certain amount. It's just an open-ended fund that anyone can throw in as much or as little as they'd like. Some couples who want to raise money for a downpayment on a house add a cash fund and explain its specific purpose. That way, guests understand what their money will be used for.

In theory, you could use the money however you choose. There's no written law that will force you to spend the money exactly on the items on your registry, but if you decide not to go on a honeymoon or spend the money on something else, it may leave your guests feeling bewildered and slighted. After all, they thought they were helping to pay for your hotel room at a great resort or that snorkeling excursion that you described. If your guests find out that you skipped the honeymoon, they will probably be hurt

Having guests feel thanked and appreciated should be your, as it is Hitchd's, biggest priority, so when you thank guests through Hitchd, you can upload photos of the honeymoon to go along with your message. If an aunt and uncle treated you and your partner to a spa day, send them a photo of the two of you with your mud masks along with your message of thanks.

Ask your parents and wedding party to spread the word

Word of mouth often spreads fast. If you want to encourage wedding guests to give you cash as a gift without asking them directly, then you should enlist the help of your wedding party and parents to help get the message out there.

Think of it this way: Your parents are probably fielding questions about the big day from your relatives, questions like “How's the wedding planning going” or “Did they set a date and location yet?” Since the topic of your wedding keeps coming up, your parents could also mention that you're looking forward to trying to save for a downpayment or trying to cut down on wedding costs so that you have enough for money saved for the honeymoon. These sly, subtle suggestions will clue in guests that what you really need is cash.

Your wedding party could also do some of this work. Friends might reach out to their own friends in the bridal party to see if they want to go in on a gift. If members of your wedding party know that you prefer cash as a gift, then they can suggest donating to the honeymoon registry or writing a check instead of giving a gift card or physical gift.

As with anything in life, so many things change — and many stay exactly the same. Wedding etiquette certainly does change, but politeness never goes out of style. It's okay to ask for money as a wedding gift so long as it is polite and tactful. By using a honeymoon registry, such as Hitchd, you can show your wedding guests exactly how you will spend the money in a way that makes them feel included and respected.

Want to learn how to make a honeymoon registry that will wow guests? Here's how to build the perfect honeymoon registry that keeps your guests' needs centered.

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