At OneWed.com one of the most frequent questions we get in both our advice columns and our forums is, 'Is there a polite way to ask for money instead of wedding presents?' The short answer is: no. There's really no polite way to tell people that you want them to give you a present, and you'd like that present to be money. Of course, the long answer is a little more complicated (that's why it's longer).
Wedding Gift Basics
First, let us offer a little refresher course on what a wedding gift is. A wedding gift is a lovely token of good wishes. People who come to your wedding are not obligated to give you a gift, although they generally will. Wedding gifts are not supposed to help pay for your wedding. What confuses people about the etiquette of asking for wedding presents is the presence of wedding gift registries. Gift registries first appeared about 85 years ago and since then choosing items for your bridal registry has become an expected part of the wedding planning process. But, gift registries are NOT order forms. They are meant to serve as suggestions for people who want to give you a gift and don't want to duplicate a gift, or give you something that is not to your liking.
Cash as Gifts
People have always given young couples money as a wedding present. In some cultures and communities, it's the expected gift. In others, it's considered tacky or crass to either give or ask for money, which is how the alternative registry came to be. Alternative registries can take on many forms. Some registries let you register for "items" or "experiences" or events during your honeymoon. Basically though, with all of them you're registering for money.
Do Your Research
Before choosing a cash registry, make sure to do your research. It should be obvious that anyone operating a gift registry service is making money somewhere. If it's a store, they make money when your guests buy gifts. If it's a cash registry, they make money when people give you gifts. If someone gives you a check for $100, they give you a check. They spend $100 and you get $100. But, if someone gives that check to a cash registry, you won't get $100. The service has to take a percentage of the money in order to make any money. There's nothing wrong with this, but make sure you completely understand how the service works, and what percentage of the gifts they'll keep.
Spreading the Word
Gift registry information is not supposed to be put on a wedding invitation. This is because your wedding invitation is not supposed to come with an admission price. Presumably, you want your guests at your wedding whether they bring you a gift or not. The best way to let people know about your wedding registries, cash and gift, is to put the information on your wedding website, and have friends and relatives spread the word.
Finally, while people spend a lot of time worrying about how to let others know that they want money instead of gifts, it really isn't that difficult. Most people understand that young couples appreciate money. Chances are, whether you mention it or not, you will probably get some cash gifts.
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