A newly married couple used to need wedding gifts and bridal showers to help set up their household. But in today's culture, with the average marrying age rising, many people have already established households before they get married. Some people may feel that the last thing they need is more stuff. In fact, the most frequent question I am asked by brides and grooms is "How do we let guests know that we'd prefer money rather than wedding gifts?" And who can blame them? Most of these couples are trying to pay for their wedding themselves, and the idea of money for a honeymoon, down payment on a house or simply some spending cash can be a lot more appealing than a second (or third!) toaster. So what is the polite way of asking for money instead of wedding gifts? Is there one?
Wedding Invitations and the Sticky Subject of Money
Although some couples have come up with creative ways to ask for gifts, money, or charitable donations on their wedding invitations, the truth of the matter is that doing so is rude. Wedding gifts of any kind should never be mentioned on an invitation or even sent with the invitation; to do so implies that a guest is required to give you a present. A wedding invitation should simply convey that you would like someone to be there at a very special occasion.
So, How Do You Let Guests Know?
Many guests will ask the members of the bridal party and your immediate family for your registry information. The easiest thing for these people to reply is "They're registered at WeddingGeeGaws, but I also know they are saving for a down payment on a house." Hopefully if you know someone well enough to have them in your wedding party, you can be honest with them about your hopes for wedding gifts.
Should We Still Register?
There will always be guests who believe that giving money is tacky (my own father, for example!), or who simply feel uncomfortable with doing so. I suggest putting together a modest wedding registry for these guests. Even if you have your kitchen and entertaining needs covered, there are so many different kinds of places to register for wedding gifts, from camping stores to fine art and lots in between.
Honeymoon Registries, Create-a-Gift, Mortgage Registry
Companies have now created registries that are essentially veiled ways of asking for money. For example, at a honeymoon registry, a guest can give you the gift of "a nice dinner out," or "tickets to a play." You receive the cash, minus the site's fee, and can then use it for your honeymoon expenses. Hatch My House allows users to "register" for down payment on a home or renovation project. So are these options okay, or tacky? I'm still a little divided. At their worst, they can seem greedy, and almost as bad as just stating "please give us cold hard cash!" with the added bonus of service-and-handling fees. But if you've planned out a very specific honeymoon itinerary so that guests can really feel like they're giving a wedding gift, and not just writing a check, that can alleviate some of those vibes. After all, once upon a time (and even still, to the most etiquette-picky in the world) any kind of wedding registry was considered tacky. As these become more common to use, it's likely that any tackiness will become a thing of the past.