Is It Okay To Ask for Money Instead Of Gifts?

Everyone loves the gift of money, but how do you get it? Read on for the history, etiquette, and how-to of getting wedding gifts of cold, hard cash.
Card box for wedding cards and money
Photo by Amy Carroll Photography

Engaged couples are always talking about it -- cash wedding gifts. The little-known secret? Many definitely prefer gifts of money in honor of their marriage over traditional registry items, like china, silver, and crystal. Everyone loves the gift of money, but how do you get it? Read on for the history, etiquette, and how-to of getting wedding gifts of cold, hard cash.

The Reasons

Maybe you're getting married for the first time and would rather have a lump sum to put toward your first home, or you're remarrying and have long since set up house. Perhaps you'd like cash put into a rainy day fund for unexpected items. The truth is, quite a few of us have already accrued all kinds of appliances and amenities to outfit our lives. But there are very few who couldn't use a helping hand toward buying a home or new car. That's when money may be the most useful, thoughtful, and appreciated gift of all.

The History

There was a time when the mavens of manners turned up their noses at the thought of giving money as a gift. But today there are plenty of people who can't think of a more appropriate present for two people just starting out in their new, shared life. In fact, monetary gifts have long been considered proper and acceptable in different regions of the country, as well as among people of different cultures. Guests invited to a Korean wedding often present envelopes containing cash or checks to the parents of the bride and groom, who in turn present the money to the newlywed couple. Guests at a Chinese wedding often hand the bride monetary presents in red envelopes (red symbolizes luck). There's an Italian custom called "The Grand March" -- the wedding reception ends with a receiving line in which the couple gives each guest a sweet in exchange for an envelope of money. During the traditional Polish "Dollar Dance," guests dance with the bride and pin money to her veil or dress.

How to Spread the Word

If you decide to set up such an account, or simply want your guests to know that you'd prefer checks -- let your parents, close relatives and friends know that when guests ask what you'd like as a wedding gift, they can tell them cash would be most appreciated. But don't completely forgo some sort of traditional registry. Give guests a choice -- some may really want to give you something material, rather than just writing you a check.

Quick Tips

If anyone asks, checks before the wedding should be made out to the bride OR groom (they should use the bride's maiden name, even if she's planning to change it). After the wedding, checks should be made out to bride AND groom. This just makes cashing 'em easier, and it's also the traditional way to go about it. At the reception, ask someone you trust to be in charge of collecting envelopes. The best man is a good choice. You might even want to make him and the maid of honor responsible for keeping the checks for you while you're on your honeymoon.

It's the Thought That Counts

The one potentially awkward thing about a cash gift is that there's no hiding how big or small that present is. But the thought behind each one remains the same -- and your thanks shouldn't vary in size, either.

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