Wedding etiquette
December 14, 2008 2:21 AM   Subscribe

What is proper etiquette surrounding cash as a wedding gift.....?

I'm going to a wedding early next year, where the couple (who are older and already have house things etc.) have requested cash as a wedding gift. While I don't have a problem with this, I'm wondering what the proper etiquette is here, with regard to whether or not you give the money anonymously, or put it in a card where you indicate who it's from. I went to another wedding last year, with the same cash gift request, and I gave it anonymously. When we discussed it amongst those that were at the table, about half gave anonymously, and half gave with a card. Anyone out there know what is the proper way?

If it's worth anything, I'm in Australia, and the couple getting married are white Anglo-Saxon. While race and culture may not necessarily play a part, anecdotal evidence would tell me that some cultures are particularly observant of wedding customs (in relation to gift giving), so perhaps it's worth mentioning.
posted by ryanbryan to Society & Culture (23 answers total)
I attended the wedding of an Australian-born Chinese Christian couple earlier this year, and I just put it in a nice envelope with a signed note in it. I think signed is nicer because then they can send thank-you cards (they requested cash, too).

Then again money-giving might be more acceptable in Chinese culture (hello, red packets on Chinese New Year) than most others, so YMMV.
posted by Xany at 2:49 AM on December 14, 2008

There's an easy way to make a gift of money more interesting: give it in $1 and $2 dollar coins, as a chest of gold or bag of gold. Supermarkets and craft stores sell glass and plastic 'jewels' which you can mix in with the gold.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:47 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here in the US, regardless of ethnicity/ethnicities of the recipient couple, it seems to me that the prevailing etiquette is to write a check, with actual folding cash being the second choice, but in the latter case never anonymous. Whether this applies to Australian of British descent, you'll have to be the judge.
posted by MattD at 5:30 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

By prevailing etiquette, I meant to say, prevailing when and where cash is an expected gift. There are plenty of circumstances in the U.S. where the kitchen-and-housewares gift registry is the preferred gift, and plenty of circumstances where anything other than cash is a faux pas.
posted by MattD at 5:32 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you give it anonymously how can they send a thank you note? That would drive me crazy.

Of course, I think requesting cash is also an etiquette faux pas. We often give cash though (common here in the NE USA), and like to give a new hundred (or whatever) in a nice photo frame. Diversionary and they get a little gift as well as the more needed cash.
posted by gaspode at 5:38 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cash is fine, but I can't imagine why anyone would give anonymously!? Not everyone's great with thank you notes, so I prefer to write a check so I know that the recipient actually received the money.
posted by robinpME at 6:03 AM on December 14, 2008

In a nice card is generally how it's done. No reason to do it anonymously, it's not pornography, it's your wedding gift to them, would you give a toaster anonymously?
posted by biscotti at 6:50 AM on December 14, 2008

There is some etiquette handing it over from my experience in the US. At Italian-American weddings, when the couple greets the tables, they have a very pretty bag they put all the cards in. Otherwise, I would hand it to the groom or the best man. It's not something you want to leave on the gift table.
posted by pokeedog at 7:03 AM on December 14, 2008

There's an easy way to make a gift of money more interesting: give it in $1 and $2 dollar coins, as a chest of gold or bag of gold. Supermarkets and craft stores sell glass and plastic 'jewels' which you can mix in with the gold.

While I would appreciate that thought, it actually just creates a pain in the ass for the bride and groom. You'd need to pick the money out from the fake jewels, take it to a bank, have them count it (or roll it yourself), then convert it to a more usable form. Just slip the bills or a check inside a card.

Don't do it anonymously. People want to be able to thank you properly for your generosity.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:08 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you write a check, write it to one or the other of the couple, and if you write it to the bride, use her maiden name. If they don't have a joint account, it will be a hassle to cash it if both their names are on the check, or if the bride has not changed her name yet (if she's going to at all).

I'm in the US, so I'm not sure how this applies to the AUS banking system, but it caused a huge delay in being able to access the funds when we got married.
posted by desjardins at 8:32 AM on December 14, 2008

An American here, so there may be some differences between proper etiquette in America vs Australia, but:
1). Don't do it anonymously, otherwise how will they thank you? Would you send a toaster anonymously? (On preview: holy crap, biscotti, get out of my head!) This gift is no different.
2). I know there is usually a gift table at the reception for the inevitable gifts that guests bring, but you technically should never bring a gift to a wedding - always send it beforehand. Again, this makes it easier for the recipients to thank you by allowing them to send out thank you cards before the honeymoon.
3). Not that it matters in this case, because you obviously aren't offended by the request, but requesting cash is tacky. I only mention this because if asking for money doesn't strike you as a tad inappropriate or forward, then maybe my other advice isn't for you either.
posted by folara at 8:37 AM on December 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've never heard of giving cash as a wedding gift anonymously. Put it in a card with a nice note and sign your name.
posted by at 9:47 AM on December 14, 2008

You will definitely want to put it in a card with a handwritten note and your names. It will seriously bother the couple if they receive a gift for which they cannot thank somebody, similarly it will also bother them if they think you might have given them a gift, which maybe was lost, and they don't know whether to thank you or not - since if they do not, they think you might be put out, if they do you may not have given a gift (or not given one yet) and the thanks were premature causing embarrassment for all. Believe me this happens all the time.

Also - on the day usually one person is designated to look after the envelopes - usually the Best Man or since the groom and bride are obviously busy on the day. In Ireland most of the gifts are cash and they are always given to the Best Man on the day to keep safe.

Also to echo desjardins advice as regards the names. Put both names on the card and one on the check, it will not cause offense.
posted by clarkie666 at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2008

Please don't give cold, hard cash. Write a check. A friend of mine had all of her cards stolen at her wedding, and lost all the cash and gift cards. She was able to tell everyone to put a stop payment if they wrote a check, so all that money was not lost. However low the odds may be of this happening, it would be a sad ending to a great day.

And yes, please put it in a card and sign your name.
posted by MeetMegan at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2008

I was in a similar situation for a wedding in central Europe. The thought of giving cash caused no end of worries. I've been to a few weddings like this now, and at least in central Europe the procedure has always been the same.

The money is put into a card and sealed in an envelope. The card is signed by the people giving the gift and contains a personal message from the givers. The card is then given to the groom (pretty much always by the male) during the congratulations after the wedding ceremony. The card handover is normally quite discrete. Alternatively you can leave it on the presents' table, but for cash this is probably a bad idea (imagine the bad feeling if it were to go missing). You'll get personally thanked by the newly weds at some point later during the meal or celebrations.
posted by devnull at 2:08 PM on December 14, 2008

We got married this year (in Australia!), and we had both a gift registry and a "wishing well" for people who wanted to 'donate to the honeymoon fund'. The wishing well was.. a small (locked) well. The people at the venue emptied it out towards the end and popped the contents into their safe for later collection.

The wishing well seems to be a very common feature of weddings at the moment.. however I'd have to agree with earlier posters -- _asking_ for cash just seems... gauche.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:32 PM on December 14, 2008

i wouldn't worry about giving a check. even though cash may seem 'easier' the truth is they will end up with a stack of cash AND checks and have to go to the bank anyway, so it really makes no difference. and seconding about putting it in her maiden name/ his name/ not both. if a check is made out to two people, they both have to sign it. (not a huge deal but if one person forgets then it becomes a pain.)

also nthing that asking for cash seems tacky and inappropriate. i am fairly certain that both miss manners and emily post have said so but . . . that's another story :-)
posted by lblair at 2:34 PM on December 14, 2008

Oh, and as to the cheque/cash trade-off, in Australia it doesn't seem to matter a damn about who the cheque is made out to so long as it looks close enough to the person's name trying to cash it.

Cash is easier to deal with, though.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:46 PM on December 14, 2008

Write out a check and don't give them cash. Put it in a nice wedding card. At most weddings I've been at (US), there's a nice box or something at the reception table for folks to put those cards in. (along with a bunch of presents some people feel they still have to physically bring to the wedding...)
posted by skillet at 8:01 PM on December 14, 2008

Vouchers for grocery stores or similar absolute necessities can be a good replacement for cash, if you find the idea of cash too tacky.

Chrisamiller While I would appreciate that thought, it actually just creates a pain in the ass for the bride and groom. You'd need to pick the money out from the fake jewels, take it to a bank, have them count it (or roll it yourself), then convert it to a more usable form.

Think of it as the equivalent of unwrapping, or just put it in your bedroom and use it for bus fare and parking meters 'til it's all gone. They say change is as good as a holiday.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:56 PM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

American here; Definitely go with the card saying who it's from. It would drive me mad for the purpose of thank-you cards if I had no idea who to thank for a generous gift.

Anecdote: One of the best wedding gifts we received was a small, wooden treasure chest filled with quarters and topped off with chocolate "galleons" covered in fake gold foil. It was cash, but it was USEFUL cash because our apartment's laundry facilities only take quarters (no change machines!) and the gift-giver knew this. I think that's probably the only instance in which I'd give cash, much less change.

A check has a much better paper trail. What if the money gets separated from the card or the card gets lost/stolen? At least then you still know the amount and who it came from.
posted by meggan at 4:19 PM on December 15, 2008

Oh, and this is as good a place as any to suggest that if you write a check, make sure it won't bounce. One of our guests bounced our wedding gift check!
posted by desjardins at 4:46 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the input guys. While I don't have a cheque account (and thus, cannot write them a cheque), I will be sure to place my name on a card with my cash. I guess the thought about the anonymity came from the whole concept that in lots of situations where you give money (say to a collective gift) it is often anonymous, in the sense that it isn't known how much money was contributed by each person.

And I hadn't really thought about the thank you card, as I've only ever been to one wedding where I actually ended up receiving a thank you card!
posted by ryanbryan at 2:16 AM on December 16, 2008

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