Which Service to Use for Collecting Wedding Cash?
January 15, 2014 5:25 PM   Subscribe

We'd prefer little hassle, few fees, and a way to know who they are so we can thank them. We expect 0 to 50 people to actually gift us money this way. What are our best options?

We are getting married, and we already have almost everything we need, want, or could reasonably ask as gifts since we've been living together. Gifts are completely optional, and we're telling our parents that, in hopes they will tell everyone else and actually convince them. We have a small registry with things we want, if people insist on buying something for us. We also live in a very small house, so we'd prefer items we picked out or gifts of cash ("flat gifts") to getting random things we won't be using or even keeping. Plus, cash is pretty standard in my family's culture. So, we expect at least some people to give gifts to us in this form.

It looks like Paypal and Square take fees, but are the simplest.

We can also open a deposit-only bank account, but that might be too complicated to receive just a few gifts. (We don't know how many people might choose this option, and it's a small wedding anyway.)

Alternatively, his mother will already be handling money for us, for hotel reservation (it's complicated, but we had to prepay for it). Maybe we can ask her to also organize receiving cash? I don't want to burden her too much, but she's organized and we would absolutely trust her with this.

I know some people find it unpalatable to give cash. Would it make it any better if we asked for a The Home Depot gift card or something similar? (Though we really would prefer cash since a lot of things can be had for cheaper from Craigslist, if we do our own leg work.)

Any other suggestions? Thoughts? Weigh in with your experiences?
posted by ethidda to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they want to give you cash, let them write you a check or give you actual money in a card. Going fancy makes it look like you expect it.
posted by cecic at 5:31 PM on January 15, 2014 [20 favorites]

I don't think any gimmick is needed for cash gifts- me, I just write a check, I wouldn't want to do anything that might take a cut off my gift (plus you know how skittish people are these days giving away their bank/credit card info online). Surely if your family's culture has a standard of cash gifts, people will know how to fork it over. Beyond that, it is not your place to convince people what to give you as a wedding gift. With a small registry, I think people will get the picture. Save your energy for doing a few returns after the wedding.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:31 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

You'll get cash in an envelope from people that insist on cash. No fees, and it will most likely have some identifying information on it.

Otherwise, saying "No gifts, please. Also, direct cash gifts to us@paypal.com" would be really confusing to me, personally.
posted by ftm at 5:32 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

You should not ask your guests to get you anything. If they want to give you a cash gift, they'll write you a check or give you cash in a card.
posted by ancient star at 5:45 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Are your wedding invitations going out to a mix of both older relatives/family friends and your own friends? In addition, is the wedding going to be mostly people from the cash-gifting culture or a mix?

Koreans are also a cash-only wedding culture and everyone who gave us money (but didn't actually attend the wedding) just sent checks in cards. A few of the younger generation sent gift cards and one friend paypaled us money of his own accord.

In short, I let the older generation do whatever they wanted (checks or cash in envelope) and when our friends asked about gifts, I told them no gifts. A few stubborn ones did donate to global public health organizations in our name.

I think you are worrying unnecessarily. Cash or checks or even gift cards are so much easier to keep track of than physical presents. No need for a fancy tracking system.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:47 PM on January 15, 2014

My friend opted for a honeymoon fund for a specific destination that was somehow linked to paypal or something similar. Honeymoon activities were itemized so you were paying theoretically for specific things. Usually I am quite grinchy but I actually thought this was a very good idea- can't remember site name though...
posted by bquarters at 5:47 PM on January 15, 2014

Try googling and searching for reviews of "honeymoon registry" services. I don't have any personal experience, but they seem to be getting quite popular. Some people will find any mention of cash gifts indecorous, regardless of how the request is packaged, but I think this is going to become the norm in a few years. At least with the honeymoon registry setup, the ask is softened because the money is ostensibly going towards a holiday. Congrats!
posted by Rora at 5:47 PM on January 15, 2014

I guess it depends on your crowd, but I (thirtysomething, NYC) think honeymoon registries are hideously gauche. Just keep your registry small and people will give you cash or some equivalent (I often give Amazon gift cards.)
posted by lalex at 5:56 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also, depending on how traditional your wedding will be, many cash-gifting cultures already have a system set up for receiving cash gifts. My cousins were forced to man a table in front of the wedding hall and make sure everyone who gave an envelope wrote down their name on the outside.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:58 PM on January 15, 2014

It looks like Paypal and Square take fees, but are the simplest.

This is maybe the most jarring sentence I've read in AskMe questions about weddings. It sounds so much better in questions about Kickstarter, small business, and the like. So ok, your family's culture... but maybe tone it down for any invites going out to folks who don't share that culture? Directing folks to your PayPal (not even a card is necessary! just the moolah, folks!) can be off-putting. It's dictating not only what they should give you, but even how they should give it to you.
posted by Houstonian at 6:01 PM on January 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

Gifts are completely optional

Well, yes. Gifts are always optional.

Would it make it any better if we asked for a The Home Depot gift card or something similar?

No, it wouldn't. Don't ask for anything.

This is what you do: do not mention gifts of any sort (money, boxed gifts, gift cards, honeymoon fund) on the wedding invitations. If guests contact your family and ask for gift suggestions, then they are told 'Thank you so much, but the happy couple have said they really don't need anything'.

Most people will then give you cash or cheques in envelopes, usually with a card. Some people may give you gift cards. Fewer people still will give you fugly crystal platters. A very few people will give you nothing. Them's the breaks.

Special accounts and honeymoon funds will be considered tacky by a not-insignificant proportion of your guests. You'll never know, because they'll be too polite to tell you.

Don't do it to yourself.
posted by Salamander at 6:04 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

P.S. I don't understand why you think 'knowing who the cash is from' will be an issue. Your guests aren't stupid; they'll put it in an envelope with a signed card, surely.
posted by Salamander at 6:08 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

older-fashioned guests like myself are just gonna hand the envelope to whichever party, bride/groom we're friends with, no matter what service you pick.
posted by bruce at 6:14 PM on January 15, 2014

I don't get it. People will put cash or a check in a card and either bring it to the wedding or mail it. You are overthinking this.
posted by amro at 6:18 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Um, no. Do NOT use any sort of service for taking money from your guests, that is just awful. I would be so outraged if someone whose wedding I was going to said to me "hey, we accept PayPal, okay thanks!" ESPECIALLY if that person also had said they weren't expecting gifts - because telling me you accept PayPal is asking for a gift. And that? Is tacky.

If people want to give you cash, then they will give you cash in a card with their name in it or they will write you a check. It really isn't that difficult to pull it all together and take one trip to the bank. If you're depositing a lot of cash, you don't even need to fill out a deposit slip, the bank manager will do it for you.
posted by echo0720 at 6:21 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

plus you know how skittish people are these days giving away their bank/credit card info online
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:31 PM on January 15

Nthing this. And, if anyone sent my non-computer savvy parents an email with a link to make a gift, I would be livid at them for encouraging such bad internet security habits.
posted by invisible ink at 6:29 PM on January 15, 2014

I used InLu for our wedding cash collection. It was for our honeymoon. A number of people gave that way and a number of people just gave us cash or checks. We had a link on the wedding website to the InLu registry and also our Target registry and that was fine for the web savvy guests.
posted by amapolaroja at 9:49 PM on January 15, 2014

As someone in your situation with friends in your situation, all of whom love to travel, I was thrilled to give to their honeymoon registry at honeyfund. Then we registered at honeyfund and it all went very smoothly. We got money deposited in our account. We did use it on the trip and were able to thank people very specifically for what they picked for us off honeyfund and it was great. A friend sent pictures of them doing whatever we "bought" them on honeyfund which was also fun to receive. I don't think it's any more gauche than any registry.

That said, I think if cash is the norm in your culture you'll be fine with checks or cash in envelopes. Don't use PayPal or some other service.

You need to honestly answer for yourselves if you truly want nothing or if you really want cash. Because the messaging is different. (And certainly put none of this in the invitations.) A friend who said they wanted nothing ONLY registered for donations for three charities. I believed they wanted nothing and I gave to one of the charities. If they had registered for something for themselves I wouldn't have believed they wanted nothing and I would have bought them something off the registry though. Another friend was really clear she wanted nothing and gave no "if you must, here's a limited registry," so I got her nothing (but felt weird - though not unhappy - about it.)
posted by semacd at 3:12 AM on January 16, 2014

We did this at our wedding this past summer, but to avoid the 'asking for cash' aspect, we did the following:

1. Had a small registry at Williams Sonoma so that those aunts who really insisted on buying housewares would stop passive aggressively calling me and asking 'where our china registry was'. We still didn't register for china, but at least they could buy us a serving platter or what have you.

2. Set up a Honeyfund to collect cash gifts - its set up like a registry so people are buying you activities / things for your honeymoon, but in reality it just collects cash donations and transfers them to your checking account. It was great for thank you cards, too, because it is way easier to write "Thank you so much for helping us upgrade to business class for the flight over!" than to write "Thank you for the cash."

For the most part this worked really well. And despite this a ton of people just brought checks to the wedding - even some people who had already given us a present, which makes me start to think I may need to start being more generous at weddings...
posted by CharlieSue at 9:36 AM on January 16, 2014

Re: honeymoon registries, I used SimpleRegistry. You can post "stuff" and "experiences" and "cash" but the gifts actually come in just as cash. There is a 5% fee which you can either tack onto the "price" of items or include as a surcharge. They keep track of who gives what and you can export the thank-you list as a spreadsheet. To cash out the account, you just click a button and they either send you a check or will direct deposit the money for you.

I found it super easy and so did my guests. It worked well because some people would rather give cash "for you to go out to dinner" rather than just because, and I could put in a picture of "dinner" for them to pay for. It sounds silly, but some people prefer that kind of thinking.
posted by epanalepsis at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2014

i am all about paypal, but in this instance it is TACKY. if i were in a position to give cash to someone at a wedding, i would do it the old fashioned way--bills in a card.

(also, no fees on paypal to gift $ to friends/relatives. still, NO for this.)
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:09 AM on January 16, 2014

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