How do we ask for cash as a wedding gift?
September 7, 2014 2:46 PM   Subscribe

We have been together for nearly ten years and we don't need a toaster, or a washing machine, or anything else. How do we ask for cash?

There's something about asking for cash that I've always felt is a bit "off". Is it considered a faux pas? Is there a way to ask people for cash that somehow isn't "bad"? We're going abroad for our honeymoon, so would asking for foreign currency be a good idea? Does that somehow make it better? We're in the UK, if that's relevant.
posted by alby to Human Relations (66 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I've already seen this and this, but they are five and ten years-old respectively.
posted by alby at 2:47 PM on September 7, 2014

Is it considered a faux pas?


Is there a way to ask people for cash that somehow isn't "bad"?

posted by grouse at 2:49 PM on September 7, 2014 [63 favorites]

My understanding is that with sites like Honeyfund, you can make entries for things like "Dinner for two ($75)" or "Snorkeling Trip ($50)" but you're not tied to doing that stuff--you just end up with the money and guests like it because they feel like they're getting you something specific rather than just forking over cash. ETA: Every wedding I've been to in the past five years has done some variation on this, but I am in the U.S. so take it with a grain of salt.
posted by lovableiago at 2:50 PM on September 7, 2014 [12 favorites]

There is no polite way to ask, and FWIW, I don't think you have to. Most people get that cash is a good wedding gift.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:53 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

you just end up with the money and guests like it because they feel like they're getting you something specific rather than just forking over cash.

Ugh, please don't trick your guests into buying you what they think is a specific, special experience if you don't intend to do it.

grouse and TPS have it; there's no good way to ask for cash but everyone knows cash is a good gift. Don't register and many people will get the hint.
posted by lalex at 2:55 PM on September 7, 2014 [13 favorites]

The generally accepted polite way to request cash as a wedding gift is to not have a registry at all, and when people ask, say something like "Oh, we didn't set up a registry, we're pretty well set up with stuff already." In this way you suggest that material presents are not things you wish to receive, and people will still know they should get you a gift, so you'll likely get either cash or experience gifts.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:57 PM on September 7, 2014 [13 favorites]

Lots of people will just give you cash, especially you don't have a gift registry. People may ask members of your families and your wedding party for suggestions and they can be told "They don't really need anything in particular. Maybe just go with cash if you want." But it's never okay for the couple themselves to actually ask for cash.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:57 PM on September 7, 2014 [8 favorites]

No good way to do this other than just not having a registry and hoping for the best. Sorry.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:04 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would say that Honeyfund, etc, are WORSE than asking for cash; you're implying that you want cash and that you think your guests are stupid. That's what I read into it anyway.

No registry, but count on getting some off-the-wall stuff from people who don't want to give cash and think that a set of mason-jar wine glasses are Just your style.
posted by supercres at 3:17 PM on September 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: What if we created a way to give money, but set it up so that people knew for sure that we wouldn't be able to find out who gave how much (hire a solicitor, etc.)? Does that do anything at all to mitigate?

I hate being asked to give cash (hence this AskMe), but I feel like that might do something to negate the horrible faux pas.
posted by alby at 3:20 PM on September 7, 2014

There is no good way to do this.

Don't register, and then let the people you are close to know that you're "saving up for X" so that when they're asked they can pass it on. We didn't register (because we didn't need/want anything, including cash- and did not use the "saving for X" ploy) and we got a bunch of gift cards to places people knew we would go, a bunch of cash, some weird stuff and some shockingly thoughtful stuff. This was about the best case scenario for us- maybe it would be for you, too.
posted by charmedimsure at 3:22 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sending the money to a solicitor is weird. Unless people in the UK typically have way, way more dealing with lawyers than is common here, I'd be super creeped out by that.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:22 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

What if we created a way to give money, but set it up so that people knew for sure that we wouldn't be able to find out who gave how much (hire a solicitor, etc.)? Does that do anything at all to mitigate?

No, if anything that makes it worse. There is already an acceptable and easy way to give money: by placing cash or a check in an envelope or gift card.
posted by lalex at 3:23 PM on September 7, 2014 [15 favorites]

I'm quoting somebody, possibly myself in a previous Mefi answer: A wedding isn't a fundraiser.

That said, if you don't register, you will get cash (as well as some godawful wool bowl or some artsy object you'll have to hide). I speak from multiple experiences and just wrote a check this week to a couple who set up housekeeping awhile ago and didn't have a registry. Just go the no registry route, and you'll get some cash without asking for it.
posted by Elsie at 3:28 PM on September 7, 2014 [15 favorites]

Well, this was quite a few years ago, but when Mrs. Beagle and I got married, we needed cash more than stuff, so we didn't set up a registry. In those days, the protocol was to ask the parent of whichever partner you were friends with what might be an appropriate gift. My mother would say, "The thing they could use the best is small, green and easily folded." This worked out fine and as far as I know, nobody was offended. (OP being in the UK: US currency was and mostly still is, green.) And, congrats!
posted by beagle at 3:29 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

You just can't. It's tacky.

Most people will give cash, and the rest will give you gifts. That's just how it is.

Stop thinking about it. It's a wedding, not a coronation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:39 PM on September 7, 2014 [12 favorites]

Technically it's a faux pas.

But I think that a lot of people don't really care any more - I know that I don't, and I can't think of anyone in my immediate social circle who would care. We'd all rather give what's wanted rather than what's correct.

Some folks like buying an object that you'll keep. Some folks are from a different cultural background and will never ever want to give money. Some folks just enjoy disapproving of others and declaring things vulgar because they were vulgar among white middle class USians in 1950.

Here is what I would do: talk to the people who are actually your close friends and simpatico family and who you know well enough to assume that they'd prefer to give cash over an object. They'll give you cash, and possibly spread the word among other less-close friends and family.

Also set up a registry for people who, for whatever reason, will never want to give cash. Surely you could use some really nice pillows, for example, or a better quilt. There are some things you can stockpile, like good-quality towels or a spare chef's knife, for when your current ones go kaput.
posted by Frowner at 3:43 PM on September 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

You need to think about the people who are coming to your wedding. Some of them will be bothered if you steer guests toward giving cash; some of them will be happy to oblige. You can communicate your cash-wish to those who won't be offended, and just say nothing to the others.

I know two couples who let it be known that they could use the money, and they gave specific reasons. One pair was planning a kitchen remodel. The other couple had in mind a huge, handmade farm table. In both cases, they sent pictures of the result to those who had contributed. I believe all the guests got the message about the option of giving money for the respective goals. Some gave gifts anyway, but many were glad to kick in some cash.

The farm-table people included a note with their invitation, and said that for those who preferred to give a gift, there was a registry.

Every etiquette book says that it's rude to mention gifts at all, even to say "no gifts." But you know your friends and relatives, so go ahead and suggest cash to those who you think will be okay with it.
posted by wryly at 3:44 PM on September 7, 2014

You really don't need to ask for cash, and there isn't a polite way to ask for it anyway. If you don't have a registry, people will most likely give you cash if they want to give you something.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:49 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know if all people will ultimately care how tacky or polite it is, but I do know that some people maintain an interest in gifted money and unless you are prepared to explain, justify, or defend your expenditures for a while, I'd not ask directly for money.
posted by sm1tten at 3:54 PM on September 7, 2014

You really just can't. Seriously this is the kind of thing people roll their eyes about for years. You're better off registering at some place with a liberal return policy. I've heard rumors of some stores allowing you to return wedding gifts for cash. I would probably put my time into researching your best options in that respect rather than finding a classy way to ask for cash because unless you come from a culture where this is the norm, there just isn't any way to do it.
posted by whoaali at 4:07 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

People who are comfortable giving cash will give cash if there's no registry. People who are uncomfortable giving cash will never give cash no matter what. Do no registry and count yourself lucky for what you get.
posted by telegraph at 4:21 PM on September 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

To combat the "cash" thing, I ended up making a small registry with a variety of items for our home that we either needed or that desperately needed replacing. Those who asked were provided with the registry, and those who didn't just gave cash--or nothing at all (that's a separate issue, but it does happen; honestly am just glad everyone had fun and came to celebrate).
posted by Verdandi at 4:28 PM on September 7, 2014

Register at places where you otherwise shop and return the fuck out of your presents
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:28 PM on September 7, 2014

FYI, Bed, Bath and Beyond gives you cold, hard, green cash for returns.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:38 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Then you're tasking your friends with choosing a gift, going to the store, taking it home and wrapping it, and shipping it to you or bringing it to the wedding, all under the mistaken assumption that you wanted it.
posted by ftm at 4:56 PM on September 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Have a look at all the responses from questions where someone says "The person whose wedding I'm going to says they have everything material they need, what do I bring?" The responses are normally, make a donation in their name, make them something homemade etc. It's rarely "Give them cash." So if you tell people you have everything you need, most people won't think to give money. I wouldn't. I don't like giving money regardless but if you wanted it, you'd have to ask specifically for it and then I'd think you were so tacky it's not funny so sadly I'm not sure there is a good way to go about it. Even the people I do know who have asked for money have wound up with a bunch of gifts they don't want because many people just don't feel comfortable giving cash.
posted by Jubey at 5:18 PM on September 7, 2014

Another datapoint: My family's US Jewish; we always gave cash gifts. That was just the way one did things.
posted by Jesse the K at 5:34 PM on September 7, 2014

At the last wedding I attended, the couple specifically requested cash to help start their newlywed life--but they are young, poor college graduates and the groom's family comes from a cash-gift culture. I think you'll need some sort of extenuating circumstance to ask for cash, especially if you personally are uncomfortable giving/receiving cash gifts.
posted by serelliya at 5:43 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Recently a pair of twenty-somethings asked, via a website link on their invitation, for honeymoon cash in lieu of gift items. This was a new world for me but I complied because I am fond of them. It was a cute blog-thing and well followed through with pictures posted of the lovely trip but still the idea went against the grain for me and seemed entirely inappropriate. The fact that afterwards I never received any kind of thank-you or acknowledgement convinced me that this is simply uncouth--no matter how young or privileged they are or how old-fashioned I'm trying not to be. Here's my vote for 'don't do it.' If you do it anyway, write the best thank you notes ever--by hand, on paper, via snail mail within two months.
posted by Anitanola at 6:20 PM on September 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

Don't let other people's ideas of "tacky" con you into ending up with a bunch of things that you not only don't need, but also have to figure out how to get rid of in a way that is least wasteful, time-consuming, and emotionally uncomfortable -- after other people have already made you uncomfortable by giving you that thing, spent their time purchasing it, and wasted their (and, ultimately, the planet's) resources.

My partner and I used SimpleRegistry -- people chip in for specific things, we get money to then buy those things. (Here's ours, so you can see the phrasing we used in case it helps you out any.)

I never felt bad about our decision, because, if they disagreed, our friends and family had the good sense to not grumble about it to our faces. I didn't lose any friends, and no relations went sour. What felt great was writing thank you notes to the folks that contributed -- it was easy to write them, because I was expressing true gratitude.

A warning, though: some people will give you physical gifts anyway. Oh well! (We had a wedding in a different state from where we lived, immediately followed by a road trip to a different country, and people still brought physical gifts to the wedding. We ended up having to organize our honeymoon roadtrip schedule around being able to drop the gifts off at a post office to mail back home.)

In sum, the way you do it is use one of the online registries like SimpleRegistry (some friends used Wanderable to fund their honeymoon and had good experiences, too), mention something about deciding to forgo a traditional registry, and explain what's great about this other thing you're doing that will make people excited to chip in for something you actually want.
posted by Pwoink at 6:36 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, nthing "don't register." My husband and I didn't register for gifts or have a shower because we're grown ass adults who already have a toaster and a tea kettle. We didn't want gifts, we wanted a nice party with hugs and wine. We got that and most people gave us money. That is just A Thing People Do. I was surprised by this, honestly. (It was great and we appreciated it SO much. I was just surprised. We got a lot of freakin' money. And we didn't even have a real wedding. We eloped and threw a party.)

There is no way, IMO, to ask for cash that isn't tacky. (Unless a close friend or family member is like, "Do you just want cash?" and then you can say, "Yes.") People will give you cash anyway, most likely, just chill and let them.
posted by Aquifer at 6:53 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

We have been together for nearly ten years and we don't need a toaster, or a washing machine, or anything else.

Since you are fully grown adults and, by your own admission, really don't need anything, why not just say "no gifts"?

A few people will still want to give you something and will likely give cash, but this way, you are less likely to have to deal with objects you don't have any use for.

I personally would think less of someone who sent an invitation requesting cash, and I think the registry work arounds described above are almost as bad.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:55 PM on September 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

I wouldn't think less of any poor-ass friends of mine who asked for cash, and I do think less of people who bring crappy useless garbage bcause they think it's the done thing instead of cash every single time. That said, unfortunately, some narrow minded relatives will inevitably want to buy you a physical thing, so register for a few really nice versions of stuff you have now and let it run out so all the late gift people have to send cash (or a bowl. Many people will send you a bowl even if you write NO BOWLS on the invitations in pigs blood).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:26 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

You have been together for 10 years. You are not newlyweds starting a household together. This should be treated as a second wedding where you say 'no gifts' on the invitation. If people insist, ask for wine. Build your wine collection. Have a selection of $10 and $20 bottles to choose from. It is never okay to request money.
posted by myselfasme at 7:27 PM on September 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

The funny thing about this whole subject is that nobody is guided or convinced by what's in the invitation. Even in this thread, everyone is citing how they feel; what their culture's tradition is... Nobody is saying "I ordinarily would have brought a butter boat to my friend's wedding, but I gave cash in this case because they politely asked for it and that set me straight and I enjoyed giving them what they wanted."

Bottom line, as someone said above, is that people who are on your wavelength will give you cash without having to be asked. And, contrary to some suggestions above, I don't think that not providing a registry will encourage the non-cash people to give you cash. I think you'll just get some really off the-wall-butter boats.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:29 PM on September 7, 2014

Aside from the registry, you can't really ask for anything, gift-wise. At all, ever. At best, you can let your mother/bridesmaids/maid-of-honor set people on the right track, but straight up asking for cash is super tacky and can seem like a shake down.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 7:37 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do a normal registry and then return everything they get you. Pick a store with a good return policy. Or if you can't get cash, a store where you'd want credit.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:44 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Please don't do a registry and then return everything people buy you. I have spent hours of my life driving into the city, parking (and paying for parking), trawling through department stores with registry printouts, agonising over what to choose, queuing to pay, choosing wrapping, etc. If you knowingly waste your friends' time and money like that, you are a selfish arse.

As I think the answers here have shown, there is no way to ask for cash without offending a significant proportion of your guests. If you already have everything you need, you are a very lucky person. Let it go and stop trying to engineer the outcome you want. It is incompatible with basic manners.
posted by Salamander at 8:25 PM on September 7, 2014 [12 favorites]

I've had a few friends who (because they lived away from where the wedding was being held) had a policy of "no boxed gifts" - I don't know if it was printed on their invitations or on an insert with their registry (probably this), but they only walked away with cash and gift cards. So maybe set up a policy of no boxed gifts and send out an insert with your invitations saying "no boxed gifts, please."
posted by honeybee413 at 8:39 PM on September 7, 2014

Presumably you want the cash for something specific, figure out how to translate that into wedding gifts people can contribute to.
If its a honeymoon, figure out how to itemize it.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:10 PM on September 7, 2014

I find it weird that it's considered a faux pas. It just seems logical to give money when it's a wedding for a couple that have been living together for ages and have already set up their house.

This misunderstanding comes up every time we have one of these threads. It's not a faux pas to give gifts of cash (in the vast majority of cultures/regions/families; I'm sure there are exceptions). It's a faux pas to ask for cash, or to mention gifts at all in a wedding invitation.
posted by JenMarie at 10:14 PM on September 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

Here is Miss Manners, being sarcastic:

Q: My brother is getting married next year and would like cash in lieu of gifts. He is already a homeowner and has everything he needs. What is the correct wording for a request of this nature?

A: "I have everything I need, but give me your money so I can get more."
posted by jeri at 11:15 PM on September 7, 2014 [23 favorites]

Datapoint of one, but I don't think it is at all tacky to ask for money for the honeymoon in lieu of gifts. Failing to say thank you is always tacky, but seems to happen at least half the time even with online registries, so that's not new.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:31 PM on September 7, 2014

This is basically a repeat of many people's answers, but here's my own experience from my wedding a couple months ago. I set up short Amazon and Kohl's registries at my mom's request, but didn't mention gifts whatsoever on our invitations. When people asked if we were registered somewhere, I'd tell them, but otherwise didn't mention it in any other context. In the end, I'd say about 9 out of 10 gifts we got were cash. If you don't mention gifts at all and don't have a registry to direct people to, people will tend to give money as a default without you bringing it up.
posted by augustimagination at 11:49 PM on September 7, 2014

As a Brit, I'd take a lot of these response with a pinch of salt. I'm 27, married, been to 5 or 6 weddings in the last few years. We only got a few gifts, mostly cash, and I've always given cash as a gift.

If you setup a gift registry with 10 things on it for the older people, who will want to give "something that lasts", everyone will get the hint.

I'd suggest against writing a little rhyming poem in the invite, it makes it clear you've worried about it too much, and you shouldn't be!

Also agree with the earlier suggestion to let your parents, close family and friends know your wishes, they'll spread the word.
posted by chrispy108 at 12:43 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm a Brit and have been to a number of weddings like this.

In most of the cases the couple have said something like "we have everything we need but if you would really like to make a contribution then we'd appreciate something towards the honeymoon".

Trailfinders run a gift list for that sort of thing. There are probably others.

I don't like the idea of giving cash as a wedding present but I didn't mind putting something into that gift list.
posted by mr_silver at 12:52 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

What it is: It's a gift, given from the heart, an expression of love from your guest. It is an individual choice of how they express it.
What it's not: something you can request, without being asked. Something they owe you because of the invite. Something you can count on to improve your cash situation.

People say that asking for cash is tacky, but that doesn't explain enough. I think it is ungracious and calculating and transactional use wedding gifting as an opportunity to stock up on cash or specific items (unless asked). You may disagree, but whether your social capital suffers ultimately depends on whether your guests agree.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:13 AM on September 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

This is a UK-specific answer, but: when my wife and I married, we'd already been living together fo 8 years. In our wedding invitations we put:

You all know that we've been together for long enough to accrue all the toasters, toast-racks and novelty egg-times a couple could wish for. We don't need you to give us gifts for our wedding — your presence on our special day is the best gift we could receive — but if you feel that you really want to give us something donations towards our world travel fund are greatly appreciated.

It was meant from the heart, it worked out beautifully, and no-one was offended (or at least no-one said so, which amounts to the same thing).
posted by gmb at 2:25 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

You say: [...we we don't need a toaster, or a washing machine, or anything else]

Why then do you need cash for?

If it's meant for something specific, I would second gmb's answer above mine: if you feel that you really want to give us something donations towards our [feel free to fill in here] fund are greatly appreciated
posted by Kwadeng at 3:32 AM on September 8, 2014

A thought - it's puzzling that it's tacky to ask for cash but not tacky to have a registry, at least if the rationale is "it's in poor taste to indicate that you expect a gift". If it's tacky to say that folks who want to get you something should give money, surely it ought to be tacky to say that if folks want to get you something they can kick down for the olivewood-handle neo-fondue set from the Conran Shop or whatever.

I don't think there's a moral argument to be made in which a registry is acceptable but mentioning that you'd like cash is wrong, unless you want to get into the murky waters of UMC "worrying about cash is for the vulgar, but beautiful possessions are a valid concern" notions.
posted by Frowner at 5:20 AM on September 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I just asked this question! Barely anyone answered it, really, because of the time I posted it, so I'm grateful to you for doing it too.

What I'm gathering now is that there are some real cultural difference of opinion. It seems in Australia it's not that big a deal maybe (I'm Australian), and if you're some way ethnic it's even less so (I'm Asian, cash gifts are a thing). Otherwise it looks tacky.

My thought was to do a registry, but not of Stuff, but of just a few things that either covered something sentimental (we thought of redoing this old armchair as a sort of symbolic memento), practical (honeymoon), or a charity for people to give to if they baulked at the concept of cash giving (fine by me). Many responders still thought that was tacky. We seriously don't want anything (I mean I'm never going to say no to cash but we do not expect it at all) and it makes me anxious to think of registering all these items of crap I don't need for etiquette's sake (and then returning it secretly? Argh). It's unfortunate that not needing Stuff automatically means you're calculating/transactional...You can't win, dude!

Anyway, This site I found in my research is a version of Not Another Toaster - there's a couple who made their honeymoon fund a kind of competition. There were four destinations and people could vote by contributing to one of them. Not personally my bag, but brings the element of fun into it maybe, which might take the edge off the gauche-ness. Perhaps make it a game of sorts? I also read in a blog once a couple who used Honeyfund and itemised the various "experiences" they would have on the honeymoon that people could gift, eg dinner for two at this fancy restaurant! etc. If you can game-ify it in some way you might pull it off.

One answer that I haven't seen here but was in my thread was that you could not bother with the registry (cash hint #1) and engage either a bridesmaid or parent to spread the word that cash is cool (cash hint #2). Actually writing it officially somewhere seems to make it icky, but a quiet word on the sly seems ok.
posted by scuza at 5:23 AM on September 8, 2014

Personally (I'm Australian), while I would probably prefer to receive cash than homewares I don't need, I still feel that giving cash is somewhat outside the norm. So I don't feel I have "permission" to give cash unless there's something to indicate that the couple would like that. So I don't accept that not registering will result in cash, at least not in my part of the world. Personally I wouldn't care if you put a thing on your invitation saying that you'd prefer cash gifts - as long as it's not one of those cheesy poems! If you used one of those I would feel obliged to mock you mercilessly behind your back. But I would still give you cash and a card with my best wishes.
posted by Cheese Monster at 5:51 AM on September 8, 2014

I'm in the UK and I thought it was considered totally fine just to ask for cash upfront these days - the last three wedding invitations I got all did, anyway. (I mean, I thought it was kind of tacky, but then I think it's kind of tacky to mention a gift registry in an invitation too (I don't know, it just feels like you're saying "obviously you'll be bringing a present - here are some acceptable options"), so that doesn't mean anything.)
posted by raspberry-ripple at 6:24 AM on September 8, 2014

To answer the question of why a registry is not tacky:

The people who say asking for stuff is tacky also say that you should not mention your registry in the invite. People who want to know what to give you will ask you or you wedding party and then you can mention the registry as a helpful information to them. Everyone else is free to gift as they wish.

People can disagree with this whole train of thought (and certainly many don't adhere to this!) but the logic is consistent in itself.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:51 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm one of those people who would react to a cash request wedding gift with a shrug and a twenty (fifty if I really love you). Tacky is a matter of opinion. But as these threads eternally demonstrate the tackiness of specifically requesting a cash gift is quite widespread, ergo if you ask for cash - no matter what spin you might attempt - a significant portion of your guests will think you are tacky. Hell there have been a couple of AskMe questions basically asking "how can I be passive-aggresive shitty to my friend for asking for cash". The only acceptable " please give only this" request for a wedding is a donation to a specific charity.
posted by nanojath at 8:14 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

i didn't know it was such a faux pas. my sister did this for her wedding. i think she either had a note somewhere or may have just spread the word around through family. most people just wrote checks and a card and she got like half the wedding paid for. i guess it'll depend on the people you are inviting.
posted by monologish at 8:30 AM on September 8, 2014

As I mentioned above, I think grown ass adults, especially those who are already living together, should bite the bullet and make a "no gifts" request; wedding gifts made sense when people got married in their late teens/early twenties, but nowadays are just silly and wasteful.

Asking for cash is bad manners for two reasons: first, any request concerning a gift is grabby, presumptuous, and crass. Imagine receiving a birthday invitation that said on the bottom "cash or check please"; most people would be horrified since the gift is being treated like something that the birthday boy or girl has a right to or can reasonably expect or demand. Gross. And the same goes for adding registry information, or a request for cash, to a wedding invitation.

Second, requesting cash is worse than the standard US custom of having a registry because it places additional burdens on those who are not well off. All your guests want to send the message that they love and are happy for you, yet not everyone will be in a position to give you lots of money. People can, and regularly do, opt out of the registry and they can try and find a gift that is special and sends the message they want to send even if they don't have lots of money to throw at you. But this isn't an option when you request cash. By making this request you are putting at least some of your guests in a highly awkward position.

The OP's suggestion of having a solicitor deal with the gifts may take care of the second worry about cash, but it doesn't address the first.
posted by girl flaneur at 9:05 AM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, for your advice. We've just put "No Gifts".

The point from Elsie about not treating our wedding as a fundraiser really hit home. Since we already have everything we need, anything we do receive will simply be a bonus.
posted by alby at 9:47 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

When we married years ago, we were both adults and didn't need gifts, we already had everything... We told our immediate family that it was best for us to receive money as a wedding gift (and we didn't register anywhere). They relayed the message and let everybody know. It worked fine. I think we received four actual gifts from 150+ attendees and others who couldn't make it.

We took a cruise for our honeymoon and, good or bad, some of the money was used on it. We were able to do things that we would not have done otherwise. It might be a little odd, but I would rather the memory of something we enjoyed, than a gravy boat.

Good luck!
posted by Leenie at 9:57 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

We've just put "No Gifts".

Congrats, now you'll get 100% bowls.

Just kidding but do update us on how it turns out and also congratulations!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:59 PM on September 8, 2014

Yes, let us know the cash to gifts ratio! I'm super curious.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:28 PM on September 8, 2014

Elsie indeed has it.

One final point- the polite fiction is always that gifts of any kind are a welcome surprise, stressing "surprise". People are invited to experience communal joy, not as part of a quid pro quo. Gift registries are a nefarious marketing ploy, and give rise to questions that in gentler ages would never be imagined.

PS- congratulations on ten years, and may there be many more.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:49 PM on September 8, 2014

The first sterling flatware pattern was introduced by Tiffany in 1947 and, as it became popular, additional patterns were introduced. Perhaps people consulted the store about the bride's preferences when shopping and ordered something in that pattern, secure in the knowledge one's gift would be well received. The practice of a formal bridal registry was first instituted by Chicago-founded department store Marshall Field's in 1924 and it was similarly successful.

In the 1950s, a middle-class Southern bride registered her choice of flatware pattern, china and crystal and indicated to the registrar roughly the target number of basic table settings. The store would suggest agreed-upon additional pieces when the basics had been completed. It was excellent marketing. Everybody knew which store had the registry--if not, anyone close could supply the information. There were many rules and 'everybody knew the rules.' Gifts were sent to the bride's home in advance--never brought to the wedding in person. Gifts after the wedding were sent to the address on the announcement. Cash was always welcome but it came only from close relatives who discreetly passed an envelope to the groom. (I know other cultures had different traditions where everybody gave money. I've been to a couple such weddings where this and other differences seemed quite joyous.)

Those invitation and/or announcement lists were very important as they served as the basis for the new bride's social filing system: the thank you notes, holiday cards, invitations, and in good time, announcements of offspring, new addresses, graduation announcements, etc., would go to those people in years to come. It could be quite a large list, even if the wedding was small because announcements were sent to a wider circle of family friends and acquaintances than even the wedding invitations. The list had to be maintained--as connections had to be maintained and it wouldn't do to send a Christmas card to some elderly dear one hardly knew who might no longer reside at her earthly address. The point is the wedding connected not only families but the wider circle of friends of those families. The couple's love affair was their own but the wedding included the community.

I'm really glad it's the twenty-first century and brides don't spend so much time polishing silver and keeping up social correspondence in ink on paper. I'm glad couples now can live together until they are sure about marriage and can register at BBandB or Target and can put Kitchen Aid mixers and all manner of things on their registries and even plan honeymoon trips online which friends can support but I believe human beings have not changed so much that we can dispense with that primary social purpose of wedding invitations--asking our loved ones to witness and celebrate the beginning of a new family, even if that family means to remain a family of two with one cat and twin mountain bikes forever. People will always want to be there to celebrate the moment our society enlarges itself to welcome a new family if, in our embrace of ever more efficient online registry, we don't spell out the expectation of gifts so presumptuously that our friends stop feeling joyful about going to weddings.

All that said, I am always in favor of cash gifts to young people and to all kinds of people; however, in my old fashioned way, I do like for them to preserve my illusions with the pretense of a tiny bit of surprise and to let me know they like what I gave them.

My sincere congratulations and warmest best wishes on your marriage; may your wedding day be joyous and your long life together full of happiness.
posted by Anitanola at 1:45 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

First Tiffany pattern: 1847--typo is a hundred years off, there, I'm sorry.
posted by Anitanola at 2:08 AM on September 9, 2014

so many people take this SO SERIOUSLY! There's already so much pressure around making the wedding "good enough" when really, it's the people who are offended that are out of line.

Giving gifts at a wedding is not strange, same as it's not strange to give gifts at christmas or a birthday. The poster who suggested that you treat this "as a second wedding where you say 'no gifts' on the invitation" is out of line.

People who make up rules about who deserves to get gifts and who does not are out of line. What they should be offended about is how our wedding traditions have been usurped by the wedding industry to the extent that if you don't buy a 50% markup "wedding appropriate" item, you are a bad person.

You are paying for the whole meal, event, location, bartender, etc. etc. etc. You can ask for cash if you want.
posted by rebent at 8:46 AM on September 9, 2014

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