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Updated on Tuesday, May 26, 2015
A few months before my wedding, I found myself gleefully scanning random kitchen gadgets and home goods to a gift registry with Bed Bath and Beyond. I was extremely frugal and never bought anything for myself unless I absolutely needed it — and if I needed something, I went for family hand-me-downs or secondhand items before turning to my last resort, buying something brand-new from a store.
Years of living frugally and avoiding new or novel items meant I went a little crazy with the scanner gun when I had the chance to build a registry. It also meant that, a few years later as I went through my kitchen and wondered why on earth I thought I needed all this stuff, I realized I could have been much more creative and asked for something that would have been more useful to me than a drawerful of kitchen tools that were used once or twice.
It’s traditional for engaged couples to put together a list of items for their newly minted household so guests can choose to gift them items for their home together. But there are no rules when it comes to wedding gifts — and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t request what you can get the most use out of.
Is It Okay to Ask for Cash?
For many couples starting their lives together, nothing would be more useful than cold, hard cash. But we’re conditioned to believe that asking for money in lieu of gifts is tacky or rude, so many of us do what I did: get excited about stuff instead, and get distracted from how we usually prioritize our money for spending.
Considering that more people are waiting until they’re older to marry, and that more couples cohabitate before tying the knot, gifts of household items simply don’t make sense in many cases. If you’re in your mid-30s and lived on your own for a few years before moving in with your significant other for another period of time, you probably don’t need dishes, glassware, and bedding.
It is okay to ask for cash if that’s what you and your soon-to-be spouse truly need (and another one-use kitchen appliance is not what you need). If you want to skip the traditional gifts, consider these 3 ways to tactfully ask for cash.
Create an Alternative Registry
One way to subtly ask for cash instead of gifts: use a registry, but make it for an experience or a very big item that guests help buy in pieces. For example, couples wanting a new home can register with HatchMyHouse.com and guests can gift sums toward a down payment. The site also allows couples to list out items they’d like for a current home and guests can partially fund things like new shutters, tile for the kitchen, or appliances.
You can also set up a honeymoon fund with sites like HoneyFund.com. Or create a fund for whatever it is that’s important to you with GoFundMe.com. You can create a campaign for anything and guests can contribute an amount they’re comfortable with gifting you.
Spread the Word Politely
You can keep things straightforward and ask for cash if you feel comfortable doing so — no contemporary registry required. A good way to share that request with your guests is by word of mouth.
Tell your parents, close family members and friends, and wedding party that you’d like cash instead of gifts. You can explain that you and your partner have everything you need to get your life started together — and help with a honeymoon, savings fund, or down payment would be far more useful for the two of you.
From there, they can pass along the information to other guests who inevitably ask, “where are they registered?” You can also use your wedding website as a way to share.
However you spread the word, make sure guests know that any kind of generosity, be it in the form of cash or gifts, is much appreciated.
Give Your Guests Options
Some people won’t like the idea of giving cash or checks — and that’s okay. If you’d like to receive money but don’t feel comfortable asking everyone, or if you know you have a group of traditional guests that prefer gifts you can wrap, provide an option.
You can create a very small registry and carefully select a few material items that you would like (or that you need). Guests who don’t feel comfortable handing over a check will appreciate that they can choose a gift for you instead.
If you’re absolutely against accepting material gifts, consider providing your guests the option to donate to a charity in your name instead. Choose an organization that means a lot to you and your future spouse and ask that guests provide cash gifts or donate whatever amount they’d like to the charitable group.
Be sure to get all that cash into a high-yield savings account!