How To Ask Your Guests For Money As A Wedding Present
Money - it makes the world go round but it's the topic that makes everyone feel just a little bit uncomfortable. As Brits, we seem to have a thing about numbers in general, really. It’s rude to ask someone’s age, how much they weigh, and what their salary is. They’re all just facts and statistics at the end of the day, but ultimately the fear is that people will judge the figure we give them.
So it’s not surprising that even in this day and age couples still feel awkward about asking for money as a wedding gift. Even though it makes a lot of sense to do so. Unlike 30 years ago, it is extremely common now for couples to live together before they get married. It’s less taboo to cohabitate with someone who isn’t your legal spouse, and this means that you tend to have built up a collection of all of the traditional wedding presents guests generally opt for. You’ll have a toaster and a kettle. And it’s unlikely that you’ll feel you need a completely brand new set of stainless steel cutlery if your existing set is just a couple of years old. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t pass up the chance for a collection of Le Creuset pots and pans but beyond that your guests are just buying you duplicates of useful, practical stuff that you already have. And we all know that there’s no disappointment like receiving a present that you don’t care for.
It’s all very well returning presents once you’ve immediately stepped off the plane from your Honeymoon, if you never actually wanted the gift. However, as a pair of newlyweds told me recently, John Lewis - the king pin of the gift registry - only allows you to return 30% of the products. So you’re still likely to be left with a whole heap of gifts that you have to re-home / sell on eBay / find room for amongst their twin versions you already own.
We’re a nation divided over this debate. Half of us seem embedded in the concept that it’s tradition to physically accept wedding gifts and we should just go along with the façade, despite our feelings, and the other half of us seem to be determined to overthrow this out-of-date thinking and ask for what we really want. Kerching! Although, in reality it’s not as simple as that. To the first group of people - you’re losing out by continuing to keep schtüm and accepting presents you don’t want. And to the second group - even with the best intentions of telling your guests that “we’ve got everything we need already. After the expense of the wedding, what we could really do with is a some money towards the honeymoon or to help paying off the mortgage”, I guarantee that the majority would find themselves looking on Pinterest for one of those poems to stick in the invitation instead.
You know what I mean, one like this:
We’re tying the knot and we just can’t wait,
We knew it would happen on our very first date.
As we’ve got our home dressed up with accessories,
We don’t really think that a wedding gift list is necessary.
But if you did want to give something to help us on our way,
Some money in a card would truly make our day!
Poems are cute, but they have a time and a place. Would you pledge your case for a promotion at work by penning a poem and sticking it in a card for your boss? Would you apply for a loan with the bank by popping a limerick in with your application? No, because they wouldn’t take you seriously if you did.
I hear of so many couples including a poem like the one above in with their wedding invitations and then having a good old moan when they claim none of their guests listened and they ended up with the traditional gifts. Are you surprised? They just didn’t take you seriously either.
Writing one of these poems makes it sound like you don’t even want the money as much as I’m sure you do. You’re shying away from the real issue by not addressing what you want. And as long as we continue to hide behind tradition, and use ‘not upsetting those who are used to tradition’ as an excuse, then we’ll never be able to have adult conversations about this type of thing. If we actually just wanted to honour tradition then we’d still all be choosing fruitcake for our weddings, and I know too many fabulous cake designers who create the lightest vanilla sponge week after week to know that’s not the case.
The only reason there is still a taboo on the subject of money is because we allow it to be there. Hedging around the subject, or writing a poem to cover it up our real wishes, only feeds into the rhetoric that the subject of money should be kept ‘hush hush’. In reality, the only way to get what you want is to ask for it.
Don’t bother signing up to a gift list if you don’t want gifts. The only reason couples get one is to help their guests know what they actually want. So use that same principle and sign up to a site like Patchwork or Honeyfund and either send the link to all guests attending your wedding or stick it on your wedding website. That way, guests can be unequivocally sure that that’s what you want as a wedding present. Or just put in the invitation “If you’d like to get us a gift then we’d be really grateful for some money to help us start off married life well”, or whatever the reason may be. If guests take offence then, quite frankly, they’re out of touch and that’s not your problem. And if they really just want to get you a gift of some sort then they’ll do it anyway and nothing would change their minds.
Don’t compromise on something that you could really do with just because you think other people will judge you for it. They’ll spend the same amount of money anyway whether it’s getting you a present or contributing cash, and a lot of people would rather get you something that they know you’ll be happy with. It’s your wedding, it’s your voice, so use it to ask for what you want. Poems have a time and place and they aren’t for discussing money. Woman up and just deal with it.
Written by Charlotte Spain