How to ask for money at your wedding

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Trying to subtly let your guests know that you’d prefer money for your wedding gift is always a tricky thing. Your wedding invitations are where you’ll be dropping this hint and to do this many couples will use a ‘wishing well’ poem.

Take a moment to think back on when you’ve read a ‘wishing well’ poem in a wedding invitation:

You’ve just received an envelope with your name handwritten across the top. Inside, a beautiful, wedding invitation from your friend Ben and his lovely fiancée Molly. You look through the papers: the RSVP card and its cute little envelope, the spot where they, once again, hand wrote your name just for you. And then:

Now we are to be Mr & Mrs
We don’t need a wedding list of dishes
We have two kettles, two toasters, two microwaves
We require a house for which we have to save.
If you would like to give us a gift,
A cheque or vouchers would give us a lift
We like to think of it as our ‘Wishing Well’
Which will be filled with your love, we can tell.

You groan, you roll your eyes, and you don’t read past ‘Now we are to be Mr. & Mrs’.

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The concept of a wedding ‘Wishing well’ has been around for centuries, but has come into prevalence in the last thirty years or so due to changing social norms. The concept draws its name from real wishing wells: where it is thought to be good luck if you throw a coin into a well and make a wish. These days, waiting until marriage before moving out of home is less common. Couples are moving in together earlier and getting married later, even buying houses years before they are married. As a result these well-nested couples are in less need of toasters, cutlery and linen. What young couples really need is money to pay a deposit on a house, take that exotic overseas trip whilst paying down a mortgage, or to start a family.

As a result, it has become more common for wedding guests to offer a gift of money, but it’s a fine balance between good manners and ending up with several unwanted toasters. As such if money is the preference of the couple, it is a good idea to drop a hint in your invitation, and good manners to inform the guest of exactly how this money will be used. Wishing wells have been the most recent trend in this hint process, but have become a little overused so it’s time to let them fade into obscurity. How often do we read these things anyway? That’s gorgeous paper stock you’re printing on, let’s not waste it.

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A popular alternative is asking for donations to experiences on your honeymoon, towards a special larger gift, to charity, or even offering guests a choice from all of the above.

Think of it as a wedding registry of sorts. Guests can purchase a spa treatment, theme park tickets, a dining experience or just about anything you’ll be getting up to during your time away! This is a really cool and practical way to go about things. Also, for those uncomfortable with the idea of the impersonal nature of giving cash, the option to donate towards a charity can overcome this in an altruistic way. Your friends and family will know exactly where their money is going and you don’t have to worry about depositing a wishing-well’s worth of cash into the bank before you head off.

We spoke to Damien from Travel Registry about the growth of experience gift buying.

When we first started 8 years ago, it was fairly slow going,” Damien says.

In the last couple of years though, it’s really taken off. For us, the idea of letting your wedding guests be a part of something really special like your honeymoon is truly important.”

We couldn’t agree more! Registering is as easy as heading over to Travel Registry and signing up, picking out your gifts and they’ll do the rest. There are a number of similar digital registries such as Hitchd and Honeyfund. More charitable options are offered through Our Wishing Well, Karma Currency, and National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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The reality is that we’re always going to feel a little awkward asking for money. The best way to go about it is to not take it too seriously and remember that there is a very little chance that your guests will be offended by how you ask. Unless it’s your old Aunt Maggie. Maybe you should just send her a wishing well poem.

If you have more questions, be sure to check out our Q&A on wedding invitation etiquette.


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