My fiancé and I have lived together for years and don't need any home appliances/typical gift list items. What is the right way to go about asking our guests for money (specifically to go towards buying a house) rather than kettles and toasters?
First of all, a big thank you to everyone on Facebook and Google +1 for there overwhelming feedback on this subject. Unfortunately the Twitter community failed to rise to the challenge!
Anyway, to begin with this is more of a cultural issue than anything else. As professional wedding photographers we get to photograph weddings from many varied communities and cultures from around the world.
In the Vietnamese and Chinese communities gifts are a rarity, if given at all. The community has a lovely tradition called ‘Lucky Money’. About half way through the wedding breakfast, and to put that into context, around the fifth course, the Bride & Groom together with the Bridesmaids & Groomsmen visit each of the tables at the reception. Bear in mind you can expect 200 to 500 guests at these weddings as they are very big community events, so visiting every table takes a while.
Each person on the table puts money in a bright red envelope and those are usually put into a carrier bag, more often than not three carrier bags. Two or three people from the table of ten people make a short speech about the Bride & Groom or give them a blessing, then the Couple have to drink what’s offered to them, usually a triple short and then its off to the next table.
How starkly different from a traditional UK wedding, where the mention of money is still a taboo!
For those interested, gift giving in the UK dates back to the Roman times and is link to a brides dowry (a sum of money given to the groom by her parents, kind of like a second bonus for getting such a great girl in the first place ).
Back then marriage was often a merging of ‘family’ interests. Two large wealthy family would cement a union through the wedding of their children. The Bride’s family would provide the Groom’s family with a large Dowry (Pot of Cash) and the Groom’s family would buy the happy couple basically everything they needed to setup house and home together in a style becoming of their social status. This was the start of the idea of gift giving, which gets watered down to a toaster or coffee cup for us lower status minions!
The most expensive wedding gift ever recorded was given in 1659 when King Charles II gave Queen Luisa of Portugal not just one city but two; Tangiers and Bombay.
Today both those cities generate billions of income and if you owned them, you would be the richest person in the world, in fact Bill Gates £49 billion fortune would be petty cash!
Back to present day, and asking for cash on your wedding day. Here are some practical tips.
1. Explain Why
As we are so tied into the culture of gift giving people need to understand why their gift of not appropriate for you.
When you send out your invitations explain that you are not asking for gifts because you have been living together for the last five years and so have all the gadgets you need and so you are asking guests to give money instead.
2. Be Specific
Tell people what you want the money for. If you are not specific, experience seems to be that you will get a gift whether you like it or not.
People are seriously cautious about giving cash for no reason. So tell them its for the honeymoon, the deposit on a new house, buy a car, whatever just be open and honest and that will really help them give.
The most expensive gift of jewelry was given in 1908 to Evalyn Walsh McLean. It was a 95 carat diamond, set in a 34 carat emerald and 32 grain pearl necklace. Today's value £4 million.
3. Designate An Account
If you want more that just a tenner in a card then it’s a good idea to setup a third party account into which people can give.
If you want money for a honeymoon then speak to your travel agent and they will usually have facilities to accept gifts from guests. It also means that people know exactly where the money is going and what you are getting for their gift.
Likewise wedding photographers offer the same facility, we often have couples who want extra photography after the wedding or couples who are having destination weddings but want to be sure of getting amazing wedding photography. We offer both an online gift registry and an over the phone service.
If you are buying a house set up an account called ‘Jack & Jill’s Home Fund’ that way people know what the money is going towards.
4. Send A Thank You
Gratitude costs nothing, but is worth a fortune. Send thank you cards and if you can tell people how you used their money. Helena sent thank you cards after her wedding telling individuals how they had used the money given, such as ‘we were able to swim with dolphins.’ People just like to know how you have spent their gift.
If you have a house fund, send everyone a “We’ve Moved In” card, maybe with a photo of your new home. You never know you may get house warming gifts in return.
The Bridal Shower, which many think is an American invention, in fact comes from the Netherlands. It was originally for Brides whose parents refused to provide a dowry or any wedding gifts. There have always been meanies.
5. Use an Online Facility
The Uk Government are proud of the fact that in the next two years 97% of people will have access to the web.
In truth there are very, very few people who have no access to the web. My Nan was 85 and had an iPad and was on Facebook and did her shopping online.
There are lots of great online facilities and whilst we can’t recommend any of them, there are sites like ‘Getting Married’ which allow you cost effectively to setup online Wedding Websites where you can open your own Gift registry, have links to your Honeymoon Account or your Photography Account or your Home Buying Account.
The good things about these sites is you can tailor them to your individual needs and people have one place they can go to find out everything about your wedding. Importantly you can explain why you would like a cash gift, instead of a traditional gift.
Did you know that the term ‘Honeymoon’ has absolutely nothing to do with a holiday after your wedding.
No one is quite sure how old this term is, but ‘Honeymoon’ comes from the tradition that the newlyweds would drink Honey Wine for an entire cycle of the moon. Hence the term ‘Honeymoon’.
I’m really thankful for all your great comments and have tried to use as much as I can in this blog post.
If you have any questions of feedback we would love to hear from you.