Money instead of gifts at a wedding

I am getting married in September. My fiancé and I already have been living together for 3 years. We would rather have money instead of gifts. I have heard of a wishing well at a wedding. Can you give me any info on this subject?

Instead of a card inserted with the invitations that just says “no gifts, please”, how about “In lieu of gifts, the bride and groom would appreciate a donation made to any of the following charitable organizations…[three to five of your favorite charities and contact info].

Since both my fiancé and I each have a complete “household” this is what we plan on doing.

Although one happy couple wants to get money and the other wants to give money away, traditional etiquette has the same answer for both: Don’t do it!

The rule is that a happy couple can never instruct guests on what sorts of presents they expect to receive. If the couple registers, they must wait until guests ask about gifts before they say a word about where the registry. If they want cash or charitable donations, they have to wait patiently and drop hints when guests ask about gifts.

How do you hint? Hints that cash would be preferred always start with, “We really have everything we need, and we just want our good friends to be there… we’re saving up for…” Guests who are comfortable giving money as a gift will figure out that a contribution to your savings project will be welcome. Bear in mind that some guests simply do not give cash, ever! So mention a real project that you’re saving for, in case a guest decides to get you something you can use when you finally buy whatever-it-is.

If you believe that some guests will bring cards with money (and guests do this even if you’ve registered), it’s practical to set aside a place where the cards can be kept. Loose cards, or cards stuck in with a heap of presents, are very easy to lose! In some regions, the custom is to have a decorating “wishing well” (made by the bride or rented from a florist) for the cards. A decorated basket is a bit more inconspicuous, and decorated birdcages have become fashionable. The card receptacle should never have any sort of sign soliciting donations.

What about charities? Although no one can complain about the couple’s kind intentions, it’s still a faux pas to tell guests what presents are expected. Couples who are serious about charitable donations can certainly hint that a donation to a charity would be appreciated instead of a gift, and can certainly donate any wedding presents to the charity of their choice.

Something to think about… when your guests know that you’ve already established a household, either together or separately, they’re much less likely to buy toasters and blenders for you. Most guests do stop and think before whipping out their charge cards! (I can’t guarantee that Great Aunt Matilda will give you anything other than her usual set of liver-colored towels, but nothing has ever budged Great Aunt Matilda from giving those towels. Some people do not respond to hints, demands, or even pleas.) Guests who know one of you well are more likely to think of unique and appropriate gifts that you’ll really enjoy. A Bride’s Journal gives a good description of a decorated birdcage for holding gift cards.

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