It’s something we hear all the time at Patchwork – the vast majority of couples getting married now don’t really want gifts. What they would love, is for guests to chip in some money to an experience e.g. a honeymoon, or a larger project e.g. a new kitchen. This is the simple bit – the harder part is how to do it. Nobody wants to offend their guests or come across as grabby, insensitive, or even worse – unimaginative! We’ve got the lowdown from those who work closely with couples right at the beginning of their journey – wedding invite designers. Designers Hélène from Smitten with Ink, Carly from With Bells On and Cat from Luna & Sol let us in on what engaged couples are asking them. Here’s their brilliant and insightful advice on the secret of how to ask for money nicely.
Do most of your couples want to ask for money instead of gifts?
Carly: I’ve only ever had three clients who have linked to a formal registry – the sort for a department store. Of those, one couple lived in the States, and I think it’s the done thing there. The other two just did it because they thought they had to. Everyone else has wanted money towards their honeymoon or new home – so I’d say 95% of couples WANT to ask for money.
Hélène: I get my couples to talk about their gift registry as early as during our first consultation which is before they have even booked me for their stationery! It just happens organically as I am curious about their wedding plans, their story and their life together. Half of my couples want a gift registry, the other half would love to ask for money towards a project or a dream they have.
Do couples feel confident asking for money or do they need help?
Hélène: Some of them feel very icky about doing so and just plan on telling their guests they don’t want anything with the hope/expectation that people will get them cash. Others want to just be honest and ask. They usually have seen examples on the internet that they wish to replicate on their invitation suite but they are unsure as to how it will be perceived.
Carly: They often feel really embarrassed and need help with wording exactly how to ask. Gifting is just one of many things couples ask me how to phrase, because everyone thinks there is some sort of rule book for writing your wedding invites, but they just don’t have access to it! I find it is best to have sections of the invite or wedding website, the most common of which are ‘Ceremony’, ‘Reception’, Food and Drink’, ‘Gifts’ and ‘Children’ (another minefield of its own!) By having sections, it not only helps your guest navigate through the information, but it means you can keep the asking-for-a-gift part short and sweet.
Cat: Out of all of our past customers, only 12% had requested a form of gifting in writing (on physical invitations). Most prioritise the invitation space and wording for directions and dress code. About 40% of our past customers have wedding websites in conjunction to physical invitations. Therefore further info and gifting requests might be online. We’ve seen all sorts of gift requests from couples including traditional gift lists, cash for a honeymoon or house deposit, donations to charity and “surprise us” requests!
If couples are looking for advice what words of wisdom can you offer?
Carly: Well, my ethos is ‘don’t ask, don’t get’. Some couples say ‘Shall we just write that they don’t need to bring a gift?’ and my answer is, ‘Sure, if you don’t want a gift!’
Hélène: Whether they ask for my advice or not, I always mention Patchwork! I believe that people love being part of a journey and coming together to make dreams come true. Patchwork does exactly that, it allows friends and family to be part of the couple’s story way beyond their big day. And I love the fact that you know exactly what your money will be used for and can get a personalised message from the couple when they purchase what you’ve pitched in for.
Are you a fan of the ‘money poem’?
Hélène: As a designer, I don’t have a strong opinion about money poems. I always say to my couples, they need to stay true to themselves and if a poem comes across as something they would say, then go for it! As a guest however, I am not a big fan. I tend to find them soo cheesy and awkward. As much as I do not like buying pans or sets of knives – far from exciting- I feel a list can be reassuring in the sense that there’s something for every budget. In addition, I know exactly what I’m gifting to the newlyweds. When it’s just money, I always wonder: is it enough? Is it too much? Will they know it’s me? What will this buy them?
Carly: The people who love you are excited about the wedding and supportive of your marriage, and I think beating around the bush with a bad poem or similar is actually a disrespectful way of doing things. It seems like you are hiding behind something to make it cute, which just seems disingenuous to me – plus it’s corny AF.
Cat: We haven’t come across any poems but I’m a fan of a subtle poetic request!
Do you have a particular phrase you’d recommend using when asking for wedding gift money?
Hélène: I don’t have a particular phrase I tell couples to use – again, I want their personalities to come across- but I do recommend they tell their guests what the monies collected will be for. It just feels more personal, an insight into their plans for the future.
Carly: I usually advise something like: We’d really love to raise a glass to you on our honeymoon. If you’d like to give us a gift, a small donation towards our trip would be perfect, and we’d be so grateful.
Cat: We don’t have a suggested phrase because we follow the motto of putting your own personality on paper. If a customer leans towards the formal type of writing then they generally find great templates online. If a customer is more relaxed and casual, most write the way they would say it in real life!
What are the big dos and don’ts of asking for money?
Hélène: I personally would avoid having a box at my wedding reception to collect cards & cash gifts. People forget to put their card in, never find said box or might even lose the precious envelope during the day! It is also one more thing for the newlyweds to not forget after a long day and night partying!
Carly: I ALWAYS suggest to couples that they write in their thank you cards exactly what that money got them, and preferably with a snap of them doing that activity, having that meal, drinking that cocktail etc. This really shows how much that bit of cash was appreciated.
Cat: We encourage personality so much that we always say there are no rules! Write the way you want, write how you would speak to your friends and & family, and we can always help rephrase / sense check so it reads smoothly 🙂
Do you have any examples of how couples have asked for cash instead of gifts?
Cat from Luna and Sol gives some examples of how past customers have asked for money in their wedding invites.
Some couples are very straight forward, (no need to beat around the bush as we Aussies say!) – “Please find our wedding website at [wedding website] for accommodation, travel information and our gift list”
Most start with appreciating the guests’ presence above and beyond gifts, but give suggestions to gift should they wish:
“Your presence at our wedding is a gift enough, but should you wish to give a gift as well, a cash donation towards our house deposit would be greatly appreciated”
“The most important thing is to have you with us on our special day. No gifts are needed or expected however if you would like to give something, we have created a list at Patchwork. You can access this list using the link here”
“We are fortunate to have all the things that we need, so please do not feel that you need to bring anything. However, if you would like to contribute anything towards our honeymoon, we would be very grateful! We will put more details on the wedding website”
Some are adventurous and really don’t care about gifting – “More than anything we would love for you to join us in celebrating our wedding and creating a day filled with special memories. However, if something has caught your eye, do feel free to surprise us on our special day”
And then some are just selfless and ask for charity donations instead – “If you were planning on buying us presents, we would prefer for you to donate the equivalent value to [chosen charity]”
Thank you so much Hélène, Carly and Cat for sharing these really useful insights with us. The over-riding messages from our chats are:
- Be honest about what you’d like (you don’t need to hide behind a money poem!)
- Involve your guests in your plans by sharing details: “we’re honeymooning in Italy”
- Be specific about how you’ll spend their gift: “we’d love to eat pizza and eat gelato every day”.
- Express what it means to you both: “it will make us so happy for you to contribute towards our once in a lifetime trip!”
The good news is that with Patchwork you can do all of the above! As Catherine, a happy Patchwork user says: “Patchwork solved our “how to ask for money without asking for money” dilemma when sorting our wedding invites out! We really don’t want gifts, we’re having a super small intimate relaxed wedding but it was pointed out that people would just ask us what we wanted if we didn’t put something on the invite & Patchwork solved that for us, thank you!”
So, when you use Patchwork to invite your guests to contribute cash, EVERYONE can feel good about giving and receiving money as a wedding gift! To set up your cash gift wedding registry go here, or for your honeymoon fund you can go here! Happy Patchworking!