With sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter raising money for all sorts of weird and wonderful things, crowdfunding has become part of our everyday language in 2020. So how do weddings fit in? And is it ever OK to ask guests to pay for your wedding? We’ve all heard a few headline-grabbing stories of couples in particularly difficult circumstances using platforms like GoFundMe to ask strangers on the internet to help pay for their wedding day. However the trend we are seeing at Patchwork, recently picked up by both The Telegraph and Grazia is very different.
Patchwork is an alternative gift registry that enables friends and family to come together to collectively contribute towards one big gift or experience. People don’t use Patchwork as a crowdfunding platform to ask strangers for money. It’s not about philanthropy from a ‘crowd’. Patchwork enables couples to invite the people closest to them to get involved in the most important day of their lives, in the most meaningful, personal and practical way. Rather than crowd-funding a wedding, we’d call it friend-funding.
AND it’s not just about money! With Patchwork, couples share the plan for their wedding day so guests can choose how to help make it extra special. Whether it’s by contributing cash, gifting their skills or donating their time, everyone can choose the way they want to show their love. While your Nan might want to buy some bubbly for behind the bar, your aunt might choose to help with decorations. Your cousin might bake some cakes while your mates can promise to DJ.
Why do millennial couples want to crowd-fund their weddings?
There are economic reasons why some people ask friends and family to help fund certain aspects of their wedding day. People often ask because a wedding involving all the people they love would otherwise be just too expensive for them. They’d rather have family and friends invited and share in the cost, than not have them there at all. This might mean asking for cash gifts towards the expensive elements of the wedding day – chipping in towards the photographer or the caterer, or putting some money behind the bar so that everyone can enjoy a few drinks. People use Patchwork because it’s a simple, fun and easy way for guests to chip in what they can afford to make the day a big success.
Of course it’s not only for financial reasons that couples choose to ask their guests to contribute towards the wedding day itself. There are those couples who already ‘have it all’. They therefore have no need for a traditional department store gift list and have booked and paid for their honeymoon. By inviting guests to contribute towards the wedding day in some way, people not only become active participants in the day and enjoy the sense of connection that this brings. Couples can invite guests to contribute towards something extra and fun for the benefit of everyone – a live band or an entertainer for example, or an illustrator to capture moments of the day.
By funding a wedding experience in this way guests are not only giving a gift but sharing in the enjoyment of it as well. Crowdsourcing the wedding brings everyone together in a collaborative and fun way and allows everyone to give gifts that “give back” as they are not just enjoyed by the couple, but by everyone participating in the day. So asking friends and family to crowdfund your wedding is actually a very generous thing for couples to do. After all, if you use a traditional gift list people don’t get to share the joy of your new bed-linen!
Are crowdfunded weddings a new trend this year?
Yes crowdfunding weddings is definitely a growing tend and will be big in 2020. However at Patchwork we know it’s not really a new idea. It’s the age old concept of a “whip round” except this time it’s digital and has got itself a shiny new name.
For struggling couples in 30s and 40s Britain, it was commonplace to “beg and borrow” everything from the dress to the car. Today’s ‘something borrowed, something blue’ are considered to be traditional good luck charms. But they are rooted in a very practical necessity. OK, so some stories like a wedding dress shared between 15 brides and wedding rings made from aircraft parts may sound extreme. However, in the past it was expected that friends and family would help to make the day special even during times of extreme hardship and war. Getting a professionally shot wedding photo was a luxury so great that it would serve as a gift the whole family would chip in to. Of course this is the principle behind Patchwork. While most couples use our alternative gift registry to ask wedding guests to contribute towards one big gift or help fund their honeymoon, we love that more and more couples are using Patchwork to crowdfund or crowdsource their weddings. And it’s something we’re very happy to support and encourage.
Who do crowdfunded weddings appeal to?
As well as the financial issues, there are other reasons couples might choose to ask guests to pay for elements of the wedding day itself rather than buying physical gifts. The average age of a couple on their wedding day according to latest figures from the ONS was 37.9 for men and 35.5 for women. They have had – on average – 3.5 years of living together to build up a large collection of pots and pans, towels and toasters. So if they, like many of us, have already reached “peak stuff” adding 100s more items to a wedding gift list is not going to fill them with joy. As well as valuing experiences over stuff, millennials are acutely aware of the price that is being paid for our overindulgence in consumerism. In response, they are finding resourceful and creative ways to turn gifting on its head.
Crowdfunding a wedding means no waste or unnecessary gifts, and it means money given can go exactly where it’s needed. That might be towards the DJ, the flowers or just on lots of bubbly and beers. It’s the opposite of consumerism, enabling people to get what they really need and want in a way that is secure, easy and fun for everyone too. Whether friends help to pay for the wedding, or help by gifting their time and skill instead, everyone can give what they can, and in the way that they want. Resulting in a day that’s truly democratic, engaging and satisfying for everyone. Friends and family can be part of the creative process and feel like active participants rather than bystanders. It’s also hugely flattering to be asked to contribute to something as significant as someone’s wedding day, so using the talents of friends and family is a win-win.
Isn’t asking for cash embarrassing or awkward?
Yes, and that’s exactly why Patchwork was created. The way we talk about money is changing; it’s not the awkward and embarrassing topic it might have been years ago. However, there is still pretty clear etiquette around asking for money in place of physical wedding gifts. It’s still seen as slightly awkward and vague at best, rude and grabby at worst, to simply put your bank details on an invite. Even the huge range of ‘money poems’ out there don’t hide too well the fact that you are simply asking for money. With Patchwork, money is “wrapped up like a gift” and that makes all the difference. Because guests can see images of the specific things you are going to do with the money they gift, they feel more than happy to give it. In fact they love it so much they have described giving money in this way as a “joy” and a “delight”. Knowing that a gift is going to make the recipient happy is really all your friends and family want to know, and with Patchwork you can really show them what their gift means to you.
With a Patchwork gift registry, there are always lots of price options, so guests can contribute from as little as £1 up to £500. And of course, no-one but the recipient can see what other guests have given. This means nobody feels excluded from giving, or pressured in to giving more than they are able to. Couples that use Patchwork do, however, find that they receive higher than average cash gift amounts. Guests tend to be more generous when they can see where their money is going, and when they don’t feel like expectations are being set too high. In fact, giving a wide range of affordable options usually inspires guests to give more.
So how would I go about crowdsourcing a wedding?
It’s very simple. With Patchwork you can create an alternative gift registry that shows your guests all the things you’d like them to fund, make or do – represented as a ‘patchwork’ of images. They can then click around your registry page and choose to gift their cash, time or skills according to whatever suits them. We have lots of templates ready to customise (including readymade crowdfund examples) , or you can create a totally unique gift page from scratch. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions – we’d love to hear what you’re planning!