How to Have a Cash Registry

Everyone loves the gift of money, but how do you get it? Read on for the history, etiquette, and how-to of getting wedding gifts of cold, hard cash.

by Tracy Guth

Engaged couples are always talking about it — cash wedding gifts. The little-known secret? Many definitely prefer gifts of money in honour of their marriage over traditional registry items, like china, silver, and crystal. Everyone loves the gift of money, but how do you get it? Read on for the history, etiquette, and how-to of getting wedding gifts of cold, hard cash.

The Reasons

Maybe you’re getting married for the first time and would rather have a lump sum to put toward your first home, or you’re remarrying and have long since set up house. Perhaps you’d like cash put into a rainy day fund for unexpected items. The truth is, quite a few of us have already accrued all kinds of appliances and amenities to outfit our lives. But there are very few who couldn’t use a helping hand toward buying a home or new car. That’s when money may be the most useful, thoughtful, and appreciated gift of all.

The History

There was a time when the mavens of manners turned up their noses at the thought of giving money as a gift. But today there are plenty of people who can’t think of a more appropriate present for two people just starting out in their new, shared life. In fact, monetary gifts have long been considered proper and acceptable in different regions of the world, as well as among people of different cultures. Guests invited to a Korean wedding often present envelopes containing cash or cheques to the parents of the bride and groom, who in turn present the money to the newlywed couple. Guests at a Chinese wedding often hand the bride monetary presents in red envelopes (red symbolises luck). There’s an Italian custom called “The Grand March” — the wedding reception ends with a receiving line in which the couple gives each guest a sweet in exchange for an envelope of money. During the traditional Polish “Dollar Dance,” guests dance with the bride and pin money to her veil or dress.

How to Spread the Word

If you decide to set up such an account, or simply want your guests to know that you’d prefer cash — let your parents, close relatives and friends know that when guests ask what you’d like as a wedding gift, they can tell them cash would be most appreciated. But don’t completely forgo some sort of traditional registry. Give guests a choice — some may really want to give you something material, rather than just handing you cash.

Quick Tips

If anyone asks, cheques before the wedding should be made out to the bride OR groom (they should use the bride’s maiden name, even if she’s planning to change it). After the wedding, cheques should be made out to bride AND groom. This just makes cashing ’em easier, and it’s also the traditional way to go about it. At the reception, ask someone you trust to be in charge of collecting envelopes. The best man is a good choice. You might even want to make him and the maid of honour responsible for holding onto the money while you’re away on your honeymoon.

It’s the Thought That Counts

The one potentially awkward thing about a cash gift is that there’s no hiding how big or small that present is. But the thought behind each one remains the same — and your thanks shouldn’t vary in size, either.

by Tracy Guth


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  1. Great advice – especially the idea of still having a traditional registry! Talking to my friends it’s still a very touchy subject when it comes to cash vs traditional gift giving… We’ve already bought our house and we have pretty much everything we need in the way of homewares- but we’d love some contributions towards our honeymoon.

    To us it, remembering the amazing adventure we had overseas with the help of our friends and family would mean more to us than remembering who gave us that egg timer or those tea towels…

  2. This is a fun topic between my fiancee and I – I’ve a Chinese background, he an Aussie – and he is astonished that we prefer to give (and receive) cash as presents for birthdays, Christmas, anything. I think it’s very practical, and that Chinese people expect to give cash. As a compromise when send out our invitations, the Aussies will get a registry card in the envelope whilst the Chinese invitees won’t. That way, everyone gets to give what they expect to be expected to give :)

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