A long time ago engaged couples lived with their parents until they were married. After they were married, they needed things to set up house, like toasters and vacuum cleaners and dishes. Today’s engaged couples more than likely have lived on their own or with their fiance for a long enough period of time that they don’t have the same needs. In addition, since so many couples have lived together or even solo for some time, they are also paying for their own wedding which means the gift registry situation becomes even more complicated.
Let’s face it – whether is is to defray the wedding expenses, pay for the honeymoon or a down payment on their first home; most newlyweds could really use some cash. Unfortunately asking guests for cash is kind of tacky so, what do you do when you are faced with this dilemma? If you would really rather receive money there are a couple of solutions to getting what you really need instead of something you might have to exchange.
Home Loan – Believe it or not – FHA has a ‘gift’ registry that you can use to apply to downpayments on your first home. Friends and family can ‘gift’ as much or as little as they like or are able and you are notified every time someone makes a donation. It serves a dual purpose since it will allow otherwise cash-strapped individuals to purchase a home during the housing slump, thereby saving homes from foreclosure and (slowly) improving the housing market. This is an interest bearing account so don’t be surprised if you see your balance climbing higher every time you check. Genius!
Cash Registry– There are dozens of registry sites dedicated to helping you get the money you need as well as making sure your money is safe and available when you need it. PayPal has even jumped on the bandwagon and offers a secure method of accepting cash gifts. Again, you are notified of each and every gift as it arrives which makes it easier to track ….and send thank you notes. Check for one that is reputable, check their references and FDIC requirements, make sure there are no loopholes or fees and read before you sign anything. The account may be interest bearing but might come with a debit card you can use for purchases that charge a transaction fee.
Honeymoon– Many travel agencies offer honeymooon registries where the guests’ donations are used to whittle down the honeymoon cost. This could turn a ho-hum honeymoon into a dream vacation….never underestimate the generosity of your loved ones.
If all else fails – ask for money. When someone asks you what you need, tell them you have everything you need but are saving for _______ (whatever). Don’t be surprised if some people don’t want to give money. In some cultures, it is taboo to give or receive cash as a wedding gift, in others it is preferred. Also there is no minimum or ‘per plate’ standard. The gift you give or receive should be based on the closeness of your relationship and what your guest can afford.If you are expecting cash gifts, remember to have a place to keep the envelopes safe. Clever retailers everywhere sell decorative boxes and beautiful alternatives to a plain box sitting on the gift table. Consider a Victorian Birdcage!
Sweet Charity– Last but not least, if you have every household item you could ever need or want and money is not a problem for either of you, congratulations. In this case, you may want donations to be made to charity on your behalf. As we all know, there are millions of needy people throughout the world and if giving to others is in your heart, there are many charities which allow you to do this. Make sure they are listed with the IRS as a charitable organization and have Form 990 documentation readily available. Select a charity or two that is close to your heart or that you strongly believe in and request conrtibutions to be made to them in lieu of gifts.
As always, it is never appropriate to ask for gifts anywhere in the wedding invitation. Use personal correspondences, website and word of mouth to let people know where you are registered. Although many companies provide inserts for invitations, these are used only for shower invitations and never for the actual wedding invitation or save-the-date cards.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago