Cash gifts are becoming more popular at weddings as couples move away from asking for traditional homeware items. When a couple already live together, it might make more sense to save up for a big purchase like a home deposit, future children, a new car or even a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon.
But it can be tough to know exactly how much money to give. Choosing a fancy candle they put on their wedding gift list is one thing, but handing someone cash - where they'll know exactly how much you gave - can feel like a minefield. Some people have rules, like to cover the cost of your meal or to give equal to what they gave you, but others factor in how much they've paid in hotels and travel and give much less. So what exactly should you give?
If you've been asked to bring a cash gift to the wedding or to contribute to a honeymoon fund online, we've broken down what's expected of you below. There's ideas for what to do if you feel uncomfortable about giving money and some hints for the best ways for couples to go about asking for cash gifts.
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Should You Feel Offended That the Couple Asked for Money?
It's been traditional for couples to create a wedding gift list or to leave it up to the guests to bring a gift of their choice, and this was typically an item for the couple's new home. This dates back to when a couple wouldn't live together before their wedding, which is less likely the case now. Many modern couples live together before they get engaged and already have all the towels and toasters they need, so the traditional gift lists don't suit them.
Asking for cash donations has become a popular trend, but it's understandable that it can split opinion among older relatives who may see it as cheeky or bad etiquette. However, it's become much more accepted and many couples feel confident asking for money for their wedding or putting down a monetary gift option on a traditional gift list. They will have spent a lot of savings on their wedding day and the money will be saved towards the next step of their future together. If you always viewed giving a homeware gift as setting the couple up for their new life, money gifts are the modern way to do the same.
Many couples themselves feel a little awkward asking for money and will instead ask for donations towards something like their honeymoon. This is often done through a honeymoon gift list where you can go online and transfer the amount of money you wish to pay and even allocate it towards a specific excursion or treat, like a couple's massage on the beach.
How Much Money Should You Give As a Wedding Gift?
The rules for how much you should spend on a wedding gift don't change just because you're giving money instead of a set of kitchen knives. It's always about what feels comfortable to you and will depend on your personal relationship with the couple.
You may feel pressured to give more than you can afford because the couple will see exactly what you spent, but this is not the point of a wedding gift. Only give what feels right. Here's a rough guide to what's considered a typical amount to give:
You're a Single Wedding Guest: £50
You're a Couple: £100
You're Immediate Family: £100+
You're in the Wedding Party: £100+
You're an Evening Guest Only: £25 - £50
You're a Colleague: £25 - £50
We'd highly recommend you buy a paper money wallet to put a cash gift into as it makes it look really special. You can get these for about £1 from a card shop, but they really make a difference to how your gift looks.
What Are the Expectations In Other Cultures?
Expectations of how much money to give vary vastly between different cultures and you're best to ask someone in the know, e.g. a friend in the wedding party or a relative of the engaged couple.
For example, at Japanese weddings, money is a very common gift. A friend of the couple may give £200 in Yen, while relatives may give three times this amount. The money is put in an envelope called Goshugi-bukuro and your name and the amount is written on the front.
In China, money is almost always given to the couple in red envelopes as a gift. Typically guests work out the amount to give based on how much the wedding meal would have cost, so the fancier the meal and venue, the more money is given.
At Nigerian weddings, it's tradition for there to be a 'money dance' where the couple are sprayed with money as they boogie on down. In addition, guests will fill envelopes with money or a cheque and give it to the couple. The amount you are expected to give really depends on your relationship to the couple, so we'd advise you to ask ahead of time and prepare your gift plus money to spray.
Indian weddings will typically have no wedding registry and a 'no boxed gifts' rule - cash or a cheque in an envelope is given instead. In Indian culture, they avoid gift amounts ending in 0 and typically would give £51, for example, as it starts the couple off on accumulating their next £50.
At Italian weddings, the bride often carries a special bag at the reception called la borsa and will collect envelopes of money from guests to cover wedding expenses. The amount again will depend on the couple and the wedding.
One important thing to note is that your gift shouldn't be affected by whether it's a destination wedding. Even if you are paying for flights and accommodation, a gift is typically expected, although most couples will expect something smaller due to your expenses getting to the wedding.
What Should You Do If You Don't Want to Give Money?
There is absolutely no obligation to give cash if you don't want to; gifts should be given in the spirit of generosity and not as a duty. That said, there's often a reason the couple have asked for money, so it does no harm in politely asking the couple why.
If you're uneasy about giving money as a gift, communicate this with the couple and see if there's an alternative way you can contribute to what they're putting the money towards.
- If they haven't already explained it on their wedding website, it could be they're saving up for a new addition to the family or for a new kitchen. Once you understand, you could offer to buy them gift vouchers for a large department store that will help their overall aim.
- If it's saving for a honeymoon, you could get them a prepaid travel money card or currency in notes for the country they're going to.
- If they want to build up a little pot to invest, you could offer to buy them a session with a financial advisor to make the most of their savings.
There are lots of alternatives to giving physical cash money and all of them will be greatly appreciated by the couple.
What Are the Best Ways Engaged Couples Can Ask for Money?
If you're approaching this from the other side and are an engaged couple wondering how to ask for money or what you can expect to be given, here's some ideas of what you can do.
1) Ask on your invitations for guests to bring cash gifts on the day and state if there will be a secure money box or gift table to leave them. We'd recommend explaining what you want to save the money towards if you have an idea in mind. You may feel awkward about asking outright so one of these money poems is a cute way to do it.
2) Create a wedding gift list that has both gift options and a money donation option. Guests then have the choice between buying a tangible gift for you and/or give you a financial gift.
3) If you want money towards your honeymoon, set up a honeymoon gift list where funds can go towards the costs of flights and hotels, or towards specific trips and activities. A guest might love to know they're paying for a bungee jump in New Zealand and see the photos afterwards.
4) If you have a specific purchase in mind, such as saving up for a house, you can set up a fun website where guests can donate to that specific thing. For example, a website called 'Buy Us A Brick' where guests can buy you figurative bricks to build your first home.
Still considering a gift list? How about adding some of these sustainable gift ideas for eco-conscious couples?