Show me the money: the tricky world of cash gifts

Why is it easier to ask for a set of crystal glasses than for a cheque to the same value?

If you’ve already got a house and all the crockery, cutlery, lamps and bath towels you need, it doesn’t leave much for your friends and family to give you when you tie the knot. And if you’re the kind of couple who don’t want a whole load of gifts just for the heck of it, what should you do?

Most wedding guests feel they really have to buy you something – and if that’s not what you want, it raises the awkward possibility of asking for money. Cold hard cash is probably exactly what you desire after the wedding expenses, but somehow it’s just not that easy to say so. Let us help…

A traditional wedding list makes sense when the newly­weds are setting up home for the first time. These days, though, many couples live together before they tie the knot – like Michaela MacPherson, who married husband John last year: “We thought about a wedding list but we didn’t need anything for our small flat,” she says. “So we included a poem with our invitations telling guests that their attendance was enough, but that if they wanted to give us a gift, we would appreciate money. Travel vouchers weren’t an option as we have a toddler and I was pregnant at the time.”

A poem is a lighthearted way to approach the issue, but even so, it can be tricky not to cause offence. “It can be hard to ask for cash without sounding cheeky, even with a poem,” says Fiona Harrison, who’ll wed her fiancé Paul this year. “We always give money at weddings – it’s what most couples want.”

So why are some guests reluctant to give money when they’re perfectly willing to spend the same sum buying, say, a lovely Le Creuset casserole dish? If it’s because they hope you’ll think fondly of them each time you make a pot of stew, they may be happier giving cash if they know it’s going towards something specific. Services such as Patchwork can help with this, so your guests know their contribution will fund a honeymoon or a house deposit, for example.

Some gift list providers let you mix gifts with cash donations. “Simply add cash gifts to your list so guests can buy these and help towards the purchase of a honeymoon or a piece of furniture,” says Ali Beaven at Prezola.

The Wedding Shop has a similar tool, says Nicola Gemmell: “You can personalise your online gift list page with images and descriptions of a particular project or activity that you want the money to go towards.”

Afterwards, it’s best to go back to tradition: thank-you notes spelling out what you’ve bought will help to reassure everyone that their contribution is appreciated.