Non-Traditional Registry Etiquette (Or How to Ask for Cash, Politely)

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Selena Kirchhoff)

To the shock of your pearl-clutching grandmother, more than 70 percent of couples live together before marriage these days. That’s seven or eight million couples who, after playing house together for months or years before they tie the knot, have already figured out how to live together and probably have all they need in the way of housewares.

No surprise then that many couples these days are opting for non-traditional registries–cash funds that allow them to pool together their guests’ generous gifts towards a big-ticket item they’re lusting after, or towards experiences they can share together. There’s Honeyfund, which lets brides and grooms “register” for honeymoon extras like a cabana rental or a romantic dinner together, One Kings Lane’s new registry fund, which pools together your guests’ gifts towards credit to buy new home furnishings, or Tendr, which is pretty straightforward in its claim that it’s “the elegant way to receive cash gifts.”

All of these tech-forward options make logistics easier, but there’s still quite a minefield to get through when it comes to the etiquette of asking for cash for a wedding gift. Here’s how to do it:

Spread the Word

Same rules apply as regular household-item registries: Don’t put your registry information on your wedding invitation. Shower invites and wedding websites are fair game (and you can list your wedding website in your invitation, so, guests can find your registry fund easily enough).

Explain the Concept

Some of your guests (especially older family members) might not get the honeymoon fund concept, so find a polite way to explain the concept to them, and include it on your wedding website:

We’re so lucky to be able to spend our wedding day with all of our friends and family; your presence is truly all the present we need. Because we [have all the basic household supplies covered/have a ridiculously tiny apartment] if you’d like to get us a gift to celebrate, we’ve created a registry fund that we’ll use to [enjoy our honeymoon/save for a down payment/furnish our home together].”

Be Specific and Honest

In my opinion, the best way to handle it is not to just straight up ask for cash (even if that is the end goal). Explain what you’re going to use the money for, whether it’s an excursion on your honeymoon or new furniture for your home together. Then–here’s the thing–actually spend the money on only those things. If your guests gave you money on the assumption you’d be spending it to go horseback riding on your honeymoon, you should actually do it. If your goal is to save your guests’ cash gifts for future use, explain what you’re saving up for, such as a house down payment or a big vacation.

Send a Thank You

You don’t have to call out the dollar amount, but it’s nice–nay, necessary–to send a prompt thank you note for any cash gifts you receive. If you’re unsure of what to write, just say something like “Thank you for your generous gift. We’ve got our eyes on a sofa that will fit just right into our new home. We can’t wait to have you over once we’re all settled in!” If you spent their gift on something already, mention what a great experience it was, or how much you like and use the thing.

Did you have a cash registry for your wedding? How did you handle it?

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