Wedding Etiquette: Cash Only Please?

Last week, Susan and her husband received a wedding invitation from one of his work colleagues. Included in the envelope was a small slip of paper that read:  “We are not registered at any stores, we are only asking for cash if you’d like to get us something”. Seriously? When she told me about it, I instantly exclaimed, “that’s outrageous”!  At a loss herself, Susan now feels confused about what to do and how much to give the couple…

What is the etiquette of wedding gift giving (and asking)? And why is it so confusing? After all, it is perfectly acceptable to register at a store for exactly what you want, so if cash is what you want, perhaps it’s more frugal and less wasteful for everyone involved just to ask for it?

So here’s my question(s). …  whether it’s wittily described as “House Fund Donation” or a thinly veiled request such “No Boxed Gifts”, is it okay to ask for MONEY at your wedding?  In modern society, does it make you cheap or frugal to ask for what you want?

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38 Responses to “Wedding Etiquette: Cash Only Please?”

  1. Dalia says:

    I’m not at all bothered by people asking for what they want. The first few years of marriage are full of surprise expenses. If a couple is strapped for cash, I think it is a great idea to ask for what they really need. If you are inviting friends and family to your wedding – surely they want to give you what you actually need. The only drawback is that some of your guests might not be in a position to give as much as they would like – and a small cash gift tends to make people more self conscious than an inexpensive gift.

  2. Renee says:

    It seems a little greedy to me. If it’s an item that you don’t want than you can always return it to the store, and if not than (if frugal is the real reason for cash gifts) it can be freecycled.I find it extremely tacky and I’d be very turned off if I received this kind of invitation.

  3. I’m all about being frugal. However, I think specifically requesting cash as a gift is tacky.

    When my husband and I married, we had a long drive ahead of us to get to our new home in Washington. His car was small, so we didn’t have the room for a lot of big, bulky gifts. The wedding guests knew our situation, therefore we didn’t receive many large items, and many gave cash or gift cards, but it was entirely their decision to make. I would never in a million years have told them, “just give cash.”

    People can make up their own minds about what sort of gifts they will give. And no, telling guests to give cash is not the same thing as using a gift registry. A gift registry is a tasteful list of suggested items that allows guests to see what the couple needs, and what they’ve already received. Guests are completely free to purchase gifts elsewhere, and no one blinks an eye if it’s not “on the registry”.

    Spelling out “just give cash gifts” on the invitation makes guests feel obligated to give money, and puts a burden on them. It’s also completely lacking in class or taste.

    If I received an invitation like that, I would seriously question whether I would even attend the wedding, to be honest.

  4. Flitryss says:

    I think that putting it in the invitation was the wrong way to go about it. In this day and age, so many people have already started a household together before the wedding that toasters and crock pots aren’t needed, but I think that registering is a good idea regardless of whether or not you’d prefer cash. Asking for cash, especially with a slip of paper added to the invitation, seems impersonal.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Somehow, the real meaning of gift giving has been lost as of late. This is a GIFT, not a salary, not an income, and not something required. I feel the guest will choose a gift that they feel the couple will love. To dictate what that should be is tasteless, lacking of ANY class, and downright rude…to say nothing of taking away the “joy” of giving. People give what they can afford and what they feel would be a great gift. To tell your guests that you want cash may be practical to some, but to me is very selfish and quite ignorant. Seriously, I would have a hard time attending this function!!! AND, would certainly reevaluate if these are people I really want to associate with.

  6. As a wedding planner, I have seen many couples have a little notation at the end of their wedding invitations that says, “Monetary Gifts Only”. Personally, I don’t think a couple should ever ask for cash gifts. However, there are very subtle ways that you can push your guests into giving you a monetary gift.

    Here are a few:
    1. Do not add your registry information to the wedding invitation.
    2. If you do have a wedding registry for your wedding you can hide it from the public a week or so before your wedding date.
    3. Tell your parents of your plan for monetary gifts so that if someone asks them for gift suggestions they can point them in the right direction.
    4. Always be open to gift cards, I know it is not actually money but it can still help you to accomplish you goal. (ie. you make not receive cash to go towards saving for a house but you may get a gift card to go towards decorating that house.)

    Lastly, always remember that in gift giving most people would love to give you the world but their budget limits them in this economy. It is better to leave the money topic alone and let people give what their heart desires. Instead of alienating people that you really love.

    • Alex says:

      I understand not to ask for cash, but…what if you been married through court first and then you want to get married by church..we have already been married for 2yrs so we got everything we need..does this make it alright? Or is it still wrong?

  7. carol says:

    I think it is very tacky to request cash only gifts, however, I have never been to a wedding were boxed gifts were given. I have given boxed gifts for bridal showers and engagements but always cash as a wedding gift.

  8. I agree with Budget Bride Handbook’s comment. While I definitely think it’s tacky to ask for cash in the wedding invitation, I think it’s permissable to make your wishes known to close family members, if you have good reason for doing so. Then, the family members can let others know, when people ask, “So what does the couple really need?”

    Notice I said, “good reason”. Asking for cash, just because you prefer cash, is not a good reason.

  9. Nola says:

    I received a Save the Date recently with the couple’s website address. To my surprise, the couple registered for items in 4 stores with expensive price points for almost all items AND they had the nerve to put on their website, “Cash donations are welcome too. (Weddings are expensive!)”. I am personally appalled by this. What do you guys think about this? I mean, really?! 4 stores where most items are expensive brands with expensive prices AND the option of Cash donations because ‘weddings are expensive’? Am I the only one that thinks the couple is WAY over their heads?

  10. Courtney says:

    I think it’s fine to request cash but I think this couple went about it the wrong way. I have seen people use websites that will let you create cash funds on a registry to request cash, is a good one. I think this is better than writing it on the invitation since it’s set up like a normal wedding registry, and people can also select a handful of non-cash gifts to register for on the same website in case anyone feels uncomfortable giving cash.

  11. Erin says:

    I think weddings are so expensive these days and are getting out of control. I’m not married but have many friends who have been a bridesmaid/maid of honour and their already spending heaps of money including the gift! I understand that for many couples these days, they live together already and probably have most of what they need to make a home, so does it make sense to go and scan a bunch of stuff at a store you don’t really need just so people can buy you a gift? I think the whole asking for money is a bit rude and may make friends and family think they have to spend more than they can afford. But is it okay to tell people not to worry about bringing a gift? It seems that with all the showers and then the wedding that’s allot of gifts. People are really starting to lose sight of what a wedding is supposed to be about, everyone getting together to celebrate a life-long union between two people, to eat, drink and dance. I just wonder why there are so many rules and etiquette reserved for something that in the end is only one day out of your life. I think when I get married if I have all the things I need I will register for what I need and if I don’t need anything to ask people to use the money they would have spent on a punch bowl and put it towards a charity of their choice.

  12. C Albert says:

    My wedding shower is coming up very soon and I plan to ask only for giftcards/cash. I have lived with my husband-to-be, we have a house and everything that comes along with it. Get with the times people please!! This isnt the 60′s anymore, and i dont need another toaster, or micromave!! Give me what I want: MONEY!!! It is my day and my shower, and if you dont tell people what you want, then you wont get it!!!

    • Deanna says:

      Really!!! I totally agree!
      What more appropriate than to give a newly wed couple exactly what they need. People need to wake up and check into the real world and tune out of the We-channel fairy tale “Platinum wedding” world they are living in!!! What makes it tacky ???….the honesty of it all…the truth of the matter that $1000 cash can go farther to build off of then $1000 of china/stemware. Perhaps it is offensive to those who planned to charge a gift and pay it back 5 years from now- who don’t really have cash to spend or give- and even for them they can still run their credit cards up and by Amex or MC giftcards….

      Good grief! Some people are sooo shallow

  13. LynRob says:

    Cash only?! My daughter is getting married to someone from France. The day after her marriage, she is relocating to France. She cannot carry appliances on the airline, and most gifts given are electronic these days. American appliances and/or electronics are not always compatible. Shipping anything overseas is very costly. So…if guests bring non-cash gifts, the gifts cannot be used or taken….so, cash only? It would really be more appreciated because of its liquidity and safe carriage overseas. So, is it “greedy,” tacky, or inappropriate to state — if you wish to bring a gift, monetary gifts are preferred?!

  14. poppy says:

    Traditionally in my culture giving cash is a way for the future couple to start setting up house. It is all that is expected. If anything gifts are considered impractical and vain. It depends on what is generally done between families and cultures. Lately, I have read that mainstream cultures find the idea of “cash only” vulgar when the majority of people prefer it. I’m curious to know who *really* started this idea of “vulgar”—the culture or the corporations?

  15. Genine Santiago says:

    So? What is the appropriate word will i put on the invitation if i really need a monetary gift?

  16. Genine Santiago says:

    My wedding will be on Oct. and I live in my husband to be for almost 2 years. For almost 2 years we bought some appliances and some important stuffs. We decided to put ” Enveloped gifts are highly appreciated” in our invitations.
    Is this words offended to our guests?

    I needs your comments pls…

    • Steph says:

      Hi there! Thanks for writing in — although we do NOT advise asking for cash wedding gifts, the way you phrased it (ie ‘highly appreciated”) is much gentler than other phrasings we’ve heard such as “no boxed gifts!” or the blunter “cash only!” so… we commend you for using polite wording – the way it is phrased has a lot to do with if guests will be offended or not, so I think you phrased it in as nice a way as possible!

  17. Susan Berman says:

    After reading this post it makes me think that sometimes we don’t really appreciate how blessed we really are. On a side note I really would really respect your feedback on the best place for my sisterto go for a honeymoon. Thoughts?

    • Steph says:

      I see you are writing from the UK – so if your sister is also in Europe she may find Brandi’s upcoming update on her trip to Norway quite interesting – stay tuned and we’ll let you know if this Scandinavian country might just make for a romantic – and fab and fru – honeymoon spot!

  18. Elizabeth Nichols says:

    I’m not comfortable with asking for “cash only”. I think that you need to be accomodating to all your guests. Having a wedding registry is important unless you want to get gifts you don’t need. You also need to select items that are affordable.

  19. Of course however this would happen, any idea what would happen to the past kinds?

  20. Janet says:

    I found this site looking for a tactful way to list “cash only” on my invitations and I had to comment on how appalled I am with the number of people commenting that asking for cash is inappropriate. These people must be 50+ years old, and married in the time when you moved in with your spouse only after the wedding. The reality of the 2000s is that many couples live together before they are married, and already have appliances, sheet sets, flatware, etc. I think in this situation, the truly tacky or rude thing to do would be to accept gifts that you don’t even need, that you would just return anyway! There is nothing wrong with requesting that any gifts be in cash, and if anything I think your guests would appreciate that you saved them a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond!

    • Vanna says:

      I am getting married this December. On our invitation we wrote “Preferred Monetary Funds”. I did got some bad feedback about it. Our reason to having it that way is we really don’t want any gifts and to makes thing easy for everybody. My fiance and I already established pretty much everything we needed for the house. I think we are just being practical and we’re not doing it for soliciting. Our friends understand were we coming from. Trends is changing so etiquette is.

    • Penny says:

      If you have everything you need for your new home, then you don’t need Wedding Gifts. Wedding gifts ARE to help the couple set up their new life. Not pay bills. That’s why you have jobs.

      I am well under 50, but on the occasion that we receive an invitation that demands cash gifts, we decline to attend the wedding and send them nothing.

  21. Penny says:

    Asking for cash is not only tacky, it’s mercenary. Your wedding is NOT a Fund Raising Event. Your guests are invited because you enjoy their company, not so they can “pay for their own plate” and in all actuality, there is no obligation to get someone a wedding gift. (When my husband and I got married at least one couple did not give a gift and one couple gave us a check for $5.00. It was THEIR choice what to give us, so we sent thank you notes anyway, thanking them for their presence at our wedding.)

    I HATE the idea of a “Money Tree” or the groom’s Money Dance (where the groom dances with ribbons pinned to him and people pin money to the ribbons. In fact, I stopped my MIL from doing this at our wedding.)

    A wedding is a day for celebration, not a way to get cash or to pay your bills. When we got married, we had just bought a house, I had recently quit my job, because of the move and we had found out I was expecting a few weeks before. We STILL didn’t ask anyone for cash. We had a sensible, modest registry, but many people gave what they wanted and that was fine. We wanted them at our wedding for their COMPANY, not their money.

    • casey says:

      My soon to be husband and I are paying all cash for our wedding with open bar, food, photo booth, and much much more im pretty sure that no one will bring what it has cost per individual in cash . We will be asking for cash and why not ?? I don’t think asking for cash means that you have to empty out your checking account …. to us couples will give what they can give, even if its 5 dollars or 100 dollars then so be it . If you register you are looking at gifts that are probably no less then 40$ and to me that’s selfish ! this way if you give cash , if you can only afford 15 or 20$$ then you are able to give just that instead of feeling forced to buy some expensive gift on a registry . No matter what you give, I think it should be up to the couple , and know that weddings are special so with that being said only people you love and care about most should get an invite and if someone close to me had the nerve to refuse my invite because of asking for cash then they shouldn’t be there anyways .

  22. Ashlee says:

    I completely agree with Penny…
    You are supposed to be inviting people you your wedding because you love them and you want them to be there with you on the most important day of your life. You shouldn’t invite people expecting a gift or planning on a gift. I got an invitation this last summer that said “the bride and groom have requested only cash and visa gift cards. You may also deposit money into our account at X location at X number, or you can call this number to transfer funds, or transfer online at this website”. I understand they they thought they were making it more convenient for people by giving them more options, but I was so embarassed for them and apalled by their invitation I didn’t even go. If they were only inviting me to get my money and not because they wanted me there, then they wouldn’t miss it if I wasn’t there.

    Also, while we are on the subject, I won’t ever attend a wedding where my invitation was sent via Facebook group or invitation. Stop being so tacky people! Just because we live in the age of technology, it does NOT mean that we have lost our manners and our need for sincere personal communication!

  23. Sarah says:

    Come on people! Be realistic here! I have been living with my fiance for three years, and to be honest, there is NOTHING that we need. Why would I request someone go spend time shoping for a gift, pack it up, fly it ten states over to our wedding, and then I eventually take it back because I would rather save the money to be used towards our future and not keep an item I would never use. It is my wedding, and I want to make it easy for both parties. It is ridiculous that you are “appalled” by someone asking for cash. It is their wedding, their lives, and you are there to celebrate THEIR LOVE. If you don’t have the cash, I am sure they are not expecting a gift from you. It is of course optional. They are inviting you because they love you! So relax, and respect what they have decided.

  24. Jay says:

    I see both sides but sometimes gifts truly aren’t needed-wouldn’t you be looking out for your guest by not having them waste their time/money on things that will be returned!?! My sister is moving to London the day after her wedding,traveling with so many gifts is not at all realistic! I feel like In some cases,like hers it’s completely understandable! Not tacky at all!!! It’s sad that some people think its greedy!

  25. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Sneaky way of begging for money.
    Just an incredibly rude way to ask for ONLY cash, cheque or gift cards.
    I do NOT understand why people feel it’s necessary to put this stuff on invitations.
    I will read and treat this as “No gifts… period.”

  26. Maricel says:

    OMG! to the max!!! Reading all these comments makes me feel really bad. My fiancée and I are getting married this October and we can’t decide on how to write a decent “CASH ONLY” on our invitation. We’re also thinking of registering at Bed Bath and Beyond. The problem with that is we’ve been together for 13 years and been living together for 10 years. We have all the practical things we need. We’re getting married because we decided we could never afford to buy a house, we live in San Francisco, CA where the housing rates are ridiculously expensive. We bought a decent car and we go out of town on weekends together every now and then. We’re doing this wedding for us to celebrate our lives together with our family and friends. Our families and friends totally understand where we’re coming from. The loan to fund our wedding is coming from my soon to be father-in-law, he specifically asked us to pay every penny we are borrowing for our wedding. He made a contract and specific date that we should be paying the loan every month and made us sign it before giving the tiny amount to my fiancée. He mentioned that the rest will be given sometime in August. To my demise I called off the wedding. My fiancée soon made me realize that he would rather swallow his pride than not give me a decent wedding we’ve always talked about. My parents had given the rest of the loan we need so we can pull off the wedding. My dad said it’s their gifts for “US” and not a loan. We wanted “CASH ONLY” gifts because my soon to be father in law wanted his money back ASAP. So please do give me advice on how to write a not so “TACKY” cash only on our invitation. Please be nice. Thank you all.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Maricel, It’s Steph from Fab & Fru here. Thanks for writing in. My honest opinion is that there is NO non-tacky way to write “cash only” on your wedding invitation. It just shouldn’t be done. But to me, the wording on the invitation is very secondary to the bigger issues surrounding your wedding and your finances. You stated that you cannot afford to buy a home – and that you also cannot afford a wedding without help from your respective parents. To me, that all boils down to this: you should not be having a wedding you cannot afford, which means you should not be having the kind of wedding you are planning. You can always go to city hall to get married, but it does not make sense to be indebted to your father-in-law just to pay for a party. I know it is disappointing to think about, but – try thinking of it this way: since your father was willing to gift you money for your wedding, would he be willing to gift you the same amount to put towards a down payment on a home? That would be a far better use of the money, if you are lucky enough to have a parent who is willing to give you money, no strings attached. You should not expect guests to give you cash to cover the costs of your wedding and from the feedback we have received, the bride and groom rarely receive enough cash to cover their wedding costs anyway. I don’t blame your father in law for wanting a strict contract – it is smart of him to do that, as loans to family members often turn into very sticky situations. But we think you can and should avoid the awkwardness altogether and skip the party – and instead focus on your future and on someday buying a home! Good luck and we hope it all works out, thank you so much for writing in.

  27. brandi says:

    Brandi here. I totally agree with Steph. But if having the romance of a big celebration is more important to you, that’s only a decision you can make. First and foremost, consider your financial future. And do not ask your guests to pay for your party. That’s beyond tacky. If you do go through with the big wedding and want to suggest guests to give cash gifts, consider using one of these websites listed in this article: From and etiquette standpoint, we at Fab & Fru will never fully condone asking for cash gifts for your wedding, but modern technology has allowed newlyweds to get a little more creative.. Best of luck!

  28. Karen says:

    Hi everyone, we are getting married this May 2015 (woohoooo) and not sure if we have forgotten to include the “gift thing” or we just really didn’t consider including it on the invitation or we’re just not really after the gifts. When I read this forum, it was only that I realized, oh yeah, we didn’t even bother talking about this gift thing (haha) perhaps we were way too excited on the preparation itself and looking forward for a memorable wedding rather than thinking what we are going to receive from guests.. Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong if the couple wanted to specify what they “need” rather than what they “want” to start okf their new journey as married couples – but, I also suggest that it should be phrased properly (sweet and proper wordings can do magic!) and removed “ONLY”. Just imagine your reception without guests because you indicated “Cash ONLY” and they don’t have it.. We are paying for all the wedding expenses from our savings and yes it’s sooo true that couples shouldn’t have a grand wedding if they can’t afford it and if only for show and end up in debts…. For us, it doesn’t matter if they give us a hen – later it will lay eggs that we can eat..after all, its their physical presence that matters! LOVEloveLOVE!

  29. Brenda says:

    In my opinion, it’s perfectly okay to ask for cash only when circumstances compel. For us, both of us work and live abroad but we are getting married back home because we want most of our friends and family to be able to attend. But we really don’t want to go through the headache of being saddled with tons of material gifts and dealing with the logistics of transporting all that stuff. So, right from the moment we decided to get married, we’ve been toying with the idea of asking for cash only. Our one dilemma was how to go about doing without being crass! And, yes, if you’d asked me this just a few weeks ago, I would have totally agreed with Steph that there is no non-tacky of saying “cash only” in your wedding invitation. But we found the perfect solution to our problem with which allows couples to ask for money is a tasteful manner. We jumped right in and created our registry on Envelope Registry. They have a unique list of items and experiences that you can add to your registry. Once all gifts are in, Envelope converts it to cash and transfers the money directly to your bank account. We’re ecstatic at having found a way to get what we want without the embarrassment of it.

  30. Jenna says:

    It’s perfectly okay to ask for cash only. The trick is to make sure you do that without being tacky. Sites like help you maintain an air of class while asking for money.

Any Thoughts?