Back in the day, when tradition was everything, wedding gifts were meant to help newlywed couples get on their feet. To understand the origin of the wedding gift registry, and to understand why this tradition is not so relevant in today’s day and age, we must go back in time (like, almost 100 years back).
Quick History of the Wedding Registry
Marshall Field’s, now called Macy’s, is credited with popularizing the wedding gift registry to the masses in 1924. Other large stores quickly jumped on the registry train, selling common household items such as china, silver, and linens in order to capitalize on the American wedding tradition of gift-giving. In the years to come, Americans would have to weather the unfortunate storm of both the Great Depression and World War II. These events meant less celebration and less spending, but World War II did encourage a generation of marriages, as couples hurried to
get married before deployment, in order to give both sides the motivation to push through these challenging years.
As World War II came to a close, marriages continued to flourish and even saw a large spike. The younger generation looked forward to a future filled with peace and love…and that future included a spouse, a family, a home and of course, stuff to fill that home. The end of the war also brought about a century-low average age for marriage that lasted some 26 years to come. From 1949 to 1975, the average age for marriage of men was 22.9 years and the average age for marriage of women was 20.5 years. This is a crucial statistic in understanding the tradition of the wedding registry because these young couples were fresh out of their parents’ home and into a home of their own. Starting a life together, without ever having lived on their own, meant that newlyweds were in actual need of household supplies such as pots/pans, dishes, kitchen appliances, linens, etc. The best solution to that? You guessed it - a wedding registry. Why Traditional Registries Don’t Hold Up Today Needless to say…it’s not the 1950s anymore. Most newlywed couples have already been living out of their parents’ home for several years or more before they get married and move in together. Some have already been living together as a couple. This means they’ve already collected dishes, silverware, pots/pans, linens, towels and…you get the point. They have stuff, they have lots of stuff. Now, some couples will want to upgrade some of their stuff and some will still want to ask for items that they “need” but don’t want to buy themselves, such as nice luggage, expensive appliances and so on. For the most part, couples are moving away from registries that list every possible household item and moving towards much smaller registries (for the guests who may be stuck in the old-school traditions AKA grandma might seriously throw some shade if she can’t get you a registered item and wrap a physical gift to bring to your wedding) containing only the items that you would actually want or need in your life. How To Politely Ask For Cash Although it is recommended that you still provide a small registry for those traditionally stubborn guests, you can also ask for cash (because let’s be real, we know that’s what you actually want). But – how do you accomplish this, without coming off as rude? A common question and definitely a sticky situation to navigate but don’t worry, we have your back!
Here are some tips and tricks to help you ask for those dolla dolla bills as politely as possible –
* Ask your close friends and family members to spread the word. If there are any guests who you are comfortable being blunt with, it’s your closest friends and immediate family members. Extended guests will often reach out to family members and members of the bridal party to ask about registry information. So, you can let these trusted allies do some of the work for you by preparing them with a response that is consistent with what you are hoping for.
This could look something like –
“They’ve registered at [insert registry info here], but I also know that they’re saving up for [insert about what you’re saving for] so cash would be very helpful for their goals.” This won’t work for all of your guests, but it is a super-easy way to start getting the word out there, without having to go through the awkward conversations yourself.
* Put this information on your wedding website. It is more and more common for couples to have a landing page, where guests can access all of the information they will need to know about the wedding. That includes location, time, attire and of course, registry information. You can write a lighthearted description here about how you would appreciate wedding gifts in the form of cash and also include a description of what you would be using that cash for (a new car, a down payment on a house, paying off student loan debt, a baby, a honeymoon, etc). People like to know what their money would be going towards.
* Use a cash registry website. For those of your guests who are tech-savvy, a cash registry website is a great option. There are many options out there, such as Zola and Honeyfund. The downside to this option is the processing fees (usually 2% or 3%) but the upside is that guests get to have a little more of a traditional registry experience. Honeyfund is more geared towards a honeymoon fund and guests can even pick out the specifics of what they want to contribute to, such as airfare or excursions/experiences. The trick is – you can cash in these “gift cards” and take the money (minus the processing fee).
* Use the same registry for your bridal shower and your wedding. Many guests will buy you a bridal shower gift off of the registry, which opens up the likelihood that they will follow up by giving you cash for your wedding.
* Make sure to set out a card box at your wedding. Some guests won’t want to use a cash registry, but they may bring a cash-filled card in a sealed envelope to your wedding and they will need somewhere to drop it on arrival. Planner tip – ask your wedding planner, maid of honor or even your parents to watch this card box and collect cards for safekeeping as it starts to fill up. Better safe than sorry! Poetic Ideas For whatever reason, a poem seems to really keep the money hunting lighthearted and may end up softening the request for many of your guests. Some examples of whimsically worded requests would be –
As we’ve lived together for a year or two, We really aren’t in need of anything new. But if you were thinking of buying us a wedding present, Some money could help us and would be well spent.
We are approaching the day to say “I Do!” If you’d like to get us a gift but have no clue, Some cash would go a very long way Because we hope to buy our dream home, one day.
Our home is full of love and stuff, And looking for a wedding gift can be tough. Save yourself the time it would take to look. We would love some cash, so a honeymoon, we can book!
Well, that’s what we’ve got for you. We hope it’s helpful in navigating this sensitive topic. Don’t let outdated traditions dissuade you from going after that cash money!