That’s the debate currently doing the rounds on wedding blogs, after one bride-to-be asked advice from a wedding etiquette expert about how to ask her guests for cash. The answer was brutal – it’s rude but if you’re going to do it anyway, here’s how. ‘The most elegant phrasing I’ve ever seen was “Flat gifts preferred” or “No boxed gifts please” or “Please support our First Home Fund”,’ she advised.
Her comments have kicked off a storm. One Jezebel writer has retorted that, come on, why shouldn’t newlyweds ask for what they actually need – cash, not (another) toaster or an ice-cream maker. She makes some good points. Given that these days 70% of couples now live together before they get married (compared to 10% in 1960), she argues most brides and grooms will have already kitted out their kitchen/bought some towels so shouldn’t need to go down the obligatory John Lewis gift-list route.
I agree that you shouldn’t have to go down the kitchen appliances route. And that when you think about the pure maths of weddings – that a couple spend an average £20k on a day that everyone else spends £200+ getting to and buying gifts for – it totally doesn’t make any financial sense. But there’s something about asking for cash that still makes me cringe a little.
Mind you, from my endless wedding planning discussions, the entire etiquette around wedding lists seems fraught with dangers.
It’s impossible to be original
If you’re trying to think outside the John Lewis box, beware. I thought getting an art fund would be a nice idea – asking all the people you love in the world to club together to buy you a piece of art you’d never normally be able to afford/buy yourself but will keep forever. But no. That was vetoed pretty sharpish.
You can’t actually add what you want
If you do go down the John Lewis and co route, what you add says something about you. A £30 cocktail making-kit is ok, apparently. But asking for a Sonos sound system? Too superficial, I’ve been told. There’s got to be stuff that’s affordable enough for your Great Aunt to not tsk at but you may as well add some expensive stuff you’d never choose to spend money on yourself, right? Then again – it feels weird asking someone to buy you 400 thread-count sheets. That you’re going to, you know, sleep on.
Thanking people is pretty tricky
As if it’s not weird enough to be able to see your guests buying gifts in real time you’ve got to pretend not to have done. It feels too “I know what you got me and how much you spent” weird to thank them before the big day. Conversely, if you do that whole buy-me-an-experience-on-my-honeymoon option, it’s a bit like public shaming to facebook each experience, tagging the person who bought it for you. Because you know the friend who bought you a round of cocktails is going to feel out-gifted by the helicopter ride someone else splashed out for.
See, exhausting. So maybe a cash donation is easiest all round, after all?