Honeymoon and Cash Fund Registry Etiquette

A small toy bride and groom standing on a pile of money to signify a honeymoon or cash fund registry.

If you’re like many engaged couples these days, you already have an apartment or house full of what you need to live daily life. You might have even already combined households with your spouse-to-be before marriage, so it may feel a little silly to ask everyone for new towels or a fancy set of silverware when you already have those items. However, when you run into the world of wedding gifts, you also run into a world of delicate etiquette choices.

These days, it’s popular to wish for cash in lieu of traditional wedding gifts—whether for your honeymoon or other large purchases. It’s hard to blame the impulse, but there are definitely ways to make this modern move more palatable to wedding guests who have different expectations about gift-giving. Follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll be able to get the honeymoon or cash fund to fulfill your dreams without offending along the way.

Establish that the Cash Gift Still Has a Purpose

A couple riding an elephant on their honeymoon.

As silly as it sounds, making it clear that a gift of cash contributes to a specific purchase or experience may soften the blow to older or more traditional guests. For instance, if you and your spouse can list activities for your honeymoon (wine tasting, parasailing lessons, enjoying a bottle of champagne) on your registry as something they can contribute to, guests may still feel like they’re giving you a “thing”—rather than just being judged based on the amount of money they give. The same is true for physical purchases: if you really just need to buy a washing machine for your new shared apartment, people can give bits and pieces of that gift as cash—without dragging a washing machine to the ceremony.

Another way to receive something like cash as a wedding gift is to include a gift card option on any retailer registry. If, for instance, you register with Target, a tactful addition of the option to just give a gift card may actually be well appreciated for your guests. Someone who doesn’t want to pay for shipping or who doesn’t want to lug the gift with them to the wedding can just drop some credit into your account on the website—but the registry itself doesn’t make it seem like this is your end goal. It’s merely an option (and you may well find that many guests take you up on it).

Create a Short and Supplemental Registry of Home Items

One of the easiest ways to avoid the sticky issue of having a honeymoon or cash fund in lieu of a regular wedding registry is to have whomever is sharing your registry information (usually the maid of honor or sometimes even the mother of the bride) make it clear to wedding guests that you’re mostly hoping for honeymoon “gifts”—while also sharing a separate short registry of more traditional options for anyone who is likely to find the cash fund gauche or otherwise out of their customs.

A good way to think about any raised eyebrows is that there is a different feeling between paying for someone’s awesome vacation (usually viewed as a luxury) and furnishing their home (arguably essential and practical). If you have any wedding guests who are likely to judge your preferences, offer them a fairly short list of household items that you do need. After all, few of us have every valuable kitchen item, bed linen, or accoutrement that could make life and home easier. And besides that, a wedding the perfect time to upgrade those towels you’ve had since you first moved out of your parents’ home.

Consider the Logistics of Money-Giving at Your Reception

A gifts and cards sign on a table at a wedding reception.

If you’ve spread around the news that you’re hoping for “no gifts” or just cash, make sure there is a plan for handling the cards and money at your wedding recpetion. While stealing a large pile of slow cookers is difficult to pull off at a wedding, there will be a lot of people milling about who can definitely walk off with cards full of cash or gift cards. Even assuming your wedding guests are trusted friends and family, there will no doubt be strangers in some form at your wedding, including plus-ones, wait staff, vendors, etc.

Pick a bridesmaid or trusted relative to subtly remove any obvious cash gifts from the designated gift area and stow them in a safe, out-of-the-way place. Keep in mind that avoiding any potential theft at your wedding reception is easiest with an online honeymoon fund or another kind of cash registry.

When it comes to planning your wedding, keep in mind that you want to offer your family and friends the freedom to either give no gift at all, give a physical gift, or give the gift of cash. A lot of them will choose cash, anyway! Try to make your registry and any gift guidance from your end couched in appreciation and respect, rather than feeling like you need to guide people too much once you’ve made your wishes known. Your family and friends will make their choices, and you are likely to get a wonderful honeymoon fund or washing machine fund when it’s all said and done!

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