Like most couples, James and I moved in together before we got married. We had everything we needed to make a house a home and we didn’t need anything to help us prepare for married life. So when a friend asked us about our wedding gift, we realised we had no idea what to ask for and with a few months to go we needed to make the decision. This is how we looked at it:
There are three options. Option one, we could request nothing and leave it to our guests’ discretions to bring a wedding present of their choice. The risk is that they’ll get us something we won’t like or use – wasteful. Option two, we create a wedding gift registry from a department store and rack our brains for items that we might find useful – wasteful and lacking sentimentality. The third option is the worst - the dreaded wedding wishing well.
As the majority of modern couples co-habit first, the wedding wishing well has soared in popularity in the last decade and it’s eliminating the need for traditional gifts. Instead, brides ask for financial contributions towards honeymoons or house deposits. By framing this cash advance as a ‘wedding wishing well’ they hope that any associations of poor taste will be disguised.
If these considerations sound familiar, I can assure you from personal experience as a wedding planner, a bride and a guest – that you're not alone.
I will admit that we considered a wedding wishing well, for all of 15 uncomfortable minutes. We just couldn’t ignore our instincts that it felt wrong to ask for money on such an emotional occasion. And having read the arguments for and against, I stand by this. Those who condone it argue that it’s common practice in Eastern cultures and it makes sense for couples that live together. But I remain unconvinced. Requesting money for any reason through a wedding wishing well is socially awkward and there are much better alternatives. So if your gut is telling you it’s wrong, like mine was, then you’re right. And here are 10 good reasons why.
Not just for brides and bridegrooms, but for guests too. Money requires no thought or effort. Can you imagine giving your friend cash in a card for her birthday? She’d think you hadn’t spent a second considering something she’d like. What about the thought that counts? Giving is important.
Would you ask your friends for money at your birthday party? Of course you wouldn’t. You can’t hide behind wishing well poems and italic fonts. You’re saying ‘We want your cash’ and it’s embarrassing for everybody involved.
If a fortunate couple has everything they want, why do they need my money? I attend weddings to celebrate the love between two people I’m close to. This isn’t a get together so I can help them pay off their credit card bill.
The real beauty of a wedding gift is the accompanying thought. A guest has put their heart and soul into a gift that they believe you will treasure. I don’t see anyone pouring emotion into a blank envelope. Money is not sentimental, you can’t put a personal stamp on it.
Money makes people uneasy in conversations. The same applies to weddings. How much is too little and how much is too much? As a wedding planner, I’m often on the receiving end of a panicked phone call from a fellow guest who thinks I know the appropriate amount. I feel worse for grandparents or friends who aren’t as financially free. If it is your wedding, you are a host and there is nothing ruder than making a guest feel uncomfortable.
There’s nothing graceful about guests opening their wallets in the middle of your Reception. A wedding day is supposed to be the epitome of elegance, style and sophistication and you can’t achieve that with cash piling up in the corner of the room.
You choose to get a wedding wishing well. You get the money you need to pay for the honeymoon of your dreams. And then it’s gone and you go back to your home filled with the things you’ve always owned and you have nothing to show for your wedding day. That fills me with sadness. Yes you have experiences, but what can you hold, feel and fondly remember your wedding day with on your return, let alone your 50th anniversary?
Wedding wishing well poems might tell guests the reason for their donation, but guests never see the actual fruits of their offering. How do I know my $200 wasn’t spent on that week’s petrol or the groceries? It could well have been and it’s a depressing thought.
No matter how many pretty pleases and obsequious thank you cards, I am immune to the apparent charm of wedding wishing well poems. Most of them are copied and pasted from Google. In fact, when I see a wedding wishing well, I can get defensive. Does my friend dislike my taste in gifts? What about that scarf I gave her for Christmas? For some of my couple friends, I can’t help suspecting that they’re asking for money because they don’t trust their guests’ taste in gifts.
Earlier on, I provided three choices for co-habiting couples that can’t decide on their wedding gift. But there’s actually a fourth option, which eradicates all of the above issues and it’s the one we went with.
An online wedding gift registry is the answer! No cash, no awkwardness, no waste; it brings your family and friends together and lets them see their offering brought to visual life. There are a lot of different ones out there so be sure to use one that works for you.
We used The Gift Collective to acquire a piece of art that we’ve been longing for since we first met. We can’t wait to hang it on our wall after the wedding to show our family and friends how much it means to us. Most importantly it allowed our guests to give a meaningful gift on our special day.
The Gift Collective ensures you receive a once-in-a-lifetime, unique wedding gift of your choice that comes from the hearts of all of your guests. And it makes every guest feel that their gift is unique and means something significant. The Gift Collective gives you something to treasure forever, a stunning reminder of the day that everyone toasted to your relationship, your dreams and your future.