Money as a wedding gift: where did sentimentality go? 166

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I remember a time when a wedding gift came from the heart. It was a gift from someone dear to you that was then treasured and appreciated for a lifetime. A beautiful dish that you could pull out every time special people came over, or a nice set of towels that could set up your bathroom with, maybe a kitchen appliance or two even. Apparently that has all changed. The gift de rigeur appears to be cold hard cash that the bride and groom can spend however they want on their life together. Maybe they’ll choose to buy a honeymoon, or spend it on a brand new TV that can break within 5 years. When did life become so commercial that the emotions behind a wedding gift got left behind?

I received a wedding invitation from a younger couple this month asking for money as a wedding gift. Nothing more, nothing less. No information was given as to what the money would be spent on for sentimental people like me and no other suggestion was made as to where I could go to select something for their home or life that they might have wanted to have for the future. Maybe I’m a little old fashioned, or maybe I just love the idea of having special things with memories attached to them, but the idea of giving someone a wad of cash for their wedding seems a little uninspiring.

Even when I was younger, the concept of a wedding registry was around. You could take the Myer barcode scanner for a walk around the store, select the products you want, and they would put them all together into a shopping list that guests can choose from to give you. When I look back, that was considered rather commercial and somewhat distasteful by parents of ours. It was certainly not the done thing to request cash. But on the other hand, there was still a fair amount of tradition in who was paying for your wedding. Most of the time the Father of the Bride paid for the reception and the Groom’s parents for the drinks.

Today more young people than ever are paying for their weddings themselves, and combining this challenge with the reality of housing prices which seem to climb more and more out of reach every year.

Do you think that giving a cash wedding gift in today’s society is just a fact of life, and a good way to contribute to a couple’s happiness; or would you rather select a gift personally and leave a couple with some sentimentality?


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. we are getting the opposite..Guests have asked us if there is to be a wishing well …. I say ‘No, gifts would be greatly appreciated, thank you’ .

  2. If they request cash I am quite happy to include it with a small good quality trinket. These days most people have lived together and have nearly everything they need.

  3. Not really a problem. I’ve been to plenty of weddings where decorated bins have been set up for cash and cheques. It depends on the custom.

  4. I didn’t like it the first time it happened, but it does make sense. Couples have usually been together for several years by the time they get married nowadays, so they have just about everything they need. The money can pay for a lovely honeymoon and it’s nice if the couple say that. I had many gifts from friends and family that were either ugly or inappropriate I must admit.

  5. I think it a very sensible idea today. Many prospective brides and grooms have been in previous relationships or lived singly and already have a lot of what they might need. If some money helps them to achieve whatever they want (be it a honeymoon, a house, a leather lounge or whatever) then I say let’s add to their happiness.

  6. I have changed my position on this topic. If the couple have lived together for sometime they have already set up house. So either money or vouchers is a more sensible approach.

  7. I can’t see anything wrong with asking for money as things are so different these days. That being said when our 4 kids got married they gave their guests the choice of either a gift or money. People are getting married later and so many already have the things that used to be bought as wedding gifts. If money can help towards a deposit on a house, or towards a honeymoon etc so be it. And let’s be honest, while we received gifts we treasured there were also some that went into the back of a cupboard!

    3 REPLY
    • It’s all well & fine if you live in the same country..the wedding was in England & we live in NZ so the amount we could send would have been peanuts to them xxxx

    • I think any amount is appreciated and in your case Lyn I think they would have been pleased with something from New Zealand. Our relatives in England are always happy to receive something Australian!

    • At the end of the day, it does take the headache out of trying to find the perfect gift. I’ve been giving money for years (not just wedding either).

  8. Yes, that is a sign of the times. I think in this day and age there are gift registries so that people don’t double and triple up. The bride and groom pick out things they need and people can select from the list.

    4 REPLY
    • Gift registries have been around for more than 30 yrs, far predates the wishing well cash demands!!

    • Yes, I realise that. I was responding to a lady who said she had three toasters, etc. Basically saying the times have changed from when I got married.

    • Even though gift registries are practical I’ve never liked the idea. I’m happy to give cash so the happy couple can get what they want.

    • I go with the flow, not that I have been to a wedding in a long time. If they want cash I will give cash; if they want a present, then a present it is.

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