When my partner and I decided to make our relationship official in the eyes of the law and tie the proverbial knot, we had already been together for seven years. For five of those years, we lived together, creating the most lovely home filled with all the things we needed. So when it came time to send out invitations, it seemed like a no-brainer—"Please, no gifts."
Oh, how naïve I was to believe that this would be an acceptable request for our family and loved ones whose love language suddenly only seemed to be gifts, gifts, and more gifts. They desperately wanted to contribute something to our new life together; according to some, it was rude to ask them not to.
So I proposed a compromise: In lieu of gifts, please consider donating money to our nest egg for our first house. At the time, we had rented for years and were nowhere near having enough saved to buy our first home. I could think of no gift more thoughtful than a donation to our savings account.
Oh, reader. Remember how I said I was naïve? If it was considered rude not to accept our loved ones' gifts, it was considered even more rude to ask for money instead.
But I've always been a hard-headed sort. Etiquette be dashed—I wanted my wedding money instead of gifts. And I'm pleased to report that I got that money (mostly). After all, the tradition of giving physical gifts for weddings stems from a time when women were not allowed their own bank accounts, when we left our family homes as children only to be immediately welcomed into marital homes as wives. If you're feeling suffocated just reading this, I can relate. So let's do something about it. Let's get our money, honey.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Sometimes, what is blocking us from asking for what we want and need isn't our family and friends; it's ourselves. It's a long, ingrained societal habit to never talk about money. Never speak of money in polite company. Don't even speak of money in unpolite company! And definitely, never, ever ask for money.
Friends, times change, and so should societal habits. This moratorium on money talk keeps us from getting paid what we're worth, is the leading cause of break-ups and divorce, and offers a nice cog in the machine of patriarchal power. Let's break free. Would you prefer money instead of the latest Keurig? Then ask for it.
Paint a picture of their purchase.
People are usually reluctant to donate to any cause if they're not sure exactly how their money will be used. Asking for donations to fund a specific request is much more readily received than a general request for money. How will you intend to use the money received? Are they funding a long-awaited honeymoon? Helping you buy your first home? Perhaps you're planning to shift careers or make a cross-country move for a job. Whatever it is, let your loved ones know exactly how their cash gift will jumpstart your new, shared life with your partner.
Use online registries to your advantage.
There are tons of websites out there that can help you tell your wedding story, coordinate information for your guests, and yes—manage a cash registry. Honeyfund lets your guests "sponsor" different aspects of your honeymoon, such as drinks and dinner at your restaurant of choice, excursions, and room service. Zola and MyRegistry are one-stop shops where you can collect cash gifts, honeymoon contributions, and even manage a physical gift registry as well. It's a good idea to still have some physical gifts for purchase; that way, once they're all bought up, only the cash option will be left. Sneaky? Yes. Effective? Double yes.
Use the whisper network.
Whisper networks aren't only effective when it comes to bringing down the patriarchy from the inside—they can also get you paid. If you want money instead of physical gifts, don't put the request on the invitation. (Even in the most progressive of circles, it's still considered tacky.) Do, however, tell everyone. Tell your wedding party, your parents, your friends—anyone who asks what you want for the big day. Let them be the foot soldiers to your money march. (Side note: What you can say on the invitation is "Please, no gifts." Most people these days recognize this as the new code phrase for "We want money.")
Pay it backwards and forwards.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. If you grumble at the fact that it's still taboo to talk about money, then lead the new charge and talk about money whenever possible. This isn't just for parties and celebrations of big life changes—we get paid more fairly, are able to negotiate better work environments, and dismantle power structures that do not work for us when we proudly proclaim to be paid. When you receive an invitation to a wedding, baby shower, housewarming, or other celebration, and there's no gift registry listed, ask the honoree if they'd appreciate a donation. Or better yet, just give a donation anyway. This is a revolution, people.