Charitable Donations in Lieu of Gifts
Q: My fiancé and I would like our guests to make donations to two of our favorite charities in lieu of giving us gifts. How should we share this information with them? Would an insert in the invitations be appropriate? —Raleigh, North Carolina
A: It’s very generous of you to request that your guests give to charitable organizations. The best way to inform your guests is by word of mouth, since gift giving is never mentioned in the wedding invitation. You can, however, set up a wedding website and in that way let guests know your preferences. Share some information about your favorite charities and the reason why you have selected them. Include the addresses where the donations can be sent, as well as links to the charities’ websites. On your wedding invitation you can then write, “For more information about our wedding, please visit (give your website name).” You can also create a registry of your charities with the I Do Foundation and JustGive. Go to idofoundation.org and justgive.org for more information.
Asking for Cash Wedding Gifts
Q: One of our goals is to buy a home soon after we marry, and we would like to use whatever money we receive at our wedding as a down payment. What is the proper invitation wording for a “greenback” wedding? —Omaha, Nebraska
A: There is no proper wording for such a wedding, or for any type of cash request on a wedding invitation. The only way to let guests know of your gift preference is by word of mouth. Friends and family members can inform invited guests that you are planning to buy a home and would prefer cash, but they should graciously add that any type of gift will be greatly appreciated. And don’t bank on getting enough money at your wedding for a down payment: Couples often overestimate how much cash they’ll receive. Chances are you will have to do quite a bit more saving yourselves before reaching your goal.
Asking Guests to Contribute to Family College Fund
Q: My fiancé and I have set up a family college fund, and we would like to tell our guests to contribute toward the fund as their wedding gift to us. Is this OK? —Rockville, Maryland
A: Frankly, no. You can certainly set up a family college fund and contribute monetary wedding gifts to it, but you shouldn’t tell your guests what they should give you—or how. Keep in mind that although most guests do give wedding gifts, it’s not a requirement. And the type of gift they choose, whether it’s cash or a coffeemaker, is solely up to them.
A less obvious way to let your wishes be known is to ask your family and friends to help spread the word that you’d prefer a cash gift. And if a guest happens to ask you what you’d like, simply say, “Thank you for inquiring. We do have just about everything we need for our home, but whatever you give us will be greatly appreciated.” It’s a subtle way of letting them know that you’d rather have cash without asking for it outright.