Forget the chafing dish. Just give me the money.
An increasing number of brides and grooms want cold hard cash as presents, wedding-industry insiders say. Gracefully communicating that desire to their invitees, however, can be a challenge.
Traditional gifts started losing some luster a few years ago, with the rise of Web sites that let wedding guests contribute toward the honeymoon. New economic realities are now further shaping couples' priorities.
People are marrying later, for instance--men at 27.5 and women at 25.6, on average--which means newlyweds often have already set up house and are saddled with credit-card debt. Recently plunging investments make cash a lot more welcome--and a lot more needed -- than, say, a blender.
It's an awkward subject for most people. But there are a few things a bride and groom can do to encourage cash gifts without offending Great Aunt Mimi.
Be Sensitive 保持敏感
Couples should consider how their guests will react before including money as an explicit gift option. Wedding experts say that to some extent, acceptance depends on geography. Many guests at New York and Los Angeles weddings feel cash is an acceptable present. But it's not so common in the Midwest. And some in the South believe it's too impersonal, so couples there may have to work extra hard to overcome an anticash sentiment.
Reactions can vary by age, too. While younger generations will "get it," friends of the parents and grandparents may feel queasy about the idea, says Rebecca Dolgin, executive editor of theknot.com, a New York-based Web site about weddings. Older people often still prefer giving tangible gifts, convinced that the recipients will enjoy unwrapping the surprise.
Some say the current economic situation is easing tensions when it comes to talking about money, meaning older guests from Mississippi may now be more willing to write a check. Of course, the recession also means that check may be rather small, since guests could be struggling themselves.
Be Subtle 旁敲侧击
Some people will write "monetary gifts preferred" on their wedding invitations. But going that route can have disastrous results, according to Jenny Orsini, a wedding planner based in Springfield, N.J. "I might actually buy them a purple-and-green-polka-dot cheese grater just for saying that," she warns.
Couples should never tell guests outright that they want money. In fact, it's bad wedding etiquette to mention wanting any gifts at all, because that implies a guest must buy something in order to attend the wedding.
"It's a terrible idea to include any of this information in your invitation," says Elise Mac Adam, a New York-based wedding-etiquette expert and author. "That's craven," she says. "It's like you're buying a ticket to the wedding."
She and other experts suggest asking the family or bridal party to help get the word out--after guests ask about gift preferences. An insert in the invitation, too, can provide a link to a Web site with information about gifts and other matters related to the wedding.
It's important for such sites to include practical details, like directions and accommodations for out-of-town guests, so as not to just seem like a plea for presents. (Ms. Mac Adam says she was once shocked by a bride-to-be who asked whether she could include her bank-account number.)
A more subtle approach is for the couple to explain a bit about their financial goals and why they are forgoing fine china and linens. While the message should say any gift would be appreciated, it can also use the phrase, "What we could really use help with is..." says Anna Post, spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute, a promoter of etiquette and civility that's based in Burlington, Vt.
Be Specific--and Organized 具体——还要有条有理
Telling guests what the money is for can encourage more giving. Many people are more comfortable handing over cash when they know how it will be spent, and when it's clearly something that requires pooled funds.
Scores of banks offer bridal savings accounts, which collect contributions toward dream homes--or other dreams. Some banks restrict the use of funds to down payments on a house as a way to bring in business to their mortgage arms. But institutions as wide-ranging as SunTrust Banks Inc., Bank of Utah, Community Financial Services Bank in Kentucky and Mercantile Bank in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri place no restrictions on how the funds can be used.Most charge no fees.
许多银行都提供新人储蓄账户，人们可以通过这种形式为新人们婚后的爱巢或者其他梦想添砖加瓦。一些银行将这笔资金的使用限定在缴纳房子的首付款上，从而为旗下的抵押贷款分支机构带来业务。但是，像SunTrust Banks Inc.、Bank of Utah、肯塔基州的Community Financial Services Bank以及伊利诺伊、印地安那和密苏里州Mercantile Bank等金融机构对这笔资金的用途不设任何限制，而且大多数不收取任何费用。
There are Web sites that offer similar services, but these often charge transaction or registration fees, pay no interest and lack FDIC guarantees.
Be Realistic 从实际出发
Most couples that request cash don't receive enough for a full down payment on a house. No one should start signing mortgage papers until they know how much they have to work with.
Nor should the hosts throw a $150,000 wedding and then claim they don't have money for a new car. Nobody will buy it.
Be Grateful 心存感激
Newlyweds can make their gift-givers feel more appreciated if they include in their thank-you cards a fun picture of themselves enjoying the end result--perhaps sliding down the new banister in their new home.