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Ask Kate: Is it acceptable to ask for money instead of having a gift list?

May 13, 2013

Kate Thompson has been offering heart-felt advice and sparklingly different wedding inspiration for ten years. She is married with two children, and often features in the national press. With her warm and caring nature and off-beat sense of humour, she'll answer every question with knowledgable insight and understanding to help and inspire or simply restore your peace of mind.


I am writing to enquire about wedding gifts. I have read your useful page How to Ask For the Gift of Cash and was wondered if you thought it would be acceptable to ask guests to make bank transfers to an individual bank account? We would like to use the money to go and help a priest we know in Tanzania. I have looked at Trailfinders and other sites, but the fund become tied to the earmarked expenses (in our case we also need additional money for the mission as such). Both our parents are a bit more traditional and seem to think it’s not very customary to ask guests for money. Do you think we should forego the idea, or stick to it and have two links: one for the humanitarian mission and one for the trip?


My view is very much that it is your wedding and therefore your choice, and there are ways of making sure your guests know of your wishes without offending anyone. Traditional etiquette dictates that a couple should not have a gift list at all, but should communicate to guests, by word of mouth, through their parents, what they would like, should they be asked. In this day and age of modern communication and gift registries, it’s really now fine as most guests will be expecting to get you something and would certainly rather give you what you want than a token gift. I think if you put a little note into each invitation, explaining the mission and the trip, most guests would be only too pleased to contribute. There will always be some guests, particularly family and close friends. who would rather give you a keepsake gift, and so for those guests it is worth adding to the note, something along the lines of: ‘What’s most important to us is that you are there to share our day with us. We don’t expect gifts at all but if you would like to give something then rather than have a gift list we decided to leave it to you and to let you know a little about a mission we are hoping to undertake together, that we’d appreciate any small financial contributions to. The details are as follows…’  I hope that helps.

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