Life Advice



Cash is king for America's pandemic newlyweds

Daniela Sirtori-Cortina, Bloomberg News on

Published in Dating Advice

The contributions helped smooth the way for their first years of marriage. The couple received a total of $10,000 in cash gifts, of which about half went to student loans, helping Jenn pay off all of her debt. Now they own a house and are expecting a baby.

“We didn’t need anything for our home or for ourselves, so cash was the best gift we could get,” Jillian said. “We were so moved by all the support. Way more meaningful than a set of dishes.”

As partners hunkered down during the pandemic, requests to pay for lockdown-related goods and services proved popular, with couples creating funds for meal-delivery kits and renovation projects. Lowe’s Home Improvement gift cards were among the most-requested items on that front, according to wedding website Joy.

Newlyweds saw “the importance of making their homes a functional space for working, living and relaxing in,” Joy communications and marketing director Katie Brownstein said.

Overall, wedding guests are proving receptive to cash registries because gift-givers want to ensure their presents will be put to good use, etiquette consultant Elaine Swann said. That, as any couple who’s been married for decades can attest, isn’t always the case for silver tea sets or Margarita makers. Still, asking for and granting money involves a delicate social dance.


For starters, couples should consider making the request via an online platform such as a wedding website, Swann said, rather than “tarnish the imagery of the physical invitation with an ask for money.” It’s also key to provide an electronic way to submit the contribution, as securing checks during a reception can quickly turn into a nightmare.

She also suggests outlining a specific amount and purpose for the gift, and sharing why it carries significance. Swann recalls attending a wedding in which the groom was headed to a doctoral program. In that case, an ask for his educational fund “was well received.”

Emily Forrest, communications director at Zola, echoed Swann’s sentiment. “We’ve found that guests are also most likely to contribute to cash funds when there’s a very specific purpose designated,” Forrest said. “So it’s a smart move all around.”

The average size of cash gifts hovers around $150, according to Joy, though the amount declines when it’s a destination wedding. No matter the amount, Swann added, “not only will your gift be enjoyed, but it will be used.”

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