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Wishing Well Etiquette
The wishing well at weddings evolved from other similar wedding customs from other cultures. Instead of a gift registry, couples can now opt for a wishing well at their reception for the guests to place monetary gifts in for the happy couple to use for whatever they wish – honeymoon spending money, home wares of their choice (saves on having 3 toasters and eight crockpots) and the guests themselves don’t have to travel with a gift that could break or is too large. Everyone has their own opinions about it and you may find the odd one or two guests/family members who are not flattered when presented with the information that instead of gifts, the bride and groom would like money. Others will think it a relief – simply place the amount they would of spent buying something that the couple may not have liked, giving them the choice to pick what they want.
Anyway, the wishing well is a spin on other cultures. The Italian bride carries with her a silk pouch at her reception. Traditionally, money was placed in the pouch and at the end of the reception would be given over to pay for the lavish and large Italian wedding reception. The Chinese hold a Tea Ceremony. Towards the end of the ceremony the bride has to pour cups of tea for the family in order of their seniority. As she fills the cup, they give her Li Shi money sealed in a red envelope (red is considered a very fortunate colour). In places like the Philippines and Ukraine there is the “Money Dance”. The father is the first to pin money to the gown of the bride before they dance. The rest of the guests (mainly male, occasionally the female guests will also join in) will then come up to pin their money gift to her gown and then dance with her.
A tradition that developed in the northern states (according to The Wedding Gift Etiquette Guide - SmartMoney.com) is the “Money Tree”, an actual tree at the reception where the guests can peg or tie their money gift to the tree. However, Peggy Post advises that if the money tree is not a tradition practised in either the bride or grooms side of the family it is best not to do it. This is where you can opt for a wishing well! Trisha Telford from TMT Deportment and Etiquette Academy also provides the following when it comes to having a wishing well at a wedding:
1. If you are going to have a wishing well at your wedding, what is the polite way to inform your guests that instead of gifts you would like monetary donations?
In some cultures it is customary to give the gift of money to the couple. It is actually a part of the celebration and considered the perfect gift. Originally the purpose of giving a gift was to help the couple begin their married life by helping them set up their home. Now days many couples already have their homes well established and are therefore asking for the gift of money. By having your guests with you on the day, celebrating the special occasion in your life is the gift you are receiving. Your guests want to celebrate with you and as a polite gesture give you a gift as a symbol of their enjoyment in your day and couples should accept that gift graciously.
Is there a polite way to ask for money? Would you have a party or celebration of any other sort and request what sort of gift you want to receive or even ask for money? If a couple still want to go ahead with wanting money as a gift but still feel embarrassed to ask for cash, they can make a funny poem or small verse to address the issue.
2. How much is a reasonable amount to gift to the happy couple?
Your budget is the key to this question. You allow for the amount you would have spent on a gift.
3. Should you take into account that some guests may not be able to gift a large sum of money or may be unable to gift any money at all?
Yes and be grateful that your guests are sharing in the celebration of your day. To make it easier for guests to avoid them feeling embarrassed about the value they can or cannot give you, some couples have a “money tree” whereby envelopes are provided to allow people to put their money in the envelops and then attach to the tree.
4. How should you present your wishing well at the reception? (Centre of the room, make it a feature or keep it to the side and discreet?)
Place it discreetly inside the doorway of the reception and off to the side.
When it comes to your wedding and you are going to set up a wishing well, Australia’s #1 wedding and Party Shop, Pink Frosting has a range of tasteful, beautiful wishing well choices. From the clear wishing well box, to ornate bird cages to a wishing book with pockets for the guests to place money along with a message (perfect for those who may not feel comfortable with having a wishing well box or birdcage at their reception). Pink Frosting even has wishing wells that don’t look like wishing well, such as the antique book wishing well and the letterbox wishing well. Their options are perfect for those who want to be polite about giving and receiving money at the reception.
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