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Cash not crockery: Broke brides turn backs on tradition

1st July 2011 Print

The recession and growing cost of weddings could spell the end of the traditional wedding gift list, as British couples turn to their guests to help them finance their Big Day and Honeymoon, according to research for Western Union, a leading money transfer provider.

It reveals that two thirds of couples planning to tie the knot now prefer to receive cash contributions over any other type of wedding gift (67%). The majority put the money towards paying for their honeymoon (43%) while one in six use it to cover the cost of the Big Day itself (17%).

It seems the recession is playing its part, with nearly eight out of 10 couples worried about how they’ll finance their Big Day (79%). However, the steadily rising age of newlyweds could also be a factor. The average age to marry has reached 32 for men and 30 for women, which means many will have set up, and kitted out, their home long before they tie the knot.

William Brown, Regional Country Director UK & Ireland from Western Union, which commissioned the research, said: “With the average cost of a UK wedding at around £18K, couples are turning to friends and family to help bear the financial burden. In recent years we’ve seen an increase in people using our transfer services across the summer months to gift cash to newlyweds, especially where friends or family members are based in a different country to the couple.”

The trend towards gifting cash is also reported by companies that specialise in collecting contributions towards couples’ honeymoons. Leading honeymoon gift list site,, is reporting around 15% growth year-on-year.

Shelley Green, Co-Owner of Buy Our Honeymoon, said: “We offer couples an innovative way to cover the cost of their honeymoon without simply asking for cash, which many don’t like to do. Our clients create wish-lists of items, such as flights, cocktails, even sunscreen, and set prices for these, so guests can still choose a specific, personalised present. Their contributions go towards wonderful memories, so it’s practical, but very romantic at the same time.”

Case study
Louise Vaughan, age 30, from London, got married in April 2010. To get married at the venue she wanted she had to turn the wedding planning around in just three months. Louise and her husband, Rashed, used the buy-our-honeymoon website to collect cash contributions towards a month-long dream break in the United States.

Louise said: “We had absolutely no time to save up for the wedding so receiving money towards our dream honeymoon was a life-saver. It also made gifting easier for Rashed’s family members in Bangladesh who, despite not being able to attend the wedding, were able to transfer contributions to our honeymoon fund.”

However, it may be some time yet before the wedding gift list disappears altogether. Despite the rising popularity of cash, Western Union’s research suggests the majority of people still perceive the traditional wedding list - with its crockery, towels and kitchen appliances - to be the most popular form of wedding gifting (55%).