Patchwork Weddings: How to Ask For Money Instead of Wedding Gifts (in a cost of living crisis)

Patchwork Wedding - How to ask for money as wedding gifts in a cost of living crisis

You wouldn’t wear a dress you didn’t love, have a band whose music you didn’t enjoy, or eat food you didn’t like at your wedding – so why ask for gifts that you don’t really want?

Many modern couples want to be able to use their wedding celebration as an opportunity to ask for what they’d really love from family and friends – and not to be restricted by tradition. Our own Patchwork research tells us that, the majority of couples would love contributions towards a honeymoon, others would love cash help towards a deposit for their first home, or money to spend on a year’s worth of date nights perhaps.

BUT, couples are understandably conscious of the cost of living crisis and how that impacts their friends and family. Of course, they don’t want to put additional pressure on guests that who may already be struggling. When couples say ‘we want your presence, not your presents’, they genuinely mean it. But that doesn’t mean that guests don’t want to treat you to a gift of some kind.

Gifting is one of life’s joys. Giving something you know the gift recipient will love and appreciate, brings pleasure to all.

So the questions is, how do you balance observing the tradition of gift-giving, the desire of guests to show their love for you, with the financial predicament many people find themselves in and getting receiving things you’d really love and be grateful for as wedding gifts?

We’ve got the answer – and it’s perfectly packaged in Patchwork.

Patchwork Wedding Registry: ask your wedding guests to contribute money, time or skills instead of traditional gifts.

Patchwork is built specifically to solve the problem of how to ask for money as a wedding gift without putting undue pressure on guests who might be struggling.

It’s kind to people and to the planet, with 50% of your sign up fee going direct to vital environmental charities. And we very firmly believe that it’s also the most stylish, easy to use, personal and fun registry out there.

Patchwork is a cash fund that allows couples to create a unique registry showing all the things they’d love; and allows guests to help fund, make, or ‘do’, to make it happen.

Fund: Guests can fund an experience or item. Honeymoon accommodation? Kitchen makeover? Invite guests to chip in cash via your Patchwork.

Make: Guests can make something as a gift instead of sending money. A cocktail recipe for your wedding reception? A honeymoon playlist? Guests can pledge to make something via your Patchwork.

Do: Guests can do something as a favour instead of sending money. A dog-sitter while you’re on honeymoon? Some help painting your new kitchen? Guests can pledge to give their time and skill to gift you in a way that doesn’t cost a penny.


1. Be Honest, Open & Specific

Be really honest about what you’d love – even if it’s not ‘romantic’ or ‘weddingy’

When you set up a wedding registry with Patchwork, you can introduce your page to your guests and let them know what will really make you happy.

If it’s a honeymoon, give as much detail as possible about when, where and with who! Talk about the things you’re looking forward to, and bring it to life so that guests can really enjoy treating you to specific experiences while you’re away.

If you actually need to spend the money on something more practical – share that with friends and family too! Perhaps you’re on the way to a flat deposit and need a bit of help to get there; maybe your garden’s in need of a makeover; or the bathroom’s in desperate need of an update?

It might not be traditionally ‘wedding-y’ but the more detail you give, the more satisfying the experience is for guests, and the more connected and invested they’ll feel with you both as a couple.

Patchwork alternative wedding gift registry

2. Put Meaning Behind Their Money

Show guests where their money is going and why it means so much to you.

On your Patchwork registry, you can be very specific about where guests’ money will go. It’s a bit like a Pinterest board – very visual and engaging. Rather than just saying ‘please donate towards our honeymoon’, you can add patches for things like ‘bike hire for two’, ‘a tour of the island’, ‘salsa classes’ or ‘cocktails by the pool’ – with images that bring your vision to life. Rather than just saying ‘we’d like some money towards a garden makeover’ – you can let guests choose exactly what they can fund by adding ‘patches’, like showing ‘packets of seeds to sow’, ‘a roll of turf’, or ‘a garden bench’ make for a much more interesting registry.

Tell guests why these items or experiences will make you happy – e.g. ‘we haven’t had a holiday together for a few years’ or ‘we’d really love to grow our own vegetables at home’. Injecting a bit of personality and sharing your goals and dreams goes a long way in making guests feel really happy about parting with their money.

Patchwork alternative wedding gift registry

3. Don’t Beat About The Bush

(or hide behind a poem)

A Patchwork registry is a fun, visual way to show guests your dreams and goals, and because it’s immediately clear that guests are helping make your dreams come true, there’s no need at all to mention the ‘money’ word, be embarrassed about your request, or feel that you need to hide behind a cute money poem.

It’s a guilt-free, joyous and fun way to involve your guests in a way that works for everyone. If you need some inspiration on how to introduce the idea here’s a great example:

“Celebrating with you is the only present we need and we aren’t expecting any gifts, but we know people like to give something. We will have bored most of you with our excitement of getting our loft conversion underway, so we have put on a wide variety of things that can help us make it the loft of our dreams. We’ve also added a few more traditional items. We know that some of you are handy with a paintbrush, so you can gift us your skills and come to help us decorate once it’s finished.”

Patchwork alternative wedding gift registry

4. Offer Something For All Budgets

…so those who are feeling the pinch can still be involved

You can add ‘gifts’ from as little as £1 to your registry – and anything up to £500, which means everyone can contribute at a level they feel comfortable with. You can add an unlimited number of patches to your gift list and include a wide range of price points and gift choices.

Even ‘smaller’ gifts can feel special and valuable when you bring them to life with detail. The difference between someone giving you £20 in cash and funding a week’s worth of ice-cream on your honeymoon is huge! Put meaning behind the money and everyone feels good.

Patchwork alternative wedding gift registry - two icecream cones being held up in the sunshine on the beach.

Surprisingly, guests also feel more generous when prices are low. If prices are too high, guests can feel pressured and put off, whereas if they feel welcomed, and that their contribution is valued and appreciated they are likely to give more! Another lovely feature of Patchwork is that unlike some other crowdfunding sites there are no ‘targets’ displayed – something guaranteed to put people off and send them running for the nearest gift shop!

Guests also can’t see how much others have contributed so never have to feel pressured or embarrassed that they can’t ‘keep up’.

Patchwork alternative wedding gift registry

5. Involve Your Guests

Allow them to have fun and make some decisions

Guests will love exploring your Patchwork registry to see what you’ve got planned, and will often choose gifts that have some relevance to their own lives and your relationship with them. Adventurous guests will be the ones to choose the diving lessons or hiking tours, foodie friends will enjoy treating you to meals out and party mates can treat you to a night sampling the local rum 🙂

If you really want to let your guests have fun, you can leave a patch or two as “you decide” and let guests ‘sponsor’ some activities for you to enjoy. (They can leave a private note with their money gift with exact instructions on how to enjoy it – waterfall kayaking or bungee jumping here we come!) Guests can also leave a public message on your registry, which creates a sense of community and celebration around your page and really builds up excitement and anticipation for the big day.


6. Save Guests Money

…by avoiding expensive physical gifts

It’s pretty disheartening for guests to be sent the link to a physical gift registry knowing that the items on the list are overpriced and could be sourced more cost-effectively elsewhere. Having a cash gift list means you are in charge of how and where you spend your money and you can make sure that every penny of your guests’ cash is really made the most of.

As well as being the most cost-effective way of purchasing the items or experiences you’d love, a cash gift list saves guests time spent searching the shops / internet for gifts and also saves on wrapping paper, delivery charges and greeting cards! So if the cost of living crisis is on your mind, a cash fund is definitely the most sensible and practical option.

Patchwork alternative wedding gift registry

7. Express Your Gratitude

Send thanks afterwards – with photo proof!

Because guests have bought you specific experiences, activities or items from your wedding registry, you’ll be able to send a much more meaningful thank you afterwards than just a ‘thanks for the money’.

Through your Patchwork account you can email all guests who have gifted you with photos of you enjoying their gift and show them how happy they’ve made you. Guests love to see where their money was spent and the photo-proof of you both with big smiles on your faces is always a winner!

Patchwork alternative wedding gift registry, young mixed race couple taking a selfie in the city

And that’s it – a complete guide to how to ask for money instead of wedding gifts in a cost of living crisis, courtesy of Patchwork.

To set up your cash wedding registry with Patchwork go here, or you can chat to the team at [email protected].

Patchwork Gift Registry

Image Credits

  • All images bar the iPad image, courtesy of Pexels
Rosie Hurwitz

Rosie Hurwitz View all Rosie's articles

Rosie Hurwitz is Head of Customer Experience at Patchwork, the wedding gift list innovators, who donate 50% of their fees to environmental charities. Rosie lives in South East London with her husband Evan, their four children Annie, Archie, Sonny and Bo and their cockapoo Albie. Rosie loves running, baking, and spending as much time as possible in Portugal.