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Forget Fine China. Can You Register for a House?

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  • 6 min read
Can you register for a house?

As home prices continue to rise, new couples looking for a head start on the American Dream are getting creative about how they fund it. A recent study conducted by Zillow and wedding planning site, The Knot, found that many engaged couples are ditching traditional gifts in favor of a cash registry to help them fund a future home. Other modern couples are asking for honeymoon funds, home renovation reserves, investment capital, charity donations, or even cash for college loan paydown.

The shift is ruffling some feathers with folks who feel it is tactless to ask for money. Said Felicity, a newlywed who married her partner in September of 2023, “We asked for people to contribute to a GoFundMe, but our guests complained that we needed a gift registry because they didn’t want to give cash.”

Is it appropriate to ask for money?

In the past, it may have seemed gauche to ask for cash, but those days are gone. In fact, according to Emily Post (the queen of social etiquette) giving cash is “perfectly acceptable” and often preferred. This is because most millennials are getting married later in life and already have well-stocked homes, so they prefer cash that they can put toward a honeymoon or future goals.

Can I register for a home down payment?  

According to Esther Lee, deputy editor of The Knot, yes. “Home funds were one of the most popular wedding registry cash funds on The Knot in 2022—the second, in fact, right behind the honeymoon fund,” she noted in an October 2023 press release about the trend.

But not everyone is on board. Home registry naysayers argue that cash gifts are better spent on celebratory treats, like a honeymoon getaway. Said newlywed Felicity, “At our wedding, we had guests hand us envelopes of cash and insist that we use it on something fun instead of saving it. I know they meant well, but we have a plan.”

That said, milestone gifting is proving to be a significant trend—especially with fluctuating interest rates and historic highs for home down payments. It’s just one more trick hopeful buyers and newlyweds are trying to reach that meaningful life milestone: homeownership.

Are there rules about registering for a home down payment?

If you decide to do a home fund registry, schedule a meeting with a mortgage lender first. Home loans often come with regulations and documentation rules about monetary gifts. To avoid any unnecessary surprises, let your lender know about your registry and home-buying plans. At that time, your mortgage lender can also inform you about resources and programs for first-time buyers. With an FHA, VA, or USDA loan (or a downpayment assistance program) you may be able to save money and secure lower interest rates.

Can I Register for a Honeymoon?

Yes—and you wouldn’t be alone. According to etiquette expert Elaine Swann (in the bridal inspiration publication Brides), honeymoon funds are now considered modern and acceptable—but there are protocols to consider. First, it’s important to give guests user-friendly methods for donating to your fund and to be forthcoming about your plans. “Your guests want to know where you’re going, whether that’s to Maui, Brazil, or the South of France,” Swann said. “Be specific! This will put people at ease as they’ll know they’re giving towards something very specific.”

Can I Just Register for Cash?

In short, yes. With a cash wedding registry, you’ll ask guests for just one type of gift: cash. Unlike a honeymoon or home-focused fundraising registry, cash registries don’t have a declared purpose. Instead, a cash registry allows you to spend your money as you see fit. That way, you can use the funds for a trip, a home, furniture, or even to pay down debt.

The downside of a cash registry is that many guests find it a turnoff. Guests want to feel like they’re helping the happy couple get a head start on life. That’s why home goods and heirloom-quality wedding gifts have been so popular for generations. To entice your guests to contribute, experts recommend you declare a purpose and weave a story about your lives together.

How to Register for a Cash Gift

If you want to register for a large sum of money, there are many methods to choose from. You can, for example, start a GoFundMe campaign. The fundraising site has partnered with The Knot to streamline the process for couples who want to fund a vacation, cover wedding costs, start a nest egg, or get started on a future home.

Several wedding planning sites (including The Knot, Hitchd, Zola, and Joy) have options for both cash and vacation registries. There is also Honeyfund, a travel-focused cash registry option. Honeyfund is not limited to travel fundraising, but they do partner with resorts, hotels, and travel companies all over the world to offer exclusive deals.

Once you have chosen a donation site, open a dedicated savings or checking account for your registry funds to flow into. With a dedicated joint account, you’ll be able to watch your savings grow—and keep it separate from your everyday saving and spending accounts.   

How to (Politely) Ask for Cash

Your wedding is all about celebrating your future, so it’s okay to think outside the box. Above all, remember that your guests want to give you a gift you will enjoy. When asking for what you want, be gracious, polite, and forthcoming about your intentions. Follow the expert tips to let your guests know about your preferences:

  • Avoid putting mention of your cash registry on your invitation.
  • Instead, list a link to a wedding website where guests can donate (and also RSVP, state meal preferences, find accommodations, and get wedding day itineraries).
  • Make contributing to your cash registry as easy as shopping online.
  • Include a traditional registry for guests who are simply uncomfortable with the concept of cash gifts.
  • Make your request as personal as possible. Share your story. Talk about your dreams. Craft a message that tells your guests exactly how much their contributions will mean to you.
  • Ask friends and family to spread the word.
  • Designate a secure place (like a locked box) at your wedding for cards and cash envelopes. Not all guests will feel comfortable making virtual donations.
  • Don’t forget the thank you cards! No matter the gift, your guests will appreciate a personalized acknowledgment of their thoughtfulness—especially if you can share an update on how their gift is being used.  
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