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Giving Money

The bride and groom may love the china, crystal and all of the other beautiful things on their registry -- but some of their favorite gifts may not come in boxes, but rather slim envelopes. Giving money is becoming a more and more popular alternative to sticking to the registry. So here are few things to keep in mind if you're going green.

Photo: Geoff White Photographers

In this country, wedding etiquette mavens would may be aghast at the idea of giving money as a wedding gift. Still, most bride and groom's would agree that it would be nice to start off their married lives with a little extra in the bank. Though in the State, guests typically give gifts, around the globe things are a little different. In many cultures, money is routinely given as a gift to brides and grooms -- and sometimes in addition to the giving of other gifts. It is can even be an intrinsic part of the wedding reception itself.

Here, we've outlined how various culture give money to brides and grooms. If the wedding you're attending is connected to any of the cultures here, keep in mind that these traditions may be incorporated on the big day. Read on to find out how money is given to brides and grooms around the world.

Chinese Weddings:

In China, serving tea is a sign of respect. A traditional tea ceremony, called cha tao, helps to mark life's milestones and celebrations -- including weddings. In Chinese weddings, the giving of money is linked to that special tea ceremony. Here's how it works: near the end of the wedding day, a Chinese bride serves tea to her new in-laws. As the tea ceremony begins, the bride kneels in front of the people she will serve, who are seated. She serves the tea in a specific order, starting with the groom's parents and moving from the oldest to the youngest member of the groom's family.

Now, for the exchange of money. When the tea is finished, the bride takes the empty cups from each family member and in return she is presented with a red envelope, called a hung bao, which is full of money (and sometimes jewelry). In a more contemporary version of this ritual, both the bride and groom participate.

Today, brides and grooms of Chinese background often visit each table at their reception to toast their guests. After each toast, the guest may choose to offer money envelopes to the couple. Another option, particularly common in the U.S., is the wishing well or money box. This is a secure, decorated box into which guests can deposit envelopes and cards filled with money and good wishes.

Japanese Weddings:

Money is a very common gift in Japanese weddings. The groom's parents traditionally give the bride's family money in ashugi-bukuro, or special envelope. The envelope is elaborately decorated with gold and silver strings twisted and tied into a decorative knot. Japanese folklore says that the knot is supposed to be impossible to open. The amount inside is usually quite generous -- three months of the groom's salary or a set amount of 500,000 yen (about $5,000). Most grooms don't get to keep the whole amount, which is seen as a family-to-family gift. But the money-giving doesn't stop there. Guests also give cash gifts to the bride and groom. A friend may give about $300, and an especially close friend may up the sum to $500. Bosses, uncles and aunts may part with up to $1,000 for their favorite couple. The gift-giver's name and the grand total of the cash inside is written on the outside of the envelope.

Polish Weddings:

If you're attending a Polish wedding, don't forget safety pins and some cash. That is, if you want a dance with the bride. At a Polish wedding, guests pin money on a bride's gown to get the chance to dance with her. Usually, the money is used to fund the newlyweds' honeymoon. In addition, guests may form a circle around the bride and toss money into her veil. Sometimes the maid of honor collects money in her apron.

Nigerian Weddings:

What's that beautifully decorated bag a Nigerian bride carries around with her at her reception? It's the receptacle for money she will be receiving from her guests. Guests at a Nigerian wedding fill the bag with envelopes containing checks. It's customary for the bride to receive numerous envelopes at the reception as she is literally showered with money. African-American couples who wish to infuse their weddings with cultural traditions have adopted this ritual.

Italian Weddings:

An Italian bride may also be carrying a special bag at her reception. It's called la borsa, and as part of a custom called buste (meaning "envelopes"), guests place envelopes with money in the satin bag. The money is used to help cover wedding expenses. Italian families often ask an older relative to hold onto la borsa during the reception.

Around the World:

Here's a peek into other traditions involving money: In Spain, each guest who dances with the bride during the sequidillas manchegas, the traditional dance, presents her with a gift of money. In Armenia, a godmother collects money for the bride and groom and gives out dried fruit and nuts to guests in return. On wedding morning in Malaysia, children carrying trays of food and money tucked inside animal or flower-shaped envelopes, march to the bride's house with their offerings. A Puerto Rican bride may be covered with cash after guests pin money to her gown while dancing with her. The pins used are called capias and are available to guests who remove them from a special doll.

Find any couple's wedding registry here.

Learn more about giving wedding gifts:
What are the biggest gift giving mistakes?
Is it mandatory to buy from the couple's registry?

See More: Etiquette