Choosing whether or not to use a wedding money tree at your celebration can be a controversial decision, but there are ways to incorporate this wedding trend without difficulty if it is planned appropriately.
Asking for Cash
Before considering a money tree, couples should be aware that it is usually considered a breach of wedding gift etiquette to ask for money in any form, whether through direct request or trees, dances, or other means. That does not mean that a couple cannot use a money tree, however. Instead, the money tree should not be made the main focus of the event, whether for a wedding shower, the reception, or any other wedding-related celebration. Guests should not feel pressured to give a couple cash, but providing a money tree can make it convenient for guests who wish to do so.
What is a Money Tree?
A money tree is a centerpiece where guests can pin or clip cash onto a "tree" as a gift to the happy couple. Money trees can be made from wire or real wood, and pins, paperclips, clothespins, or ribbons are used to decorate the tree while providing a means for money to be easily attached. Some couples prefer to provide small envelopes so cash gifts can be given more discreetly, and adding small notes or pens gives guests a way to add their wedding wishes to the tree as well.
Is a Money Tree Appropriate?
Money trees, or any way to directly solicit cash gifts, are not always considered appropriate. Done properly, however, a money or cash tree can be tasteful and acceptable. Circumstances that make money trees more appropriate include:
- Destination Weddings: Couples cannot easily transport bulky gifts from a wedding abroad, and cash is more convenient.
- Shower Trees: Using a wedding shower money tree, where the purpose of the event is to "shower" the couple with gifts, rather than at the wedding itself, where the purpose is to celebrate the couple's union, is a more appropriate choice.
- Themed Trees: If a couple has other impending expenses in their soon-to-be married life, such as a new baby or purchasing a new home, the money tree could be specially themed to help support that cause. Simply paying for the wedding or honeymoon, however, is not a suitable choice.
- Cultural Expectations: In some cultures, money trees are fun traditions that have been used for generations. Couples who are close to their ethnic roots and wish to incorporate this aspect of their heritage into their celebrates can do so easily, provided it is done in the proper cultural context and not just as an excuse to solicit cash.
Tips for Using a Wedding Money Tree
If you choose to have a money tree as part of your nuptial celebration, make it discreet and elegant so it is a pleasant part of your event rather than a blatant expectation of giving.
- Place the tree in a location near other gifts, but do not put it front and center as if all guests are expected to contribute.
- Do not call attention to the tree via announcements or toasts. The bride and groom should never call attention to the tree themselves.
- Place a lighthearted poem or verse near the tree to explain its purpose to guests who may not have seen one before, but make it clear that any cash gifts are optional.
- Choose the type of tree to use to coordinate with the wedding festivities. A pine tree, for example, is a fun option for winter weddings, while a palm tree can be used for beach weddings. Ficus trees, grapevines, and miniature arbors are other creative money tree options.
- Decorate the tree with more than money. Add small ornaments that match the wedding colors or theme to make the tree a more suitable decoration.
Make Your Own Money Tree
To make your own wedding money tree, you will need:
- A clay pot
- Spray paint in white, gold, silver, or coordinating wedding colors
- A sturdy branch
- Sand, marbles, or floral foam
- Clips or ribbons
- Trim the branch into a suitable shape and file any rough or sharp edges so they will not be dangerous.
- Hot glue extra branches to the main structure to fill out the shape if necessary.
- Decorate the clay pot if desired, then place the branch upright in the center of the pot.
- Fill the pot with sand or marbles to hold the branch firmly in place. If using floral foam, insert the foam into the pot before inserting the branch.
- Spray paint the branch white or any color to coordinate with the wedding decorations. The pot can match, or the branch may need to be painted separately.
- Add ribbons or other decorative accents to the tree.
- Add clips or place them nearby for guests to use to attach money to the tree. Consider adding envelopes and note pads to the tree table as well.
- Attach a few bills randomly to the tree so guests will understand its purpose and see how to attach their gifts.
Money Tree Alternatives
Couples who like the idea of a money tree but aren't comfortable with the cash being clipped to a plant can use other creative options, such as:
- Wishing wells
- Decorated bird cages
- Wedding card boxes
- Themed containers, such as a cowboy boot for a western wedding
- A money dance
Cash is a wonderful wedding gift, and using a wedding money tree can help guests give cash discreetly and creatively. As long as a money tree is used appropriately and it is not a solicitation for donations, it can be a fun part of a couple's wedding festivities.