Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
In Kerala, India, a lot of people now prefer to give and receive presents in cash at the wedding.
The guests are saved from the botheration of having to go out to some shop and actually hunt for something to give the couple. For one thing, wedding presents are a big headache in Kerala. People always aim to give ‘useful’ gifts. And as it is given to the newly married couple in front of so many people, and since you’d be photographed while handing it to them, there is the additional pressure of the present looking big. So people try to buy big and bulky gifts. Above all this, they won’t know if the couple would actually find their gift useful, or if the same thing has already been gifted to them by somebody else, etc. When my parents got married, between them, dad and mom received 12 milk cookers from different people! Such confusions happen often. And so, a lot of people think that giving the couple cash is the best way to deal with the situation. Plus there is also the factor of being able to turn up at the wedding without awkwardly holding a present in your hand that you are expected to hold all through the function and then give it to the couple on the wedding stage after the function is over. Many people find this deeply embarrassing.
The couple themselves would find cash to be a better alternative rather than getting 17 sets of ice-cream bowls, 12 dinner sets, 4 pressure cookers, and three identical wall-hangings. Youngsters who get married these days prefer to decorate their new homes with well-thought out ideas and themes. What would they do with 17 ice-cream bowl sets? If they get gifts in cash, they’d at least be able to go out and buy what they like. Makes perfect sense to me.
Of course, if it is a close friend that’s getting married, I think personalized gifts are great. But if it’s just a social obligation, then I think cash gifts are the best and most useful gifts that anybody could give the new couple.
It’s been a trend to type ‘YOUR PRESENCE IS THE BEST PRESENT’ on wedding invites in Kerala. Some people get even more specific and write ‘NO PRESENTS PLEASE’. So it’s obvious that many people simply don’t have the place to stack up so many gifts. So, money is the best choice.
Asking people money to pay for the wedding would, however, be looked down upon where I come from. Most of our folk are very traditional and would consider such demands to be very uncomely.