How to Ask for “No Boxed Gifts”

One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one where I explain No Boxed Gifts and what this phrase  means.  It was something my non-South Asian guests surely were puzzled with at first, and was awkward to bring up to them.

Now, while many people might have no idea what this phrase means, you’re welcome to see this post here to get a quick explanation on what this phrase means and how to approach it.  To surmise:  it simply means that the couple prefer cash or gift cards over traditional gifts.  They have opted not to register for whatever reason.

There are some great ways to approach this and to spread the word among your guests.

On your wedding website, you can create a brief explanation such as “Having lived on our own so long, we’ve amassed everything we could possibly need for our home.  As such, we kindly request no boxed gifts.”


As we are planning on moving across the country, we kindly request no boxed gifts.”

I have seen this on both wedding websites and on inserts.  Now if you’re not moving across the country or you haven’t lived on your own… there are other options!

If you do not want to create a wedding website, you can opt instead to place a variation of the following sayings in your wedding card ensemble:

-The Bride and Groom Kindly Request No Boxed Gifts

-We Kindly Request No Boxed Gifts

-While we appreciate your love and prayers above all, we kindly request no boxed gifts.

These are just some ideas you are more than welcome to borrow if you choose to ask for “No Boxed Gifts.”

Now, on the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen it done very distastefully, so I urge all brides and grooms to AVOID these:

-NO BOXED GIFTS (written in all caps as if they are truly trying to make a point!)

-No Boxed Gifts (where’s the please?)

-Cash Only, Please (are you a merchant requesting payment?)

I took a page from my super proper cousin’s book in which she included an insert with her invitation card.  Mine had information regarding our valet parking, wedding website, and at the bottom “The Bride and Groom Kindly Request No Boxed Gifts.”  While adding an insert certainly adds to the cost of a card ensemble, I personally don’t see anything wrong with putting this information at the bottom of your wedding invitation card instead.  Some people balk at the idea of placing any gift information on the card whatsoever (ask the bridal party to spread the word instead, they suggest) so if you truly want to follow wedding etiquette but don’t wish to spend money for an extra insert, perhaps place your wedding website address at the bottom of the card and be sure to include a tab explaining gifts to wedding guests.

How has asking for “No Boxed Gifts” worked for you?  Did any guests make any comments regarding this, or were they happy to oblige?  Have you seen it any worst than what I’ve written here?  Sound off in the comments, I’d love to hear what people thought!


The “No Boxed Gifts” Explanation

Sooo… this is kind of awkward.  And I’m sure my non-Pakistani friends were like what does “No Boxed Gifts” mean when they opened up the card (and by card I mean in the insert, because I didn’t want to write in ON THE CARD!).. it’s so normal to us as Pakistanis/Indians because it’s what’s expected at our weddings.  We say “no boxed gifts” because it’s the norm in our cultures to walk in with an envelope because we see it as a way to set the couple up for their financial future, to help towards say the down payment towards their home, or just to help them getting started.  They also tend to give gold jewelry if they are close members of the family, but wedding gifts in our culture aren’t seen as items for the home, but things to get the home started.  It’s extremely common at our weddings to do this.

It’s a wedding, people don’t come empty-handed but then again it’s so awkward bringing it up.  Etiquette says don’t mention the place you are registered on the card (have the bridal party spread the word), so etiquette masters would probably say do not even say “no boxed gifts” on the card because it’s just rude.  It’s a Pakistani/Indian cultural thing, they tend to give cash at weddings.

I myself thought it may be conceived as tacky to request “no boxed gifts” but it’s normal in Pakistani culture.  Also, South Asians (in general) cannot be trusted with a gift registry.  If a couple is registered at, say, Macy’s, and are registered for a Ninja blender the Desi aunty or uncle might go and get the  Cuisinart blender because it’s on sale and it’s more in their budget, and reason “well they need a blender” and completely disregard the fact that Ninja blender might just match the couple’s taste & color scheme better.

We tend to invite 400 people and that would just result in an outrageous amount of gifts…. most of which you don’t need.  How many different knives sets can you accumulate?  Also, my family has been stockpiling things for my wedding for years —  rug, check; flatware, check; dishes, check; pots & pans, check.. you get the idea.  I also already have the Kitchenaid stand mixer I need because I lived on my own for a while.   It just made more sense for the no-boxed gifts request.

I still think it’s awkward to ask for it,  it’s awkward that I’m writing about it, but I feel I have to defend it and explain it to my non-Desi friends.  It’s not because we want money or because we are greedy, it’s because it’s typical in my culture, and we knew if we did register to appease our friends, we would get way too many gifts.

I think there’s a proper way to do this and to write this on your invitations.  I’ve seen a couple explain it as “we intend on moving to the East coast so we kindly request no boxed gifts” and some others just plain ask “we kindly request no boxed gifts” yet others have rudely said “NO boxed gifts” without even a please.  So, it’s all in how you word it… I personally don’t really see how it’s more different than putting the Macy’s registry insert (that Macy’s provides!!) in one’s invitation ensemble, though.

and… I think in a day and age were most couples live together before getting married, I wonder HOW you even register for a wedding when you more than likely have all the stuff you need.  I wouldn’t register for fine china (because I don’t want it) and we only added stemware to the registry for the Macedonian event because my sister-in-law encouraged it… but do I want fancy crystal glasses, not really.  (so yes, we have a registry for our Macedonian event because Macedonian people aren’t used to the “no boxed gifts”).

Royal Albert Collection at Macys

So this is just a little explanation of the Pakistani culture of “no boxed gifts” for those who don’t know what this means and might accuse me of being tacky, because I’m not!!!

ALSO as a cute funny note, my dad invited my neighbor (a Asian couple in their 70s) and they sent over a gift… they sent us a beautiful jug that was not in a box but in a gift bag, because that was their interpretation of the request. SO CUTE!!  This jug is adorable and we absolutely love it!

(UPDATE 6/4/2013: bringing a “boxed gift” to the wedding wouldn’t come off as rude of the guest if you wished to do so; cash/gift cards are just preferred and you should do what works for your situation.  I loved the floral vase we got from my neighbor!  I have to admit it’s not been used yet, but neither has our cash – we are saving that to put towards down payment on our home – which in this horrid real estate market is a huge blessing to have been gifted from our wedding guests two years ago).