The Ultimate Card Box
So I've tried to look up wedding card boxes, and they are these weird things that look like wedding cakes — except on Offbeat Bride, where they most often look like small monsters or TARDIS. (True observation, I swear!)

However, I'm still not sure exactly what a card box is for! Is it for people who want to give you cards, so you don't have to hold onto them? If so, are these “congratulations!” cards, or do they include money? We're trying to discourage people from giving us presents, but I'm totally down with handwritten notes of support.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is – do I need one of these? Are people going to expect it, in the “I brought you a card, where do I put it?” sort of way? Because if it's going to make everybody's life easier, I guess that makes sense, but honestly the whole thing confuses me.

Thank you. I feel like a dunce, but I honestly haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer. It's like the whole wedding universe assumes I already know this thing.

Generally, cardboxes are a place to put any cards you receive at the wedding. Many of them are meant to be somewhat secure so that if you receive money in a card it won't walk away. I used a box I happened to have that looked like a little suitcase because we had a small wedding, easy enough to monitor who was walking in the doors, and I hadn't had time or energy to be more creative about it.

You don't have to have one. You could use a basket, just collect them by hand, or tell people to set it on a table. It is utterly up to you. Guests probably will expect some place to put any gifts they might get you despite your preference or any cards they might choose to give.

Now, if you've decided you want to make a cardbox, of course we have no shortage of inspiration. And we're guessing readers will have even more in the comments!

Weigh in: are card boxes worth your time, or are they just one more “not worth it” DIY project?

Comments on Do I need a card box?

  1. We also tried to discourage gifts. Thus, we did not have a gift table or card box. We did have guest book, where I hoped people would write their “handwritten notes of support.” Nonetheless, people brought cards. Lots of ’em. They left them by the guest book. They left them on the cake table. They left them on the head table. I *hope* we got them all, but I’m not sure because they were really left everywhere with no one watching them or collecting them until the end of the night. Many people honored our wishes, but many cards had checks or cash in them. If I had it to do over, I would try to have some kind of discrete place for people to put cards that somehow didn’t look like I was expecting them so that people who hadn’t brought them wouldn’t feel put out. Maybe like have some postcards that folks could leave their handwritten notes on next to a basket that could collect both these postcards and any cards people brought with them. You could later assemble all the postcards (and any meaningful cards) on a binder ring and have that instead of a guestbook. In any case, good luck!

    • This is what we’re planning on doing also: discouraging gifts, having a place to put cards for the people who inevitably do (hey, if it makes them feel good, I won’t say no), and having blank note/postcards so that people can leave a goodwill message if they like and hopefully not feel like they goofed by doing what we asked!

  2. I absolutely agree with what everyone has said – cardboxes aren’t “required,” in the sense that nothing at a wedding is required except two (or more) people professing their love and commitment.

    That being said, people will get confused if there isn’t somewhere for them to stow cards. They may even get a bit peeved, especially if there are monetary gifts included. When i worked at a banquet hall, we would often have couples that forgot boxes and they would hand cards to us servers or even just leave them in their table. If we didn’t see it, it would be quite possible that the couple or their family would leave before we could give it to them.

    So, in that vein, I would recommend it for both your own sanity and peace of mind.

    We got a larger cardboard decorative box from a craft store, which I repainted to look like a Minecraft chest. While it wasn’t the typical birdcage or basket, we now use it to hold Xbox accoutrements in our apartment.

  3. My mother has kindly informed me she will make me a card box… I have no idea what we want it to look like. I’d probably want a Tardis one… But… There are other items it could look like… Maybe a tent as we’re campers.

  4. I wrapped a cardboard box in wrapping paper that coordinated with my wedding colors, and cut a slit in the top for the cards to be put inside.

    People like to have a safe place to leave cards because they do often contain cash.

  5. I think cardboard box is the easiest route to go and definately worth the time. They can be made pretty quickly or simply bought as others have suggested. It gives the guests a place to put their well wishes, gifts, etc. without the frustration of trying to figure out where the card goes or if they should “bug” the bride and groom. I know that our older southern relatives will freak out if there is no present table and card box. (even if we request no gifts, they will hide the money in our pocket when they leave) I’m thinking of modge podging a cardboard box with either our favorite comic book charachters for us or with old circus posters to fit the theme of our wedding.

  6. I definitely agree that not having one could lead to some major confusion, but like the idea of not having something labeled “CARDS!” that might make folks feel like bringing something was expected or necessary. We had one, clearly identified, by our table cards so that people didn’t need to carry anything around, and that worked out beautifully. Ours was a hollow book we found at a home goods store for $20, but friends have made some pretty amazingly elaborate DIY ones. I think it’s smart to have SOMETHING, and if it’s decorative, people who didn’t bring a card might appreciate the decorativeness and not feel any pressure.

  7. I like the idea of a card box for guests’ convenience and comfort, but unfortunately there have been a LOT of stories in my area about people sneaking into wedding receptions and stealing the card box. This is just one of many:

    So I’m torn. On one hand, I don’t want any guests who bring gifts to be confused about where to put them. On the other, an obvious “HERE ARE ALL THE GIFTS” location makes them much easier to steal if you don’t have security watching them all night.

    Instead, I might end up asking our venue coordinator if guests can place gifts in a secure location that will definitely be watched: like our venue’s coat check area or behind the bar. Then I’ll put a sign near our guest book table telling guests where the gifts should go.

    • Ooch, that stinks. I imagine the risk of theft would vary depending on how large your wedding is and where you’re located. If you put the table/box in a corner that’s only accessible by passing through the crowd, and have a small enough group that it would be obvious if anyone is out of place, I wouldn’t think it would be too much of a concern. A coat check area (if one exists) is perfect, though!

    • We put our gift table very close to the bar. The bar-tenders kept an eye on it, and the bar was the busiest place besides the dance floor, making would-be thieves nervous about being caught. Plus our card box was a giant mailbox, so walking off with it would have been really conspicuous.

    • My sister in law’s wedding was at a wedding venue where they moved the card box into a secure back room once everyone had arrived and had a chance to deposit their cards. Since the gift table was right in front of the door most people will have deposited gifts by then, and if anyone had a card later the staff could still put it into the box. Maybe it could be put behind the bar or in an office for collection at the end of the night?

  8. Normally, I’m the one saying “if your unsure if you need it…you probably don’t”.

    …except for a card box.

    Basically a card box is for people to deposit they’re cards. They’re just congradulatory cards, and can contain money. Most of the time it’s just your guest wishing you well on your married life/happy thoughts/whatever. Sometimes people will affix their card to their gift. Even if you receive no gifts…you’ll probably receive a stack of “congrats on getting married” cards. And you’ll need somewhere to put them.

    For our wedding, we had a small table at the front (and I mean SMALL) of the reception where my mom put an old wicker basket. She tied a ribbon to it. We didn’t have any signs saying “please deposit any cards here”. Guests just know that it’s a card container. People who brought gifts, (we did a Honeyfund so we didn’t receive a lot of material gifts), put them near the basket (on the table, on the floor). Our reception manager stayed near the gift area, and about after an hour of the reception starting, she moved all the gifts and cards into a locked backroom for my family to pick up later after the reception.

    My suggestion is to have a small table set up at the front of the reception site, have your site manager stand near the table to watch it (or if you don’t have a site manager, ask someone you trust to be the “Card Guard”). Put your card container there. If you choose to do something wacky…a sign might be in order to direct guests to put their cards there. Anyone bringing a gift will also deposit their gift near the card box. After a while, have that person move all cards/gifts/whatever to a secure location. I’ve never seen it happen or have any personal instances of this, but sometimes people can steal from the card/money box/gift table.

    Just as a head’s up, even if you ask your guests not to give gifts…you will mostly likely still receive a few…so it’s best to have a place for those gifts to go so you’re not awkwardly receiving gifts/cards throughout your wedding and then having to find somewhere to put them.

    • I agree with the sentiment that “if you’re not sure, you probably don’t need it” AND that cardboxes are probably an exception. Now I’m trying to think of anything else that fits that category. Non-alcoholic beverages?

  9. As a wedding guest, I’m more comfortable when couples have a designated place to put cards so that I know the card I’m giving them doesn’t get lost. It’s not only a matter of security (not wanting the cards to get lost or stolen) but it’s also convenient for you. Instead of having to pick up all the cards to take home, they’re already in a container; just pick up the container and go. No card spillage to worry about.

  10. I ALWAYS encourage people to learn from my mistake and have a card box. We didn’t even know cards would be a thing because we had a registry AND it was a destination wedding. But we wound up being given three cards the day of… and then promptly lost them. (Don’t worry! We found them eventually.) But had we had a freaking card box, we would have been fine.

    Wish we had done the freaking shark card box for our shark-themed wedding:

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