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This is a bit of an unusual question, so I'll explain: My girlfriend and I are getting married next year. I'm German, she's American, and the wedding will happen in the U.S.

Most of the people that are important to me will have a difficult time financing a trip from Germany to the U.S. on their own. I am fortunate enough to have enough to be able to help them, but I don't want them to feel embarassed asking me for it. Therefore, I'd love to do the following:

  • Make available a fixed amount of money that serves as a pool for my friends to draw from
  • Enable them to claim whatever portion of the fixed amount according to their needs, thereby draining the pool (If I have 5 people and $5,000 each of them could take $1,000 or one could take $3,000 and the other ones $500 each).
  • Transfer the claimed portion to them without me being notified how much is going to whom

I searched for (and couldn't find) an online service that would do this. If anyone has an idea for doing this mashing up existing services (PayPal, XOOM, etc.), I'd be happy to build my own online solution. But obviously, I'm not interesting in writing an online payment service from scratch :)

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

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As it is, it would be abused for tax frauds, money laundering and terrorism, so there's no chance you'll find a provider of such a service neither in the US nor in EU. I think @Dheer's solution is the most logical one. –  littleadv Apr 9 '12 at 7:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

There isnt such site. Get hold of a Travel agency and inform your friends that this agency will give them a good deal on airfare and hotel stay. Inform the travel agency on the arrangement that you are working out. They have better way to explain to your friends. Pay the difference to the Travel agency. If you hire a reputed agency, they will not cut you short as they have their own accounting standards.

Your relatives / friends will not know much as they would feel that you have made a good arrangement with the agency.

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I think your idea is unworkable and suggest that you think the matter through one more time.

  • If the people you especially want to be present at your wedding would be embarrassed to ask you for financial help towards the trip exoenses, they may feel equally embarrassed about going to a site and taking money there too. Besides, how will they know about the site unless you tell them something like "Aunt Martha, I really would like to have you attend my wedding, but if you will have difficulty paying for the trip, you can get some money from www.mywedding.com which I have set up"??? They would feel even more embarrassed! Alternatively, if they get an e-mail from the website saying "You can get some free money to help pay for a trip to Thomas Schluchter's wedding; just log in at ... with this password .... " they might dismiss it out of hand as a Nigerian bank scheme! What if Aunt Martha takes the money but stays home anyway? In your proposed set up, you won't know if Aunt Martha took any money at all. Indeed, the company that sets up your site could simply pocket the entire amount. Since you don't want to be told how much each person got, who's to say whether anyone got any money at all?

  • Having had experience (with a different ethnicity) in such matters, I will suggest simply paying some expenses directly, e.g. write to each one of these special people that you would really like them to be present at your nuptials, that they will be your guests in the US and you will be making arrangements for their stay in such-and-such hotel as your guests, and pay for their meals, transportation to and from the airport etc. You could pay for the entire trip for those in especially straitened circumstances, but regardless of how much you spend, make them feel as though they are honored guests rather than the objects of your charity.

It is embarrassing to ask for money; it is awkward to offer money without making the recipient feel very embarrassed about it. While your intentions are indeed laudable, your proposed approach sounds rather ham-handed and likely to give offense where none was intended. Tread lightly.

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+1 these things are tough. In my case for a recent function, I told some guests their presence was so important to us that their rooms were comped. I told them that making the trip and time away from home was enough for me to ask of them, and didn't want to burden them with a hotel bill. –  JoeTaxpayer Apr 11 '12 at 16:04

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