My family doesnt pin the money on the brides dress like most Mexican families do because it ruins the dress, but we do dance with the bride and put money in a basket. But were pretty Americanized. Yeah its like a send off gift to help the couple out. It comes from rural Mexico. Couples are usually poor, so people help by putting money on them.
My informant was born in Sacramento, and now lives in Los Angeles. His parents are both from Mexico, and when we were talking about weddings, he told me about this tradition in which money is pinned on the brides dress as she dances around the room and individually with each guest. He considers putting the money in the basket a more Americanized version of this custom. His family has adapted this custom to their own lifestyle, which shows its multiplicity and variation.
He mentions that many couples are poor, so this tradition is meant to help them as they start a new life together. This is similar to the function of wedding presents given in bridal showers. Sometimes the gifts are cash, only not pinned to the dress. I have seen boxes for wedding cards to be dropped off, which usually includes cash. Using a basket is similar to this American custom in which there is a box for money. This is an example of cultural hybridization. Many ethnic groups do pin the money on the dress, however, which may seem more like an example of homogentation.
Annotation: This practice has been discussed in the Journal of Folklore Research
Pauline Greenhill, Kendra Magnusson. “Your Presence at Our Wedding Is Present Enough”: Lies, Coding, Maintaining Personal Face, and the Cash Gift
Journal of Folklore Research – Volume 47, Number 3, September-December 2010, pp. 307-333