Wedding gifts – the do’s and don’ts of giving and receiving

Wedding gifts – the do’s and don’ts of giving and receiving

The giving of gifts is a traditional part of any wedding celebration. But how the happy couple and their guests actually handle this aspect of the big day can pose a few challenges. Follow these tips and everything will prove a lot easier and more satisfying for all involved.

Work out what you have already got 

Do a “stock check” with your other half to create a list of those things you already have and want to keep.    Then make another list of what you still need and would like (perhaps divided into "everyday" and "formal" versions of dinnerware, glassware, table linens and serving items).  The two of you also need to agree on general colour schemes or patterns – hopefully you both have similar tastes!

Pick a registry   

Wedding gift registries makes life so much easier for you and your guests.  You need a handful – one is not enough but ten is probably too many.  Include at least one big retailer like Amazon or John Lewis but also add in some smaller providers that reflect your lifestyle and interests. 

Something for everyone 

You and your partner need to decide what sort of things you’d most like.  But welcome input from family and friends as they could make great suggestions that hadn’t occurred to you.  Include a wide range of options and price points - you don’t want to embarrass guest who are less well off.  Also list some traditional items for older relatives plus fun stuff for your mates to give.

Preparing the list

Take your time and enjoy it – this is one of the best parts about getting hitched so make the most of it!  Start sensible with the essential items you really need – a new mattress, cookware set, towels?    Once you’ve got the basics sorted it’s time to indulge yourselves with more exciting stuff that truly reflects you interests and lifestyle – double sleeping bag, pizza oven or limited-edition art print?  Be sure to make your registry list longer than your guest list so that guests don’t run out of options that are within their means.    

How to share your registry details

Be discreet - including registry information on your wedding invitations is way too pushy!  Word of mouth works well – just wait until the subject comes up in conversation.  You can also add the details to your personal wedding website (almost a must these days) as well as to your engagement party and bridal shower invites. 

Is giving a gift obligatory?

Anyone who is invited to the ceremony must buy a gift – no ifs, buts or exceptions.  Even if the invitation says “no gifts” you give a gift!. The same goes for destination weddings where you’ve had to pay for flights and accommodation – you still have to buy a gift (but don’t have to be quite so generous). 

Those who are just invited to the evening reception, or to a party after the actual ceremony has occurred, have the choice – a gift is not expected but many guests d so regardless.  What about a second wedding or a vows renewal?  Those who were at the original ceremony are not obliged to buy another gift.

How much should guests spend?

There’s no ready-made answer – people have to weigh up how close they are to the couple, how much others are spending and what they can personally afford.  The average in the UK, according to research, is somewhere between £40 and £60.

Honeymoon spending money

If you already have most of the household essentials why not create a honeymoon fund?  Help your guests by creating a list of things that they can contribute, like a couple of cocktails, a his and hers spa session, car hire or scuba lessons.

Saying “Thank You”

You should send cards within three months (and certainly leave it no longer than six!).  This is not merely polite - many guests will have had the wedding gift sent direct from the provider and want confirmation that you got it. 

The whole process of asking for and receiving wedding gifts is a bit of an organisational and social minefield.  Hopefully this quick guide will help you and your guests avoid putting a foot wrong.


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