Going back 50 or 60 years, you’d be hard pushed to find a wedding gift list that didn’t include a 12-piece Royal Doulton crockery set, a kettle and an ironing board. Newlyweds would normally move in together after their wedding/honeymoon, and so it made perfect sense to ask for gifts that would help to kit out their new home.
These days, most couples are already living together before they get married and, very often, have everything they need. Consequently, gift lists have evolved and now bring with them a world of flexibility.
Now, you may be thinking, “We don’t want to ask for anything and so won’t be having a gift list.” I’ve seen this particularly when couples are planning a destination wedding, as they don’t want to ask too much of their guests. However, in my experience, people actually appreciate guidance. Guests like to give something, even if it is a small gesture, and so if you don’t steer them in the right direction, they may end up wasting their money and you could end up with things you don’t need or want.
Here are what I consider to be the six best options when it comes to a wedding gift list. I’ll introduce you to all of them and give you the pros and cons in each case.
John Lewis Wish List
The traditional option is a department store gift list. The most popular of these is the John Lewis one, although recently their Gift List changed to a Wish List.
Pros: You are able to browse the website or walk around the store scanning absolutely anything you like the look of with your phone. This is all uploaded to the same place and you can sort through the list online at home. This has to be the most fun way of shopping as you can select anything you want, without spending a penny.
Cons: You are limited to items that are sold by John Lewis and items are delivered as and when they are purchased, unlike with the old John Lewis Gift List option where they used to be delivered all together on your chosen date.
LBW Tip: When you’re in the store scanning the items you want, scan more rather than less. You can always remove items on the website later. Also, give your guests the option of gift vouchers in case they are last-minute buyers and the list is empty by the time they get round to looking at it!
Your honeymoon should be your “trip of a lifetime”, but if your whole budget seems in danger of being swallowed up by the wedding, you might like to ask for contributions towards this grand trip, whether you plan to take it straight after your wedding or later in the year.
Travel companies, such as Kuoni or Turquoise Holidays, will set up an account for guest contributions and then take the total received off the cost of the honeymoon. Or, if you prefer an independent option, Buy Our Honeymoon allows you to book wit whomever you please.
Pros: Rather than just asking for cash, guests will know exactly what their gift has gone towards.
Cons: If you are going on your honeymoon straight after your wedding, you’ll have had to pay for it in full before most people start thinking about making contributions (unless you have some very organised friends and family!). You therefore need to have the funds available and would receive the gifted money back as a refund. Alternatively, you could use it for add-ons.
LBW Tip: Break your honeymoon gift list down into activities, to make things more personal. People would prefer to know they bought you a sunset cruise for two, or sent a bottle of champagne to your room, rather than just contributing to an overall fund.
If you just aren’t sure what you need right at this minute or what you do need isn’t possible via a list, it is ok to ask for cash.
Pros: Asking for cash gives you ultimate flexibility.
Cons: Some people don’t like giving cash and would prefer to make a more personal choice of gift. They’d hate to think it was just going straight into your current account, only to be spent on the weekly shop! There’s also the danger that cards with cash inside them might get lost at the wedding.
LBW Tip: Set up a separate bank account for the cash you receive and make sure you let people know what you plan to spend it on You should write something to this effect in your invitations or on your website.
An evermore popular option these days it to ask for donations to charity.
Pros: People really like to give something to newlyweds, even when you have asked them not to. By asking them to donate to charity, everyone is a winner.
Cons: There aren’t any; it’s for charity.
LBW Tip: If you just provide names of charities, or links to charity websites, you’ll never know which of your guests donated to where. Contact the charity (or charities) and set up your own account with them, or even a Just Giving page, so you are able to thank your guests afterwards.
Plant a Tree
As with the charity donations, asking your guests to plant a tree or donate to a charity who will do so for you is an invaluable option. Large charities such as The Nature Conservancy are working towards saving the plant from climate change and deforestation and will happily plant a tree in your name.
Pros: You’re helping to save the planet AND making the newlyweds happy.
Cons: Again, there aren’t any.
LBW Tip: As with the charity donations, ensure you set up an account so you know who has donated and you can thank them afterwards.
Prezola/The Wedding Shop
If you can’t choose between the above options, perhaps an online gift list such as Prezola or The Wedding Shop are for you. These online tools allow you to ask for gifts, cash, honeymoon enhancements and also charity contributions, all under one umbrella.
Pros: They tend to have thousands of brands available, therefore not limiting you to one department store. You can keep track of cash contributions. Guests can pay for activities to enhance your honeymoon, such as upgrading your flights or paying for a couple’s massage. And, of course, you can add the option of charity donations. You really do have the utmost flexibility with these websites.
Cons: The honeymoon contributions are essentially just cash payments and therefore you have to actually book the upgrades, the dinner etc. yourself.
LBW Tip: If you do ask for honeymoon enhancements, take a picture of yourselves during the activity, meal, flights etc. to share with the person who bought it for you.
Thank you cards
Finally, don’t forget to make a list of everything you have received, and from whom, in order to be able to write personalised thank-you cards. You might like to choose one of your photos from the big day to make into a card or, if your guests contributed to your honeymoon, you could choose a photo from your travels.