Most couples have a wedding gift list. The most popular choice is a gift list with a nationwide department store, but gift lists with online-only companies are increasingly common.
One list or two?
Consider having two gift lists, one with a department store and one with an online retailer (e.g. Amazon do wedding lists).
Having everything on a wedding gift list with a department store means your guests will be overpaying for some items (e.g. books and electrical items). Stick the basic stuff on an Amazon list, and leave cutlery sets and goose down duvets for the department store.
Choose established firms
Remember that your guests will be paying for their gifts several weeks, or even months, before you and your wife receive them. You don’t want the company to go bust in the interim (as happened to the online company “Wrapit” in 2008). Try to keep your wedding gift list with an established firm.
Unwanted gifts are still possible
Even though you and your fiancee will choose everything on the wedding gift list, you will still end up with unwanted gifts.
For example, someone may buy you part of a dinner service, but no-one buys you the rest. Eight side plates are not much good to you.
Some gift list suppliers will accept returns and give you gift vouchers to the same value. You can then use these to buy the gifts on your list which no-one chose. Check your supplier’s returns policy in advance.
Also, some guests will always buy “off list”. This is their right, so be prepared to receive the unexpected!
How does the list look to guests?
Check how your gift list will appear when it is online. Are there photographs of each item, so your guests can see what they are buying? Are the descriptions of the items clear? Even well-established stores can be pretty poor at this, particularly with special order items.
Asking for money
An increasingly common trend is for couples to dispense with the wedding gift list and ask their guests for money. This is often done in an indirect way, for example through a cutesy poem enclosed with the invitations. Other couples ask for contributions to their honeymoon, often through specialist online firms.
This is an etiquette minefield. Wedding gift lists have been around for a long time and are an accepted part of wedding etiquette. They are, in effect, a courtesy to guests who want to buy the couple a gift but also want to make sure it is something the couple wish to receive.
But let’s be clear: however you do it, telling your guests you would prefer to receive cash will be seen by some of them as bad manners.
It is traditional for a guest to buy the couple a gift. It is not traditional – except in certain cultures – to give them cash. Many people enjoy choosing the gift for the couple and get pleasure from choosing something which they will use in their married life. By indicating you would like money, you are potentially denying your guests this pleasure.
Guests can also take the impression – rightly or wrongly – that their contributions will be used to fund the wedding. This is at odds with the principles of hospitality to your guests.
Whether you can get away with it depends on your particular circumstances, and only you know what these are. A couple who don’t have much money will probably be received a lot more sympathetically than a couple who do. Younger guests are likely to be more receptive and forgiving than those of the older generation, where this kind of request was unheard of. You will need to judge your own circumstances.