THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GIFT LIST ETIQUETTE
You haven’t written a gift list since you last penned a letter to Father Christmas. Now you’re engaged, and you’re expected to come up with a directory of household demands for anything from a photo frame to a cordless drill. This can feel prescriptive at best, and downright awkward at worst.
Wedding lists exist for a reason, however: namely to prevent triplicate toasters and four sets of face towels – so how best to navigate the etiquette of them? We have teamed up with the wonderful Renee from Debretts, publisher and authority on modern etiquette to answer your most common gift list questions:
WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE NEED ALREADY – DO WE REALLY NEED A WEDDING LIST?
“In short, yes. Even if you specifically ask guests not to give you anything, the majority will feel uncomfortable with the idea – it’s your wedding day, and your guests will want to recognise it by giving you something that you will treasure and keep as a couple.
On the other hand, leaving the issue unmentioned and expecting your guests to use their own initiative incurs the risk that you’ll receive gifts you neither want nor need – or multiple versions of the same item.
If you and your partner have already lived together for a while, you might have accumulated most of the essentials that make up a home, but a wedding list can be an opportunity to upgrade and replace. Always hankered after a matching set of fluffy, white bath towels? Now’s the time to replace the threadbare, mismatched set with which you’ve been making do for years.
If you love a particular range of crockery or silverware, but would never buy it for yourself, add it to your list: not only will those special-occasion dinner plates last forever, they will also remind you of the person who gave them to you whenever you use them.”
We’re having a destination wedding, and our guests are already having to pay. Can we really expect them to buy us a gift too?
“It’s a lovely idea to include a note with your invitations to explain that you are not expecting wedding gifts, because you know that guests are incurring extra expense to attend. However, some guests, especially close friends and family, may still want to give you something to mark your special day. In this case it’s still best to prepare a list of timeless gifts such as photo frames or champagne glasses and direct those people to the list separately.”
WE’VE BEEN REALLY CAREFUL ABOUT CHOOSING THE THINGS WE NEED – HOW CAN WE ENSURE THAT GUESTS DON’T JUST GO ‘OFF LIST’?
“Unfortunately, you can’t stipulate that your guests stick to the list – some people might prefer to give you a treasured family possession or something they feel you will particularly love but haven’t thought of. You can, however, encourage guests to stay ‘on list’ by choosing a wide range of items, both practical and fun, and at various price points, so that your guest shave plenty to choose from.”
WE’VE REALLY FALLEN FOR A PARTICULAR ITEM, BUT IT’S VERY EXPENSIVE – IS THERE A MAXIMUM PRICE TO EXPECT GUESTS TO PAY?
“We always advise to choose items at a range of price points to accommodate guests with varying budgets. However, with The Wedding Shop’s great group gifting function you can add high ticket items to your list, and your guests can contribute as much as they wish towards it. This means that you can add that new sofa you really want, or the piece of original artwork that would look great in your sitting room.”
WE’RE FEELING BROKE AFTER PLANNING THE WEDDING – CAN WE ASK FOR CASH?
“Some of your guests may feel uneasy giving you a cash donation because it can seem impersonal. However, on your Wedding Shop list, you can personalise your cash funds with your own images and descriptions to let your guests know exactly what you would like the contribution for. This takes the cold, hard money out of the equation and lets your guests know that you will be using their gift for something specific.”
WHAT WE’D REALLY LIKE IS A CONTRIBUTION TO OUR HONEYMOON – CAN WE ASK GUESTS TO DONATE TO THAT INSTEAD?
“Asking for honeymoon contributions is becoming increasingly popular, and The Wedding Shop work with some incredible travel partners so that you can add your own personal travel itinerary to your list. Your guests can either contribute to a particular honeymoon activity that they know you are going to enjoy, or you can add a generic honeymoon fund to your list. For those of your guests who may prefer to give you a physical gift, we recommend adding items that will enhance your honeymoon experience, such as a new set of suitcases, a camera, or other travel accessories, to make your trip even more memorable.”