How to Return Unwanted Wedding Gifts

Written by    Last updated: August 9, 2012

So, the wedding is over, you’re bronzed and relaxed from the honeymoon and you’re back at home with that newlywed glow. Threshold crossed, it’s time to unwrap the wedding gifts. Whether you spent hours creating the perfect gift list or you’ve left guests to choose something themselves, you’ve probably got a good stash and most of it will be fabulous. But what if you’ve got some duplicates or, dare we say it, your Aunt’s taste in aubergine polyester bedding doesn’t quite fit with your loft-style decor? Fear not! We have advice on how to deal with pretty much every scenario.

Wedding Frame Gift by Prezola

Image courtesy of Prezola

Too much of a good thing?

Easiest to handle and probably the most common (unless you’ve used a marvellous gift list service!) are duplicate gifts.

Most retailers are pretty flexible with their exchange policies when it comes to wedding gifts, because they know the issues and frankly, they want to be nice to you.

Ideally, you don’t want to ask the guest for a receipt and give the game away, so you’ll probably need to accept a credit note or exchange the item for something else in-store. Great news if you’re looking to complete a dinner service, or get matching items from a product range.

Key tips are to keep everything in its original packaging and get it back to the store as quickly as possible. If they move into sale mode you’ll only get a credit note for the current price in-store.

And of course, because it’s a duplicate, there’s no need for anyone to know. Just avoid having both people around at the same time in case they both lay claim to the gift.

Thank, but no thanks!

The trickier issue is guests who’ve gone off piste, or strayed away from the gift list.

If it’s pretty generic and obviously came from a High Street store you should be safe enough exchanging it for something you like. But beware of gift recycling, the bane of recessionary times - don’t be surprised if they stopped selling it before you were even engaged. In which case it’s eBay, or bring it out for the next wedding and keep the gift in motion!

A tough one is when a guest has made an effort to buy something they consider to be very ‘personal’. Not a good idea unless you know the couple really well and you’re sure they’ll love it. You can guarantee they’ll ask to see said gift and have it raved about every time they visit, so I’m afraid it must be retained.

Try to think outside of the box. Will I ever like it? Could it become an heirloom? Will ‘charity shop chic’ ever be in fashion? Over the years you may find ”the perfect spot” for a number of such items - in the loft just behind the Christmas decorations.

The basic dos and don’ts!

  • Do remember that it was a gift, be enormously grateful and rave about “how generous”’ it was. And of course send thank-you notes.
  • Don’t ask for the receipt, unless you’re absolutely sure it won’t offend or you have a really good reason (see below).
  • Do return duplicates and exchange them for something similar that you need.
  • Don’t tell guests they were so deeply unoriginal in their giving that four other people bought identical gifts!
  • Do make a gift list. Your guests want to buy a gift and this makes it easier for them to know what you’d like.

Excellent reasons for the absence of a gift in your home…

While it’s not good form to tell guests you returned their gift, inevitably you could find yourself needing to explain its absence politely one day in the future. So, we’ve pulled together some quick-fire responses that you should memorise just in case.

  • Dave is allergic to polyester / cotton / aubergine / porcelain figurines.
  • It’s being framed / polished / embellished / walked.
  • It’s upstairs / downstairs / at the house in Provence / at my Mum’s.
  • It’s just so precious we keep it in the safe.

Many couples find that the best way to avoid unwanted gifts is to ask for what they need – be it household items or honeymoon donations. You may get a few unexpected surprises – but remember that for the most part, your guests want to buy you a present.

Ali Beaven knows about wedding gift lists. She is an Interior Designer as well as Founder & Creative Director at, the UK’s fastest growing gift list company. Prezola is a free-to-use wedding gift list service bringing together over 25,000 products hand-picked from the UK’s favourite retailers such as John Lewis, M&S, The White Company, Notonthehighstreet and Amara Living. Items include everything for the home and garden alongside gift vouchers for dozens of retailers, experience days, weekend breaks and electricals.

See more of Confetti’s great gift list articles!

This article was written by

Ali Beaven
Interior Designer Ali Beaven is Founder & Creative Director at - the UK’s fastest growing gift list company. Her team hand-pick over 30,000 products from our favourite shops for gift lists each month, working with brands such as The White Company, Selfridges, M&S and The Conran Shop. When it comes to interior trends or wedding gift lists, Ali knows her stuff!

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