Written by Agnes Los Last updated: May 8, 2012
Getting married is great. When else do you get the chance to compile the wish-list of your dreams? It’s got to be up there with finding the perfect wedding dress as one of the highlights of planning your wedding.
Image courtesy of John Lewis
What can be more fun than compiling a list of presents for yourself? And having put so much effort, time and cash in to your big day, they’re hugely practical too, essentially providing an excellent way of making sure you get the presents you really want and need.
There’s nothing wrong or presumptuous about having a wedding list. Those guests wishing to buy you a gift can then choose something they know is needed, although it might be considered bad taste if you try to force your wedding list onto your guests.
And it’s worth remembering that it will be important to some, if not all your guests, that personally chosen gifts are appreciated. However, there’s no point asking for something you really don’t need. To avoid five toasters and seven kettles, a practical way of getting what you want is simply to set up a gift list.
A traditional list involves you compiling your own list and distributing it to those who ask to see it. You should include the manufacturer’s name, model and colour of whatever items you’ve asked for. When your guests have chosen a gift, it is returned with that item crossed off. Since your invitations will have been posted eight to twelve weeks before your wedding day there will be plenty of time for your list to do the rounds. It is traditional that the host (usually the bride’s mother) handles and circulates the wedding list.
A far more popular way of handling gift lists is by using the services of a particular shop or department store. Most major stores such as John Lewis, Not On The High Street, Debenhams and House of Fraser provide a wedding list service, where you make up your list from their stock. As part of the service, the store will manage your wedding list so when your guests telephone, buy online, or visit the store, the item chosen is removed from your list. After your wedding, the store will send you a list of who has purchased what so you know who to send your thank you letters to.
Many companies and traditional department stores now offer online gift lists, a hugely practical and popular alternative. Some of the best known include Prezola, The Dining Company, My List Is Here, Our Wishing Well and Amara. The greatest benefit is that you can compile your wedding list from the comfort of your home, saving you the time of browsing around a store. Once you have made your selection, you can usually either create a list online, or mail your choices to them and they will set it up for you. Your guests, meanwhile, can also save the trouble of a trip or phone call and can browse your list online.
Many couples now choose to ask their guests if they would contribute to a honeymoon fund. They might already have the house and the cutlery and the bed sheets and the only thing they struggle to afford is a holiday of a lifetime. Many companies will allow guests to do this in style offering them the chance to put money towards a dinner out so they know exactly how the money is being spent.
Kate and Wills think this is the best way to go. But then they have got everything they need and more. If you are feeling equally generous then this can be a brilliant way to raise money for a cause close to your heart and encourage your friends and family to be as generous as possible.
Using the gift services of single product companies such as Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Edinburgh Glass is becoming increasingly popular, especially with couples who have been living together for some time and already have most items needed for their home.
The gifts you choose will depend on what stage you are at in your life. A young couple setting up home together for the first time will want all the basics: china, pots and pans, bed linen and glassware. ‘We moved in together for the first time after our wedding, so our list meant we could kit out our new home with everything we needed, from lemon squeezers to bath mats.’ says Hayley, who married at 24.
Couples getting married in their thirties may already own a property or have lived together, so probably already own most staple household items. In this situation, couples often ask for more luxurious items they couldn’t afford themselves, like garden furniture, leather photo albums and state-of-the-art kitchen equipment. Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ve got hundreds of wealthy friends and relations, but you could suggest they club together to buy gifts between them.
Sophie, 33, says: ‘After living in separate flats, Ben and I had pots, pans and bed linen galore. Instead, we plumped for gorgeous china and handmade Venetian glass that we’d never been able to afford before.’
If you are getting married for the second or third time, you are even more likely to have amassed all the necessary household possessions, but Karen, 43, says: ‘It was a second marriage for both of us, so we already had everything we needed. But as we are both passionate about cooking, we decided to give our gift list a theme and limited it to specialist kitchen implements, unusual cooking ingredients and some of those store-cupboard staples that are always incredibly useful. It worked out brilliantly.
‘Some close friends in a similar situation did the same thing and asked for wine, which provided them with the foundations of a really good wine cellar.’
If you have your wedding list with a shop or store, you should establish exactly what happens when someone buys you a gift. If the store allows online or telephone orders, they will usually have a delivery service. But check to see if your gifts are held and delivered to you after your wedding, or as they are ordered. If the latter applies, you need to have them delivered to an address where someone is in during the day.
If the store does not provide a delivery service, your guests will have to take the gift away with them after making a purchase. Gifts will therefore either be delivered to you before your wedding day or brought to your wedding. It’s a good idea to arrange a suitable and secure storage area at your reception venue. Traditionally, the chief bridesmaid should ensure that cards are not separated from gifts, so make sure she’s equipped with a roll of sticky tape on the day.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s worth protecting your gifts. The total value of your gifts could be surprisingly high. So be sure to check your home contents insurance policy to make sure you have sufficient cover in the event they are damaged or stolen. It is unlikely, however, that gifts will be covered if they are damaged or stolen at your reception, so it’s a good idea to also take out wedding insurance.
• Compile your list at least three months before the big day so there’s plenty of time for order and delivery.
• Allow at least a month to compile your list, and don’t expect to choose all your items in one session.
• Include a wide variety of gifts to suit the tastes and budgets of your guests.
• Compile a list to cater for all budgets, making sure that no one feels pressured into buying something they can’t afford.
• To help with thank-you letters, keep a note of all the people who bought your gifts and/or copies of the updates from the list so you know exactly who gave what.
• Don’t just think of the here and now – think ahead. You may not be interested in a fancy cutlery set at the moment, but it could come in useful later on.
• If you want a list at a large department store, sign up as early as possible, especially if you are getting married in the summer months when lists are in great demand.