7 Great Alternatives to a Traditional Wedding Gift List

Traditionally, couples only moved in together after getting married. Wedding gifts were meant to give newlyweds a head start in their new home. Guests bought the couple things like pots and pans, bed linen, small appliances, crockery and home furnishings. These types of traditional gifts are still given at most weddings today.

But nowadays, most couples will already have been living together for some time before getting married. If you’re planning a wedding, chances are you already have everything you need for your life together. And you might not even have any space for more ‘stuff’!

What Is a Wedding Gift List?

The point of a traditional wedding gift list, or gift registry, is to give your guests some direction. If you don’t provide a list, your guests will still buy you things – but you’ll end up with items that you don’t want or need. Gift registries allow you to choose specific things that you’d like your guests to buy you. When one of your guests purchases an item from the list, it disappears, so that no other guests accidentally buy you the same thing. But what do you do if you can’t think of anything to ask for – or if you don’t want gifts at all?

We Don’t Want Wedding Gifts – So What Do We Ask For?

Your wedding guests will want to spend money on you no matter what. Regardless of whether you’ve provided a gift list, you’re going to end up with presents, unless you specify otherwise. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of your guests’ giving nature without ending up with ten new toasters.

Here are our top 7 ideas for things you could ask for instead of traditional wedding gifts. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to give your wedding guests guidance without the hassle of writing a gift list.

Cash and Gift Cards

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but weddings use up a lot of it. If you don’t want physical gifts, ask your guests for cash to go towards your nuptials or your honeymoon. Asking for cash in lieu of a gift may once have caused raised eyebrows, but not anymore. Most couples getting married these days have already been living together for years, and have all the pots, pans and bed linen that they need. Your guests will understand (and may even be relieved that they don’t have to go shopping). Some people may feel awkward giving cash, so you can suggest vouchers too. Instead of a gift registry, include with your invitations a list of some of your favourite restaurants, shops and department stores that your guests can buy gift cards for. Bride & Groom Direct have a wonderful range of wedding post boxes – a safe and convenient way to collect cash and cards from your guests.


If you and your partner are not fans of material things, but you absolutely love days out, ask your guests to treat you to an experience. You could leave it up to your guests to choose something, but it’s a good idea to give them some suggestions. For example:

• Theatre or cinema tickets
• Dance lessons
• Spa treatment vouchers
• Chocolate-making course
• Wine tasting session
• Pottery classes
• Tickets to the zoo, aquarium or safari park
• A weekend at a B&B by the coast
• National Trust or English Heritage membership

Instead of being lumbered with physical gifts, you and your spouse-to-be will enjoy your first year of marriage filled with exciting things to do.

Pot Luck Wedding Reception

Catering is one of the biggest costs involved in wedding planning. If you don’t want gifts, but you feel awkward asking for cash, have your guests contribute to the wedding food instead. For a pot luck wedding reception, you’ll ask each of your guests to bring a dish along – such as a casserole, a salad, dessert, or a plate of finger-food. You then put all the dishes on a table, and you and your guests can help yourselves. You’ll save money, and your guests will love sharing their food with others. Your guests can choose whether to flex their cooking skills and bring a homemade dish, or bring something shop-bought. They can spend as much or as little as they like, making it the perfect wedding gift.

Gift Hampers

If you’re worried about wedding gifts taking up too much space, you could request that each guest gives you a hamper containing food, alcohol and other consumables. Hampers are great fun, useful, and because everything inside is designed to be eaten or used, they won’t last long. So you don’t have to worry if you live in a small house or flat.

There are many benefits of gift hampers:

Your guests have the option of building a hamper themselves and choosing the treats inside, or buying a ready-made hamper to save time.
Hampers come in a wide range of sizes and prices, so they’ll suit any guest’s budget.
Duplicates don’t matter – you won’t mind having to eat the same tasty bar of chocolate twice!
If you get anything you don’t like, you can donate it to a food bank to help the less fortunate. After you’ve used the contents, you can throw out the hamper baskets, use them as storage boxes, or re gift them.

Books, Films and Games

Books, games and DVDs don’t take up much space, and can be enjoyed time and time again. So, why not ask your guests to gift you a copy of their favourite book, movie, board game or video game? It’s a great way to connect with your guests, and learn more about the people you love. As books, films and games aren’t expensive, your guests won’t feel pressured to spend lots of money. With the endless amount of media out there, you’re unlikely to receive any duplicates. And each time you read the book, watch the movie or play the game, you’ll be reminded of your special day.

Online Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes are recurring deliveries of exciting treats that get sent to your house once a month. There’s a subscription box for everything, from food and drink to cosmetics, gadgets, stationery and books. Subscription boxes make great gifts because your guests can choose how much to spend. Guests on a budget could sign you up for just one or two months. If they’d prefer to give you a bigger gift, they can sign you up for a whole year of deliveries. To help your guests out, give them suggestions of the types of boxes you and your partner might enjoy. Or you can leave it completely up to your guests to choose. You won’t have to drag heavy gifts home from the wedding – instead, you’ll have a surprise each month as new and exciting boxes get delivered to your door!

Charity Donations

Let’s be realistic: even if you make it abundantly clear that you want no gifts, you will still end up with some. Some people just feel too awkward attending a wedding without giving a gift. So, if you really, truly don’t want your guests to spend any money on you, use your powers to help others. Ask your guests to take whatever money they would have spent on a gift, and instead make a donation to charity on your behalf. You could include a list of your favourite charities for your guests to choose from, or leave it up to your guests. That way, they can choose an organisation that means something to them personally.