Every bride wants their wedding to be special. No doubt you’ll agree that the most important part of any wedding is creating memories with your family, and other treasured people in your life. But another exciting and highly anticipated part of your wedding is receiving gifts!
Wedding gift giving has been practised for centuries. The idea can probably be traced back from the ancient custom of paying dowry to the groom and his family. The modern tradition of creating a wedding gift list from which guests can make their purchases dates back to the Victorian era. The first department store gift registries were created in the early 1900s.
Some couples would say that the presence of their family and friends is enough, and that they don’t want or need wedding gifts. But as we’re about to discover, creating a wedding gift list is important, even if you’d be happy with no gifts at all.
What Is a Wedding Gift List?
A wedding gift list is the couple’s “wish list” of items they’d like to receive as gifts from their wedding guests. It’s also called a gift registry, though this term is more common in the U.S. than in the U.K.
Married couples-to-be haven’t always created gift lists. Up until at least the 1970s, for the vast majority of couples in the U.K., marriage marked the beginning of their lives together. After their wedding day, the newlyweds would move into a new home together, which would of course need furnishing and fitting with household goods.
Wedding guests, therefore, could simply gift something that the couple would need in their new home. For example:
1. Towels, sheets and other soft furnishings
2. Small kitchen appliances e.g. kettles and toasters
3. Glassware, crockery and cutlery
4. Kitchen equipment such as pots and pans, chopping boards, knife blocks and fruit bowls
But nowadays, most couples move in together before getting married. Therefore, most newlyweds will already have everything they need. Wedding gifts have now turned into a want, rather than a need, and everyone’s wants are different.
So, today, the newlyweds-to-be should create a wedding gift list so that their guests will know exactly what they’d like. The gift list should contain a range of items of all different budgets, so that guests have plenty of choice.
Do I Have to Make a Wedding Gift List?
Many couples, as their wedding day approaches, realise that they don’t really want gifts – or can’t think of anything that they’d like to ask for.
But regardless if you do or don’t want to receive gifts, your guests will probably purchase them anyway. Considering that your wedding day is a momentous event in your life, your loved ones will want to be part of it too by gift giving. And after all, you’ve probably spend a lot of money on them as a wedding guest!
Putting together a wedding gift list will ease off the burden of your guests trying to look for the best gift. Besides, this is a great opportunity to get something you both want, but do not have plans of buying for yourselves.
Unfortunately, if you don’t make a wedding gift list, you will still receive gifts – but they probably won’t be what you wanted. You might end up with a dozen new towels that you can’t fit in your airing cupboard, or a bunch of single-function kitchen gadgets that you’ll never use.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Wedding Gift List?
While it is an indirect way of saying that you want the things that you love without spending a penny, wedding gift listing has numerous benefits that couples and guests can both take advantage of.
1. Having a gift list makes things easier for your guests – they won’t have to agonise over what to buy you, and spend ages choosing something that you may not even like.
2. Budget is no object. If you create a gift list comprising a range of cheap, moderate and expensive items, your guests can simply look down the list and pick something they can afford. They won’t feel guilty spending less money as they know they’re buying something you want.
3. You won’t end up with lots of gifts that you don’t have any want or need for, and spend lots of time returning them or gifting them on.
4. Using a wedding gift registry with a department store or online shop will help prevent duplicates – once a guest purchases something on the list, it will disappear so that nobody else buys it.
5. If you use a designated gift registry, your guests won’t need to carry the gift to the reception venue. The store will take care of the gifts instead of the guests bringing them along. Online registries, such as Amazon, will ship the gifts directly to the bride and groom’s home.
Another benefit of having a registry is that you can include larger, more expensive items (such as a new mattress, for example). If they’d like to contribute, your guests can pool their cash together to go towards big-ticket gifts.
When Should I Create My Wedding Gift List?
Typically, couples can start registering for gifts as soon as they like after the engagement. This way, family and friends can start selecting gifts for the bridal shower or stag party.
Your list should be available at least 4-6 months prior to your wedding date. This will give guests plenty of time to look through your gift list(s), choose something within their budget, order it, and have it delivered.
It will also give guests a chance to save up, if there’s something they’d like to buy you that they can’t quite afford yet.
When to Close Your Wedding Gift List
Closing your list also depends on the terms and conditions of the listing provider. Some department or online stores may automatically close out your gift list on a certain date after your wedding has passed – for example, three months, six months or a year post-wedding. Others will keep the list open until you close it yourself.
Traditional wedding etiquette states that wedding guests have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift. So, don’t assume that you can close your gift list the day after your wedding! At least leave it up for a few months, or when the last guest has purchased something.
How to Start Your Wedding Gift List
Wedding gift list registration can be done online with a site such as Amazon, or by visiting a physical department store. Most physical shops have online registration options and it’s free to set up a gift registry.
Online registration is convenient and can be done at the comfort of your home. This is also an excellent option if your guests live far away and do not have the time to go to the shop for actual shopping. However, online shopping can be a little tricky, considering that you have not seen the items in flesh.
On the other hand, you can book an appointment with your preferred showroom to begin your registration. A dedicated gift guru will help you build your list. In addition, going to the physical store is an opportunity to see the products making sure you are getting what you love.
What Do You Put On a Wedding Gift List?
Although this is a list of what you wish to receive at your wedding, do not forget to include traditional wedding gift items like china, bedding, or home appliances (if, of course, you could make use of any of these. Include lasting or sentimental pieces that you both can enjoy together, and items that fit your lifestyle and/or your home décor. But obviously, don’t request a gift that you know you’ll never use.
Most brides and grooms don’t ask for “personal” items (such as jewellery and clothing). The point of any wedding gift is that it should be something you can enjoy together. For example, a set of suitcases for your honeymoon.
We recommend including a variety of items spanning a wide range of prices, starting from around £10 up to around £150. This way, your guests will be able to choose something that’s suitable for their budget.
You can also include a couple of larger and more expensive “big ticket” items, but don’t overdo it – you don’t want to look as though you’re gift-grabbing.
It is best to include at least 1.5x the amount of gifts as there are guests. For example, if you have 100 guests, then try to come up with at least 150 things to put on your list. (Otherwise, the last guest to order their gift will only have one option – and it may not be something they can afford.)
How Do You Share Your Wedding Gift List?
As per wedding etiquette, you are not allowed to tell guests about the gift list yourselves. It’s seen as tacky and gift-grabby to include information about the gift registry on the wedding invitation, for example.
Traditionally, it’s the job of your close friends and family to spread the word about where you’re registered. A guest may contact your maid of honour, for example, to ask whether you have a gift list and where to find it.
But there’s also a more modern alternative to word-of-mouth: you can add the information to your wedding website. However, do not include this information on the main homepage. It should be on a separate page that your guests can access through the menu.
Can You Have More than One Gift List?
Yes, you can make several wedding gift lists from different stores. For example, you may create a registry at a soft furnishings store for towels, blankets and bedsheets, and another at a kitchenware shop for crockery and appliances.
However, it will make life easier for your guests if you have one list, or collate all of your gift lists into one place (such as a page on your wedding website).
Remember that the gifts on the list are optional. The list is just a guide and does not necessarily mean guests have to buy what’s on the wedding gift list. As a couple, you shouldn’t feel bad if your guests go off-list, or don’t buy a gift at all.
Sometimes, family and friends who know you and your partner well would prefer to pick something more special and unique for you. After all, these are just items and pieces you wish to receive and guests are not obliged to follow what’s on the registry.