The process of giving and receiving gifts to celebrate a marriage can have feelgood aspects for all involved. A few generations ago, wedding gifts were vital for setting up fresh-faced young couples in their first home, and usually included toasters, roasting dishes and eiderdowns. For modern couples, many of whom have already been living together, it’s become an opportunity to upgrade their household goods by offering a curated list for loved ones to pick from.
I’ve surveyed married friends and family of all ages on their thoughts about wedding gifts. To be honest, I didn’t realise it was such a minefield of anxiety, disappointment-tinged gratitude and traditional values. Some couples are happy to spin the roulette wheel and place the selection process firmly in the hands of their guests, boldly claiming that they will be more than happy with whatever they receive. I have learnt that these people tend to give male friends and older relatives many sleepless nights and sweaty palms. The fathomless black hole of present options and the desire not to get it wrong can really freak people out.
Other couples fully embrace the registry option, high-fiving in glee that they will finally graduate from those scratchy cheap towels from their Uni days and glimpse a future supping coffee from unchipped mugs.
But what if you are already well nested? What if you’re happy with your linen collection and, now into your thirties, you realise that you’re pretty well set up? This is where my fiancé and I find ourselves. We’ve combined his stuff with mine to create a home that really does feel good and complete.
Initially, we considered stipulating ‘no presents’ on our wedding invitations. But then, as a serial wedding guest, I knew full well that I wouldn’t obey this and neither would our nearest and dearest. Wanting to avoid misguided gifts packed with love but wasted in our tight space, I decided to approach it all from a different angle.
I have often remarked on a beautiful painting or armchair or floor rug at the home of my parents’ friends, and heard, “Oh, we were given that for our wedding”. These special, high quality items often are the most treasured. And they dribble down through generations, something that really appeals to me. How do I know this to be true? Well, I have only just packed away my grandparents’ wedding dinner set, which saw me through 15 years of flatting!
Pondering this has led us to offer our guests the option of browsing a list of coveted items we hope would become our future family heirlooms. As it stands, this includes two pieces of art by artists I have lusted after for years; a full, great quality dining and cutlery set, and hanging in the balance is either a large woven floor rug or a special piece of outdoor furniture.
Our guests will have the option to browse and contribute any amount toward their item of choice, free of anxiety and with the knowledge that these will be on loud and proud display in our home for years to come.
Who knows — they might even make it to the grandkids, too!