Confetti. A first dance. An audience with a cake. At the risk of sounding like The Marriage Grinch, these are some of the traditional components of a wedding that we’d agreed, early on, that we could live without.
Oh, and a wedding list. We didn’t want one of those, we declared, smug in our asceticism – we had everything we needed already.
Between us we had inherited, purchased and acquired the basic components of a home after more than a decade each of living in house shares. OK, our saucepans weren’t matching, and some of our towels still had name tags sewn into them from school swimming lessons, but they were fine.
Now, I wonder why we didn’t embrace the opportunity to be legitimately greedy when we could.
We were warned. Those who had gone gently into the nuptial night before warned us that friends and family would want to give us something, and that if we didn’t tell them what, we’d end up with three toastie-makers, six griddle pans and a pair of candlesticks. Guardian writer Simon Usborne, another wedding list refusenik, agrees:
“I look at our dinner plates now – mismatched white ones that would look tatty in a prison canteen – and wonder why we didn’t embrace the opportunity to be legitimately greedy when we could.”
We forged on, sending out invitations with no mention of presents or a wedding list. Sure enough, early respondents asked us what we wanted, insisted we would receive something, threatened to send a cheque instead (admittedly not the worst thing to be threatened with).
The irony was that, having just moved from a flat into a house and finding ourselves suddenly with space enough to accommodate guests, there were a few essentials we needed.
So in response to our generous would-be gift-givers, I started casting around for low-cost items that we did need. “Coasters!” “A butter dish!” “A waste-paper bin!” It turns out that no one wants to give the gift of a waste-paper bin. I don’t blame them.
In the past, wedding guests would have asked the bride’s mother what would be appropriate. This tradition has largely gone the way of trousseaux and dowries, but one can see how it might have made sense, sparing the couple themselves from having to make requests, however indirectly.
Many couples are now opting for a contribution to a travel fund or a collection of, say, wine or books instead
With couples increasingly marrying later in life, possibly after having lived together for a while, basic items for setting up a home are less necessary. Many are now opting for a contribution to a travel fund or a collection of, say, wine or books instead. Usborne describes how he and his wife compiled a tongue-in-cheek sponsorship structure, with ‘rewards’ – including smug selfies and texts from the beach – to recognise gifts. A friend of mine and her husband each nominated a charity for guests to make donations to in lieu of a gift.
Whatever you decide, we have conceded, belatedly, that it makes sense to give guests a pointer as to what you would really like or need. You can choose not to advertise it on the invitations, but if people then go on to enquire, it can be helpful to have a link to share (with effusive thanks, of course).
A real no-no? Mass-mailing your account number and sort code.
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Days remaining: 49
Spend: As before.