Buying a gift for a marrying couple is an old tradition which originated when people lived in small communities. A wedding was celebrated by everyone as it ensured the survival of the whole village and gifts were given to symbolise fertility, fidelity and prosperity.
This custom has carried on through the ages and is often the cause of most apprehension. As a guest to a wedding you want to show your appreciation to the bride and groom but sometimes buying the right gift can be fraught with difficulty.
Many couples try to avoid such problems by sending out a gift list, which may be with a part of a department stores formal wedding list service, or, may be simply an informal list of items they would prefer people to buy. This, obviously, saves a lot of trouble and eliminates the old problem of guests buying the same item.
Some couples, increasingly, are asking guests directly for cash or vouchers towards their honeymoon and there are various rhymes and verses they can employ to save the embarrassment of asking – in fact this is one of the most popular pages on the site.
Other couples, however, prefer the old fashioned method of leaving it up to the individual guests to choose a gift which is suitable. This is the most traditional method but the one which causes most problems. For instance, you may not know the couple all that well or you may be wondering what a suitable amount to spend would be?
What to Buy the Bride and Groom?
The most common wedding gifts for the couple tend to be items for the home – silverware and glassware are the most popular with tableware and dinner services the most customary.
What to buy will depend mostly upon your budget and the personalities of the couple involved. A nice gift doesn’t necessarily have to be one that costs a great deal money – good taste, after all, is priceless but try to avoid buying items to your own style preferences – simple designs tend to work best and are most likely to be appreciated.
A simple silver photo-frame can often be the most effective gift, as also can be a set of wine glasses or Champagne flutes.
Overly ornate vases, ornaments, paintings or prints are all well and good but should be avoided unless you are absolutely certain it is what the couple will want.
Ethical or Green Gifts
There are numerous gift ideas nowadays which are based around an ethical or environmentally friendly theme.
Most charities now have their own ethical gift services, some provide the opportunity to make a donation that goes to a specific purpose while others simply sell gifts which have been ethically made and sourced to raise funds directly. Some of the larger charities, most notably Oxfam, provide both options.
Green gift ideas can also employ the charitable theme, or you can opt for a more direct approach by giving a tree or a piece of garden furniture.
Cash and Gift Vouchers
Although the trend for asking directly for cash is a growing one it is still considered poor form to give cash unless it is specifically asked for. In other countries it is quite the opposite but we are still a peculiar lot in the UK so it’s best to stick within conventions in order to avoid giving offence.
Gift vouchers, however, present less of a problem and are perfectly acceptable for occasions when you are well and truly stuck for ideas. The amount given will depend on what you can afford as well as the income level of the happy couple. As a general guide though, for a couple of an average income and background, a token amount of £25 or £50 is perfectly fine – or £100 if you really want to make a gesture. Try to opt for a voucher that the couple will find easy to spend and is appropriate for the event. Good ideas for gift vouchers are:
The couple have a gift list but all the items are beyond our budget?
This is more common than you might imagine – if several members of the same family or a group of close friends are also attending then suggest buying a joint-gift. Failing this, get in touch with the Bride’s Mother (who is traditionally in charge of the gift list) or the couple themselves and ask if there is something else they would like. It’s not unusual for all the lowest price items on a list to go first and is simply something they will not have anticipated.
I don’t know the couple all that well – do I have to buy them a gift?
Yes you do – they didn’t have to invite you and it’s costing them good money to feed you so don’t be mean.
I was thinking of buying the couple a gift hamper – is this acceptable?
Yes it is. Traditionally people would buy fruit for the bride and groom and a nice food hamper is a lovely gift idea – especially if it also contains a bottle of Champagne.
I’ve been invited to a wedding but can not attend – should I still buy a gift?
Ideally you should yes. Even it is just a small token gift it shows that you appreciate the invite and will be gratefully received by the happy couple.