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Wedding Present Etiquette; considerations for your wedding gift list

Updated on June 23, 2009

Traditionally wedding presents helped a young couple start a home with items such as cutlery sets, kitchen appliances and bed linens. But today with the majority of couples already co-habiting these kinds of presents may not be appropriate. Therefore, If you don’t want your cupboards filled with toasters and kettles it is a good idea to compile a wedding list.

 Whatever you decide to include on your wedding list there are two important things to remember:

  • If possible, wait to be asked before giving the list to guests rather than submitting it with the wedding invitations. (Don’t worry, you will be asked!)
  •  Write and send thank-you letters to all who give gifts.

 The wedding list

Creating a wedding list puts both you and your guests at ease and there is now a large number of companies that offer these services. Whichever you choose it is important that the list includes a good number of inexpensive and expensive gifts as your guests will most likely include those who are close and not so close. Your guests will also all have varying circumstances.

Traditionally bed linen is given by the bride’s parents but both linen and other traditional gifts are common entries on a wedding list. If traditional gifts are not appropriate for you, it’s OK to list other items such as a Nintendo Wii as long as there is a good mix, this avoids the possibility of looking a little indulgent.

 Can I ask for money as a wedding present?

Giving and asking for money remains a bit of a contentious issue. In the past it may have been considered bad form for anyone but the closest family members to give money. However, with increasing living and marriage costs,  many couples are now opting for gifts in the form of money.  This money may put towards buying a house, a car, or going on a nice honeymoon. If you feel that money, as a gift, would benefit you most then it is important to offer this as an option alongside other more traditional gifts. If you ask for money it is also considered polite to be explicit about what the money would go towards. For example; “We are looking to buy our first house soon so we would be grateful for any money that would help with a down payment.”

Thank-you letters

Even if you choose not to compile a wedding list, it is still vitally important and courteous to send thank-you notes to all who you sent you a gift.

As, traditionally, most gifts are sent to the bride the responsibility has fallen on her to write the letters of thanks. The groom of course could share in this responsibility and if he is given any personal gifts then he should write himself. It is perhaps better if the letters are written in one voice. For example ‘Thomas and I are really thrilled…’ is preferable to ‘we are really thrilled…’.

To save any embarrassment or hurt feelings it is important to have a meticulous approach towards writing your thank-you letters. When you receive a present make a note of who it is from, what it is and when it arrived. Only when you have written the letter and put it in the post should you cross off their name. It is of course good to write a thank-you letter as soon as possible after the gift is received. It may be wise to respond first to those gifts that were received in the post as the time between the posting of the gift and the receipt of the thank-you letter will be the greater.

However formal or informal your wedding will be, it is essential that you take the time to think about how you will compile your wedding gift wish list. You need to take into account the situations of your potential gift buyers as well as your own wishes. Perhaps even more important will be your approach to writing thank-you notes, if you want to avoid any hurt feelings. If you follow the above guidelines this potentially sticky area of wedding preparation should go smoothly leaving you to enjoy your big day.  


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    • Samantha Gold profile image

      Samantha Gold 6 years ago

      I think asking for money is the absolute wrong thing to do even if it is for a down payment on a house. Now if you mention the word to your parents that you are preparing to buy a home, they will most likely get the word out for you. In either case, money seems to the be the most popular gift item anyway so you need not worry. Just don't have high expectations on the amount that you receive. As you mentioned in the article, always, always, send a thank you note.

    • JamesCurtis profile image

      JamesCurtis 8 years ago

      Good article bugsy, I think this is a subject that gets trickier and trickier as more and more people are wedding later in life or having second marriages. I have written a hub on the advantages of choosing art as a wedding gift, let me know what you think.