Gift registry, cash requests or nothing at all?
Wondering how to set up your wedding gift registry and how to communicate it to your guests? Kate Shwarz from Gift Club guest blogs this week with advice on the pros and cons of different approaches, from letting guests to surprise you through to charitable donations, and how your guests might react to them.
Most people have set up house and many people have bought a home by the time they walk down the aisle, meaning traditional gifts like toasters and blenders are often inappropriate. Despite the insistence of an army of online “etiquette experts”, there is no uniform agreement about how to manage wedding gifts given the contemporary climate.
There is one thing of which you can be sure: people will want to give you gifts around your wedding. They will probably want to give you engagement presents and your attendants will probably organise some form of pre-wedding function where gifts will be exchanged as well.
These are your options:
1. Do nothing
2. Create a gift registry and include details in the invitations
3. Create a gift registry and provide details on request
4.Request cash in lieu of gifts
5. Request donations to charity in lieu of gifts.
Consider discussing these options with your parents and, if you have grandparents, with them as well. This will give you a multigenerational assessment of how your request (or lack thereof) will be received by guests in different age brackets.
1. Do nothing
Believe it or not, this option is not the “safe” option. You still risk bothering people by giving no guidelines. Younger people and men in particular may find it annoying and inconvenient to be left to their own devices.
Some couples like to leave gifts to the discretion of the giver so that they can receive eclectic gifts that they would not have chosen themselves.
Bear in mind that you may get many gifts that will be unsuitable or tie you down if you plan on travelling, and which will probably end up in landfill. This can be hurtful to thoughtful gift-givers as well as bad for the environment.
2. Create a gift registry and include details in the invitation
There are endless types of gift registries you can create, and most retailers will be happy to accommodate. There are of course more traditional gift registries in the major department stores, and some fresh examples I have encountered include:
a) Travel agent – where the couple asks guests to contribute towards the cost of their honeymoon
b) Adventure store – where the couple plan on extended travel after their wedding so they asked for camping and travel goods
c) Photographer – where the couple ask guests to contribute to the cost of their wedding photographs
d) Art dealer – where the couple ask guests to contribute to a work of art.
Including details of the registry in the invitation can save you and your guests time, and is common with many couples. However, it can still cause offence, particularly with older guests. Guests are less likely to be offended if requests are for a more traditional registry than if it involves transferring money to a travel agent or photographer.
Depending on the age of your guests and the nature of your gift registry, you might want to consider having the details of the gift registry on a separate card contained within the invitation package or your wedding website, rather than detailed in the main part of the invitation. That way you can exclude it from the invitations of older guests.
3. Create a gift registry and provide details only on request
Even older people will tend to ask your parents or attendants what you would like, and you will probably find that many people will ask when they RSVP. If they have asked then it is unlikely they will be offended if they are referred to a gift registry.
This is a relatively safe option but there are still people who complain about this option because they would rather know what you are expecting before they agree to attend the wedding. There is also the risk that you may get people who ignore the gift registry and give you items you haven’t requested or duplicate gifts.
4. Request cash in lieu of gifts
This is becoming increasingly common. Some guests prefer it because it is easier, but other guests resent that they cannot add value to the gift with their own embellishments. Cash is cash and it has a defined value; that can be confronting to guests who feel the amount they can afford will be inadequate. There have been unfortunate stories circulating in the blogosphere of bridezillas complaining to guests that they did not contribute enough in their cash gift to cover the cost of their meal.
It is a good idea to be sensitive when asking for cash and think about individualising your request. If you know that you are inviting guests who would never be able to cover the cost of their attendance at the wedding, perhaps think of ways you could ask them to contribute their time or skills in lieu of gifts. You may have a great-aunt living on the aged pension who could make you a professional standard wedding cake that would save you hundres of dollars – but who would be struggling and embarrassed to give you $20 for a three-course meal at the Hyatt. You could ask her along the lines of “rather than a gift we would be honoured if you could make our wedding cake”.
5. Request donations to charity in lieu of gifts
Donations to charity are becoming increasingly popular with second marriages or small weddings, particularly where there is a charity that is particularly significant for the couple.
Some guests will ignore the request but few will be offended by it. It is worth mentioning the reasons why the charity is precious to you and that you value any contribution to the charity. Contact the charity to see if they have a procedure in place for donations in lieu of gifts. Most do and it can enhance the giving experience for your guests.
Whichever option you choose is ultimately up to you. However, think about who you are inviting to your wedding, how to answer questions about gifts and how best to ensure everyone attends your day in the right spirit.
Kate Schwarz is the developer of Gift Club, a free gifting app. Gift Club allows users to create a searchable wish list – an all purpose fully customisable gift registry on your phone. Gift Club also has group gift coordination and a Secret Santa allocation. Wish lists are suitable for wedding registries, birthdays, Christmas, christenings and farewell gifts – it is searchable so anyone can look it up if they want to get you a gift for any reason. Follow on Facebook and check out the app.