Wedding presents: what’s right to give?

It’s a sensitive topic filled with pitfalls... Too little? Too much? Practical? Traditional?

“What my parents deem a suitable wedding gift is not what I would give my just-married friends.”

“What my parents deem a suitable wedding gift is not what I would give my just-married friends.”

 

Everyone seems to have their own rigid idea of the right way to go about buying a couple a wedding gift. Wedding gifts (like – I’m learning – most aspects of weddings) are steeped in tradition, memories and theories about what the “correct” thing is to do. I’m getting married in July and am learning this the hard way.

Already we’ve had family members insisting on buying us Waterford Crystal, and distant friends asking about bank accounts to transfer money to. It’s all a bit embarrassing. You want to remain gracious and certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but you don’t want to end up with a living room full of things you don’t need either.

Most people have a genuine desire give the couple a practical gift that they’ll actually love. Along with this good will though, comes a thousand questions. These questions usually begin along the lines of “what to buy?” followed quickly by “how much to spend?” This is where it gets complicated. Everyone seems to use a different metric. How well do you know the couple? How often do you see them? How much do you really like them? How much do you earn comparatively to them? Were they nice to you in primary school? I wouldn’t blame you for thinking this is all a bit too complicated, and deciding to give them cash instead. But this throws up a different rake of issues. Maybe cash is a little unfamiliar? Does it make it look like you care less? Does anyone do cheques anymore? Is it really only acceptable to give €50 if you’re on your own and €100 if you bring a plus one? Honestly, it’s enough to break up a marriage.

Evolving

This isn’t helped by the fact that for each generation the wedding gift evolves, creating a generational gap between what is expected and what is accepted. What my parents deem a suitable wedding gift is not what I would give my just-married friends. The idea of using gifts to help set a couple up for their life is lovely, but these days the vast majority of couples already have all the crystal, slow cookers and cast iron casserole dishes that they are ever going to need.

Many young couples are saving for the honeymoon, or a house, or simply trying to survive after being a bit too spendy on the big day; what these young couples really need is cash. Despite this understanding, so many Irish people are still awkward about handing over a wad.

One solution to all these issues, which I have recently discovered, is to make use of a third party site, such as weddinglist.ie. Here you can create a wish list that allows you to combine products you love (like slow cookers) with honeymoon and cash contributions. Guests can chose to buy you that set of bed linen you’ve had you eye on forever, or put a contribution towards a weekend away in Barcelona for two. You can add products from anywhere on the internet and, unbelievably, the whole service is free (they make their money from the producers). Weddinglist.ie even delivers the gifts to your home, and keeps a record of exactly who bought what for thank you cards.

The great thing about a system like this is that it gives all budgets, and all generations, an option that will make them happy. Auntie Maura can buy you the silverware, and your friend from college can give you €20 towards a nice slap-up dinner. And instead of finding envelopes of cash under the wedding cake, and having mystery boxes arrive at your house four months after the wedding, a service like wedding list keeps everything in one place. The rest of the wedding planning though? Well, if only it was that easy.

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