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List Etiquette

Compiling a gift list is becoming increasingly popular, although some couples worry they will seem rude by asking their wedding guests for a present. The fact is, though, your guests will want to buy you something to celebrate your wedding and it cuts out the worry of receiving ten toasters! If you're concerned about appearing rude, include a note with the invitation and list, saying it is their presence on the day and not the presents that are required. Alternatively, ask your guests to give a donation to charity.

If, however, you intend to ask for a cash gift, you may need to approach with caution. While it's becoming more popular, some relatives may find it upsetting and prefer to buy you a present. However, there are ways around this, such as a gift card, which is available in a number of stores. It looks like a credit card but works like a voucher and guests can simply decide how much they want to donate. the money is stored on your account for you to spend when you like.

Setting Up Home

Traditionally, a wedding list serves the purpose of giving items to couples to set up home together. If you're absolute beginners, make sure your list covers basics. Go through your new home and work out exactly what is needed for each room. However, these days, many couples have been living together for a while, and probably will have all they need. If this is the case, a wedding list is a good opportunity to upgrade your existing glassware and cutlery. Think about including that dinner service you've been secretly hankering after, or that exquisite set of crystal wine glasses you've had your eye on.

Special Memories

However, you don't have to ask for specific household items - you might like to ask for a special treat that you and your fiance can enjoy at a later date. Your guests will feel touched that they've been able to give you something memorable, such as a one-off scuba-diving experience, a spa treatment, a case of fine wines, or even a hot-air balloon ride! You could also theme your gift list with something you really like, and register with a specialist company. Foodies could try Divertimenti, which can provide a range of top-notch food gadgets; wine lovers will be happy with anything from The Wine Wedding List; while The Bottom Drawer is a great place for gifts for gardeners. Alternatively, if you would like a once-in-a-lifetime trip for your honeymoon, ask guests to help you with a special honeymoon account - companies such as Travel Counsellors offer this great service.

Shop Till You Drop

Once you've made a rough list it's time to hit the shops! There are a number of ways of doing this. You can take the department store route and go to a shop such as John Lewis, Argos, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams or House of Fraser. Anticipate spending at least two hours compiling your list - this is your chance to furnish your home for years to come, so it's important to take plenty of time. Leaving your list with a nationwide store is a good idea, as it means that there should be no delivery problems, and guests can easily pop into a local branch, or even buy online.

Usually, when you register with a department store, an experienced gift co-ordinator will guide you through the process before leaving you to wander through the store in your own time. However, if you want to choose things from a variety of shops and don't want the hassle of leaving a list in more than one place, some companies can source the items for you. Wrapit, The Gift Registry, Wedding List Direct or Our Wedding List offer you the chance to put together a range of gifts from several specialist stores and suppliers and also their own showrooms.

Saying Thank You

It's a good idea to keep track of how your list is going online. When a gift has been bought, write a thank-you letter immediately, ready to post when you return from your honeymoon. Be prepared for some of your guests to arrive at your wedding with a gift that wasn't on your list. Many guests like to show their affection by giving something that's personal to them, and if you don't like what they've bought, it's worth practising that polite smile and gracious thank you, just in case!

'Wedding and Home' Aug/Sep 04

Five Ways to Ask for Cash (Without Asking for Cash!)
Of all the things most commonly asked about wedding gift lists, one has to be 'can we ask for money?' A few years ago, the answer would most definitely have been 'no'; it was considered the height of bad manners and seriously frowned upon by the etiquette police. Now, attitudes are a little more flexible but you still need to be tactful to avoid offending your guests.

If you definitely want hard cash, it's best to spread the message by word of mouth. However, if your guests still aren't keen to stump up the readies, there are a few ways of asking for the equivalent of cash so you get what you really want.

Specialist Account

A similar principle to gift vouchers, the Celebration account at Selfridges (0870-837 7377) allows guests to 'pledge' cash into your account so you can have a mammoth spending spree once the wedding's over. As with gift vouchers you can spend the money on whatever you fancy. As a bonus, Selfridges will add an extra 5% to your account and you'll get complimentary restaurant and cafe vouchers for your shopping day as well as free delivery.

Honeymoon Vouchers

Wtih the average honeymoon now costing almost £3000 the holiday-of-a-lifetime doesn't come cheap so putting it on your gift list can definitely help your strained finances. Travel Coounsellor's bridal registry service (0800-093 1388) allows guests to contribute to your honeymoon. You get personalised gift cards and thank you cards, and the company will send you regular updates of your account balance. Other companies offering a similar service include Abercrombie & Kent (0845-070 0610) and Thomas Cook (0870-750 5711).

Store Gift Vouchers

Not the most exciting gift idea but vouchers are very practical. department stores such as John Lewis (0845-600 2202), House of Fraser (020-7963 2000), Marks & Spencer (0845-717 6176) and Debenhams (030-7408 4444) all offer gift vouchers and, as they sell such a broad range of products, it's almost like having cash. You can use the money for a larger item such as a sofa, put it towards a new kitchen or buy clothes if the mood takes you. At John Lewis you could even take advantage of the Furnishing Advice Service and use your vouchers towards the cost of decorating your home.

Alternative Lists

For an unusual take on the wedding gift list you need to think laterally! The Wine Wedding List (020-7229 1610, www.thewineweddinglist.com ) allows you to put together a bespoke list of fine wines with the advice of experts. Guests can buy online or over the phone and your wines will be delivered when you need them. Each one has a hand-written label which tells you who bought it for you together with a personal message. Or how about having a gardener for a day, employing an interior designer, having your car valeted, or your kitchen blitzed by a professional cleaning company? Or maybe you fancy driving a Ferrari, trying skydiving or adopting a tiger? Bliss ( www.blissonline.com ) features a whole range of interesting and inventive gift ideas that are great for couple who think they've got everything. With so much choice it's just like having the money.

Good Causes

You may already have everything you could possibly need so why not make it a special day for someone else by giving money to a charity? The Alternative Wedding List (www.thealternativeweddinglist.co.uk ) is a non-profit making company with lists that include donations to Help the Aged, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Save the Children and Sight Savers International. For £50 Save the Children will be able to buy a set of winter clothes for one child in Siberia, while £60 pays for Marie Curie Cancer Care to look after someone at home for four hours.


It's always worth having a small back-up wedding list for friends and older relatives who will still insist on buying you something no matter what - just ensure you're not stuck with all manner of gifts that you don't want.

'You and Your Wedding' Jul/Aug 04

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