I still find something incredibly romantic about all things wedding – even the gift list. Perhaps this is because I never had one myself as my husband and I flew abroad to get married and I felt that our loved ones paying for their air fare was nice enough without asking them for a token gift to boot! We had also been together for 5 years and had our own well-stocked place and a 4 year-old son. However, I still love it when a wedding invite pops through the letterbox and can spend ages trawling through the online catalogue of their chosen wedding gift list.
A few years back however, there was a scandal with some well-known high street stores who created fake gift lists for couples and then simply handed over a cheque for the total amount of gifts purchased after the wedding. Scandalous behaviour from the high street stores people raged at the time, but I was left thinking about how even more dishonest it was of the bride and groom themselves who requested this service. Surely a little note in the invite asking for vouchers instead would have done the trick? I would rather my friends owned up and said that they wanted an 80-inch plasma television to watch CSI Miami on instead of thinking I was buying them a casserole dish and them having to think of a cover story every time I visited for dinner.
Then, a few months ago, my friend’s sister was getting married and my friend was invited to go ‘zapping’ in their local John Lewis for gifts. I am reliably informed (having never done it myself) that this involves copious amounts of champagne whilst walking round the store with a hand-held scanner, scanning all of the items that you would like to add to your list. I was virtually salivating at the idea as my friend told me, and declared that she must have had a wonderful time. On the contrary, she said that it was fun for the first hour, but 4 hours later, they were scanning random objects just to beef up the list and be done with the whole affair! They had blisters on their feet and were more than a little tipsy from the champers. This was proved when my friend’s sister returned from honeymoon and found their wedding gifts included a dog basket and 40-litre aquarium (they have no pets).
The last disheartening story came early last year when it was revealed that Debenhams had started to offer a Divorce Gift List. This was apparently to help with easing the financial strain when couples divorce and assets are split i.e. she got the toaster and he now needs one for his new place! A spokesman for the store remarked that it is not in any way to encourage people to get divorced, simply dealing with the reality when something like this happens. True, but still so sad.
There were people who could not make our wedding who wanted to give my husband and I gifts all those years ago. We held a reception when we got back to the UK – a fantastic excuse to wear my dress again – and we asked people if they wanted to give us something to give us a £1 Toys R Us gift voucher for our son. This ensured that he felt special on what was quite a boring day for him and my husband and I had our special day also. We got to celebrate with our friends (who were just £1 down) and our son got a new swing set for the garden!