What options do you have for wedding presents?

Tying yourself in knots over the idea of wedding presents? What you really need (far more than a toaster) is our expert guide to the gift list

Above: Bloomsbury sofa, £2000; cushions, £25 to £28; throw, £120; candlestick, £12; candles, £8 to £10; votives, £15 for a set of three; and tealight holder, £8; all Debenhams
Above: Bloomsbury sofa, £2000; cushions, £25 to £28; throw, £120; candlestick, £12; candles, £8 to £10; votives, £15 for a set of three; and tealight holder, £8; all Debenhams 

For many couples, the greatest gift that a wedding can bring is having all their favourite people together under one roof. But getting married is one of life’s most momentous occasions, so even if you don’t really want or need presents from your nearest and dearest, chances are they’ll want to mark the event by giving you some sort of gift. There’s no point in ending up with a heap of stuff that doesn’t suit your home or lifestyle, so it’s worth pointing them in the right direction. First, though, are some common gift-giving dilemmas…

While it may seem impolite to ask outright for cash or cheques, this is the preferred option for many engaged couples so they can spend without any restrictions. If you decide to go down this route, it’s nice for your guests to know what they may be contributing towards.

‘Honeypots’ – large jars that cash or cheques can be dropped into at the reception – are a great idea in this instance as they allow guests to contribute anonymously on the day if they wish. They’re often used to fund honeymoons (hence the name), but it’s not uncommon for the cash to be used towards other ‘big spend’ items such as a deposit for a new home.

Gift vouchers or cards from department stores are often less awkward to ask for than cash, but still allow a degree of flexibility. (It’s worth double-checking the validity period of gift vouchers/cards as some stores require them to be redeemed within 12 months of purchase.) And don’t forget, asking for cash loses all awkwardness when it’s for a good cause. If there’s a charity close to your hearts, ask for donations towards that in place of gifts.

Setting up a gift list at a retailer is a great solution to the dilemma. There’s a wide array of companies offering wedding gift lists – from department stores to online boutiques, galleries to cookware shops – so choose one that offers items that you’ll definitely use or treasure. They all tend to be very easy to set up and manage online or in-store.

When you’re looking at an empty gift basket online or are sent into a department store armed with a fun zapper, it can be easy to get carried away. Always ask yourself if you’ll use a particular item or indeed have space to store it. Do some research with your partner and come up with a wish list of potential gifts before clicking or zapping yourself into a frenzy. And don’t feel you have to stick with the traditional choices of fancy china and crystal glasses – if they’ll only get dusted down and brought out at Christmas, are they really right for you?

Put yourself in your guests’ shoes when you’re selecting items too. You should aim to cater for a range of budgets so that all of your guests will be able to find something that suits their pocket. Resist any urge to put run-of-the-mill domestic items on your list just because they’re cheap. Who really wants to buy a dustpan and brush or kitchen-roll holder as a wedding gift, no matter how fancy?

From a selection at House of Fraser

Even those who are spending £20 or £30 like to think they are giving you something that has the potential to be special to you. Remember that some of your bigger-spending guests will want to mark the occasion with a substantial purchase that they hope will be used throughout your married life.

While many stores build in a ‘gift card’ option as an add-on (so guests who prefer to give you money towards a bigger item can do so), there are some gift lists that are wholly based upon contributions towards a ‘big ticket’ items such as a honeymoon, piece of art or a new sofa for your living room, much like an online version of the aforementioned honeypot.

There are clearly more important things to be doing on your wedding night than writing out thank-you cards, but you should aim to get these out as soon as you can once the big day is over. If you’ve chosen to go down the gift-list route, it’s a lovely touch to mention how the item is fitting into your married life.