The GREATEST Gift of All

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No matter how beautiful and memorable a wedding you have, the cost of planning it will no doubt make you cringe each time you think of it.

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Weddings are an expensive business, often using up money that might have been spent on replacing your shredded sofa, or buying your first home.

Though it hurts and there really is no way around it, be content in the knowledge that there will be gifts involved that will help with setting up your new life. I doubt anyone will bring you the keys to a house, but the idea of receiving gifts often softens the blow of the wedding costs.

The only question is how to ensure that you don’t receive seventeen new toasters, or in the case of modern couples who often already have what they need, a replica of everything you own.

The area of gifts is a little awkward as no couple wants to appear to be asking for an admission fee to their wedding, but at the same time you might as well be practical.

There are a few tried and tested rules when it comes to gift etiquette that should be followed to avoid any gift faux pas, as well as some clever ways to avoid any unwanted gifts.
I want your money

If you already have a home set up as many bridal couples do nowadays, it might be preferable to receive monetary gifts that will help pay for your honeymoon, or the down payment on your house. Although it seems far more logical and less convoluted to just come out and say what you’d prefer when it comes to gifts, it can come across as very tacky to do so. Mentioning that you’d prefer cash to gifts or anything at all about wedding gifts on the invitation goes against good etiquette. Rather, it is the responsibility of the bridal party to spread the word about your wishes in regards to gifts. Let them know what you’d prefer, and allow them to pass the knowledge on to guests by word of mouth.
Setting up your registry

There are a wide range of stores that allow brides and grooms to set up a wedding registry. This allows you to create a list of items from that store that you’d enjoy receiving as a gift. Guests will then be able to go to that store, find your list and buy a risk-free gift for you. Once a gift from the list has been purchased, other guests will be able to see that and avoid purchasing replicates. Be considerate of your guests when going this route. Open a registry at a range of stores, catering for those with varying budgets. When selecting items in the stores, makes sure the prices vary so that guests won’t be forced to buy you a R10 000 espresso machine. Many people have a vague idea about how wedding registries work but you can provide more information about them on your wedding website (if you have one) or alternatively make someone in your bridal party the official registry helpline.
Gift logistics

Though in some regions it is tradition for the gifts to be posted, in South Africa there is not much faith in the postal service and gifts are therefore usually deposited at the wedding reception. Plan for this and make it easy for guests to drop the gifts off upon entering the venue. A nicely decorated table near the entrance is a convenient way to keep all the gifts in one place and receive them easily. A pretty box could be placed on the table to hold cards, or monetary gifts. Make arrangements for the gifts to be transported home after the wedding so that you don’t have to worry about them on the night.  
Thank-you notes

It is good etiquette to send these out promptly after the wedding. If there are no gifts involved (perhaps it is your second wedding and you have enforced a no gifts policy) there should still be gracious thank-you notes that follow the wedding, just to let your guests know how grateful you are for having them attend your special day. If gifts are involved it is always nice to mention the gift in the thank-you note, and how useful it will be to you. Even if the gift is a hideous woolen toilet cover or a bright green parrot that will be entirely useless to you its purely good manners to thank someone for taking the time to select and purchase a gift.   

Though a lot of wedding etiquette is bizarre and needs to be carefully researched to be correctly executed, when it comes to wedding gifts all that is really necessary is some common sense, and a set of gracious manners. Don’t feel bad if someone turns up empty handed; be glad that they are there to spend your special day with you. In the end your wedding is all about celebrating your love. This is in itself a gift, and any other gifts are an added bonus.

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