Wedding Gifts 101 – Registries, honeymoon funds and wishing wells

Wedidng gift tableWhat is it about wedding gifts that make us nervous? Is it the uncomfortable feeling we get when we ask guests to gift us something on our wedding day or is it the fear of what we might be given, if anything at all.

In years gone by we were thankful for any gift the giver offered on our wedding day; as these items helped to build the contents of our new marital home that without, we may not have been able to otherwise afford. Jump forward a few decades and couples are often living together before marriage and have already merged two house loads of contents together so the thought of anything unwanted being added to this can be daunting – we already have this, we don’t need that, it doesn’t fit with our style!

While this may sound like we are being ungrateful gift receivers, the simple fact of the matter is that we are more aware of what we require in our lives than ever before; and feel more inclined to share this with our guests than we have been in previous generations. We have moved away from traditional gift giving where the norm was to offer a gift to the happy couple that had a value equivalent to that of the cost for the Bride and Groom (or family) to have you at their wedding. This notion has changed as our  wedding days are often more extravagant than before, making it harder to pick the cost of attendance in the first place.

In recent years the guess work has been taken out of gift giving with the introduction of gift registries and wishing wells. You can now have a registry for everything – homeware, travel or even a charity donation registry in lieu of gifts.

Before you decide how you are gifted, take a looks at the pros and cons from both the Bride and Groom and the gift givers perspectives.

Gift Registries Photo: Hugh Forte
A gift registry is a list of items pre-selected by the bride and groom and held at a specific store or found online so guests can select a gift within their price range knowing they are giving something the couple want or need. As items are purchased they are removed from the list so guests don’t double up on gift giving.

The gifts are sent to the Bride and Groom following the wedding with a list of who gave what or they can be sent to, or collected by the guest, to take to the wedding reception themselves.

Bride & Groom You get to choose items that you would like to have in your home and make sure they fit your style or are the brands that you like.
Guest All the guess work and fear of unwanted gift giving is removed as the guests know they have chosen a gift that the couple will like.

Bride & Groom It can take a lot of time to put together a registry that includes items you like across multiple price brackets to suit all your guests. Most registries only stock certain brands or stores so you may also find yourself limited in the gifts you can choose.
Guest If guests don’t get in early enough they may miss out on the gifts within their price bracket meaning they spend more than they would have normally. Some guests may also have preferred to get something more personal or sentimental for the couple and be put off by having to choose a gift from a list.

Stevens Gift Registry
Ballantynes Gift Registry

Honeymoon registriesHoneymoon
A honeymoon registry allows guests to contribute to the cost of the newlyweds honeymoon. The funds are held in trust at the travel agency and can be used like a cash voucher to book flights, accommodation and activities. Most travel agents provide little cards for the guests who contribute to be enclosed with the wedding cards so you know they have contributed. After the wedding couples are given a list of contributors with a total amounted gifted – commonly in a voucher or certificate form.

Bride & Groom A honeymoon registry can help you to get to a honeymoon destination you may not have been able to afford otherwise.
Guest Again, the guess work is removed and guests know they are contributing to an experience you will remember for many happy years to come. Generally the amount gifted by each guest is not given to the Bride and Groom, instead just the balance of the total registry, keeping an individual’s contribution confidential.

Bride & Groom A honeymoon registry shouldn’t be the only method of funding your honeymoon as you may find that your contributions aren’t as large as your honeymoon dreams imagined. The registry will often need to be used or booked within twelve months of the wedding so if you can’t make up the difference you may find you are traveling a lot closer to home or for a shorter time than you wished.
Guest Guests (especially those of an older generation) may see a honeymoon as an extravagance and be reluctant to contribute, instead turning up with a physical gift that may not be what you want or need. It pays to consider your guest list before setting up a honeymoon registry.

House of Travel Honeymoon registry
Travel Registry

Wedding Wishing WellWedding Wishing Well
A wishing well is essentially a “donation box” for guests to make a contribution to the couples lives as newlyweds. The amount gifted is at the guest’s discretion and the bride & groom may use the money at their discretion – often to contribute towards a honeymoon, new home or household items. Sometimes how they money is intended to be spent may be indicated on the invitation, however often it isn’t.

Bride & Groom You can use the money on anything you like – you are not restricted to just a honeymoon or household items.
Guest This is easy. Guests can even visit the ATM on the way to the wedding and add the cash to a wedding card – no thought required!

Bride & Groom It is difficult to ask for money without guests being offended. Consider a nice poem or let guest’s know what the money will be spent on to lighten the blow.
Guest The first question a guest asks themselves when they see a wishing well request on an invite is “how much do I give?”. No one likes to feel they haven’t contributed enough but there is no room to hide in this style of gift giving as the Bride & Groom know exactly how much each guest has (or hasn’t) gifted. In time guests may also like to know how the wishing well money has been spent – did you honeymoon, buy an expensive coffee machine or squander it on frivolous items (not ideal in the eyes of a guest!)?

Requesting no gifts at all
For a guest there is nothing worse than reading a little rhyme about “how their presence is present enough”. Guests will likely want to give you something to celebrate your big day and will feel embarrassed if they can’t – even if it is a token gift or bottle of wine. The Kiwi way is not to turn up empty handed so save your guests the heartache and give them a little idea of what would be appreciated.

Back to top