Once upon a time, wedding gifts were all about providing the new marital home some of its essential appliances and equipment. Toasters, kettles, plates and pots were all the order of the day, with newlyweds often just embarking on their lives together at that moment.
In recent years though, couples are much more likely to live with one another for a few years before marriage, and that means that they usually have most, if not all, of the home comforts they need. As a result, the traditional wedding present is almost obsolete, and many people instead invite guests to making a donation towards the honeymoon or to offer a cash gift that allows them to spend it as they please.
But it seems as though the idea of a wedding gift is changing yet again, with people asking for more and more outrageous presents, requesting their loved ones to buy them experiences for after their big day; memorable experiences such as theatre performances and dancing lessons. And marriage counselling.
Yes, it’s true: Perhaps the headline act of this new wave of marriage gift receivers is a couple who last year requested a few hours of counselling at Relate for their new marriage, before it had even begun.
It might sound strange, but more and more couples are choosing unusual gifts to help them celebrate. And they’re not the only ones taking advantage. One website, Patchwork Present, allows engaged couples to upload an image of a gift that they would like to fund, and enables their guests to pay for different parts of the marital therapy.
Some of the recent ‘patchwork’ gifts include a four-poster bed, a camper van and pieces of art. The website’s founder, Olivia Knight, says that the business is going well. “We only launched in October and already have 560 couples making patchworks, it’s averaging two weddings a day. Most people just don’t need napkins and more ‘stuff’ — they want to invest in one big thing. It’s about getting cash towards the one thing you really want — not 25 things you don’t,” she says.
One of the other more obscure gifts also came in recent weeks, with a hastily arranged wedding that involved a Turkish bride whose permit to be in the country looked to be under scrutiny from the home office. “The couple asked for cash to put towards her visa costs”, explains Knight.
Whilst it seems pretty bizarre, it perhaps goes to show that different couples have different needs and desires, and this can be reflected in their choices of wedding present.