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The demise of the wedding list

2011 April 12
by Paul Vallely

The wedding list is on the way out. Thank goodness. There has always been something irredeemably dull and manipulative about the litany of dinner plates 12, soup bowls 12, and champagne flutes 6, that department stores produce for marrying couples.

Of course the logic was impeccable – the avoidance of duplicate or unwanted gifts. But it was always a boringly utilitarian imperative which combined the arrogance of demanding presents with menaces with the social anxiety of somehow not trusting the good taste of those who are supposed to be your closest friends.  It smacked too much of a financial contract: we’ll pay for the meal, and you buy something that we determine. It was a heartless world which discounted the value of freedom and imagination.

The most popular wedding list gifts, apparently, are ipods, flat-screen tvs and vouchers. The happy couple think of the people who gave them whenever they are used. Or not. The wedding list, someone memorably said, is not about giving, but about taking.

But wait. Though a recent survey has shown that one in five couples are happy for their guests to choose their own presents – and a similar number said they did not expect any gifts at all in these straitened times – more than a third of couples are jettisoning the wedding list only to ask their guests to give them cash on their special day. Perhaps the wedding list is the romantic option after all.

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