Trendy, Thoughtful Ideas For Wedding Gifts

Thinking of one more set of plush bathroom towels for the next bride and groom? Better think again, because today’s wedding gift ideas go far beyond household necessities, even luxuries, to the happy couple’s greatest desires for their new life.

For instance, many wedding consultants are advising brides and grooms to set up their bridal registry list at stores that carry everything from bed linens to wine to sporting or camping gear and supplies for a home office.

Part of this trend stems from changes in lifestyle. According to a 2006 survey conducted for The Conde Nast Bridal Group, brides and grooms are marrying much later in life than previously. Today the average age of brides is 27 and of grooms, 29. This means the couple already owns plenty of essentials for their new home together.

The biggest development in bridal registry is to set up one’s “wish list” online. In the UK, Marriage Gift List ( lets couples set up registries for most of the major online and “bricks-and-mortar” stores in the country, along with charities such as Oxfam. This mirrors the latest trends in bridal registry that show a preference for gifts providing entertainment, relaxation and personal charity. These include:

  • Bathroom spas, in which the traditional gifts are replaced by luxury items such as fountain showerheads, plush spa robes and towels and heated towel racks.
  • Decor elements and organizers to blend styles from two different households.
  • Sporting goods the couple can share such as tennis rackets or mountain bikes.
  • Power tools for the home, causing many grooms to rejoice at getting equal say at last in the bridal registry tradition.

One of the biggest trends is to request donations to the couple’s favourite charity in lieu of material gifts. For instance, Animal lovers in the UK can ask for donations to anything from the Animal Care Trust of the Royal Veterinary College to the World Society for the Protection of Animals to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary. Those with a passion for children’s welfare can select among more than 1,600 children’s care charities, according to Charity Choice, an Internet encyclopaedia of charities.

In most cases, experts suggest that couples register with a local chapter of their preferred organization unless they wish to contribute to national or global efforts. By registering locally, both the givers and the receivers can know that the donations will have immediate effect. Bridal consultants also advise couples to be sure they understand how a registry would work with their chosen charity. Experts also say it’s wise to avoid controversial organizations, especially with political causes, that might offend guests.

One of the more popular trends these days is to help pay for an extraordinary honeymoon for the newlyweds. For instance,, invites couples to try the site free for one week, and then asks for a fee to host their bridal registry, similar to the service charge with other gift registries. Guests select from a list of honeymoon activities and pay the value of the experience directly to the couple via a PayPal account, by cheque or in person as a wedding-day gift. The list keeps track of who pays for what so there are no duplications. The web site holds no funds for the couple; all gifts are paid directly to the newlyweds and no commission is charged.

Is it impolite to ask for money in this way? Etiquette experts say no but wise brides and grooms also will set up a registry for tangible gifts for those who find giving money distasteful.

The bottom line: It’s now considered perfectly all right to register for gifts in the category of some personal interest or need. However, giving some options - such as a charity donation or a tangible gift - keeps the specific choice of gift with the guest, as is proper.