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Etiquette and happy gifts

Last week, we came across a story on the Etiquette Hell blog, of traditional wedding presents, passive-aggressive giving, and bad manners on Facebook. The story, and the comments that follow it, reminded us of some of the reasons we created Buy Our Honeymoon, and the differences between services like ours, traditional gift registries, and simple gifts of cash.

If you’re setting up home together for the first time, a traditional wedding registry of housewares is a great way to indicate your tastes and needs, particularly to family members who might not know you as well as your friends. But if you’ve lived together, or you’re combining two already well-stocked homes from years of independence, it might feel that you’re simply replacing or duplicating things you already have.  And so, without an alternative, many couples might find themselves pressured into registering for gifts they don’t really want. It’s only a short step from there to registering for gifts that you fully intend to simply return to the store.

Of course, this is no fun for anyone. Who wants to spend picking through a list of glassware or cutlery, when whatever you choose won’t ever be actually used or appreciated — or that might even simply be returned and exchanged for cash? And who wants to feel obliged to ask for things that would be wasteful of their guests’ generosity and kindness? How is this possibly a good thing?

But equally, the social taboo around merely asking for cash is there for a reason. Your wedding guests want you to be happy, they want for you to enjoy and appreciate their gift as a token of their affection for you — but a simple donation of cash measures their gift only by how much they’ve spent. There’s no room for personality, no choice, no romance. Just budget.

“We've been asked for a gift and the answer is simply: you, at our wedding, having a great time. But if you insist then we'll say what we'd also love is the most amazing honeymoon possible.”

It’s out of this dilemma that honeymoon registry services such as ours came about. By breaking down your honeymoon plans into specific kinds of contribution — your first night’s stay, a romantic meal, champagne on the beach, show tickets, 100 miles of your flights — your gifts become real. They’re actual presents, not just quantities of money.

Time and again, we’ve found that guests love this, that your family and friends can really engage with your honeymoon plans, and really feel that they’re giving you something special, something concrete, over and above the cost of their gift.

On a practical level, your guests are handing you the cash value of their gift, for you to spend accordingly. And this involves a level of trust — but it’s our experience that this just isn’t something guests worry about. Your guests love you, and don’t secretly believe you’re going to spend your wedding gifts on your rent. It’s important to be honest about your plans, but if you get to your honeymoon destination to find that you can’t go parasailing because of bad weather, the fact that you can spend your gift on something else romantic and fun is a relief for everyone!

All wedding gifts — whether they’re a set of spoons or a spa treatment in the Seychelles — need a personal thank-you, and that’s the only rule of etiquette anyone really cares about. Many couples using Buy Our Honeymoon provide a photo with their thank-you note, of them enjoying the actual gift they’ve been bought. It’s a great way to make the point!

Your Gift History on Buy Our Honeymoon helps tremendously with this — and you can even download it as an Excel spreadsheet! For more ideas on the perfect thank-you card, check out this excellent post on the Love My Dress blog.