Not Another Toaster: Traditional Wedding Gifts in Decline

Christopher Old
Traditional Wedding Gifts in Decline

Not so long ago, wedding gifts were drawn up based on the household essentials that the newlyweds would need on moving into their new home. This was practical and useful – back in the mid 80s, 69% of people waited until after marriage before moving in. With an empty home to move into, goods for the house made ideal wedding presents.

Fast forward 30 years, though, and 80% of couples are living together before they get married. Suddenly those traditional wedding gifts have gone from useful to yet another blender. While this might be great news for smoothie lovers, many people are seeking to redefine what makes a great wedding gift.

As a result, a whole host of fascinating new wedding gift list concepts have sprung up. There are those that contribute to charitable causes, those that help fund a new home, and then those that focus more on giving the newlyweds memories rather than things. Chief among this movement is the minimoon – where the bride and groom go on a series of short breaks, as kindly gifted by their guests – rather than one full-on honeymoon.

It was Seneca who said, “It was nature’s intention that there should be no need of great equipment for a good life: every individual can make himself happy.” And the trend in wedding gifting seems to be moving back towards this way of thinking. Rather than gathering clutter, the newlyweds engage in experiences that create great memories – as demonstrated by the minimoon concept.


Traditional Wedding Gifts in Decline

What Are Good Memories Worth? Quite a Bit, says the Research

As it turns out, creating memories with shared experiences might be even more useful for a newly married couple than first thought. The term nostalgia was coined in the 17th century, by a Swiss physician, to attribute soldiers’ mental and physical problems to their desire to return home. It was singularly intended to be considered as a negative condition.

Ever since then, it was largely perceived to be something bad. That is, until research by the University of Southampton sparked a decade of research in the field that showed nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

It has been found to offset loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It strengthens relationships between strangers – people become more tolerant of outsiders – and, it was shown, couples tend to be closer and happier when sharing nostalgic memories.

In fact, the effect of nostalgia is also to motivate in the present and, indeed, the future. When people hark back longingly to the past, they become inspired about what can be done in the now and in the future.

With this in mind, it’s probably little surprise that there’s a trend towards unique wedding gifts that focus on doing rather than having.

A Memorable Wedding

To find out more about this new phenomenon in wedding gifting, I spoke to newlyweds Steph and Jorge, who moved away from traditional wedding presents in the gift list they set up.

“We definitely appreciate experiences over stuff these days. They create memories and work towards building your relationship rather than building up clutter.”

The pair were happier to enjoy wedding gifts that would create memories they could share in the future. In fact, their belief in this philosophy is so strong that they even gifted their wedding planners an experience.


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