Feeling Charitable? The New Wedding Gift List
In recent years, couples have found themselves feeling a little more charitable at a time when wedding bells become the soundtrack to their lives. Now, more than ever, couples are extending their arm, and their wedding budget, to offer charitable alternatives as their wedding date looms closer.
So why are couples shrugging off the 300 item-strong wedding gift list in favour of charitable donations to be made in their name instead? Why are couples dramatically lowering their budget in order to make a very generous pledge to a fundraising course close to their heart? Why are we more interested in bolstering the funds of registered charities instead of lining our own pockets these days?
Well, in part, the answer is because a considerable amount of us are selfless, generous and kind-hearted folks. But if that were the only reason then the same would have happened 10 years ago. In actual fact, it’s more likely to be guilt that is responsible for the sudden surge in kindness taking the wedding world by storm.
Some couples simply feel immensely guilty spending tens of thousands of pounds on a single day when other people are far less fortunate. And I’m sure we can all say that we have experienced the same feeling ourselves from time to time.
Guilt over money can hit us like a tonne of bricks. It’s almost like looking at a very ugly reflection of ourselves in a mirror - we’re ashamed and embarrassed at spending £50 on a new outfit to impress a date, or a blowout meal, when some people can’t even afford a sandwich.
Now, not everyone feels like this when it comes to spending money on their wedding day. But, for others, it’s the driving force for their generous acts of kindness and humility. I’m not suggesting that this becomes a precedent, nor am I saying that those who do plump for a pots and pans selection are selfish. But I do think those who choose to benefit others at a very self-indulgent time should be applauded.
I’m not someone who struggles with the idea of giving to charity - I’ve ran 2 half-marathons and a full one to raise money for causes that are close to my heart. I’ve organised cake sales, car washes and sponsored walks in order to benefit those who are without the luxuries that we all have available to us. But, where weddings are concerned - and my gift list especially - the idea of donating to charity wouldn’t really cross my mind. Because I struggle to think of giving to others at a time when I don’t feel that I have everything that I need.
The whole purpose of a gift list is to select the things which we need for married life that we don’t have yet. A formal dinnerware set, or a Kitchenaid perhaps? The idea is that if we don’t ask for these things around an occasion as important as our wedding then when is someone ever going to buy them for us again?! We’d be without!
And herein lies the problem. Society’s incessant and belligerent rhetoric that we should forever be “keeping up with the Jones’”. That if we don’t have a picture perfect life complete with Kate Spade polka dot plates and Le Creuset casserole dishes that we are lacking in some way.
But when people lack homes and access to education, healthcare and tampons do those other frivolities even matter? I’m faced with that same ugly mirror reflection for considering whether the black or silver nespresso machine would be better for my gift list when I remind myself that a lot of people would be lucky to have one cup of coffee in their lifetime. A coffee machine is not an essential item - what is essential however, is that we try our utmost to even the scale. To level the playing field and to do our bit to help those who can’t help themselves.
Try as they might some people will never be able to get themselves fresh water to drink from, wash in and cook with. Knowing that I could ask 100 wedding guests to make that happen at hardly any expense to themselves - far less expense than any stainless steel cutlery set - makes me feel incredibly humbled. We can make a difference if we make a choice.
So I am going to pledge that when the time comes to have wedding bells as the soundtrack to my life, that I use a gift list company that allows me to open a charitable fund so that my guests can support a truly fantastic cause. There are lots of gift list companies around today that allow you to open as many charities funds as you like, so you can help hundreds of people for the sake of putting their needs before your own wants. So who is going to join me?