Back in 1966 when my parents got married, it was still unusual for a couple to live together before their wedding day, mostly because most couples were just so much younger when they got married than they are now. In 1970, the average age of a first-time bride was 22 and now it’s 36. One of the knock-on effects of this is that most young people are already living independently, in a home they have been furnishing for years by the time they decide to tie the knot. Whereas in my parents’ case, their wedding day was an enormous windfall of crockery, kitchen appliances, table clothes and glassware, all for a home they had yet to move into!
The point is, for 21st century wedding guests, buying a wedding gift that will be appreciated, has become a far more taxing challenge. However, this isn’t reason enough to simply throw your arms up in despair, shove a John Lewis voucher in an envelope and be done with it.
Although couples tend to live together and start building up collections of coffee mugs, plates and all the other paraphernalia of co-habitation before they wed, there aren’t many 20-somethings who can afford the home furnishings they’d really like. Ikea, charity shops and hand-me-downs tend to be the order of the day, especially during a cost of living crisis. So buying them something they technically already have as a wedding gift is by no means out of bounds. This does however mean that quality and longevity are paramount.
If you want to put your money behind a gift you know they will get frequent use from, a set of unbelievably soft and fluffy towels will put whatever they already own to shame - not to mention be in with a fighting chance of making it to their Silver Wedding Anniversary! Bed linen can make for a similarly luxurious present, just ask George Washington who famously gave his new bride Martha, a beautiful white bedspread on their wedding night. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, a bride’s trousseau comprised principally of fine linen, so for a traditional gift there is something distinctly bridal about this 100% Egyptian cotton Heritage Collection in pure white, but also resolutely modern. I don’t know many couples who go in for dust ruffles and florals these days.
If you want to give your gift a more personal touch, having their initials embroidered onto whatever you pick will instantly make it even more special. There’s a multitude of fonts and colours to choose from these days and pretty much anything can be monogrammed, from bath towels and robes to blankets and throws.
Ultimately, there is no magic formula for the perfect wedding gift - but going for something they will both use, like towels, bed linen or other high quality homeware, which will add to their quality of life, day to day, is a good start. Maybe it’ll take a few more years for them to get their dream home, but you can certainly give them a helping hand on their wedding day.