For most couples, talking about what gifts you would like to receive as wedding presents, feels awkward and embarrassing. And asking for money instead of gifts raises the discomfort levels even further. So let me reassure you by saying that most guests attending your wedding will want to get you something and they would appreciate some guidance from you so that they can make sure it’s something that will be meaningful to you as a couple!

Historically, most young couples left their family home to start their married life with very few of their own possessions. You may have heard of the old tradition of a ‘bottom drawer’ where a bride-to-be would start collecting all the household items she would need when she moved into her first home with husband – things like linen, tablecloths, kitchenware and so on.

Fast forward to today, where most couples who are tying the knot have left their (family) nest years prior to getting married and have already accumulated the large majority of items needed for their home.


Contrary to what you may think, asking for the gifts you want can be done in a sophisticated and warm manner when you know how. To avoid receiving items that you do not want or need, here are some guidelines on how to ask for what you would really like without feeling weird or awkward!

1 | Is it appropriate to mention gifts on your wedding invitation?

The short answer is yes.  Some wedding etiquette blogs say that asking for gifts or mentioning you gift registry on your wedding invitation is considered bad form. Having chatted to a number of our local stationers, I can confirm that this is not necessarily the case in South Africa.  In fact, it’s relatively common practice to include some gifting information on the wedding invitation.

Including the details of your gift registry or special requests from the couple such as money gifts, vouchers, or contributions towards a honeymoon fund is quite common these days.  This information, however, is generally put on the ‘Info’ page of the invitation, where you will find details such as the RSVP date, directions, etc. rather than on the main page of the wedding invitation.

– Janine from Handmade by Janine

If you are still unsure about what to include on your wedding invitation, it’s always a good idea to chat to your stationery expert and your parents to get their input on what feels right.

It’s widely accepted for there to be some gifting information on the invitation. That said, bridal couples should educate themselves on the “gift gossip” from a cultural and religious perspective. I often tell couples to speak to their parents about what they recommend, whether or not to include gifting information, and if yes, the tone/message contained in the information.

– Janet from Fuchsia Fine Event Stationery

2 | Let technology do some of the heavy lifting for you

Your wedding website is a wonderful tool for guests. If you are having one designed, this is definitely the right place to share your wedding gift registry, and any other details about your specific requests. You also have the ability to link straight through to an electronic registry, which is really convenient for guests who like to shop online.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to creating a wedding website, chat to Janet from Our Wedding Website.

3 | Ask friends or family to spread the word

 A popular way to make sure that your guests get the memo about what you would really like to receive for your wedding day is to make sure that your family and close friends are in the know. Your mum, sister and besties are the most likely to get quizzed about what you want and if you make sure that they are well informed, they can subtly and persuasively guide other guests in the right direction.

4 | Share your story

Sometimes friends or family may feel resistant towards giving a money contribution because it feels cold and impersonal. If you are willing to share with your guests what you are hoping to use their money contributions for, it creates that ‘warm and fuzzy’ connection that guests really want to feel when they give a gift.

Many of the couples that I design wedding stationery for have been living together for a long time and have everything they need. They now want to save up for the finer things in life.  Their wedding is a great opportunity for them to invite their loved ones to contribute towards some investment pieces for their home.

– Lara from Aurora Designs

For example, tell them that you’re saving for your dream honeymoon, renovations to your existing home, or an artwork you’ve been coveting for months. Your guests will appreciate your honesty and transparency, and feel excited about playing a part in a bigger dream that you are working towards.

Often the stationery I design for bridal couples, talks about what these money contributions will be used for. Most couples have already been living together and have their basic household items sorted, and they are saving towards a bigger ticket item like a new fridge, or a honeymoon.

– Janine from Handmade by Janine

5 | Gift registries and vouchers

Gift registries used to be one of the most popular ways for bridal couples to list the items they wanted but some stores no longer offer this service, which is why gift vouchers work really well. Make sure you specify which store(s) you would like gift cards for, to make the purchasing process easy and simple for your guests.

 In South Africa, gift cards or store vouchers are the easiest gift alternative. Otherwise registries at the couple’s favourite online stores is very helpful. I have found people use Mr Price and Yuppichef more than any other.

– Janet from Fuchsia Fine Event Stationery

6 | Have a gift table and card box ready on your wedding day

Even if you have requested monetary contributions or vouchers for your wedding, some guests will insist on buying you a gift and it’s a good idea to make sure that you have a little table set aside to accommodate this.  Also give some thought as to a suitable card “box” with a large enough opening to accommodate big envelopes.

Be sure to designate a responsible person to collect up your envelopes and gifts (normally after the speeches are done) and to store them somewhere safe for the evening (a locked room or car). Pre-arrange with them for the gifts and envelopes to be delivered to your home or ask them to keep the items safe until you return from your honeymoon.

Top tip: Rather than invest in another floral arrangement for your gift table, ask the venue or your décor and floral supplier, to place a large vase filled with water on your gift table. When you arrive at the reception, you will need a special spot to pop your bridal bouquet and since your table is likely to have a beautiful floral arrangement on it already, you can pop your bouquet into this vase for a splash of added prettiness.


7 | Say thank you

Send out thank you cards to all your guests within 3–4 weeks of the wedding. Writing thank you notes may feel like a big job but it doesn’t have to be — and the sooner you get them written up and sent out, the happier you will be!

When opening your gifts or envelopes, make sure you keep track of all your guests’ contributions so that you can say a personal thank you.

– Janet from Fuchsia Fine Event Stationery


In your thank you notes you only need to express these three things:

  1. Say thanks
  2. Name the gift
  3. Say something about the gift

Looking for a stationery expert to guide you through the process? You’ll find some of the best in the business in our directory!