If you're lucky, when you get married people will want to give you presents, and it has become the logical thing nowadays to lodge a wedding list with a department store in order to make life easy for your generous guests.
The Trouble Begins
First of all, do you include the wedding list in with the invitation? Well, probably not as that would be a bit vulgar. So how do you let people know there is a list without resorting to blatant references to it? If no one knows about the list you run a very real risk of living in 'vase and towel overdose' hell for the first few years of your marriage.
The bride's mother, being the one who receives the replies to the invitations, is in a position to mention to those people who make enquiries about wedding presents that there is in fact a list, but again this might seem vulgar and presumptuous.
The Second Problem
'Do you know what the bride and groom would like for a wedding present?'
'Yes, they have a list at John Lewis, Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, etc...'
'I see. We might not get a present from the list as we would like to get them something more personal.'
'I see what you mean. However consider this: they have personally chosen the items on the list, they live in a small house, and they actually took a lot of time in choosing these personal items.'
'So you see, in fact getting something from the list is the most personal gesture of all, isn’t it?'
'Er, yes I suppose.'
Despite this sage advice, someone is still bound to go and spend £40 on a vase that will sit in a box in the cupboard under the stairs for five years before being given to a jumble sale, whereas they could have invested the money wisely on the Denby dinner service, the cool Le Creuset pans or any other thing on the carefully thought-out list!
People think they are being clever buying off-list, but just like skiing off-piste it's dangerous and gives you a bad name among sensible people. If you really can't think of an item to buy off the list, most stores will also offer vouchers, so the happy couple can use a number of smaller voucher gifts together to buy one of the larger gifts themselves.
Arguments, however, need balance and it is of course fair to say that a traditional wedding list does not always sit well with everyone. There are important points the bride and groom (and mothers-in-law) must consider:
Do the couple already have one, or even two houses, full of domestic consumer durables?
Is the location of the wedding list convenient to all guests?
Is it affordable?
Can it be accessed on the Internet?
Considering the personalities of the guests, might some find a list too restrictive?
Considering the above points should make life easier. In unusual circumstances, such as the couple being particularly wealthy, perhaps suggestions to donate to a charity would be more appropriate, particularly if there is an 'absent friend' or family member, who can be remembered this way.
In any case, remember that an appropriate and considered decision is likely to be the best one - and above all enjoy your wedding!