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R WORLD with Julie Teckman

It has become increasingly fashionable, in these days of prenuptial cohabitation reducing the need for toasters, coasters and witty framed posters as wedding gifts, to ask for money and vouchers instead. Which is all very well, but which leaves the diffi cult question of ‘how much should one give?’ Wouldn’t it be useful if someone could produce a sliding scale of fi nancial donation based on the length and depth of one’s relationship to the couple? For example, if you’re a blood relation to the couple and therefore have a lifelong bond, you’d be stuck for about £200 to £500 determined by how well you got on during that lifetime. Step-relations could pay slightly less than half-siblings but signifi cantly less than blood ones (perhaps £75 and £90 respectively). Friends from school and college would be able to consult the scale and know that they’re going to have to spend £50 for friendships forged in primary school, reducing to a tenner if they simply had the misfortune to share a hall of residence for a single term with the bride or groom.

I think I may be on to something here. Obviously it will need to be a very detailed chart to encompass every level of relationship to the couple from parents (although technically they should be giving a house rather than cash!) to those Z list friends who are invited to the evening do to make up numbers.

But what a relief for all concerned. Even the newly-weds benefi t because they can budget for their honeymoon (most usual), new business venture (less common) or chosen charity (well, that’s what they tell you…). Future conversations might go like this:

Bride: “If we invite all your cousins and their families we’ll be able to spend another three nights in the fi ve star hotel and experience the spa package”

Groom: “Yes but that would mean we wouldn’t have space for your friends from the yoga class”

Bride: “True, and I love them to bits, but they’ll only get us one night in the B&B and a day trip around the islands”

Far be it from me to mention that, with a smaller, less ostentatious wedding, they could aff ord the holiday of their dreams and pay for it themselves. Perhaps I’m missing the point that our honeymooners will be able to get maximum enjoyment of their holiday by toasting every bit of it to the wedding guests responsible for that segment:


“T is is such a lovely experience, I’ve always wanted to ride an elephant through the streets of Chiang Mai. Here’s to Auntie Morag and Uncle Ron for funding it”

“Yes, and cheers to the guys from the football team who’ve basically paid for our swim with sharks.”

“Can we hold off toasting granny for the deluxe bedroom until we’ve consummated the marriage? It might stifl e my performance a bit …”

Far be it from me to mention that, with a smaller, less

ostentatious wedding, they could aff ord the holiday of their dreams and pay for it themselves.

T e thing is, until my brilliant idea is adopted by some enterprising entrepreneur (are you reading this Lord Sugar?) we still have the thorny problem of how much to give in order to look generous but not overly fl ash or, worse, miserly. We’ve all heard stories of people who leave their wedding card envelopes deliberately undone so it looks as the cash inside was lost or even stolen by an evil wedding guest, haven’t we? (If you’re planning to try this one by the way, it’s crucial to write in

the card: ‘hope you get as much pleasure spending this cash as we got giving it to you’ so that your poor couple never dare tell you the money wasn’t in there. However, it is underhand, unethical and likely to ruin the wedding night when the new married spouses forego sex to count their loot!)

So here’s what I do now. When I get a wedding invitation that asks for cash for the honeymoon, I casually enquire where the couple are planning to spend their nuptials and then, armed with the information I buy a gift in the traditional sense but, and here’s the genius bit, a gift that will complement the chosen holiday. So, for a honeymoon in Hawaii I buy them matching faux grass skirts and fl oral garlands. T en they look like seasoned travellers and don’t need to spend time and money buying their own. If the destination is Spain I provide the sombreros and maracas for the same reason, and if the trip is a tour of an unexplored terrain I provide distress fl ares and Swiss knives, just in case.

It’s not romantic but it is thoughtful and (yes) quite cheap, and you can guarantee they’ll remember who bought it for them.

Because the other thing about modern wedding gifting is that, unless you give an actual gift, you rarely get an old- fashioned thankyou letter. And nothing says “thank you” worse than an email from Indonesia or a tweet from T ailand “will think of you every time we look at our photos of the red-bottomed monkeys”!

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