As summer approaches, it’s not just the weather that’s hotting up. May through to August is the most popular time of the year to get married in the UK, with an incredible two-thirds of all weddings taking place during this period. Of course, this May is particularly poignant in the wedding calendar, as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot, in the most anticipated nuptials of the year. At midday on 19th May, the royal duo will walk down the aisle at St George’s Chapel, nestled within the grounds of Windsor Castle.
It’s undeniable – love is well and truly in the air so check out our wedding gift guide for bags of inspiration.
Nowadays, more people than ever are tying the knot and it’s been reported that the average Brit attends around 15 weddings in their lifetime! In these more enlightened times, gay couples in most countries of the world have been welcomed into the fold and marriage has become hugely popular for gays and straights alike. While we can all agree there’s nothing more special than seeing our nearest and dearest get hitched, most guests report a sudden surge in stress levels during the run-up to the big day. Whether it’s writing a flawless speech, which is both funny and sentimental, finding the right outfit or being extra careful to not upstage the bride (we suggest avoiding taffeta), it can be a matrimonial minefield.
Before every wedding, the same age-old dilemma pops up – what should you give? Gift giving is an established part of the wedding ritual, originating from as far back as 3,000 B.C. Traditionally, a bride and groom would be inundated with household necessities to furnish the new love-nest. However as times have moved on and newlyweds discovered they didn’t actually need nine kettles and hundreds of decorative spoons, so did the old-style gift registry.
Today, modern couples opt for an alternative route, with 35% of people preferring vouchers over traditional wedding presents.
On average, 189 guests attend a ceremony, making it difficult to find something that really stands out. That’s why we’ve put together our special gift guide, overflowing with imaginative wedding present ideas certain to be a hit with friends and family. Giving an experience day as a gift can help a couple do something they might not have otherwise ever experience, plus it leaves them with shared memories to last a lifetime.
Whether you’re a bridesmaid, best man or family friend, we’ve rounded up our top selection of unusual wedding gifts to help commemorate the special occasion. We’ve also contacted industry experts to get their best tips for buying the perfect gift or planning the big day in general.
Unique Engagement Gifts
Getting engaged is a life-changing moment and who says couples can’t fall in love with one another more than once. That’s why a £100 Red Letter Days Wedding Gift Voucher is the perfect present – with hundreds of exciting experiences to choose from, it lets the betrothed try something new and embark on an exciting adventure together. High-flyers can take to the skies with a picturesque Hot Air Balloon Ride, overlooking a beautiful countryside sunrise, while crafty couples might prefer to hone a hobby with a Full Day Cookery Course for Two (certain to come in handy later on in married life). Since the decision lies with them, it’s a sure-fire way to tick all the right boxes.
Gifts for Hens
Wedding planning can be taxing, turning otherwise chilled-out chicks into bawling bride-zillas. And who can blame them? With so much preparation going into a wedding, it comes with the territory. After all her hard work, reward her with a luxurious Bannatyne Pick and Mix Pamper Day for Two. Choose from over 30 luxury health clubs in the UK and prepare for a day of undisturbed relaxation. Take full advantage of the exceptional facilities, including Jacuzzi’s, steam rooms and indoor swimming pools. Release tension by tuning out in the sauna and sweat out unnecessary stress. Each guest can unwind with two mini-treatments; melt into bliss with a Swedish back massage, rejuvenate tired skin with an indulgent Welcome Touch facial or spruce up nails for spring with a mini-manicure. It’s the perfect way to help the bride-to-be feel her best before the big day. Enjoy some time out and allow her to discover her inner radical relaxer. Browse all our spa gifts
Gifts for Stags
Stags are certain to love this high-speed racing thrill – it’s an unforgettable way to propel into married life. In the eminent words of TLC, women don’t want no scrub “Hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride”, so be a pal and upgrade his wheels with this Five Supercar Blast and Hot Ride. He’ll get to choose five of the world’s most famous supercars from an incredible line-up, including the Ferrari 360 or 430, Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martin V8 Vantage or DB9, Audi R8, Bentley Continental GT, BMW i8, Porsche 911, Ariel Atom or Nissan GTR. Available at a range of exhilarating courses around the UK, it’s a convenient way to help him burn off any big day nerves. With professional instructors on hand at all times, don’t worry, he’ll definitely be back in one piece and raring to go! If he prefers two wheel rides, there’s also a great selection of motorbike days to choose from. These gifts are perfect to release his inner adrenaline junkie with these thrilling driving experiences.
Gifts for Brides
Weddings and afternoon tea are a match made in heaven and many a new bride loves to delight in a post-wedding feast of corset-busting cakes and delicious pastries. Enjoy an Afternoon Tea for Two or a Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two (for something especially fancy) and pick from a fine selection of boutique hotels and restaurants. A sensational spread of delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and fragrant tea fit for a princess make this a sophisticated present with a fairytale feel.
Gifts for Grooms
Help the lucky man continue his winning streak with a Horse Racing Day for Two. Although it doesn’t quite compare to the thrill of newly married life, it comes a close second. Choose from 15 well-known courses within the UK, including Lingfield Park and Uttoxeter, and prepare to have some fun. On arrival, toast the marriage with a refreshing welcome drink before cheering on world-famous jockeys as they speed around the track. If there’s another sport you know he’ll love, explore the whole range.
Louise Baltruschat Hollis, mastermind behind the stylish and kaleidoscopic Whimsical Wonderland Weddings blog, advises guests to go from the heart when buying a wedding present
“If they don’t have a list and they’re not looking for anything in particular, it can sometimes be tricky to work out the perfect memento to mark a marriage. If they are a couple that have their home kitted out, an experience present is a great option…You know them best and whatever you gift, if it’s from a place of love, they will adore it for sure.”
Gifts for the Happy Couple
Help the happy couple celebrate married life by whisking them away to a mother-in-law and child-free paradise (we’re kidding). Jokes aside, it’s important for the loved-up duo to spend some quality time together and unwind after the excitement of the big day. This Hotel Escape with Dinner for Two is the perfect way to dispel any post-wedding blues and offers unrivalled tranquillity in a range of stunning locations. In the evening, they’ll enjoy a mouth-watering three-course meal in the hotel restaurant. For more romantic short break gift ideas, take a look at our Couples Breaks blog.
Gifts for the Wacky Couple
Help loved ones prepare for married life with an Escape Room – after all, you never know when they might need to shake off those matrimonial shackles. Challenging and thought-provoking, with surprises around every corner, this day out is comparable to marriage in many ways. Choose from two escape rooms, The Joker’s Asylum or The Penitentiary, and attempt to escape infamous killers and blood-thirsty clowns. While this sounds terrifying, it’s a fabulous bonding adventure requiring the use of lateral thinking and teamwork – necessary skills to have 20 years down the line! As this gift is for four people, it’s a fabulous way for friends to get together and celebrate batty brides and goofy grooms.
Gifts for Wives
Rekindle passions with this Rasul Exotic Body Treatment for Two, a wonderful gift for wives who deserve a decadent day of indulgence. The rasul is a traditional Arabian cleansing ritual that focuses on mind, body and spirit. Taking place in a luxurious private temple, drink in the colourful surroundings while giving each other an intimate Mr. and Mrs. mud massage . It’s easy to forget oneself as the heavenly smell of incense and herbs mingle in the air, recreating that heady love-at-first-sight feeling which sometimes gets forgotten in the daily humdrum of everyday life. Bathe in rejuvenating tropical water and make the most of the spa’s superb facilities, including steam rooms, saunas and hydrotherapy pools.
Being blunt could be your best friend when it comes to buying a gift. Raj Dharar from the Secret Wedding Blog, finalist for the Best Multicultural Wedding Blog 2016, believes
“When it comes to planning your wedding and asking your guests to buy you a gift, this is totally acceptable to do. Nowadays people live together before getting married so gone are the days when you’d buy someone a toaster.”
Gifts for Husbands
Make his pub trips a little educational with a Brewery and Beer Tasting Day. This hands-on experience is ideal for any fan of real ale and provides a great introduction to the subtle art of brewing beer. Under the guidance of an in-house expert, learn to boil, ferment and condition personalised ale while picking up priceless tips and beer brewing advice. As it can be a strenuous process, each venue offers refreshments, a hearty lunch and, most importantly, a beer sampling session! This is an especially good present with beer garden weather is fast approaching. To wet your whistle, check out our favourite summer beers.
Gifts for Anniversaries
For the paper anniversary, a gift voucher is an imaginative way to commemorate a couple’s first year married. Push the boat out and send them on a sensational Lunch Cruise in Paris for Two. They’ll jump on the Eurostar to Paris and head to the Bateaux Parisiens pier on the River Seine for a spectacular lunch. Known as the city of love, this cruise showcases some of Paris’s most heart-melting monuments, including The Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Notre Dame and La Conciergerie. For more fantastic anniversary ideas, check out our blog.
Planning a wedding
Alison Tinlin runs mrspandp, a zany and unique blog overflowing with wonderful wedding inspiration. An eccentric expert on everything to do with “I do”, she advises to forget perfection and go with the flow:
“The very best moments are the ones you didn’t allow for on your wedding planning and on the day. Embrace the unexpected, take into consideration each other’s views and opinions both in the planning and on the wedding day and don’t let the unattainable sour the planning experience or your special day. This is just the beginning of a beautiful journey!”
Organisation is key for Sharn Khaira, an Asian wedding blogger and planner, who runs Desi Bride Dreams Wedding Planning. Featured across the media, in huge publications such as Perfect Wedding and You and Your Wedding, she stresses organisation is key
“When it comes to planning your beautiful celebration it is absolutely vital that you are organised. The reputable suppliers in the wedding industry get booked up months or years in advance and I see so many couples leaving things to the last minute…As soon as you start your wedding planning process compile a timeline of when everything needs to be booked and stick to it. This will ensure that you can actually enjoy the last few weeks without being stressed.”
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