Wedding Gifts – Wanted and Unwanted

Vlady Peters

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It’s been suggested that presenting wedding gifts to the bride and groom goes right back to the medieval times where the Lord of the Manor was Lord of all he surveyed, including the people who lived on his estate. His quarrels were their quarrels, and if he went to war with the man next door, they had to aid and abet in whatever way they could.

One of the more pesky traditions that the Lord had come up with was that to celebrate his eldest daughter’s marriage, every tenant had to give the bride a gift of money. One can just imagine, with their level of earnings, how much the tenants looked forward to this event.

Today, while no longer needing to do so, people do like to shower the more powerful people with wedding gifts. But what do you give to a person who has everything? Or if they haven’t, it’s only because they choose to do without it?

One royal couple, newly married, received at least five cars as wedding gifts. Another gift, which was more practical but which would be used almost as much as the cars, was a lawn mower beautifully monogrammed with the couple’s initials. In gold leaf?

In the reign of good Queen Bess, one of the most popular gifts for a wedding couple was a pair of scissors which used to be known as a pair of knives. This gift was often signed with a ditty such as, “Fortune doth give these pair of knives to you, to cut the thread of love if it be untrue. " From this comes the superstition that scissors as a wedding gift is unlucky, symbolizing as it does, the separation of the two lovers.

It is believed that Prince Charles, on his marriage to Diana, received in all something like 6,000 gifts. No wonder he asked guests at his second wedding to please don’t send me any more gifts, I’ve just managed to get rid of the first lot.

Like Prince Charles who either burned, returned or gave away his unwanted wedding gifts, most couples don’t scruple to get rid of the gifts they don’t like or are unlikely to ever use. This is very much unlike the Victorians who were great believers of waste not, want not. Being very duty minded, it was their fervent hope that they would leave the world a richer place than the one they entered. A man who didn’t add to that which he had inherited, let alone squandered what he did inherit, was considered a disgrace to the world of good husbandry.

Today, we want to live a lot, and leave as little as possible when we go. In Victorian times couples were so conscientious, that in some cases the anniversary gifts that they've left behind them, are as complete as on the day that they received them.

Vlady Peters is an Australian Civil Marriage Celebrant authorized to perform marriages in Australia. She also performs general ceremonies such as Baby Naming, Renewal of Vows and Commitment Ceremonies. To learn more about Vlady, visit her at


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