When Nadine and I got married last year we had already been living together for quite a while in Geneva and were fortunate enough over the years to have been able to obtain most of the “stuff” we needed for our home. So we weren’t really keen on the idea of a traditional wedding list of homeware, linen, etc. from which guests could select gifts for us. In addition we were aware of the fact that, for most of our guests, being at our wedding in Leeds meant a couple of nights away with the various expenses related to travel and accommodation. Thinking about these two things we agreed it would be nice to come up with a way that friends and family could give us a gift that would mean something to us, would require some thought and energy from them, but wouldn’t cost money. Hence, the idea of an Alternative Wedding List.
Here’s how we described it on our wedding website:
The Alternative Wedding List
We’d like you to contribute a some recommendations, with a few lines about why you’ve made the choices you’ve made. The kind of things we’d like you to recommend for us are:
- Two or three books we should definitely read sometime
- A country, city or place we should visit at least once in our lives
- Some music we should listen to and explore
- Two or three films that we really must see
- A special recipe you think we might like (remembering that Nadine is vegetarian!)
- Some poetry or other writings that we should read
- Or even just some advice that you think we should follow as we set off on married life(!)…
Respond only to the options that mean something to you and that you’d like to share with us. When thinking about what to include on your list, keep us in mind. For example, if you’re recommending music, we’d love to hear about artists, composers, styles of music that we’re unlikely to know already.
We’d like you to write or print out your contribution to our Alternative Wedding List and bring it along to the wedding where they’ll be collected. Your list could even take the place of a wedding card, for example. After the wedding we’ll use the contributions to make a scrap book that we can turn to whenever we want to be inspired by our friends and family – or are just feeling nostalgic.
And how did it work out?
We were really pleased with how many people made contributions to the list. There were cards of all shapes and sizes, collages, mini-magazines, beautifully written notes, letters and inscriptions – so much variety and inspiration. Opening and reading them the day after the wedding was a moving and memorable experience. We even received contributions from people that couldn’t make it to the wedding. The end result is a big scrapbook (see pics) packed with suggested watching, reading, listening, eating, travel destinations, advice, and lots more. The idea also seemed to inspire some friends and family members into giving us gifts that were a little unusual and in some way tied in with the sentiment behind the alternative list idea. (One friend knitted us matching scarves, finishing them the morning of the wedding.)
The full list of recommended music, film and literature is here. I published it online partly as it might be of interest to some people, but also as it’s a central place for us to look for inspiration when we’re buying or downloading. The real pleasure, however, is just picking up the scrapbook and opening it to any page. It’s a wonderful memento of the wedding and contains a lifetime of inspirational ideas.
(We were really pleased to learn that already a couple of friends that were at our wedding are hoping to create their own Alternative Wedding List when they get married later this year. We wholeheartedly recommend it!)