Traditionally, gifts for most weddings in Germany are provided through a Hochzeitstisch (Wedding Table). A couple has their Hochzeitstisch at a particular German store and they literally set up a table with the chosen gifts placed on it. Friends and family visit the store in person and buy something from the table as a gift.
Another method in Germany of dealing with wedding gifts is for the couple to have a table at their wedding ceremony on which to put gifts that have been brought to the ceremony. (Many Germans have a separate church ceremony after the usual formal tying of the knot at the local Standesamt.) However, dealing with lots of gifts just adds to the complicated logistics of a couples’ big day. Especially if the location of the wedding is not close to where they live, as is the case with many weddings these days.
English-speaking countries have a uniform tradition of bridal registries in shops or online without the variation in customs that Germany seems to have. Married couples (and those planning a wedding in the near future) from the United States, the UK and other English-speaking countries are most likely familiar with the “Bridal Registry” or, as it as often called in the UK, the “Wedding List”.
This tradition, started at the Chicago, Illinois based Marshall-Fields Department Store in 1924, is a service that allows engaged couples to indicate their gift preferences to wedding guests. At first, couples would provide a list of desired items from a particular store and then would share that list with wedding guests. As gifts were selected they would be removed from the list. This would ensure that the couple got the gifts they were looking for without receiving any duplicate gifts.
Nowadays it is not unusual to find on-line registries administered by websites that offer a variety of gifts from a variety of stores and manufacturers as well as extra services. In fact, on-line registries seem to be the preferred way of doing things. The Internet allows friends and family members (especially those abroad who may not be able to attend the wedding ceremony) to purchase gifts that will be gift wrapped and delivered in a timely manner.
While the range of gifts listed in Bridal Registries can vary greatly in type and value, household goods are still the most popular. (Top items can include casserole dishes, KitchenAid mixers, wine glasses of all descriptions and wine accessories such as fancy bottle openers, and the ubiquitous fruit bowl.) More expensive gifts can usually be shared amongst gift-givers with “gift-splitting”.
Also, more and more couples are adding charitable donations and even cash requests to their lists.
Honeymoons are another growing trend that is gaining popularity in Germany. Some Bridal Registries in Germany are now offering them as well as the standard gift registry.
Our thanks to Jemma Klengel for contributing to this article.