How do you secure your wedding gifts to prevent loss or theft? I hate that I even need to write about this...but I do.
Growing up in an Italian family in New York, the cultural tradition was that all guests would bring an envelope of money (and later, a check) to a wedding that they would present directly to the bride and groom as they sat at their head table during dinner. The couple would have a wedding bag or satchel next to them, and all of the envelopes would go in there, safe and secure. The slang for this is "aboost" and the purpose was, literally, to give the new couple a boost in starting their new life together.
It wasn't until I moved to the West Coast as a teenager that I had even heard of a gift table. My family and I were quite confused. Wedding registries were for showers and bachelorette parties. Envelopes were for weddings.
Now, twenty years later, I expect the gift table at the weddings I plan and attend. And while I still prefer to go with "aboost" I have learned to manage the logistical challenges and potential liabilities that come with having an actual table and receiving actual gifts at a wedding reception.
First, there are the basic questions of who will collect the wrapped presents, and where will they take them? In all fairness, the bride and groom should not have to worry about how to cart their potential Cuisinart up to their room or back to their house. Or worse, back home from their destination wedding! I would not trust these gifts to the venue, as there exists too many opportunities for damage, theft, or loss. And my personal and professional policy is that I will not handle the gifts due to the potential liability.
So what's a couple to do? Here are my best suggestions to ensure that your packaged gifts and your generous envelopes do not go missing or get damaged in the revelry and celebration!
- Forgo the Gift Table - What?!?!? I know, blasphemy, right? But the truth is, most couples opt to place the table near a door, making it easy for guests to drop off their gifts to the couple. You know what else becomes easy? Wedding crashers who pop in for a moment, and pop out with your envelopes. Unsecured tables also invite other issues, everything from a guest bumping into it and causing breakage to a mix up and loss in the cleaning up and tearing down process.
- Location, location, location - If you absolutely must have a gift table, then I suggest moving it away from the door, and placing it a respectful distance from the couple's seats. This way, guests can stop by and wish the newlyweds well while also dropping off their generous acknowledgement .
- Security - Not as crazy as it sounds, especially for luxury weddings and events with a large number of guests. You can hire discrete security personnel with the intent of having them secure the gift table, check in guests, prevent crashers, and handle any uncles, cousins, or sorority sisters that get a little too excited by the open bar!
- Communicate via your Wedding Web Site - No, this is not your opportunity to ask for cash! However, your wedding web site is a great place for you to make a statement such as "We are honored to have you at our wedding, and your presence is certainly present enough! If you plan to offer a gift or acknowledgement, please have it sent to XYZ in advance."
- Registry Advantage - Make it easy for your guests to purchase gifts from your registry and ship them directly to your door!
- Identify a Gift Keeper - You decided to forgo the gift table and asked people to send their gifts in advance. And yet they still arrive with something in hand. Or, you've secured the gift table, and at the end of the night all you want to do is head out to your after party or back up to your bridal suite. What to do then? The best way to handle to collection and transportation of gifts is to assign a Gift Keeper. While I like the idea of turning this over to a parent, I've often times found that Mom and Dad are equally excited about the wedding, and having hosted the event, they are often as busy with guests as the newly married couple. This is a great time to utilize your bridal party. Ask which of the bridesmaids or groomsmen is willing to take charge, and then direct all gifts, to them - before, during, and after the wedding!
Wedding are a time of celebration, revelry, and excitement! While none of your guests are required to bring a gift, and you may not even want them, your friends and family are most likely excited about the opportunity to help you start your new life together. By making the gift giving process as organized and controlled as possible you are doing yourselves and your guests a major favor!
Enjoy writing your thank you notes!