In the first few days of our engagement, my now wife Polly and I started to think about how to combine the two homes we had set up over the course of our years of independence. It quickly became clear that we were going to have to do some de-cluttering, and Freecycle came in handy for making sure things were used again, rather than added to a mountainous landfill. With this in mind, we started to question whether a traditional wedding list, replete with requests for pots, pans and pillows, was really appropriate. We'd already doubled up on those and we hardly needed any replacements, as I have a policy of shelling out for the pricier, but more durable, ranges. (Don't get me started on a conversation about false economies if you'd rather not waste valuable minutes of your precious life.) We could hardly substitute the traditional items on the list with things like a plasma screen, Powerbook and piano. A traditional wedding list, for us, is about helping a couple set up a new home, a situation that really didn't apply to me and Polly.
So we went searching for charitable wedding list and eventually decided on The Alternative Wedding List. We went with them mainly due to the variety of gifts on offer, which we thought would appeal to the different kinds of people who would be contributing to our list, with a mixture of charities assisting home and abroad. Charities as varied as the PDSA, Save The Children, Help The Aged, Farm Africa, and MAG.
Now, I'll be honest, a few people thought we were a bit weird by not having a 'proper' wedding list, but the vast majority of people were supportive and we raised a fair amount for charity, for which we received a lovely certificate. Given the obscene amounts of money charged by some companies when they see the word 'wedding', it was nice that some money that would have lined the pockets of the shareholding classes went to deserving causes instead. Of course, Polly and I also benefited from having a nice, glowy feeling that we'd done the right thing for our situation.
It's now the time of year to be thinking about your Christmas lists. If you're anything like me, you might have a DVD or two in mind (the US import Lost DVD box set I bought from Amazon US should keep me happy, seeing as it contains all the first season episodes, not just the first twelve you find in the only marginally cheaper UK version) but after that, would you really miss that extra jumper? Why not direct people to an alternative Christmas list, too? Strike a blow against the sometimes outrageous consumerism on display at this time of year, and do it from the comfort of your office or home, wherever your computer happens to be.
Finally, it's important to say that I'm in no way critical of anyone who does choose to have a traditional gift list (and given the number of people on the Londonist staff who recently got married or are about to get married, it'd be wise not to). All I'm hoping by plugging this service is that if you happen to be as fortunate as Polly and me, you consider the alternatives to asking for yet another toaster, even if it's a Dualit).
The Alternative Wedding List can be found at http://www.thealternativeweddinglist.co.uk/
The Alternative Christmas List can be found at http://www.thealternativechristmaslist.co.uk/
The Alternative Gift List can be found at http://www.thealternativegiftlist.co.uk/