Traditional department store wedding gift lists are becoming rarer and with many alternative options available, it can be confusing. This month we look at wedding present ideas but also the awkward question of etiquette: how to ask for gifts.

The tradition of giving wedding gifts originates from a time when the couple would have spent their lives, previous to marriage, in their parental homes, and traditionally the guests would have contacted the mother of the bride for details of the items that they required. Having a list obviously prevented duplication of the same gift. 

Nowadays most couples have already cohabited for several years and accumulated everything for the home, so the modern gift list is something altogether very different, and it is acceptable to include details of what you want with the invitations. 

While gifts of any kind should never be expected most of your guests will want to honour your special occasion by giving something you really want and they will be thankful for the guidance, so do not be afraid to provide a list of what you would like together with the web address or shop contact details and include a polite poem or note. For example, a popular phrase to use is "It is your presence, not your present that we want". 

If you really do not feel comfortable including your list with invitations and you have got a wedding website, this is a good and discrete way for guests to get the all-important details about what you want.

If you have already lived together and struggling for ideas, then you could upgrade your essentials – such as crystal wine glasses, fine china dinner sets or luxury bed linen, per-haps there is a lamp or mirror you have always wanted or outdoor furniture. 

If interior décor or garden accessories does not interest you, perhaps you could opt for donations to go towards your honeymoon, a new kitchen, or anything else you are saving for. It certainly makes the gift of cash more personal and gives your loved ones the feeling they are contributing towards something exciting.

If you are asking for money towards your honeymoon, then why not divide up your holiday of a lifetime into affordable portions? That way guests will be able to buy you a night in a hotel, a romantic meal or a special excursion, for instance.

Alternatively, vouchers for an online company such as Amazon or Not on the High Street may suit you. If you really do not want any gifts for yourselves, why not do what William and Kate did and set up a charity gift list whereby your guests can donate money to a cause that is close to your heart.

When you are choosing what to put on your wedding gift list, include a range of different price points, so those on a budget will be more comfortable purchasing a gift for you, and those who are happy to spend a little bit more can do so.

On the day ensure you set up a gift/card table set at your wedding venue. Even if you have an online gift list, some family members and friends may want to buy (or make) you a special gift and most of your guests will more than likely bring you a wedding card.

And lastly, remember to keep a note of all the gifts that you receive and who gave them. It will come in handy when you write your personalised ‘Thank You’ notes which should be sent within three months of getting married. It is not only polite to acknowledge a gift, but many guests will be wondering if theirs arrived if they bought it through a gift list provider.