Weddings are magical events - the gathering of loved ones witnessing the union of two love birds, everyone is dressed up and for a few hours, the worries of the world are left behind.
And with the wedding comes the expectation of a gift. But the role of the gift has changed dramatically over the years and I wonder whether guests should even give them anymore.
Wedding gifts today are considered more of a quid pro quo - that $100 vase or Nintendo Switch is considered more payment for your choice of beef and the opportunity to dance with Uncle Charlie, as opposed to any genuine need from the couple.
Perhaps we should do away with wedding gifts already and rethink why we're being sent a list of items from David Jones that includes a chip and dip bowl in the shape of a fish.
I call BS on wedding gifts because for so many couples, they're simply not needed. With the average age of brides and grooms steadily increasingly - a 2015 Easy Wedding magazine survey revealed that the average age for a bride is 29.2 years and groom 32 years - they've had plenty of years to accumulate toasters, crockpots and ugly statues of dogs holding umbrellas.
Once upon a time, wedding gifts were a way to help a young couple create a new home.
They were practical and even necessary; if a couple hadn't been given a dinner plate set, chances are they would have been left to eat straight off the kitchen bench.
If you and your betrothed already have a flat screen television and an Alessi pepper grinder, then you're not exactly in need of material comforts. And expecting your family and friends to shower you with free goods, simply because you and your beloved chose to tie the knot, as opposed to live together as de factos, is misguided.
Just because you're getting married doesn't mean that your family and friends have to spend $150 on something you don't really need. Gift registries these days are more about indulgences, not necessities.
And even if you do splash some cash, there's a decent chance that it will end up on eBay or Gumtree, where a cottage industry in unwanted wedding gifts exist.
True, the couple are often forking out big bickies to host their union; the average cost of an Australian wedding is about $34,000 - but budgets are the choice of the couple and guests shouldn't feel obliged to pay their bit in the guise of a gift.
This is doubly so if the couple insists on multiple celebrations, such as engagement parties, kitchen teas and hens/bucks nights, which have the dubious honour of being both expensive and exhausting.
There's the cost, too. Attending a wedding can expensive, even if you're not officially part of the ceremony. There's the money spent on looking presentable, especially if it's a cocktail or black tie style wedding, not to mention taking off time from work if it's a midweek event and heavens forbid if it's a destination wedding. Those suckers are designed to bleed dry guests through accommodation, flights or car hire.
A gift is not a rebate you get to claim for throwing yourself a party and being the centre of attention for months leading up to your big day. Your gift is the time, love and emotional energy of your family, friends and that weird colleague from work you felt obliged to invite.
If you want to spend big on your wedding, then spend big. And if you want to buy a gift for the couple, then go ahead, get them a spa voucher or personalised couch cushion that they'll probably think is ugly and give to their dog.
But the obligation that an invitation equals a gift should go the way of the past, much like the toasters and crockpots did.
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