What's in a name? The clue is in the wedding list

The Joneses go for glassware while the Thompsons are happiest unpacking gadgets for the kitchen, according to one gift list compiler
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The Independent Online

If you are stumped by what to buy the happy couple this wedding season, the clue could be in their name. Comparison of thousands of high street wedding gift lists has revealed trends among couples with the same surname. If you want to keep up with the Joneses, you might want to buy them glassware; people called Thompson, meanwhile, seem to appreciate kitchen gadgets.

John Lewis examined gift lists for the 10 names most frequently registered with its service and looked at the number of times different items were added to those lists.

The department store's research reveals the Joneses are convivial, with three sets of glasses featuring among the 15 products most commonly put on wedding lists by couples with that name. In contrast, the most popular items requested by Thompsons include a grill, a blender and a whisk.

The most common name was, not surprisingly, Smith. Couples with that surname appear to enjoy formal dining: there are four knife sets among their top 15 items. Browns are cooks, with kitchenware featuring prominently in their lists.

"It's really interesting to see how much your surname reveals about your specific tastes," said a spokesperson for the store. "John Lewis collected data from thousands of lists – no customers can be identified from this information.

"Tableware is consistently a popular choice, but we are also seeing a resurgence in bakeware, suggesting that newlyweds are keen to revert to the 1950s trend of home cooking and baking."

However, couples are increasingly forgoing traditional present lists in favour of asking for contributions towards their honeymoons. Travel company Trailfinders sets up between 300 and 400 wedding gift lists every month, compared with about 100 a month in 2005.

A spokeswoman for Trailfinders said travel funds were popular with couples who lived together and therefore already had the usual household items. This option also allows couples to take a more luxurious honeymoon than if they were paying themselves, or to take extra trips at their chosen destination.

Polly Atkinson, lifestyle editor at Brides magazine, said there was a trend for couples to have two gift lists: one enabling them to "upgrade" household items such as vacuum cleaners and toasters, and another for contributions towards more unusual options, such as starting an art collection or wine cellar. She added it was common for couples to request high-value gifts and for guests to club together, rather than buying individual presents.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set up a charitable gift fund in celebration of their wedding earlier this year.

However, the number of couples registering for an Oxfam wedding list has fallen in recent years. While 635 couples set up a gift list with the charity in 2008, only 336 couples did so last year.


The formal diners

Meat could be on the menu if you dine with Smiths. Knife sets account for four of the 15 most popular products on wedding lists registered under this name; three of these sets are steak knives. In keeping with the dining theme, other frequently requested items include a salt and pepper mill gift set and Just Slate square coasters. The most popular item for Smiths is a set of two Just Slate rectangular placemats.


The convivial couple

The Joneses probably throw a good party: boxes of 500ml wine glasses, 200ml flutes and 50cl beer glasses are three of the 15 gifts most commonly chosen by these couples. The convivial types also tend to pick out Just Slate coasters and a two-litre Adelphi glass jug. But despite this trend towards items relating to drinking, the most popular wedding list choice for Joneses is a box of six steak knives.


The scratch cooks

You can expect good food if you dine chez Brown, as the items chosen by couples with this name suggest they like spending time in the kitchen. Products most frequently chosen by Browns that reflect this passion for cooking, include three Le Creuset kitchenware items, a grill pan, a cooling rack and a colander. Browns enjoy eating the fruits of their labour too: like the Joneses, a box of six steak knives is their favourite product.


The gadget fans

When it comes to kitchenware, you name it and the Thompsons probably have it. These couples love their gadgets, with a George Foreman grill, Jamie Oliver balloon whisk and a John Lewis blender/chopper among the most common items on their gift lists. They do not scrimp in the bedroom either, with Siberian goose down and feather pillows another popular choice for Thompsons. Their favourite product is, however, a muffin tin.


The classical couple

Life is all white in minimalist Davies households. While John Lewis has seen a recent general move towards bright colours for products on wedding gift lists registered with the department store, almost half of the products favoured by couples called Davies are Sophie Conran white china. The most commonly chosen item for these couples with a classical taste is a granite Le Creuset rectangular dish.


The all-rounders

No room takes precedence in Thomas households, with their lists featuring a mix of products for the kitchen, bedroom and lounge. The most commonly requested product is a box of four 200ml flute glasses. However, other popular products include a cooling rack, a white pillowcase and a Radford serving spoon. Like the Taylors, there is no overriding theme to their choices.


The interior designers

Evanses like their homes to look good, with decorative accessories featuring alongside more functional items in their wedding lists. They commonly request an antique brass floor lamp as a gift, and the top 15 list for Evans is also the only one from among the 10 most common surnames to feature a loop candelabra as a favourite present. But a set of four Radford steak knives is the top choice for Evans.


The practical ones

Seemingly driven by practicality, the Taylors appear to ask for what they need rather than necessarily what they want. As a result, there is no overriding theme to the items most commonly chosen by couples with this name; instead the 15 top products are a mix of kitchenware and linen. A Radford cheese and butter knife set is the most popular choice for Taylors, with other requests including a Pyrex measuring jug and an Anolon Pro three-piece pan set.


The co-ordinated couple

There are probably no odd pieces of china in Williams households: these couples like their kitchenware to match. The top 15 products Williams choose include five pieces of Sophie Conran tableware, three Just Slate items and three Radford products. The Sophie Conran white 28cm plate is their favourite gift, with other presents relating to this brand being a white 20.5cm plate, white cereal bowl, a cream jug and a pasta bowl.


The tidy couple

There will be no dirty clothes lying on the floor in Wilson homes. With two laundry bins among the 15 items most popular with couples of this name, it is fair to assume they like to keep their pads neat and tidy. Their favourite product is a set of Just Slate square coasters. Other common choices for Wilsons include a king-size white fitted sheet and a Radford pie server.