Leading article: Give and take

The wedding list is on the way out. Thank goodness, some will say. There has always been something rather dull about the litany of dinner plates (12), soup bowls (12), and champagne flutes (6), that department stores produce for marrying couples.

Of course the logic was impeccable – the avoidance of duplicate or unwanted gifts. But it was always a utilitarian imperative which combined the arrogance of demanding presents with menaces with the social anxiety of somehow not trusting the good taste of those who are supposed to be your closest friends. It smacked of a financial contract: we'll pay for the meal, and you buy something that we determine. It was a heartless world which discounted the value of freedom and imagination. The wedding list, someone said, is not about giving, but about taking.

But wait. Though a recent survey has shown that one in five couples are happy for their guests to choose their own presents – and a similar number said they did not expect any gifts at all in these straitened times – more than a third of couples are jettisoning the wedding list only to ask their guests to give them cash on their special day. Perhaps the wedding list is the romantic option after all.