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'Our wedding gifts were stolen from our wishing well'

9Honey logo 9Honey 15/04/2019 Maddison Leach
a man wearing a suit and tie: Aaron and his new wife panicked when they realised what had happened. © Dean Raphael - Wedding Photography Melbourne Aaron and his new wife panicked when they realised what had happened.

Aaron's wedding day was perfect, up until the moment he and his wife discovered that someone had stolen almost half of the gifts from their wedding wishing well.

"It only dawned on us two days later as we were taking note of gifts so we could send out our thank you notes," he told 9Honey.

"We were overcome by panic, initially we thought we had forgotten some of the gifts at the venue.

"We triple checked every possible avenue before finally landing on the prospect that a large portion of our gifts had been stolen."

During the wedding someone – to this day, Aaron has no idea whom – stole a bunch of the cards well-wishers had left the newlyweds, along with the large cash gifts inside.

"Instead of enjoying the days after the wedding we were left trying to figure out how something like this could have happened," he said.

Aaron and his wife kept the news from their guests, worried that the shocking news would lead to a flood of people asking if theirs had been one of the gifts stolen, and told the few that did find out that their gifts hadn't been stolen – even if that wasn't the case.

Envelopes of cash and well wishes were stolen from their small wishing well. © Dean Raphael - Wedding Photography Melbourne Envelopes of cash and well wishes were stolen from their small wishing well.

But the theft didn't just put a damper on the memory of their wedding day – it had a major financial impact too.

"We estimate it was fairly big financial hit. If I had to guess - it probably did delay our ability to jump into our first property," Aaron said.

It's stories like Aaron's that motivated Melbourne mum Marta Barbayannis to develop GiftWell, a smartphone app that functions as an electronic wishing well and could help prevent wedding gift theft.

"I’d heard tales of wishing wells being stolen or tampered with," Marta told 9Honey, adding that it later happened to someone she knew. 

"And then, when it happened to someone I knew, this really increased the urgency to launch the GiftWell app and make the whole process easier and stress-free for everyone involved."

a woman wearing a white shirt: Marta launched GiftWell to try to prevent what happened to Aaron from happening to others. © Supplied Marta launched GiftWell to try to prevent what happened to Aaron from happening to others.

She explained that with people tapping for just about every purchase and rarely carrying cash, traditional cash gifts slipped into envelopes are quickly becoming outdated and may be totally replaced by apps like GiftWell in the future.

"For the couple, it means peace of mind and convenience. For the guests, it means being saved time and money," she said.

But that doesn't mean the tradition of wedding gift giving has to go totally digital – it's probably just safer to send those major cash gifts electronically.

"Whilst there may be a small number of people who still currently prefer to deal with cash and cards, and couples who wish to style a wishing well/gifts table, there’s no reason why they can’t have the best of both worlds by catering for the nostalgic and otherwise knowing that the bulk of their gifts are being transferred securely and not at risk on the night," Marta said.

It's a peace of mind Aaron wishes he had on his big day.

a sign on top of a grass covered field: Aaron still feels the pain of losing so many well wishes. © Dean Raphael - Wedding Photography Melbourne Aaron still feels the pain of losing so many well wishes.

"When you look at the emotional and financial risk factors there is absolutely no reason to risk the conventional wishing well anymore," he said.

"The idea we will never get to read some of the well wishes from our guests has had a huge toll."

But despite his terrible experience, Aaron harbours no resentment towards whoever stole his wedding gifts and is certain they must have been "in dire need" to do such a thing.

"I refuse to believe it was done out of pure greed," he added.

Hopefully in the coming years it simply won't be done at all.

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