Wedding season is upon us! For the bride, a wedding starts with her dreamt-about knight in shining armor. After that, it’s all about the big event and preparing for a happily ever after. A favorite and long-time tradition is for friends and family to throw showers and give unforgettable wedding gifts, helping the couple off to a great start.
Giddy with anticipation, the engaged couple heads to the store. Who wouldn’t be eager to go on a shopping spree without having to spend a dime? Once there, they select basics like a toaster, towels, and something to brew up their favorite cup of joe. Then they browse around a bit, heading to bed, bath, even cleaning supplies to ensure there are enough gifts on their registry for people to choose from. More often than not, SHE wields the scanner. Inevitably, when she has sipped the last of her Starbucks and takes a quick bathroom break…He steps in. That Star Wars bathroom set you were awkwardly surprised with at your bridal shower? That wasn’t an accidental scan. Oh, the wedding registry! It is a shopping staple that is here to stay.
With wedding season comes wedding gift buying. As a guest, should you always purchase from the couple’s wish list at their fave department store? Not necessarily. There are a plethora of wedding-worthy ideas for your favorite couple.
A Personalized Contribution
Admit it – for those of us already married, we don’t remember who bought our toaster or even that essential fancy fondue set now gathering dust in the far recesses of our kitchen. Gifting something useful AND thoughtful can set your gift apart (I’d probably forgo engraving the waffle maker – just sayin’). An instant memory will be made when they see your extra effort to give a special gift.
Aleah and Nick Valley plan and design marvelous parties and weddings. The Valleys advise that you take some time and use what you know about the couple, “gifting a newly married couple with the perfect wedding gift can seem like a daunting task, but we find that the best gifts are ones that just require a little thought and sweet sentiment.”
They recommend “pulling from what you know about (the couple) to create a thoughtful gift experience. Do they love to entertain? Think about gifting them with a cooking class or a big gift basket that has some of your favorite cooking utensils, gourmet foods and wines. Perhaps they just bought a new home so a gift of a trip to a local nursery for new plants might be welcomed.”
Deborah Collins Dunn loves to offer inspiration to brides. She is both the editor and founder of top blog Wedding Thingz, and the owner of the Philadelphia area bridal shop The Dress Matters. She agrees that a unique gift is a great idea. “I love giving personalized gift to the couple. My favorite item to give is a personalized picture or blanket. Both are unique and are treasured by both the bride and groom. I love the Heart and Sand Print at Personal Creations.”
Registries are incredibly practical, but the thoughtfulness factor can be siphoned out of the gift giving experience. The key to a perfectly memorable present is giving the couple something they didn’t know they wanted.
A Souvenir Recalling Cherished Memories
A gift card will almost always be well received, but it’s not exactly memorable. When you are close with the bride or groom, a rote bestowal from the registry just won’t cut it. You want your gift to scream your love for them from the mountaintops, or at least stand out from the rest. A wedding gift with a nod to past memories will give them a story their children beg to hear over and over again.
Frugal yet fabulous blogger Jeannine Avelino, aka Vancity Bride, is a great resource for Vancouver area brides on a budget. She remembers the most thoughtful gift she received at her wedding. “(It) was a care basket full of funky kitchen gadgets and a beautiful framed photo of my ex (she’s no longer married) and I taken from a previous outing. It was quite thoughtful because they handpicked all those gifts and they were things I wouldn’t normally buy for myself.” Even the photo itself had been taken by the gift-givers, adding to the sentimental side of this carefully chosen remembrance.
If you are a friend or family near and dear to their hearts, your love for them can shine when they open your thoughtful package. Gifts that recall specific experiences, such as maps or photos related to past (or future) travel can be a great choice. At the gift opening, the bride and groom will have reason to escape the small crowd for a moment and exchange a secret, knowing smile as they hold a special memory close.
Give a Glimpse of Their Future
Two lives becoming one. I’m sure you have heard it at nearly every wedding you’ve ever attended. Trite, maybe cliché, but still so very, very true. A wedding is a celebration of individual paths now meeting up as one journey to be made together. One of the most creative gift ideas is one that will speak to their future dreams and plans.
Professional musician and long time traveler, Michael Dixon once pulled off one of the wildest wedding surprises you could probably imagine! He was part of a six-piece country swing band in Arizona, circa 1977, when the bass player decided to tie the knot. What did this loyal band member do?
The bass player had wanted a horse for quite awhile, so Dixon “checked around with some horse people and found a younger one that was all broken in. I forget what breed he was. I don’t know anything about horses really.” Despite his lack of expertise, “the band members all chipped in and we bought him.”
They rented a trailer, brought him to the outdoor wedding, and walked the horse right up to the surprised newlyweds and crowd. Can you imagine? It caused quite a stir! Thank goodness they had just moved to a ranch, so it wasn’t a completely off the wall gift.
A Traditional Gift
Guests rarely have a tough time finding a useful wedding present. After all, the couple did most of the legwork, already, right? Uber-traditionalists might be put off by a couple seemingly asking for gifts. Happily married engineer Alana Beck, (@sassypants81) says, “We had a registry, which apparently gets some people worked up. ‘Ugh! How dare they assume we OWE them a gift!’ ”
Most people aren’t disgruntled by the couple making a wish list. Frankly, I think we are all happy the days of receiving 5 blenders and 22 hand towels are but a distant memory. Beck adds that “the best gift to give at any wedding is money/ gift certificates or heirloom trinkets. I can buy another toaster anywhere!” Friends and family of the bride and groom often wish to be a help or blessing of some kind. The worst kind of practical gift, according to Beck, “was a gift card where the stores don’t exist anywhere near us.” If you do choose something traditional or practical, make sure it can be enjoyed and utilized easily.
Every couple wishes for things that can’t be found at your traditional Target or Macy’s. Perhaps it is a custom one-of-a-kind Etsy item. Maybe it’s a getaway for the two of them since college loan payments devoured the honeymoon budget. While you might happen to be a secret millionaire, few of us can gift such an extravagance. A gift on a budget can still speak to their sensitive side, their adventure loving spirits or their future dreams. Give them an experience to share, rather than an object destined to be discarded at Goodwill.
Pay attention to your friends to get inspiration. Stalk their Pinterest boards! If they dream about travel or beautiful places, an inspirational gift can be found in one of our push pin travel maps. Whether your favorite couple is about to say “I do” or has just tied the knot, this will keep them dreaming as they begin the next chapter of their lives together.