I have been to all sorts of weddings: a wedding where I was the flower girl and panicked when I ran out of petals; a Catholic wedding where the priest died in the middle of ceremony; a lesbian wedding where one bride fainted under the chuppah; a scholarly wedding with Russian folk songs. I’ve been to destination weddings, backyard weddings, shotgun weddings, hemlock grove weddings (that one was mine, actually) and weddings where the bride and groom forgot to cut the cake. Like a good guest, I dance and smile, never ask if I can bring someone when I wasn’t invited to, RSVP promptly and—here’s the tricky part—buy an appropriate gift.
Let’s be frank: when you’re not crazy about the couple or their chances, for whatever reason, picking out a present can seem really fraught. Sure, you can resort to the registry (“Oh look, a toaster.”) You can have a policy, as a good friend of mine does, where you buy the exact same fruit bowl for everyone. Or you can use this opportunity, within the limits of propriety and good taste, do what NWA would advise: Express yourself.
Don’t be obvious; this is an occasion for subtlety. If they perceive any hostility toward their union, you’ll have to take calls from a tearful bride and nobody wants that. But if you’re creative, you can communicate some of what you’re feeling while still giving them something they’ll enjoy! Such as:
They Think: So cozy, like a hammock for grown-ups! We can take turns pushing each other!
You Think: This is a chair for one. Get it? Because both of you are better—and better off—alone?
2) STOP! Doorstop from the MOMA Design store
They Think: What a unique and colorful gift! This will really brighten up the foyer. How did you know about our secret fondness for comic books?
You Think: Now you can’t say no one tried to warn you!
3) Baby Elephant Ring Holder from Red Envelope
They Think: Cute! And this will be so convenient when we take our wedding rings off before bed.
You Think: Elephants never forget. Isn’t that ominous? I always thought it was ominous. Also: Ooh, pretty.
They Think: China is so classy, and we didn’t want to register for it, because we didn’t want people to think we were the kind of people who expected china, or crystal, or silver. How did you know?
You Think: Um, your relationship kind of reminds me of Mad Men.
5) On The Rocks wine glasses—set of 4 from Uncommon Goods
They Think: Distinctive! Look, they’re handmade in Canada.
You Think: The name speaks for itself. Isn’t that convenient?
They Think: Because we’ve been the gift of time—time together, for the rest of our lives!
You Think: I know, right? For the rest of your lives.
7) If all else fails—say, you slept with one half of the couple, or both, and you’re really flummoxed what to get them now that they’re together—there’s always the Giant Sock Monkey
They Think: We’re speechless.
You Think: Tell me about it.
Ester Bloom, winner of the Lois Morrell Prize for Poetry, has been published in Salon, the Hairpin, the Awl, Nerve, the Morning News, Thought Catalog, the Film Experience, PANK, the Apple Valley Review, Conte: A Journal of Narrative Poetry, and Bundle, among other venues. She is currently at work on a book of lighthearted essays about serious topics entitled Never Marry a Short Woman. You can check out her blog http://esterbloom.com