Wedding gift-giving can be complicated. Do you go with the seemingly boring crock pot on their registry or just write a check? And who even has checks to write anymore? There are so many variables when it comes to gift-giving in general, but the particular pressure of giving a couple something that will last as long as their love can make your head spin faster than the $300 blender on their Bed Bath & Beyond wishlist. The trick is to not overthink it, as we learned when we asked brides to reveal the best wedding gifts they received on their big day.
One of the most important lessons we learned is that sticking to the registry is highly recommended. Depending on how close you are to the couple, it may be best to go with something you think is boring that they asked for (rather than thinking outside of the box and trying to outdo everyone else invited to the party).
That being said, sometimes wedding registries get bought out by the time you remember you have to find a gift. Or, you’re just not in a financial place to throw down for a dress, travel to the wedding, and a pizza stone you’d actually really want for yourself.
In those cases, remember that tradition dictates that you actually have a year to give your beloved friends a wedding present, so there’s always time to budget. There are also super sweet ways to show how much you’re cheering on their love that don’t cost all that much. As one of my friends told me when I copped to “forgetting the gift” for her wedding, “OMG, please! Just being there and telling me I looked good was the best gift of all.”
Whatever way you decide to go with your wedding gift (your mere presence might be gift enough!), know that there are people out there who have managed to nail it, according to these brides.
1Something to plant.
One bride told HelloGiggles that her aunt sent her and her boo a lemon tree to plant in their yard a week after the big day. It might seem strange to give someone a landscaping chore to celebrate their marriage, but giving the couple something they can point to in their yard and brag about decades later is a really cool idea.
For us younger couples who tend to move around a lot, giving young trees and forever-plants that start off in pots is the best way to go. So go for something they can keep on their roof or by a big window, and spend your money on a fancy pot they can show off until they get that baby in the ground.
2Remember that presentation is everything.
One Big Apple-based friend told us that she and her partner got just what they wished for, but not how they expected. The former bride said, “A friend brought a huge, unwrapped pot — seafood-boil size — to our wedding via the New York City subway. To be fair, it was on our registry, I just didn’t think it would also be a guest at the wedding.”
If you’re the bestie who springs for the entire French cookware set or the new backyard grill, sending it via the good ol’ postal service might be the best way to go.
3Acknowledging their new family is always a classy move.
A bride from Boston married the love of her life who had a son from another relationship, whom she loves dearly. She gushed to HelloGiggles, “We [got] a ‘not-so-nuclear family’ chart from [one of his other family members]. Which is really helpful marrying into a blended family.”
Adorable, right? Framing a gorgeous picture you have of the couple from college or putting together a scrapbook of all the unprofessional photos you took at their wedding with all your friends is also a lovely, and pretty cheap, idea.
4Make it an experience.
Another lucky bride got a great gift from a guest who was low on cash. “Instead of spending a ton of money on a gift, he took the beer koozie that was a ‘welcome’ gift from their wedding weekend and took pics of himself for the next year drinking beers in different places. Just before their first anniversary, he sent them a small photo book featuring pics of him drinking with said koozie. There was definitely a clever message about having a great first year of marriage in there.” So don’t be afraid to get creative with your gift.
5Think like a party animal.
One woman told HelloGiggles that she received a “portable blow-up hot tub,” which sounds ridiculous, but gets good use. Something silly can be sentimental for a couple if they laugh every time they use it and have an excuse to think about their big day.
6Get them something useful.
One Chicago-based bride told us that she and her hubby got a Costco membership, which didn’t seem fancy at first but did get them groceries. Another friend told HelloGiggles, “Our family got us gift cards to our favorite meat/cheese/wine shop. The gift kept on giving for months!” This foodie bride also got dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant, which meant she had a date night in her pocket to keep the party going long after the wedding.
7DIY isn’t always your friend.
One lone groom told HelloGiggles that he got a “bizarre handmade pottery bowl thing” for his wedding, in which he now keeps a cactus. It makes him laugh every time he looks at it. But he plans to retaliate.
“It depends who gets married first, but if you give a ‘weird’ gift, you’re 100% getting a weird gift back,” he jokingly told HelloGiggles. You better believe he’s ready to register for a candle-making class before hitting up his buddy’s wedding when the time comes.
The moral of the story? Don’t let the gift stress you out when you go to a wedding. Think about your relationship with the person, what they can use or might want, and what you can afford. Remember, sometimes just your smiling face and making small talk with their long-lost relatives over the buffet is good enough. Oh, and cash or Target gift cards are always king.