Spring Gifts - Wedding Presents
White Wedding Blues
Its the perfect day. Your friend/sister/brother/cousin is getting married. You get the invitation in the mail, and, depending on your view of big occassions, you
a) jump for joy
b) groan and think "not another one"
c) immediately start planning your outfit
d) exclaim "Crud! Now I gotta go shopping!"
If answer D fits your personal profile, fear not my friend. The following article will guide you through the perils of purchasing the perfect wedding gift.
The Wedding Registry
For some, this handy little guide has taken the anxiety out of the big day... their big day, that is. Just enter the name of the bride or groom, and a list of wedding gift ideas hand picked by said couple pops up onto your computer screen. You can even sort by price, thereby finding something useful, wanted, and in your spending range.
For others, this preconceived wedding registery has taken all the fun out of the treasure hunt. Who wants to just click and buy? The search is half the adventure. Perhaps you're more of a flea market finder, articulate in the world of antiques, knowledgeable in a niche market of personally perfect packages.
Still others worry that buying off the registry is thoughtless. "How will they know I really care if I just pick and click?" Shouldn't I think long and hard about the couple's likes and dislikes, worry and fret for days and finally conclude my wedding gift shopping with an arduosly long and painful decision making process- Finally arriving at the perfect wedding present?
As a married person, I'm here to tell you: Please! Use the registry! That's why its there. I love your personal hand knit afghans, the candle holder that you thought would remind me of my trip to see the world's largest ball of yarn, even the weird little pair of decorative socks that you gave me for my birthday. But, I'm starting my life here... There are things I NEED. I'll be living in a tiny little aparment with the love of my life. We'd much rather toast our 1 month anniversary from those lovely little glasses we registered for than from two of the 57 unregistered crystal vases we actually recieved.
The Modern Couple
Today's marrying type aren't the bride and groom of yesteryear. Most folks getting married today, have already taken the time to establish themselves. They have money, and, as a result, things. They may even have been living together, purchased a home together, or already started a family. A place setting, pots and pans, or the ever popular toaster may not be a choice wedding present for this couple. For wedding gifts for the modern couple, you may have to get a bit creative.
Think practical, but pretty. Something they can use in the home they have, but that they wouldn't have bought for themselves. Rather than a toaster, what about a kitchen appliance that is more of a treat than a standard: An espresso maker, a really great omelette pan, even one of those fancy drink maker thingies that seem to be all the rage these days.
Go traditional, with a twist. Think of the old standards, and then spice them up for today's modern couple. Wedding gift of old: a good set of knives. Today's wedding present: a santoku knife and sushi rolling set. Wedding present past: Linens or Bath Towels Modern gift twist: Contemporary sheets in the color scheme of the guest room they already have, but haven't had the funds to furnish. (plus a promise to come visit the next time you are in town.)
Think outside the (home) box: If the bride and groom to be have already well established their life and home together, then look for activity related gifts. A wedding present doesn't have to come neatly packed in a white box and bow. Perhaps the new couple won't be taking a traditional honeymoon. Consider getting them a gift certificate to a local B&B. Or, chip in with a few friends to purchase a relaxing wedding get away - a couples spa day that the new hubby and wife can indulge in together. Does the couple travel often for work or recreation? Travel books so that they can plan their next great adventure area wonderful wedding gift. A kindle or other electronic book could keep them occupied on their next long flight. Even a great new laptop bag or solid piece of overnight luggage can make a fabulous wedding gift for a young couple on the go.
A Word about Cash Gifts
Some people really fret about using cash as a wedding gift. To those of us who grew up in an era of personal thinking and hand written thank you notes. A cash wedding present seems impersonal and lacking in involvement. But, I gotta tell ya' from personal experience, that it can be the most appreciated of presents. For a young couple starting out, the expenses and bills are piling up. They may be paying off student loans, or saving for a house. They may have recently had moving expenses, or one, or both may be out of a full time job due to relocation, or simply inexperience. A little extra pocket cash can go a long way to allay some of the newlywed fears and stresses. Most couples take a trip or honeymoon, and while the standards may be budgeted for, the incidentals are usually not. That wedding day gift money can make the special trip that much more special with a dinner out or a souvenier that would otherwise have been out of reach. Or, perhaps your newlyweds are more established and have most of the material things they need. They may own their own home. And, as any home owners know, houses are expensive. The mortgage is a chunk of change in and of itself, but there's always some unexpected repair or remodel around the corner. Helping your newlyweds establish a little cash flow safety net can really take off the pressure... and if that's not a well thought out gift, then I don't know what is.
How much to spend/give
Its the thought that counts, right? This statement is true, however, many of us worry about just how much we should spend on the perfect wedding present. I don't know your personal finance situation, nor the type of wedding you'll be attending, nor the economic situation in your neck of the woods. But, I can offer you a few things to think about. The bride and groom (or their family) have probably spent anywhere between $50 and $120 per person just to feed you at their big day. So, if you are attending and bringing a guest, your probably costing the happy couple an average of $125. In all likelihood, they aren't going to make back what they spent on the wedding. Now, I'm not saying its your responsibility to pay your own way at their gala event, but it is a big, and expensive day, and hopefully one they'll never have again. So, if you have the means to indulge them a little, do so. If you don't, they probably understand that and will still welcome you into their new, happy home with open arms. The most important thing is that you are there to support them and well-wish them and witness the joy of their new journey's beginning.
The Personal Touch
As I've stated above, the perfect wedding gift is often a very practical one: An item off the couple's wedding registry, a useful gift for the couple or their home, or the ever popular wedding present - cold, hard cash money. But, many of us feel at this kind of very special event, that a little personal touch is desirable. I've found that this can really make an everyday gift special, and maybe help you save a little dough in the process.
My husband and I got married a lot earlier than many of our friends. There was a year when, between the 2 of us, we were in 6 weddings! We had been married for several years, were trying to buy a home and were generally struggling financially. Our friends had had several years of being single and working and had cash to spare. I wanted to give them a nice chunk of change to start them off right, but simply couldn't afford it. Plus, these were dear friends and I really wanted a wedding gift that they would remember and appreciate. To help on both these fronts, I combined the personal with the practical. I gave a cash gift to the bride and groom... one that was about $25 or $30 less than what I would have liked to have given. Then, I used my bargain hunting skills to acquire the supplies needed for a very personal gift addition. For each friend, I framed the wedding invitation. Rather than having it framed, I did the matting and arranging myself. I called a family member and found a phrase that was special to the couple (lyrics to their first dance, a prayer or blessing, or a quote they identified with) and, using some calligraphy skills I picked up years ago, included this phrasing around the matted invitation. On the back of the frame, I would write a personal message to the happy couple. All told, if I had had this done at a framing store, the project probably would have cost $50 or $60. I was usually able to do it for $20. So, I saved some money, had an appropriate gift, and gave a wedding present that was well received and showed just how much I cared about the couple as well.
Other ideas for personal touches include:
- An item that reminds them of how they met (a framed newspaper from that year, baseball caps of the team that played on their first date at the ball park, a photo of them from their first weeks together.)
- A sentimenal wish for the future (pink candles to represent devotion and love, a dried bouquet of mums symbolizing wealth, abundance and truth.)
- A humorous gift (if you are great friends with either the bride or groom, reference something that is special between the two of you.)
- A promise or favor (let the couple know you will take care of their mail or plants while they are away on their honeymoon, promise them a home cooked meal on their return, pre-address a stack of Thank You cards to the couple's friends and family - they will have to take care of this arduos task at some point, any help will always be appreciated)
- A note (I'm not generally a fan of cards, and find them a waste of money, however, on occasions like this, a well written note with a few words of advice, friendship and well wishes can bring a tear to a bride's eye and a happy memory for year's to come.)
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