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Best Engagement Gift Ideas: For Traditional and Non-Traditional Couples

Updated on May 6, 2012
Personalized photo books are a great engagement gift idea!
Personalized photo books are a great engagement gift idea! | Source

A good friend of mine recently got engaged and celebrated this glorious occasion with a big bash. And I mean big... It's been a long time since a friend got engaged, I'm in that age group where that's been a thing of the past for a while now. So, I was feeling a little rusty about engagement party etiquette, especially when it came to gift-giving. I could come up with lots of engagement gift ideas, but I really wanted to find one that was unique. I knew the party would be big and I didn't want to duplicate my gift! Plus, I wanted to get something that was really useful, long-lasting and meaningful. As cute as Edible Arrangements and gift baskets are and all, that idea just wasn't cutting the mustard. Anyway, I thought I'd share the fruits of my many hours of brainstorming, I don't want my ideas to go to waste, after all. I will admit they are not all my ideas... I talked to as many people as I could and asked their opinions. I found out what others favorite engagement presents had been and why. I hope you can find an idea here that will help you or that this will inspire you own creative juices.

Best Engagement Ideas: Make Them Unique and Personalized

My gift idea was born from having one of those "aha moments". I love it when that happens, by the way. A friend of mine, who was also the team mom for my son's soccer team made the COOLEST photo book as a thank you gift to our coaches. Throughout the year, she'd taken pictures of the boys in action and turned them into a lovely, bound book with each page featuring one of the players. Each child signed his page and wrote a little thank you note. It was awesome, it truly was. In fact, one of our coach's, a big, burly guy I might add, was actually driven to tears when he saw his book. I was immediately struck by what a perfect engagement gift idea this was.

Of course, this will only work if you have quite a few pictures of the bride and groom. Fortunately, over time I'd collected enough to make a fairly substantial book. If you have enough time before the engagement party, you can start sneaking in some pictures... Many of the books have 20 pages, but you don't necessarily have to have 20 photos of the couple to pull it off. You can have pages with pictures of places, items or ideas that are symbolic to the couple. In my case, I got pictures of the place they got engaged. Perhaps they have a few inside jokes you're privy to, then find a way to incorporate a picture of that into the album. Use your imagination! You can also ask mutual friends if they have any pictures they'd be willing to share. That's how I got a few of mine...

The photo books options are fairly vast. You can have the company you're using arrange the photos for you or you can custom design a book. I choose the latter myself, because I knew it would be a lot of fun.

Here's a list of sites you can use:

I used Shutterfly and was exceedingly happy with it. The quality is top notch and the process is easy! Check out the video above to see a quick overview.

I want to add you can go to places like Walmart or Walgreens to get the job done, but the quality just isn't as good. You can also go to your local brick and mortar photo stores as well. I just found it was easier to make the book online...

Unique Engagement Gifts

Obviously I don't know the happy couple you're shopping for, but fortunately you DO! The key is to actually use that knowledge instead of just buying a generic gift. Consider the following when making your choices:

  • Their hobbies and what they like to do
  • Their sense of style
  • What they really NEED
  • Their personalities

Bottom line is this: don't go buy some cutesy love figurines for the practical couple. For the couple you know won't be living and breathing their wedding planning, stay away from traditional gifts.

Ideas for the Practical Couple: Non-Traditional Gifts

  • Cool artwork that represents their style or has some meaning to them
  • If you're computer savvy and they aren't, buy them a domain for their wedding website and get it all set up.
  • Give them the gift of a much needed night out on the town... trust me, couples planning weddings them them. Buy them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or one they've always wanted to go. If they had their first date at a restaurant, then by all means this is a good choice. Add some movie tickets if you can swing it.
  • If you can sew, a homemade blanket or tablecloth can be a fantastic gift. You can even personalize it by incorporating their names. Can't sew? Consider learning how to make a tie blanket... they're very easy and quite lovely when finished.
  • I came across these Boldloft pillowcases and thought they were so charming. They are a nice practical, but non-traditional gift.

Gifts for the More Traditional Couple

I know they're out there... the ones that are all about the wedding, the planning, the gift registry, the guest list, etc... If this is your couple, you might want to go a more traditional route. These are the people who may have already created their gift registry. By all means, go straight there, do not pass go... this is your ticket to an easy engagement gift!

Consider usefulness and something that will last a long time for this couple. Some favorite gifts for the traditionalists include the following:

  • Dishes
  • Books on wedding planning or Bride Magazine
  • House d├ęcor: clocks, vases, table linens, candles
  • Small household appliances
  • Wine gift sets
  • On the more expensive side, a Cricut cutting machine would come in handy for the couple who plans to make their own invitations or decorations for the wedding.
  • A thoughtful and creative idea (although it could be expensive) is a gift certificate for dance lessons. Some couples actually fear that first dance! It is also a way for them to bond and spend some fun, quality time together. Just bear in mind, they will be busy for the months to come!

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