Inexpensive Wedding Gifts

You promised yourself that you would never do this again. Yet, true to form, you have printed out your friend’s wedding registry at Crate and Barrell one week before the wedding. The only items left for gifting are the turbo-grille and wrought-iron patio set. You consider the tupperware tub that comprises the furniture on your own porch. Clearly, you would do well to create your own registry. And clearly, you will not be buying from off of this one.

Of course, you can go for the gift certificate, but that is not enough to congratulate the friend whose car you rear-ended in the high school parking lot and who wouldn’t let you pay for the repairs. This is the friend who sent you mail in college – the only other ones to do so being J.Crew and American Express. This is the friend that has seen you on your good days and bad and now, on her most special day, you’re going to give her a ::gasp:: highly generic gift certificate?

Please, for the love of Emily Post, wrap it up with a nice ribbon. And say something nice in the card other than To and From.

I suppose that a gift certificate is better than another potholder or Crock Pot. However, when I consider the wedding gifts that meant the most to me, of course they were the presents of presences! Having so many of my elder relatives still around to celebrate with me, and so many dear friends from around the world in one place was a gift. Truly, the memories of the conversations I had with them and the smiles on their faces are things that I am sure Mastercard would agree with me are indeed priceless.

A Simple Note

After all of the adrenaline from the day faded, however, I truly enjoyed the lovely thoughts that people had imparted in their cards to me and my husband. Some offered tried and true advice on marriage. Others related some inside jokes from high school and college which I am sure will completely perplex us 10 years from now, but which reminded us of our special bonds with these particular guests. Again, just taking the time to write something heartfelt or humorous shows that your gift is only an extension of your relationship with the bride/groom.

An Invitation to My Own Wedding

Another gift which I cherished was one guest who gave us our invitation back. Only she had matted it and painted a beautiful design around it that meshed so well with the invitation’s colors. If you are not the post-humous Bob Ross with the paintbrush, you can always take the invitation to a framer who will do the trick for you. Another idea in keeping with this concept is to mat the invitation and juxtapose it with a picture from the wedding day. Couples appreciate photographs from their friends, especially as sometimes couples are sluggish in ordering their own wedding albums (9 months out and we are still ogling over our our proofs).

Lend Me a Tenor, or a Calligrapher

If you are more premeditative when it comes to wedding gifts, you can lend one of your skills to making your friend’s wedding a success. Volunteering to calligraph invitations, to prepare food for the rehearsal dinner, or to buy the errant garter that somehow escapes the to-do list are all tasks which, great or small, will be hugely appreciated. There are so many people who will offer, “Let me know how I can help” with the best of intentions. However, sometimes a bride or groom staring down the altar will often be unable to articulate what it is he or she needs in the next 30 seconds, much less what will be needed in the next three months. The friend who asserts, “You know those fortune cookie favors you were going to buy? I want to make them. Does 200 sound okay?” is a friend to be remembered in the Philanthropy Hall of Fame.

More DIY (Do-it-Yourself)

Paint-your-own-Pottery studios are becoming increasingly popular for bachelorette parties. These studios are always increasing the variety of their clay objects which you can customize by color, design, and even with names. While your friend may have registered for a mug set with Williams-Sonoma, that is only because she couldn’t register for the Boston Red Sox mug set that she was hoping that you would custom paint for her! These pottery studios are wonderful places to pow-wow with other friends who may be attending the wedding and also want to contribute something original. You typically pay a flat fee for studio time and for your clay piece and then all materials and glazing is included. What a fun way to spend an afternoon making an intentional gift that your friend will treasure.

Another gift which I have made by hand (and spruced up a storebought version) is a guestbook. I recently took a class on how to make guestbooks (see picture) which netted me a pretty spiffy one, and the wherewithall to make more in the future. I will probably embellish this one, either with the names or a picture of the couple getting married. That way, the gift is even more personal, and the costs of the materials were far less than if I had ordered the book custom-made by Some Greatly Talented Conglomerate. Even if the couple has already purchased a guestbook, they can always use an extra one for a photo album. Many craft stores offer classes on bookbinding or specifically guestbook-making. Keep an eye out for these classes which can be a real treat and the rewards are gifts that keep on giving.

If You Don’t Do Crafts

So you’re still in a bind with the budget crunch and you have absolutely no redeeming crafting abilities. Remember this: you have a year from the time of the wedding day to send your friend a gift. One nice and inexpensive gesture might be to send some baked goods upon the couple’s return from their honeymoon. Nothing tastes better when you’re assembling your new IKEA furniture than a dozen chocolate chip cookies. You could also save up some dough and buy her and her groom a couple’s massage or a magazine subscription or a membership to a cheese club in which the couple would receive a different kind of cheese (yum!) once a month for a few months.

While wedding registries do serve a purpose so as not to replicate Crock Pots, they are not the Ten Commandments for Giving a Wedding Gift. You can be as original as you like and the value of thoughtfulness almost always eclipses the value on the pricetag.

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