Wedding Gifts on a Budget!
by Amy Davis
The honor of your presence has been requested — again. While receiving another wedding invitation may bring joy, pulling out your credit card for another wedding gift may bring indigestion. Instead of reaching for the antacid tablets, read on. Whether you have been invited to more weddings than Katherine Heigl’s character in “27 Dresses” or simply can’t afford an expensive gift in today’s economic climate, a wide selection of great gifts is a click or phone call away.
Here are some ideas for $50 or less.
Check the bridal registry. As a first step, see if the bride and groom are registered at any department or specialty stores. Most registries can be accessed online by entering the bride or groom’s last name. Typically, registries span many price ranges and include affordable gifts such as kitchenware. Even if the couple’s wish list breaks the bank, you’ll get a sense of their taste and style. Can’t afford their china or silver pattern? Consider a sugar bowl and creamer, salt and pepper shakers or serving utensils that complement their tableware. Also consider buying a single piece of china or crystal if the particular pattern fits your budget.
Make it personal. Personalized wedding gifts have come a long way since the days of monogrammed towels. A number of great choices are available to help the bride and groom remember their special day. For example, have a glass picture frame etched with their names and wedding date. Or buy personalized champagne flutes to help them celebrate their anniversary each year. For a more whimsical gift, give them a pillow embroidered with a saying such as “And they lived happily ever after,” along with their names and wedding date. If you’re on a really tight budget, simple things such as candles and cutting boards can be personalized. Many websites personalize items in only a couple of days and some provide the service free of charge.
Send a spirited gift. The bride and groom don’t have to be oenophiles to appreciate a good bottle of wine. Choose a varietal you know they enjoy or go to a local wine store for some advice. Websites for wine enthusiasts also have good choices. If your budget allows, consider purchasing a wine the bride and groom can put away for a future anniversary. You can add a fun note such as “Don’t pop my cork for 10 years” or “Drink me on your 10th anniversary.” Not sure which vintage to purchase? Choose a set of wine glasses or tumblers the couple can use for many years to come.
Create date night. Help keep the sparkle in the marriage by ensuring the bride and groom have a regular date. Give them a voucher for a local movie theater and include enough money to cover tickets and refreshments. If they’re more of the homebody types, create a gift basket with DVDs that suit both of their tastes and add microwave popcorn. For a fanciful touch, include a decorative bowl for the popcorn.
Plan a picnic. Choose a wicker picnic basket that comes with plates, flatware and acrylic wine glasses. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can purchase a canvas bag and fill it with a nice blanket or beach towels. Then add acrylic or melamine picnic ware and a couple of cloth napkins. If you want to spend a bit more, include a bottle of wine.
Document the love story. Instead of a run-of-the-mill photo album or scrapbook, give a wedding journal. In addition to preserving photos and documenting details, this keepsake includes pages for the couple to record things such as how they met, where they had their first date and how the proposal happened. It also includes space to record future events such as where they live and how they spend their first anniversary.
Treat the couple to a flavorful feast. Research top restaurants in the couple’s honeymoon destination and purchase a gift certificate toward the cost of lunch or dinner. The bride and groom are certain to enjoy a fine meal— and may think of you as they share the chateaubriand. For added fun, include a menu and a map with directions to the restaurant.
Make a charitable donation. With the average age of brides and grooms at 27 and 29 respectively, many couples do not need another toaster. A growing trend is to ask wedding guests to make donations in the couple’s honor rather than purchase traditional gifts. Choose one of your favorite charities or see if the bride and groom are registered at a site such as the I Do Foundation, which was founded in 2002 to join engaged couples and charitable organizations.
Amy Davis is a freelance writer in Acton, MA. She and her husband happily received many of the wedding gifts mentioned in this story.