The easiest way to choose a wedding gift is from a registry.
Coming up with a special and useful wedding gift idea can be challenging, especially if the couple just seems to have everything or the guest doesn't know them that well. Many couples register at their favorite stores so wedding guests have a list of gifts the bride and groom want. When there's no registry, guests must rely on how well they know the couple when purchasing a gift. Personalized or unusual gifts tend to be more sentimental and reduce the chances of the couple receiving duplicates of the same item.
Couples typically choose a few nationwide stores and register the gifts they want from each store. The gift selections usually represent a range of prices, so guests with smaller budgets can purchase less-expensive gifts and still ensure they are buying exactly what the couple wants. When buying a gift in the store, it's important to have the cashier take the gift off the registry so other guests know it's already been purchased. Ask for a gift receipt just in case the couple does receive two of the same thing, because some registries don't immediately reflect purchases.
Some couples give guests gift options other than merchandise from a store. Martha Stewart Weddings recommends checking to see if the couple has registered for a financial gift. Many couples are opting to register with a travel agency so friends and family can make a financial contribution to the honeymoon. Several banks offer accounts specifically for a down payment on a home, and wedding guests can make deposits into the account. Stores that sell big-ticket items, such as furniture, also often set up an account to which guests can contribute money.
A personalized item lets the bride and groom know extra thought and effort went into picking out their gift, which increases in sentimental value as the years pass. Personalized gifts can incorporate anything from simply the couple's last name to all of the information contained in the wedding invitation. Real Simple recommends ordering a custom glass plate made from the invitation. The invitation's wording can also be engraved on a silver platter or tea kettle. Many boutiques personalize Welcome signs with the couple's last name. Monogrammed items such as towels, robes and hangers are other options for personalized gifts. For the high-tech couple, Apple offers engraving on iPods.
Other items that are easily personalized with the couple's names and wedding date include:
Giving an unusual wedding gift often means giving a gift the couple didn't even know they wanted. The benefits to unusual wedding gifts include knowing the bride and groom likely won't receive more than one of that particular item, which in turn reduces the chance the gift will need to be returned. Unusual gifts are most successful when the couple's hobbies and interests are considered. For example, a high-end bird feeder would be ideal for the couple who loves nature. For the crafty wedding guest, consider clipping headlines and photographs from local and national news media that were published the day of the wedding and creating a scrapbook or collage. Naming a star after the couple is another unusual gift idea, as is commissioning a local artist to create a sculpture or painting in honor of the couple.
Immediate family members usually struggle the least when thinking of wedding gift ideas. Not only do family members have the advantage of knowing the couple well, it's easier for family members to ask what gifts the bride and groom want the most. If the wedding couple is tight-lipped about the gifts they would like to receive, consider a gift card to their favorite store. Family members can also pool their money to purchase an expensive gift they wouldn't be able to purchase individually.
A wedding guest should mail or have the gift shipped to the return address on the wedding invitation to cut down on stress for the wedding couple on their celebratory day (they won't need to worry about transporting them). Because gifts are sometimes stolen, damaged or misplaced at receptions, Women Today Magazine recommends mailing the gift as the safer option. Mailing can also be more convenient for someone flying in from out of town, especially with the stricter baggage and carry on regulations. Although it's acceptable to give a gift up to a year following the wedding date, it is customarily given before or soon after the happy couple tie the knot.