Wedding season has begun! June 1st was the most popular wedding day so far this year, and the weddings are going to keep rolling in. I fortunately don't have any weddings to worry about this summer but my own, but my Maid of Honor routinely has at least 2 to attend and another 2 that she is in each year for the last 4 years.
Buying wedding gifts can be tricky, do you stick to registry items? Do you go out on a limb and buy something really cool that they maybe don't want? How much should you spend? How should you send/deliver the gift? Unfortunately some of these questions don't have standard correct answers, but I'm going to do my best to help you wade through the wedding gift confusion.
Pay attention to registries, even if you're not buying from one
Most couples have a wedding website somewhere. It could be attached to their Facebook page or a link to it may be printed on one of the pages included with your invitation. If you can't find it, ask for it. Even if you're the type of person that likes to buy unique gifts that the couple didn't ask for, you should still look through all of their registries. This will help you tell if your great gift idea would be appreciated or not. If the couple is a little older, especially if they've been living together for awhile they may not need traditional gifts like dishes, cutlery, and pots and pans and you will know that if you pay attention to the registries.
Talk to the couple or their family and friends
You might be afraid to ask the couple what they really want. You don't want to ruin the surprise, but trust me, you won't. They've got enough other things on their minds and other people asking them the same question that they won't remember when the big day arrives. Go ahead and ask them which item on the registry they want the most, or what items they're worried that they won't get. They'll appreciate that you bought them something that they really wanted, especially if it's something impractical that they would probably not end up buying for themselves. You can also ask the couple's parents or friends what items they need or want the most.
Compare prices between stores
This is sort of an obvious one. If you find something on one registry that you really want to buy the couple shop around a little bit first for the best price. If you end up buying a gift not straight from a registry, make sure you get a gift receipt! Once you have a gift item in mind start browsing early. If you know that a big sale weekend is coming up (Independence Day will probably be the next big one), grab your coupons and buy the item during the sale. You can also save yourself some time by signing up for emails from BradsDeals, we regularly have deals on wedding items such as Kitchen Aid mixers, Dyson Vacuums, and discounts at stores people frequently register at like Macy's, Kohl's, and Bed Bath and Beyond.
Compare registry purchase bonuses between stores
You might know that registries give the couple perks and bonuses for registering with them, but did you know that you get rewards too? Time frames for the rewards vary, but anyone who buys a gift off of my Macy's registry gets a coupon for $20 off their next $50 purchase. Amazon.com gives free shipping on registry purchases of $25+ (there are some exlcusions). Don't forget to double check your invitation before making your purchase. Bon Ton stores print 10% off coupons on the back of their enclosure cards. Kohl's does the same thing, customers shopping with a "registry announcement" card get a 15% discount when they make an in-store registry purchase of $50 or more.
Consider giving as a group
Are you on a tight budget and don't want to give the couple a colander, mixing bowls, or other everyday things? If you know other people that will be attending the wedding, ask them to pool your resources to buy one of the bigger ticket items on the registry. Common big items on registries are Kitchen-Aid mixers, vacuums, and bedding sets. A $450 mixer might be too much to buy on your own, but split the cost among 4 people and it's much easier to handle. Again, if this is one of the items that the couple has said that they really want, they won't mind getting 1 item from the 4 of you instead of 4 smaller gifts that they didn't really want.
Give cash in a better way
One of the most common wedding gifts is cold, hard cash. It's easy to transport to the wedding, and for most people it's a way of making sure that the couple gets what they want. If you want to give cash, but hate the idea of just giving them a check, see if the couple has a Honeyfund. Honeyfund is a registry site where the couple enters information about their honeymoon and you pledge your gift toward certain items. For example, if they're going to Mexico you can donate $80 and buy them a swim with dolphins. They enter the activities they're going to be participating in and the prices and you pledge your gift toward it. The couple can set up a credit card payment option, or you can print out a certificate from Honeyfund and put it in an envelope with your check. If they don't have a Honeyfund you can do something similar on your own. Pick out something you think they might do on their trip and include a photo or card along with the check saying what the money should go towards. This way you feel that you've put a little more into the gift and they still can spend it on whatever they really want or need.
Send it ahead of time
Some people love spending time carefully wrapping a gift and then lugging it around until they get to the reception and can leave it on the gift table. You know who doesn't love this? Whoever gets assigned to pick up the gifts and deliver them to the couples new home. There's also the possibility that your gift will get lost in the shuffle. The couple isn't likely to open their gifts in front of you, so why not just have the gift sent straight to them? Most online stores have a gift wrap option, although you can always opt to not gift-wrap and write a note to the couple letting them know that their gift is "green". The sooner you send the gift, the sooner they can start using it. If the couple is going to be moving right around the same time as the wedding, you might want to ask for a safe address to mail to, such as a family member, to make sure the gift doesn't get lost in the mail. I'm having all of my mailed gifts addressed to my mom and she just loves it. She opens up the boxes to make sure nothing broke and so she can start a list of who gave what. She told me "it's just like when you kids were babies and I got to open all your gifts for you. That was my favorite part". Gee, thanks Mom.
Are you still stumped on what to give as a wedding gift? Check out our previous post on Unique Wedding Gifts for the Summer Wedding Season to find some inspiration.
Are you a bridesmaid looking to save on your dress and gifts for the bride? We can help you out with our tips for Bankrupt Bridesmaids.
Do you tend to buy wedding gifts straight off the registry? Do you prefer to buy something unique and unusual? Let us know the best wedding gift you ever bought in the comments.
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