The Wedding Shopper
One Guest’s Guide to Thoughtful Gifting
As Barry White sings, “Love is in the air, everywhere you look around.” And so are weddings. As a wedding guest for four weddings this year, I can tell you two things that strike fear into the heart of the invitee. The first is: what to wear? (What the heck is “Backyard Formal,” I ask you?) The other is: what to give? While wearing the wrong thing says you had a closet crisis, giving the wrong thing says something about your relationship with the bride and groom.
Wandering around Crate and Barrel, clutching a sweaty 9-page registry list in my hand last Sunday, I was knee-deep in the task of buying gifts for my childhood friend and everything took on additional significance. Was I a toaster-oven guest? Did we have a fondue friendship, or an ironing-board acquaintance? Will buying something off-registry say “Hey, look how well I know you” or “Hey, here’s something you didn’t want”? Looking around at my fellow shoppers with similar lists and looks of terror, I knew we shared the same fears: How can we give a gift that is meaningful, no matter what we can afford or what the registry says? Right there and then I came up with a game plan to get me through every gift-giving scenario this wedding season.
Wedding Woe #1
You want to give them something from the registry, but it feels so impersonal. How can you make registry items memorable?
Solution: Give them something on the registry, but add a small, inexpensive “present topper” that gives a personal nod. Giving the bride’s favorite childhood book, like Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece, or including some Salt Water Taffy from the groom’s Cape Cod upbringing will show that while you give them things they need, you’ll also acknowledge how well you know them.
Wedding Woe #2
Solution: Often when a couple doesn’t register anywhere, it’s a hint that they’d like cash as a gift. Ask someone in the wedding party whether that’s the case. If you feel uncomfortable giving stone cold cash, give a gift card to one of their favorite stores. If the answer truly is that each guest has carte blanche to give freely, chances are the couple wants to see some creative gift giving. Aim for something memorable. Give them each a bottle of wine from their birth year with the instructions that they open it on their first anniversary. Wine.com will locate some worthy bottles in any price range.