I was asked a few months ago about how to choose wedding gifts for a couple that would not
turn into clutter or be forgotten. Having been through the process myself, it was a pleasure
sharing my insights.

  • Follow the bride & groom’s gift list. Ask the bride or her parents (as appropriate) where
    the bride & groom are registered.
  • If the bride and groom are not registered, ask what kinds of things they would find
    helpful or if they are saving for something that you could add to the fund.
  • Gift certificates to the stores you know they would use are great. For totally unrestricted
    options for the bride & groom, cash is always welcomed. For couples marrying later in
    life, be aware that the bride may be keeping her maiden name. If this is the case and you
    choose to write a check, write a check accordingly.

When my husband and I got married, we combined 2 households so needed nothing for the
inside of the house. We talked together to identify what things we wanted or needed and came up
with 2 things:  pond landscaping and spectacular wedding photography. We wanted to have a
really great wedding photographer with multiple day coverage so were willing to a pay for a
premium package. On our wedding invitation, we stated no gifts were necessary or expected but
if someone wanted to contribute to our photography or landscape fund, it would be gladly
We put out a basket for the cards at the wedding and it worked out beautifully. In the cards, the
guest listed how they wanted the funds to be used. Most said pond landscaping and that was
great because during the summers they could enjoy the pond with us.  For a few of our guests,
we asked for their help as their wedding gift. For example, we asked a friend who makes the best
blueberry pancakes in the world to make pancakes for us the morning after our wedding. We had
a rental house full of guests and it was the most precious and delicious gift we could have gotten.
The memory and photos of 20 of us enjoying breakfast together talking of the wedding will last
longer than any physical gift.

  • If you choose not to gift money or a gift card and you are not following a registry, keep
    your gifts practical. Lifestyles are more informal and hectic than previous generations.
  • When you shop for gifts, keep the bride and groom in mind. May couples these days have
    their own wedding website that will give you information or clues to choosing an
    appropriate gift.  Facebook is also another place you can look for information about their
    likes and how they prefer to spend their time.
  • Gifts of service might be a wonderful and unique way to support the couple. You might
    consider a gift a few of hours of “handy man” services to repair things in a home or with
    a professional organizer who can help the new couple integrate their lives, things and routines. If the couple is integrating children into the mix, a family membership to a local
    YMCA or zoo, botanical gardens, museum etc. can help them spend time together. Other
    services or activities might include cooking lessons or an adventure on their honeymoon
    (parasailing, zip line, kayaking etc). You can be very creative and also help make
    wonderful memories for the new couple regardless of how well you might actually know
    them as a couple.

Just remember, if you are invited to a wedding, it always is best to use their registry and do it
early so you have the greatest chance of getting the couple a gift that is within your price range
and that you enjoy giving. If the registry gifts are out of your price range, or there is no registry;
gift cards and cash are great. To make the gift more intimate, write in your card how you
envision them being able to use it: enjoying the yard, honeymoon adventure, supporting a move,
cooking together, organizing their space etc.  In the long run, it is about acknowledging and
supporting the 2 people who are coming together to join their lives and create a future together.
The greatest gift you can give them is to make your contribution simple and meaningful.

Mary Dykstra Novess MBA, CRTS, CPO is a Certified Professional Organizer, speaker and time
management coach. Mary helps corporate, residential and entrepreneurial clients get organized
long term and has extensive experience in working with people with ADD/ADHD. She is past
Director of Examination Development for The Board of Certified Professional Organizers and
past National President of National Association of Professional Organizers. (616) 453-2976