The Perfect Wedding Gift … Is the One You Can Afford

By : Julie Ann

‘Tis the season to be married, and for single women, that means we’re bringing the gifts. Ask just about any married couple about their wedding gifts and you’ll probably find that one or two gifts tend to stand out above the others – some for good reasons and some for bad. Sometimes they recall the sentimental gifts: a clock from the bride’s sister, a mirror from a college roommate or a handmade quilt from Grandma. Sometimes they bring up the truly bizarre: a monkey lamp from crazy Uncle Louie, “recycled” kitchen utensils from a friend of the groom’s mother or a crystal penguin statuette from a co-worker. And sometimes, like for my Great Aunt Patty, it’s a Maltese puppy named Bandit.

So what can you give to make sure that you go down in history as having given a “good gifts” – even if you’re strapped for cash?

Get Crafty (or at least minimally crafty): There are plenty of ways to save a little cash by making your own creative, personalized gift. If you are close to the bride and groom and have a lot of photos and/or mementos of their courtship you might consider making a mini-scrapbook; or if you are a little more technically-minded, a video or photo slideshow. Or how about embellishing a photo frame or framing their wedding invitation or a love poem written in beautiful calligraphy (or even typed in a fancy script). One of my personal favorite things to make for people is a scripture jar. I buy a tall glass jar and then decorate it with ribbons and clear-backed scrapbooking stickers. I type about ten pages of scriptures in different fonts and print on colored card stock. After cutting out the verses I fill up the jar. It’s fairly inexpensive and you don’t need much talent (obviously since I can do it and I’m not getting my own show on HGTV anytime soon). If going in this direction be sure your gift turns out classy and sophisticated (and not kindergarten art and crafts class,) matches the style and tastes of the couple and has some usefulness or sentimental value.

Offer a Service: Another avenue to consider is volunteering your time or talent as a service to the happy couple. Are you a cake decorator? Photographer? Hair stylist? Pianist? Maybe you have a knack for organization or decorating? If so, consider volunteering your service as a gift. However, a word of caution, make sure that you actually have the talent to pull off the service you are volunteering. You don’t want to be the bride’s makeup artist and end up giving her a look that’s a cross between Tammy Faye Bakker and Lady Gaga. If you aren’t the Ace of Cakes or Annie Leibovitz, you can still volunteer a service that would help the bride and groom such as house or dog sitting while the love birds are honeymooning. Maybe they need someone to water the plants? Pick up the mail? Clean up after the reception, including returning rental items? Talk to the bride and groom well before their big day and ask how you can help them out as your gift.

Store Bought: If you don’t know the couple well enough to perform a service or don’t have a creative bone in your body, you still don’t have to go broke buying off the gift registry. First make sure that you shop early while the selection is best. To be honest, when I get my gift registry print out at the store, I scan the price column first and pinpoint the items within my price range (cheap!). The earlier you hit up the registry, the more “reasonably priced” items will be available. If you still cannot find anything within your price range, don’t feel bad about going in with a friend or two. You may even be able to get a considerably better gift by pooling together with them. You can also consider picking up a few small, useable items the newlyweds will need for their new home and placing them in a nice gift basket. However, make sure you really think outside of the box if going this route. You don’t want to be the giver of one of six salt-and-pepper shaker sets the couple receives. If you are really stuck, then think about buying a gift card for the couple’s favorite restaurant or movie tickets. After all, date nights shouldn’t stop after the knot has been tied. Of course, if everything else fails just go with cold hard cash, which might be the most use to many couples and would be appreciated in any amount.

The bottom line is that you should consider the personality and tastes of the couple and what they might remember on their 50th anniversary. It probably won’t be the toaster that broke after two years of wedded bliss, but the thoughtful gift. (Or maybe the really freaky gift, but don’t give that one.) And remember, at the end of the wedding day, the new Mr. and Mrs. are likely more concerned about you just being a part of their happy day than some extravagant gift.

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