Gifting Thoughtfully to the Happy Couple

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Purchasing a wedding gift can either be fun or a bit nerve-wracking. It depends on who the couple is; is your best friend from college marrying her best friend? Is your neighbor’s daughter getting married this summer, or is it a co-worker who just started working with you?

No matter; there are guidelines for making sure the bride and groom smile when they receive your gift. Becky Glaze and her husband, Chris, own an eclectic business of five themed cottages, with one housing Fiesta dinnerware, another containing every kitchen gadget imaginable, and another offering a huge selection of gourmet foods. Many brides complete their wedding registry with her because so many of the items are on each woman’s wish list. She encourages gift-givers to stick to that detailed registry when making a selection.

Her tip to stick with giving something from the bride’s registry is an important one. The Knot agrees with her, noting that 85 percent of brides prefer that their friends and family select from their chosen items on the registry. Ninety-eight percent of brides have at least one registry list, which may be in a department store, a specialty store or on the web. Four in ten now have their own wedding websites, detailing how they met, their hopes, dreams and love story, along with information connecting visitors to their registry.

When you’re deciding what to spend, determine what you think is most appropriate to your relationship with the couple and what is reasonable for your city. For a co-worker or a friend, a gift in the $50 to $75 range may be appropriate; in urban areas, double that amount may be appropriate. Use common sense; if you’re attending additional activities such as bridal showers, factor those gifts into your budget. A group of friends together could purchase a big-ticket item that might be outside one person’s budget range alone. Money for the honeymoon may be on the registry; if you are in the bridal party, combine your purchasing power and gift the item of the couple’s dreams!

No matter how modern they may be, today’s couples continue to hope for items for the kitchen, dining accessories and bedding and bath luxuries. You can never go wrong with putting together a themed basket, such as combining lush high-thread-count sheets, super-soft pillows and thick down blankets, or a picnic backpack featuring a corkscrew, wine, wine glasses, cheese board and snacks. Or assemble a home starter bucket, featuring a pail or large basket filled with items to begin a house together, including items such as a flashlight, tools, gas can, extension cord, cordless drill, shop or cordless vacuum, battery charger and car jack. It’s an opportunity to be creative!

Many couples find this an opportune time to upgrade their kitchen with snazzy new appliances. When you give them state-of-the-art kitchen gear, gadgets and cookware, they’ll always think of you when they are using them. Personalized gift ideas score high with couples, such as a set of coasters featuring their last name, a photo montage of snapshots taken during the reception, or a set of glasses etched with their initials. Many shops will monogram just about anything, from dishes to robes to sheets to napkins. Commemorative gifts such as custom keepsake boxes and Christmas ornaments are unique wedding gifts they’ll treasure.

Another fun idea is to create a movie or game basket for the newlyweds, including such items as favorite board games, movies, snacks and beverages for a DIY date night. This is both personal and fun, especially if you’re close to the couple and know what they enjoy. The best rule of thumb is to give what you are financially comfortable with personally. In some regions, there’s an expectation that a gift should equal the cost of your attendance at the event, but there’s no real wrong amount to spend if you feel good about it.

If you are not able to attend the wedding, etiquette experts give mixed opinions about gifting. Some say yes, others that it’s not necessary. Again, this will depend on your relationship with the couple; if you’re close but can’t attend, a gift is likely appropriate. Sending gifts two to three months after the wedding is currently apropos.

A personal note or card included with your wedding gift is a delightful way to let the couple know how you feel. You can thank the couple for the invitation to share in their delightful life event with a simple word of advice, date night ideas or a fond memory you have shared.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts. If you choose a gift that is thoughtful, personal and from your heart, you will be confident they will use it, love it and think of you during their lives together. ■

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