How to Give the Perfect Wedding Gift

With fall wedding season approaching, I thought it was a perfect time to talk wedding gifts!   As a guest, bridesmaid and bride, I have given and received lots of wedding gifts and thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on this with you all today!  So many questions come to mind when it comes to giving a wedding present.  Do you buy something on the registry or off?  Am I spending too much?  Am I not spending enough?  Do I take my gift to the wedding or send it ahead of time?

Registry vs. Off Registry

This really depends on the couple.  Jared and I are OCD type-A planners.  We wanted people to stick to our registry because we had carefully curated it based on our needs and our specific home.  We received a few wacky things that I would never have wanted but that's what attic space is for right?! ;)  However, we received some gifts that were not on the registry but had a TON of thought behind them and we cherish them.  For example, one of my dad's coworkers purchased us a ten commandments of marriage print and wrote us a heartfelt letter and I will cherish both for the rest of my life.  Also, my grandmother gifted us with a quilt that my maternal great-grandmother and paternal grandmother made together.  A quilt uniting both sides of my families.  A gift like that can't be replaced.

The answer to this debate is to know the couple.  If they are picky and like to do things themselves, it's best to stick to their registry.  If they love unique items and experiences and do not have a very extensive registry, you could go off the registry in this instance.  One really cool concept I have seen lately is using a Zola Registry!  You can register for items from tons of brands, request money towards the honeymoon, excursions for the honeymoon and so much more.  I think this will solve a lot of gift giving problems as more people start using services like this because it gives you so many options.

 One of my cousins is currently using this & I like it because you get free shipping on everything.  Of course, if you have a very special or meaningful gift you want to gift, I think that is better than any registry item!  The bottom line here is that a registry is a list of gift suggestions but you are the gift giver and any gift you give will be appreciated.  Just know your receiver and their preferences and you will be just fine!

How Much to Spend

This is a hard one.  Luckily, Jared and I married before a lot of our friends and family members so we know what they gifted us which gives us an idea of what we want to do.  Also, we kind of have a set system we use when purchasing gifts to stay within our budget.  We want to give nice gifts but we're a lot more worried about paying off debt and saving for our forever home.  Our typical rule is $25-40 for weddings of family and friends and $40-75 for family.  Obviously this will increase as we get older but this is how much we feel comfortable spending at this time in our lives with our financial goals.

It is important to celebrate with those you love but remember that you have to take care of your family and finances, so never feel like you have to go overboard and end up feeling the pinch in your budget.  One trick I have found is that a $30 gift card doesn't feel as impressive as a $30 gift.  I like to give actual gifts instead of gift cards because they feel bigger and you can catch them on sale.  If your invited to a wedding with a Macy's or Target registry, stalk it.  Seriously.  Check what is on Target cartwheel each week and you will find up to 40% off big ticket brands that allow you to give a big gift in your budget range.  Check Macy's regularly as well.  They have HUGE sales on registry items each month.  I have purchased $200 gifts for $50 before on a special sale and with a coupon have gotten them even cheaper.  The gift recipient gets a great gift & we stay on our budget plan.
I just gave away one of my best kept secrets there so be sure to use it!  I start checking registries 6 months in advance and look every few weeks and this method hasn't failed me yet.

Gift Delivery

If you are going to a wedding where the couple live in the local area or nearby, I think it is perfectly fine to take the gift to the wedding.  Typically someone is in charge of packing the gifts up after the reception is over and transporting those to a predetermined location.  We had our family drop them off at our new house and then were able to open them later.  If the bride & groom live states away and will be traveling back after the wedding, it would be very thoughtful to ship the gift directly to their new address unless it's a gift card or money (those travel easily).  Of course, you are the guest and can handle this how you prefer but I know a new bride and groom would appreciate not having to find space in an already wedding stuffed vehicle, require parents to travel to bring gifts or have to figure out how to ship them home if they're traveling via airplane.

I hope that this will help those of you who will be wedding gift shopping soon!   Give me your feedback.  How do you handle these choices?

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