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Ask the Readers: Wedding Gifts on a Budget

Today’s question is from Jenny:

I’m a work-at-home mom and my husband and I are living on a tight budget. We were just invited to a wedding and we aren’t quite sure how to handle the gift. Do you have any suggestions for inexpensive wedding gifts? We don’t want to seem cheap, especially when most people give monetary gifts of $50 or more. Thanks!

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298 Comments

  • Patti says:

    I have the wedding invitation framed at my local framing store. Usually costs around $30.00 and the couples seem to love it as a keepsake:) I have always gotten rave reviews for my thoughtful gift.

    • Nicole says:

      I do like Patti said except I buy a nice frame at Target or Michaels (with a coupon) and a white mat and then do it myself. I paint the mat in order to match the invitation colors (like sage green or seay blue) and usually use a black frame. I did this for my sisters wedding and she loved it and its hanging at her house. I usually spend around $15 or less.

  • Karen says:

    Is the couple registered? Macy’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond always have coupons (at least 20%) and a lot of times you can match that with an item that is on sale. That makes the gift more reasonably priced and it is something you know that they want/need.

    • Ellen says:

      I do this a lot. Start checking early, so the gift list isn’t all checked off and maybe check back in once or twice for sales, if convenient.

    • Amy says:

      The nice thing about Bed Bath & Beyond is that when you purchase something off a wedding registry you can wrap it up in very pretty paper or bags for free at the gift wrapping station in the store!

  • Jennifer says:

    If you have a camera, you could shoot candid photos at the wedding, have them printed out and put them in a photo album. I would have loved to have gotten a gift like this when I got married.
    Also, the last time I checked, you have several months to send a wedding gift. You don’t have to arrive with one in tow.

    • Nora says:

      I love this idea!

    • Cheryl says:

      This is a great idea! I’m getting married in May and I would treasure a gift like this (and have NO idea it only cost $2)!

      I think weddings have gotten completely out of hand. I’m having a big wedding and we’re saving every way we can—from DIY flowers (which look awesome, btw) to DIY centerpieces, DIY wine, DIY bridesmaids gifts, DIY wedding gown.. you get the idea. And it STILL costs a fortune. I got together with my future mother in law the other day and she mentioned that at HER wedding in the 1950’s they served punch and cake in the church hall. Seriously… what is wrong with that?? I think maybe we should go back to the old way of doing things… we don’t need party favors for guests, china, etc., etc.

      • At my wedding in 1991 we served punch and cake in the church hall. 🙂 We did the flowers ourselves, I baked the groom’s cake, and we kept is pretty simple. We’re still married too! <3

      • I got married 3 years ago and we just had cake, coffee, water, and tea – not even punch! We loved it, everyone had a great time, and we saved a ton of money over providing a full meal.

        • KimH says:

          I think different regions and religions do things differently. In my Texas/La Baptist community, wedding receptions are just cake, punch, coffee, mints, and nuts.. If you really want to go all out, you can serve finger sandwiches and veggies with dip.. It doesnt have to be over the top.
          In that same region, Catholics tend to have a meal, many times having an informal BBQ or a sit down dinner.
          In Ohio everyone up here has a formal catered sit down dinner which is nice but heavy on the pocketbook.

      • I got married almost 5 years ago and we used candles from the church for stage decorations. We did not have a wedding party (talk about easy!) My wedding dress was a bridesmaid dress that I had altered, talk about saving money! And our small group threw us our wedding reception at the church. It was very simple and focused on the true meaning of the evening! (We were married on a Friday evening.)

        Best wishes on your upcoming wedding!

      • When we got married in 2010 our wedding cost us under 1500 for the entire thing for 40 people. We went to Sam’s Club and Aldi’s for the food and did finger snacks like crackers and meat and cheese with some jello salad (my husband’s choice in stead of groom cake) and coffee. Our wedding present from his parents was our wedding cake since his father was a professional baker. I loved the low key and got to spend some great time with friends and family who came to celebrate. My mom did the cake and punch at her wedding and I almost did that.

    • Jen E says:

      One of the uncles took pictures of each one of our guest tables. THAT made my day, especially because our photographer sucked. Long story… Great Idea!!

      • Sue says:

        We have one like this. A girlfriend that did a reading at our wedding did this.. She also added in pictures of the rehersal dinner … Which was wonderful cause I really did not remember that dinner.. LOL
        We looked at those pictures soooo much more than the offiical pictures, and I got this way before I got the “real” pictures, so I could take it to work and stuff before I got the “real” album.

        This would be a great gift !!!!!!!!!!!

        Sue in NJ

      • Heather says:

        We had a great photographer but I still loved all the candid photos we got from friends. It was definitely a gift back in the day of film/print 🙂 but I’m sure the effort to print some would be appreciated now.

    • KimH says:

      I did this at a wedding I went to. Originally I was asked to take their wedding photos, and I agreed, even went & bought special film (before the DLS days) for the special day, and when I got there, I was informed that the brides brother had a professional camera and he was going to take the photos instead… I was kind of put out since I too had pro camera and I’d spent a lot of money I had to squeeze my pennies to get the special film but I decided I’d go a head and take photos anyways, if only for myself if nothing else since I had already decided that a photo album would be my wedding gift to them. Turns out, none of the brothers pictures came out at all.. period.. and mine were the only professional looking photos of their wedding after all. They were falling all over themselves to get a hold of my wedding photos..

      • Lori says:

        Wow! That was lucky. Good thing you went with your instincts.

        My best friend got married in Hawaii but had a wedding reception at home. I took photos at her reception and gave her an album as a gift. She still cherishes it to this day.

  • Amy R. says:

    First of all, don’t compare your gift to others. You need to do only what you can. If you are at all crafty, there are tons of great diy wedding gifts on pinterest. Last summer, I found on idea where you printed a picture onto tissue paper, and then used a blow dryer to “melt” the image onto a pillar candle. I used their engagement photo. 2 months later, we had another wedding, and the bride specifically requested that gift. Both times, I purchase the candle and a glass hurricane vase to put it in from dollar tree. My total cost for was $2 per gift, plus the cost of printer ink. I did tie a ribbon around the base of the vase, but it was from scrap in my closet.

    • Jessica says:

      Is there a link to this idea? It sounds adorable!

    • Jen E says:

      All on pinterest- You could also print on tissue paper and modge poge (my spelling sucks) it onto canvas. I’ve done this more than once. A little more pricy and more crafty, but canvas prints can be super expensive. Pack of canvas and some tissue paper and you have 5 gifts for $20 bucks. Or less with some Michaels coupons!

      • Amy R says:

        I have never tried this, but it sounds awesome. My next trip to hobby lobby will include canvas! We just had family pics done.

    • Katie says:

      I think the more personalized – the better. Those are the things they’ll remember. I liked the idea of the tissue paper candle (a picture, their name / wedding date, or music to their song – I walked down the aisle to Luther Vandross, think I might have to make my own candle).
      I would have loved something simple like return address labels (you can get those on vistaprint for under $5). Or perhaps a name plate to hang on their house or mailbox (“The Smith’s”).
      I had someone send me a print of a blessing that was read by the Pastor at my wedding. I framed it myself (I live out of state so I’m sure shipping was WAY better without the frame, plus I got to match my decor). It’s hanging in my bedroom and it makes me think of how thoughtful that person was everyday.

  • Amy says:

    Instead of thinking of a gift as one item or one amount of money, can you put together a bunch of smaller things (that you got on clearance or with coupons and sales) and put together a nice basket (after Easter is a great time to get a nice basket for cheap!)?

    How about a pamper yourself on your honeymoon basket with some soaps, lotions, oils, rose petals, candles, etc?

    Or, a love your kitchen basket with a bunch of spices or baking ingredients?

    If a younger couple, what about a celebration basket full of gift bags, ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, birthday candles, etc.?

    How about a holiday basket with a few items picked up on clearance after each holiday? Could be potholders or door wreaths or holiday candles or whatever.

    Do your stores still have Valentine’s clearance? Target had some beautiful frames marked down 50% off.

    Of course, these baskets can quickly get expensive as your imagination runs wild, but try to pick a theme based on some clearance items you can find.

    • Ann says:

      I love the basket idea! What about a “date night” basket? Include some microwave popcorn, a bottle of sparkling grape juice, some dollar store champagne glasses, and a movie they might like (check the $5 or $10 bins).

      A dinner basket? Include one of your favorite recipes and all the non-perishable food items needed to make it.

      A 3-ring binder with a collection of your favorite recipes

      Are you craft-inclined? Is there something you could make – pillows, blankets, etc? I still remember who all our handmade things came from and we’ve been married 17+ years.

      Is there another family you could join forces with and do a combined gift?

      Maybe you can find something at a thrift shop that would make a nice gift with a new coat of paint.

    • Kimber says:

      I do baskets as well. I got a gift basket of cleaning supplies when we got married, and it was so useful for a couple starting out! (Probably not as useful for an older, well-established couple, but we were poor college students.) You can also find nice baskets at gift stores sometimes – I recently bought several sturdy little baskets for a quarter each to make Christmas gift baskets for my kids’ teachers.

    • Kate says:

      I love the idea of buying “consumables” that you know they’ll use! And you should have a few weeks to watch sales and coupons.

      • Kate says:

        Also it depends on their circumstances.. we got married right after college and I would have loved some cleaning supplies and pantry items over some of the decorative things we got

        • Anna says:

          I moved out of my parents house for the first time when I got married, so I needed everything. My mom did gift boxes for my showers: One was the “When you’re sick” basket with tylenol, ramen, tissues, etc. Another was the office junk drawer, with scissors, tape, and misc. stuff like that. And then she did a cleaning supply one (windex, ajax, softscrub, sponges, etc all packed in a handy tote). Those were some of the most useful gifts I got!

    • Anna says:

      Love the basket idea! I would have loved to have a “wedding night” basket that held snacks and wine and other goodies. I was starved by the time we got to our hotel after the reception! =)

      • Rachael says:

        Our attendants/friends put together a ‘wedding night’ bag with all sorts of random things, funny books, a foot long sub, a movie, I forget what else! But it was great and we would starved with out the sandwich.

        • Sarah says:

          I agree. We never even got to see the table of food at our reception. We each got one bit of cake, and that was it! We saw the food in the pictures later, and it did look good! We stopped at Subway after our wedding, still fully dressed (we didn’t change out of our wedding attire). We were also starving!

    • Stephanie says:

      I think gift baskets for a wedding gift are the best as well for a couple starting out or already rather established. You can do a laundry basket with detergent, softner, etc. Things you can get really cheap with coupons and are so useful as they are consumable and help cut down on those initial shopping trips.

      • Lee says:

        My SIL is getting married tomorrow and that’s exactly what I did. A laundry basket w detergent and then a “green bag” with all the ingredients she needed to make my “famous” chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Included the recipe in the card. If I had thought of it in advance I would have done a few special recipes with the ingredients 🙂

  • anna says:

    Tuesday mornings, tj maxx or homgoods are great places for beautiful serving pieces in a nice box, looks like you spent a lot and could be $15-20, or even some cheap wine glasses and a bottle of wine would be reasonable too!

  • Amy says:

    Do you belong to a site that earns free gift cards? We can often get a high value gift card for “nothing” but our time through earning it through sites like these.

  • EstonianWife says:

    We have just the same problem right this week. We are very nearly broke and the couple is earning about 7 times more than we do, so any monetary gifts from us would be just ridiculous. Also, shortly after the wedding they will leave to another country and the luggage is limited – otherwise we would pick some special piece of art, like hand-painted coffee cups with their names on them, or something handmade by me. So we have almost decided to give them coupons. Coupons with promises like “We will cook 5 jars homemade jam for you” or “You tell the day, we will prepare a picknick for you and some friends”. Decorated beautifully, this gift could be OK.
    If you can do any beautiful handicraft, something special made just for them would be the best. Like, if you can knit and they live in a place with cold winters, you could make them mittens for holding hands in.
    Sorry for the bad English, this is not my first language.

    • Chris says:

      If you hadn’t mentioned it, I never would have known English is not your primary language. You have a wonderful mastery of it! (better than many Americans I know) I agree completely with your suggestions of something handmade as well. Only the most shallow couple would prefer expensive impersonal gifts over ones truly from the heart in my opinion.

    • Snackmeister says:

      These are some wonderful ideas! I would have loved to have received a coupon for homemade jam or a catered picnic or handknit mittens! I predict that your gift will be a favorite!

  • Sarah says:

    You could do a theme gift like date night. Target often has board games on sale, and paired with a coupon they can be quite cheap. Add in a deck of cards (usually can get at the dollar store) and a dice game, and the whole thing could cost less than $15. A fun, simple gift!

  • Anonymous says:

    The size of the gift mattered less to me than knowing that the giver chose to give me something because they cared about me. At my wedding I received some cash gifts of five or ten dollars but I felt that they came from gracious or even sacrificial hearts. One gift seemed to be a collection of previously owned items from around the home, and several of those items have been useful and meaningful to me. Another was a collection of baking items probably gathered at rock bottom sales but just as helpful! I did wonder about a few family members who did not give a gift or a card, not because I felt entitled to them, but it just felt a little strange. A couple people from church made rather elaborate hand-crafted items that I enjoy displaying in my home.

  • Heather R. says:

    I choose a pyrex pan off the registery (most people have something like that on there) and using clear contact paper as a stencil and etching cream to etch their married name to the bottom (outside) of the pan. Then I include a family recipe and ingredients that can be made in the pan (usually a cake or something like that). Overall costs me $15-$20 and it is both practical and personal.

  • Whitney L says:

    My husband is a teacher and I am a stay at home mom, so we have a tight budget as well. The last wedding gift we gave was VERY well received. I collected items from my stockpile around the house: dishwasher packs, dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, shampoo, glad tupperware, etc. I packaged it in a very large gift bag. They were items from my stockpile and things I had gotten for very cheap. We also gave a $25 target gift card, but you could omit that or give a lower amount. It was my sister’s wedding, so we wanted to really bless them. If it had been just a friend, we would have omitted the gift card.
    When my husband and I were first married, we received a similar type gift. Except it came in a rubbermaid tub! It was by far one of my favorite, most unique gifts, and SO practical!

  • Jen says:

    Don’t mean to hijack this post, but along a similar line, does anyone have ideas for food for a bridal shower for around 40-50? Extremely frustrating, when the bride is clueless that I am basically taking from my own family’s grocery budget to fund all these things for her wedding. There is literally no extra in our budget. Every time I mention something about not having the money for something, she says oh, I know I’m broke too. Well… There’s a difference in saying that and actually being in a spot where you literally do not have any extra money. Trying to be a blessing to others anyhow. So… Food ideas? And please keep the excellent gift ideas coming, I know I appreciate them!

    • shannon says:

      Could you get others in the bridal party, other family members, to help….divy things up?

    • Stephanie says:

      do a tea party… borrow from relative pretty lil’ tea sets and have lil finger foods. mini croissants with chicken salad, fruit and dip, veggie & dip. And a nice dessert…. Heck- you can get away with doing the tea- with a nice dessert alone.

      better yet- how about a recipe party… have family bring favorite dishes and the recipe to share with the bride… all you will need to supply is your dish, place settings & drinks..

      hope these ideas work well— your shower you host NEVER has to break your budget…

    • Jo says:

      At my wedding showers, we had chicken salad sandwiches on croissants (can easily get chicken and crescent rolls on sale) and homemade cupcakes, chocolate covered pretzels, cheese cubes. Shop the sales and just plan for snack foods!

    • Can you just do a dessert bar kind of thing? That way you can make a few types of cookies, cupcakes, lemon bars, and stuff like that. Probably already have most of the ingredients on hand and people love dessert!

      • Kimber says:

        I agree – there’s no need to host a full meal, and everyone loves treats! I recently did a yogurt bar at a baby shower and it was a big hit, if you have health-conscious people coming. I made homemade granola and price-matched at Walmart to get cheap berries, so it was pretty inexpensive. You could even make homemade yogurt.

        • Julie says:

          I think you need to consider the region you live in. In my area, like it or not, a full, sit-down meal is expected at any baby or bridal shower. I can think of several showers I attended as a guest where I would have loved a dessert or cake-only event, but they’re just not done in these parts.

          • Sarah says:

            I may be breaking with every kind of decency and tradition, but I always insist on telling the truth, even when people don’t want to hear it. It’s awesome of you to host the shower to begin with, but I personally think it’s unreasonable for the host to expect to have to pay to feed 40-50 people. I don’t know many people who could afford that. I would ask the guests to bring a dish and do a potluck, lovingly explaining to each invitee that due to the number of people coming, this will be a part of their gift to the bride-to-be. I am just not “into” people who insist on doing things “properly” at the expense of those who care about them the most. I have a huge family with 65+ nieces and nephews. Each of them gets a card and acknowledgement of the occasion, along with something meaningful like a written prayer or marriage advice that has helped us (been married 20 years). Depending on who it is and what we perceive they need, they might get a book or a very small ($5-$10) range gift, with a note telling them to put it toward something they need. It’s unreasonable to expect more from people than they are able to give.

    • Jen, I just went to a bridal shower where they served 2 soups, 2 salads, bread, and dessert. It was inexpensive but very pretty. You could serve with regular plates and glasses instead of disposable ones. Make all of the ingredients from scratch. French bread, tomato basil soup, another soup, a green salad and a pasta salad, plus some cake will be simple and inexpensive. You can make homemade dressing from scratch, too. I have recipes for all of the above on my site (the Balsamic Orange vinagrette is amazing!). I went to a sit-down dinner last year where they served around 50 and they did the same thing for dinner. It was wonderful. They kept the soups in crockpots to keep them warm.

    • Mother Lydia says:

      Do a cake only. Don’t do all the extra food if you can’t afford it. Or try to get someone else to host it.

      If you are hosting the bridal shower you get to decide the level of decorations, food, etc. If that isn’t good enough for the bride, she can find someone else ot host.

      • Kristina says:

        I agree with the cake only idea. At most showers I’ve been to, almost no one eats the other stuff anyway! If you have stuff in your stockpile, you could set something else out, but I really don’t think it’s a big deal if you don’t have other food.

    • Anna says:

      Yeah you definitely shouldn’t be shouldering feeding 40-50 people on your own. Either divide the food items among the bridemaids/sisters/friends of the bride or request guests to bring a small dish or drink to pass.

    • Jessie says:

      I don’t know what time of day the shower you are hosting is, but what about a “Love is Sweet” theme? You could either do a dessert bar with cupcakes or cookies. You can get mixes pretty inexpensive with coupons or making it all homemade. I would probably have a fruit or veggie platter just to break up the sweets but it wouldn’t have to be much. I really like a platter with maraschino cherries, canned pineapple, and Colby cheese chunks. Just have some toothpicks with it. I wouldn’t worry too much about the food though. Most bridal showers I have been to just have snack foods and cake anyway.

    • Shannon says:

      I am shy about cooking for people I don’t know and I was in charge of my SIL’s bridal shower last year. I was on a limited budget as well. Her wedding theme was realtree or slightly more elegant camo lol. So I only did a cake and 5 large Little Caesars pizzas and it was a huge hit. The shower was at 3:00 so the pizza was plenty for 30 women. I did a huge banner I got for free from one of the banner sites and used a pic of the bride trying on wedding dresses and just some streamers and balloons and she told me it was perfect.

    • Jenni Dill says:

      I would ask other people in the family or group of friends help out – ask each bridesmaid to make or buy and bring a dozen (or two dozen) of the bride’s favorite kind of cupcakes (I went to a wedding where each person in the party was responsible for making and bringing 2 dozen red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing – it was great!) Like others suggested – just do desserts! Have the shower at a non-meal time, serve cupcakes and tea (hot tea – do a tea party type theme!), maybe some tiny homemade cookies! Make it purposefully simple and cute! If you did a tea party type theme, you could really play it up by having guests wear hats and gloves, decorate with paper doilies and cut-outs of tea cups. You could even do a tea cup swap, and ask guests to bring a tea cup and a saucer and let everyone swap them, use them, and take a new one home! Sorry, lol, I got off the food subject… But definitely keep it simple, and ask others to help! You don’t have to ask them to help because you can’t afford it – ask them to participate in the shower prep! Maybe even have a cupcake making party for a handful of friends, they could each bring a cake mix, or a few ingredients and you could work on decorations and the food at the same time!

    • Raquel Evans says:

      I did a brunch bridal shower for a friend–it was a little smaller, about 20 people, but I made lots of muffins, some fruit salad and beef sausage patties (an attendee doesn’t eat pork, so I bought ground beef and seasoned it up as sausage myself). I have an egg allergy, or I probably would have just gone with quiche or deviled eggs for a protein source.
      Then I put together a coffee bar with homemade peppermint, chocolate and caramel syrup. With the right presentation that’s a big wow for a little bit of money.

    • Marilyn says:

      A yogurt bar! Have some water bottles for drinks. I had this at my baby shower and it was awesome. A few various toppings like pineapple, banana, granola, chocolate chips, etc with plain yogurt and it can be done for very reasonably. My guests and I loved it!

      • Aubrey says:

        You might want to make sure nobody coming is lactose-intolerant!
        Although, maybe just a bowl of the toppings would be yummy!

    • Kay says:

      Brunch! Breakfast is cheaper than other times. Or do a tea.

    • Theres says:

      How about a pasta bar? Pasta is inexpensive. Get a few different kinds, several different sauces, other add-in’s and a big salad on the side.

      Or…soup bar. Ingredients for soups can be cheap- potato soup, some chicken rice soup, bean soup. Side salad and some crackers- or homemade bread sticks. Flour is inexpensive.

      Both options would be filling and make a nice quantity without breaking the bank.

      I borrow decorating items from friends or church.

      If you have the option, make the shower your wedding gift.
      =)

    • Stephanie says:

      A bridal shower can easily be cake and punch, both homemade would be inexpensive or maybe a few kinds of fun cookies instead of cake. If you really wanted to you could add a veggie tray (lots of carrots and celery and a few tomatoes) or a little fruit. I didn’t give an opinion on what I wanted at my bridal shower (or any of my baby showers) and just appreciated the generosity of my friends.

    • jennifer says:

      Just cake, punch, mints, and nuts.

    • Anna says:

      That’s a big group. If you can, divvy up the food responsibilities. Mothers/Sisters of the bride aren’t supposed to host a shower, but they can bring food! It may be too late, or not appropriate for this shower, but I like the idea of asking every one to bring a dish to share (pot-luck style) and bring the recipe, too, for the new bride. And definately, if anyone offers to help (even off-hand, and you’re not sure they really mean it) give them a job or something to bring!

      • kelliinkc says:

        I really like this idea. You could have your gift come out of this by buying a recipe binder. Ask bridesmaids, mother of bride, future mother in law to bring a particular category of food (some bring fruit salad, pasta salad, dessert, main dish, etc). Request they write the recipe on the size card that would fit in the binder. Then take photos of each item on the table to include with the recipe so the bride will remember if she liked it or not and what it is supposed to look like. You could print them out at home yourself if necessary or send your husband or another friend to Costco/Sam’s Club/Walgreens etc to have the photos printed in the size that fits in the binder. You could probably upload to the store and just send someone to get the photos. Then at the end of the shower present the bride to be with the recipe binder. You have your food and gift taken care of!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for the ideas. The ones in charge are myself, another who just had a baby a couple days ago, and one who is out of town, so its just kind a funny situation and therefore I guess I’m mostly in charge (?). I realized I was starting to sound really negative, so I just stopped where I was! I do appreciate the ideas. Maybe I’ll just try to do homemade cupcakes (so its already portioned out and I know there’s enough) and a couple other simple desserts and call it a dessert bar.

    • Lyndsay says:

      I am a fan of pasta dishes like lasagna and homemade bread. They freeze well so I can make them when I have time (ahead of the day). Homemade bread everyone thinks is gourmet. And they are not expensive. I realized how inexpensive they were when I agreed to host a friend’s party and one of her favorite dishes happens to be ziti. You can always make it vegetarian to make it less expensive too.

    • A dear friend just got married in November and the hostess of the bridal shower just asked everyone to bring their favorite ‘tea-time’ snack, so the hostess only had to handle decorations (and a clean house!) Now, we have a very close church community who is used to things like that, but if you’re not comfortable asking everyone, perhaps asking a few close friends to help? Even for my friend’s wedding, there was one lady who wanted to bless her with chicken salad sandwiches at the reception (something she had REALLY wanted, but decided she couldn’t afford) and another friend made oodles of potato salad. There may be people who really want to help out in some way like that.

      Another idea is making smaller versions of whatever your baking. You mentioned cupcakes? Maybe make them in a mini-muffin pan instead of having big ones. Or make cookies that are half the usual size, etc. Especially if you go for a ‘tea-time’ type event, having petite snacks are almost more appropriate than big ones. 🙂

    • Danielle says:

      Jen, here is a great fancy yet cheap recipe for wedding related festivities. (Cheap because it’s mostly flour and sugar – but looks so elegant when served)

      http://whatscookingamerica.net/Cookie/RussianTeacakes.htm

      Swedish Wedding Cookies
      Yields: 4 dozen
      Prep time: 20 min
      Cook time: 12 min

      Ingredients:

      1 cup butter, room temperature
      1/2 cup sifted powdered (confectioners’) sugar
      2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
      2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      3/4 cup finely-chopped toasted nuts (nuts of your choice, optional)**
      Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

      Preparation:

      In a large bowl of your electric mixer, cream butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.

      Sift in flour and salt; stir until well mixed. Mix in nuts. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

      Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

      Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Tip: A small ice cream scoop is ideal for making uniform-sized cookies.

      Place dough balls onto ungreased cookie sheets with about 1-inch of space between them. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly on wire cooling racks.

      While cookies are baking, place the powdered sugar in a shallow dish. While still warm, roll cookies in powdered sugar until completely coated. When cookies have cooled, roll them again in the confectioners sugar to give them a nice even coating of sugar. The first rolling allows the sugar to melt into the cookies – the second rolling gives the finished snowy-white topping.

      Store in an airtight container.

    • Sandy says:

      I attended a bridal shower that was all desserts and it was fabulous! The hostess mailed out 2 recipe cards inside the invitation and asked each person to bring their favorite dessert as a dish to share. We were asked to write out our recipe on one of the enclosed recipe cards and on the other recipe card she asked us to write out our name and the name of our recipe. She aslo asked us to bring a to go container with us to the shower. When we arrived we were asked to place our recipe card in the recipe book the hostess had provided. The hostess was also on a tight budget so she provided coffee and soda. After the last gift was opened the hostess presented the bride with the recipe book as group gift for it included a recipe from each guest which attended her shower. The bride was thrilled with her keepsake! The hostess also invited all the guests to take all the desserts they wanted home as their party favor. Everyone had a wonderful time and the majority of expense was gladly shared in the form of sweets amongst the brides friends and family.

    • It may be more regional, but I’ve been to many dessert only showers which were great. One of mine was dessert only and the other was a meal. The meal was spaghetti and marinara sauce (no meat, I think), with a simple salad, bread, and cupcakes. That would not cost very much money, even for 40-50 people. Could you co-host with someone? If anyone offers to help, you could ask them to make or pick up one food item.

    • Amanda says:

      I’ve heard of people doing a potluck type of thing where the attendees bring a favorite dish in a pan to give to the bride as a gift. If one of the guests wanted to spend more money, they could bring something in a crockpot or a nice pan with a carrier, if someone had less money, they could bring a loaf of banana bread in a thrift store loaf pan.

  • Cyndy says:

    You could give them a 12-month date night coupon book, with ideas for what to do each month (could be along with an item for one of the months, such as a game). Or a homemade collection of recipes along with a small kitchen item from their registry.

  • nadia williams says:

    i once gave homemade thank you cards.
    i now stock up on 25 pound bags of flour and sugar when they are on sale, and give one of those

    • Lisa says:

      When Vistaprint has sales and I know that there is a wedding come up I buy address labels for the couple to include in the gift–a great idea for all those thank you cards they will send! 🙂

      • Elizabeth says:

        That’s a great idea! We go through so many address labels, and I bought (and paid for!) ones with my new last name when we got married.

  • Jenny says:

    Back when I was just out of college and broke and attending weddings, I used to get the couple a Christmas ornament… one with their name and the date of their wedding on it. It was inexpensive and different. 🙂

    • Katherine says:

      I have a box of those clear Christmas ornaments I got on sale from Hobby Lobby. When we are invited to weddings, I cut the invitation into strips (and add coordinating color paper if I know their colors) and put those in the ornament, with the “important” parts like their names and the date showing through to the outside. It’s an inexpensive gift, but something that so far has been well-received.

    • Amy says:

      I second the Christmas ornament idea! Our wedding day was shortly before Christmas and we received several ornaments from family and friends. I think of those people fondly every year when I hang the ornaments on our tree. I am sure the ornaments weren’t expensive, and they are among the few gifts that I still use in such as special way.

  • For a Bridal Shower Gift I love to give a caddy full of cleaning supplies. I can usually pick up the caddy and fill it with all different cleaning supplies for about $10 total with coupons and sales. It is always a crowd pleaser at showers, because everyone can relate to how practical of a gift it is. Plus no one has to know that your $50+ gift only cost you $10.

    For the wedding gift I would get a coupon for wherever they are registerd- Bed Bath and Beyond or Macys always have great coupons available. Then get them something off of the registry. I know its tough on a budget but see how many of the smaller items you can get them with a coupon/discount.

    • Jenni Dill says:

      I have done something similar! I had four weddings in one month last summer, and simply could not afford big presents for any of them! I went to the dollar tree and got four laundry baskets and filled them with cleaning supplies – toilet bowl cleaner and scrub brush, lysol wipes, windex, all purpose cleaner, dish soap, sponges, etc. I put a bow around a big bag that had the supplies inside, put the bags inside the baskets, and wrote a little tag for each one that said “This gift is to be used by the groom!”
      They were big hits at the showers/weddings, and were very cute! Everyone needs cleaning supplies!

  • Jennie says:

    One of my favorite things to do is to make a ‘love note book’ for the new couple. I buy a simple black, spiral bound sketchbook and a nice pen. Sometimes I’ll throw in colored pencils too. I illustrate the first page (nothing fancy, but it is nice to put their names & the date of their wedding on that page along with a little border–hearts, flowers, whatever) and then in the card I make for them, I explain that this book is a place for them to write love notes to each other throughout the year. My husband and I received something like this for our wedding and it has been our favorite gift by far–so simple but that book (now books!) is filled to the brim with little notes, silly drawings, and memories. 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    I love to take the couples wedding invitation and decopague it into a frame or on a plate or platter….

    I pick out tissue paper and a variety of craft papers solid or printed in their colors and kind of make a mosaic collection around the invite…

    They are very unique and one of a kind… I present it to the couple wrapped in tulle and a nice bow… So everyone is able to see the gift at the reception. 🙂

    Hope this helps!

  • jen in pa says:

    do you have some tasty recipes you could give to the couple as a gift? as a new bride, i loved getting favorite recipes from family and friends (and my aunts even gave me some old recipes of my grandmothers!) to add to my limited cooking repertoire.

  • Elizabeth says:

    If you can sew, make something for the couple. And besides it will be a “one-of-a-kind” gift. I prefer to make simple quilts of mostly squares. Sandwich with (and even make baking if you like) of sheets. Find sheets in cheap places even, esp. for the insides where it is not seen (being sure it smells ok if used)…makes for thinner, but quite warm quilts really…great way to do quilts you “sandwich” on your sewing machine. OR, sometimes I have done a tied quilt using a very cheap blanket from the $ store…between $5-$10 in cost…and no worries about the “stuffing” becoming bunchy later with washings etc…and makes a fine quilt. My daughter loves hers and it is going on 14 years since I made it. Many washings later.

    Or find some plain towels, like at maybe at sales or Ross’s Dress Best for Less stores, etc. and using some fabrics, sew a pretty band of fabrics across the bottom…up maybe 3 inches or so from the bottom and then ribbon or some kind of fabric trim in a complimentary color on either side of the fabric edges. Other ideas can be found here: http://www.favecrafts.com/tag/Thrifty/ml/1

    Or maybe go to Restaurant.com and find some good prices for coupons to eat out.

  • Jo says:

    I’m actually getting married in less than 2 weeks, and I had 4 wedding showers (lots of family, work, friends, etc.). My absolute favorite gifts were laundry baskets/rubbermaid containers of cleaning supplies and personal care items (body wash, shampoo, razors). Also, I had one family friend give me a nice decorative bowl that went with my decorating colors. I am very thankful for getting the things I registered for as well, but these gifts were just nice and definitely felt like they put effort into it.

  • Beth says:

    Hi Jenny! I understand that wedding gifts can be expensive! I think any gift given from the heart is what matters most, no matter the cost. I was thankful for all the gifts we received, both big and small, so don’t worry about spending a ton of money. I have created a Date Night Jar for couples, which I think would be perfect for any wedding gift! It’s a gift that keeps giving! You can check them out here: http://www.asimplekindoflove.etsy.com. Good luck!

  • Christy M. says:

    Have you looked at their wedding registry? Most registries have lower cost items – I would get what is within your budget and not feel guilty. When I was a bride I was much happier to receive any item off my registry rather than a more expensive item that I didn’t really want or need. And if this couple are kind and decent people, they aren’t going to accept a gift and be bitter about it not being a $50 bill!

  • Shannon says:

    When I got married 8 1/2 years ago we had registered at Target and didn’t have much of well really anything. I remember being grateful receiving things I registered for as well as the many $20 Target gift cards so we could buy the additional needs we had. As much as I loved receiving the gift cards, it is odd that I do not like to give them. So here is my tip and what I do every time I will be attending a wedding. The day I receive the wedding invitation, I immediately see where the couple is registered and buy a gift I can afford within days of receiving the information. This way you have most of their list to choose from before their list items go into a fulfilled status. It is much easier to stay with your individual budget while getting things they requested and having the pick of the list by shopping immediately.

    • J says:

      I had the unfortunate lesson of giving a Visa gift card and the thank you note said they would try not to spend it all in one location. I was so embarrassed and would never do it again. It was only $25 and that was money we really couldn’t afford.

      • Heather says:

        Wow! That is terrible! You shouldn’t be embarrassed. The person who was so rude as to write a note like that should be embarrassed.

      • Lety says:

        Oh my, J! By no means should you have been embarrassed! How shallow of the couple to make such a remark! They are the ones who should have been embarrassed! It is awful that some people do not realize how much of a sacrifice it is for some of us to give gifts. My husband and I received a few dollars from a family when my FIL passed away. It meant so much to us because we knew this was a big sacrifice for this family due to their financial situation. I am horrified their are people so shallow as the couple you mention! Shame on them!!!

      • Lydia says:

        Perhaps they were meaning it in fun…not that they were thinking you were stingy? That was my first gut reaction when I read your comment. In other words, they were going to try to make it stretch as far as possible. Just a thought.

        • J says:

          Lydia, I hope that is what they meant but they earned over $100,000 a year and no matter what I felt embarrassed. Maybe I shouldn’t have but I will never repeat it again.

      • Lorraine says:

        That is horrible! They are the ones in the wrong–not you! Your gift was thoughtful and generous, and they should have appreciated it. They are the ones that should be embarrassed for being so rude to you.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Oh gosh. Is there any chance they meant that to poke fun at themselves, rather than the gift? I can someone saying that and meaning “We will spend it on things that we will treasure- not a penny will go to waste!”- although it is certainly clumsy.

        On the other hand, you know the couple and I don’t. It’s just such a horribly snide remark that I’d like to think they meant something else!

      • kay says:

        J, PLEASE don’t let a comment like that make you feel badly. Maybe one couple made you feel that way, but most people would love any gift card. When we married, twenty dollars or so was the regular amount people gave us an it’s around the same amount I still spend on most gifts. All those cards can add up and are SO helpful for things people don’t want to buy for weddings, beacause they are not “personal”. For example, I still remember being grateful for the combined gift cards that allowed us to buy pillows, lamp shades, a front door mat, etc. No one bought those, but thanks to the combinations of “smaller” gift cards, we didn’t have to pay for them! My guess is that if a person is ungrateful for a twenty or twenty five dollar gift card, they clearly didn’t NEED a gift at all!

  • Emily says:

    One of my favorite wedding gifts that my husband and I received for our wedding were Christmas ornaments and a small Christmas album to put pictures of our first Christmas as a married couple in. Every year as we decorate for Christmas and we get out that album, we look back at the pictures of our first married Christmas with great memories. When we decorate the tree, as we get to those special ornaments, we always say that that was one of the most thoughtful wedding gifts we received. I think that is something that could be done relatively easily on a strict budget, and, as I can tell you from my own experience, it is a very thoughtful gift that will bring memories of a couples wedding day back to them each year at the holiday.

  • Maggie says:

    I watch for sales on websites with free shipping for nice home gifts. For example we are going to a wedding this summer and I was able to get a cup cake pan, some cup cake papers, some spatulas and a quite a few decorating accessories for under $10 shipped. That with a combination of a few other small mics kitchen items makes for a great gift!

    • Kathryn says:

      If they aren’t opposed to drinking, pick up a $15 bottle of wine at Costco ($15 seems to be the price point for very good v. ok wine). Tie a ribbon around it to make it look festive. We got a couple of nice bottles and enjoyed them on the honeymoon.

  • Miriam says:

    Back around Christmas time, my sister-in-law was getting married and I was able to get her a toaster, griddle, and waffle maker from Kohls for only a few dollars each. I had to send in rebates so the initial out of pocket cost was a little more, but when it was all said and done, I probably only really spend around $10. The only downside is that I had to cut the UPC labels off the boxes. Since it was for my sister-in-law I wasn’t too worried about it, but I think I would feel a little embarrassed if it was for someone I didn’t know as well. Maybe you can keep your eyes open for deals like this at Kohls again?

    Another thought I just had was offering to bring over some meals/freezer-friendly-meals after the honeymoon. Or you could put together a cookbook of some of your favorite recipes. Just buy a binder, dividers, and clear plastic sleeves at the store and put in some of your tried and true recipes.

    I remember at my own wedding, we had people give us smaller gifts around $20, and I never once thought that they were cheap or that they should have given more. I think a lot of times, we are more worried about that than the person who is actually receiving the gift.

  • Becky says:

    Collect their family recipes (if you can connect with the family), add your favorite tried-and-true recipes, find (and test) recipes for some of the bride and groom’s favorite foods, and even try going to one of their favorite restaurants to score a recipe from them. Put them in a personalized scrap book/album/recipe box. Make sure to leave room for them to grow their collection together over the years. You can include a small token gift card to a specialty food store or a favorite exotic spice. Before kids, my husband and I used to find recipes and make the shopping/cooking a wonderful home date on Saturday nights and I treasure those memories now!

  • Jenni Dill says:

    My favorite gift to give for a wedding (especially if they’re close friends or family) is a “custom” recipe book. I get a photo album from walmart – one that holds two 4×6 photos on each side of each sheet, and is like a little binder that you can open and shut the rings in. You can also buy refills of these sheets for them! Then I get a package of the bigger sized index cards (4×6) and take the time to hand copy my favorite recipes down. I like to call the bride and groom’s parents – if I know them – and find out their favorite family recipes too. The last one of these I did was for my cousin, and I used pinterest to find a ton of crock pot recipes and a bunch of coffee drink recipes. I also added a section of household products recipes – like laundy soap, fabric softener, different cleaners, etc. Randomly throughout the book I like to add an index card with a Love Quote or a Bible Verse on it. I use scrapbook paper to make dividers and section off the book into categories like a normal cookbook.
    This whole project takes a little time to do, but only costs about $5 to do! I have added a “bouquet” of wooden spoons, or even a bag with all the ingredients needed to make one recipe when I have the extra funds.
    If you are a part of a bridal shower, or know the family well – you could ask them to write some marital advice on 4×6 pieces of paper or cards, and include that in it too!

    • Marianne says:

      This was similar to one of my favorite gifts too! We received a cookbook with several tasty recipes in it and it was great! There was a note from the couple who gave it too us. Very personal and appreciated!
      I also second all the comments that people have made about a cleaning supplies basket! My mom and my aunt both gave me one and I love it! My mom even made a “bride” out of a broom that she had turned upside down (bristles were the hair) and attached various cleaning/home items to it. For example, there were toilet paper arms, sponge hands, apron, etc. It was really creative!

  • Abby says:

    My go-to inexpensive wedding gift is a cute basket or metal colander lined with a dish towel (usually a towel from their registry, or at least in the same color). I add a jar of pasta sauce and a box of pasta dumped into a clear canister or jar. I usually include a little something else, either a few wooden spoons or other utensils from their registry or some spices. You could add a bottle of wine if your budget allows and if you’re more knowledgeable about that than I am. I get most of this at Ross or TJ Maxx and I use pasta and sauce that I get free or cheap using coupons. It usually costs me about $15 total.

  • Susan says:

    I absolutely love the idea of freezer meals or home-cooked meals. I wish someone had done that for me for a wedding gift! Maybe also include the recipe for each meal, in case the couple want to make that dish again themselves.

  • Kim says:

    I’ve done gift baskets of homemade mixes before. You can spray paint the basket to go with their decor if you know their colors. Examples include: pancake mix, biscuit mix, cornbread mix, taco seasoning mix, Italian Seasoning, soup mixes, cookie dough or cake mixes, etc. I’ve also given bread pans & put homemade bread mixes in the pan. I just make sure I label how to use the mix . I like to include the recipe & homegrown, dried herbs when I have them.

    • Kim says:

      I’ve also done freezer meals that I’ve put in their freezer while they were on their honeymoon (when I knew someone who could let me in their home). When they came home from their honeymoon, the couple had a nice surprise. Everyone I’ve done that for has thanked me repeatedly.

  • Raquel Evans says:

    I usually this as a shower gift rather than a wedding gift, as it’s less ‘formal’ and makes sure they open it in time to be useful. I gather up all the basic disposable supplies that are easy to forget ahead of time when you’re trying to stock a house for the first time: roll of toilet paper, roll of paper towels, bottle of dish soap, bar of hand/bath soap and depending on what I have in my stash at the time I might throw in laundry detergent (I’m always getting free sample packs of these that I won’t use), toothpaste, pens, paper plates, plastic silverware, etc. I might throw in some disposable razors or deodorant samples if I know them very well, but otherwise that seems a little weird.

    I always get rave reviews on this gift, and since most of it is just from what I have on hand anyway (like toilet paper) the out of pocket expense is very low, usually under $5, and total cost is probably under $10, depending on how many free samples I have around to throw in. Despite the low cost, the thoughtfulness quotient is very high.

    If you need something that comes across as a little more formal or upscale, just pick a tighter theme. One of the best wedding gifts we got was a fully stocked first aid kit, including band-aids and general stuff like that, plus some homemade remedy type items.

  • Angelia says:

    One of my favorite gifts at our wedding was a set of nice towels. If you hit up Costco or Sam’s Club they have nice big ones for like $9. Great gift and not to pricey.

  • Shannon says:

    I just remembered our favorite wedding gift but I honestly do not have any idea of the cost. It was our first “together” Bible. It was inscribed with our names and wedding date on the front and my brother-in-law wrote a personal message inside. It is always in use or displayed in our home and we cherish it.

  • I love checking out TJMaxx and Home Goods for inexpensive gifts. Often times I even find things from higher end department stores marked down significantly so I can give a high quality gift without breaking the bank.

    I also use my “couponing skills” to make baskets for couples who are moving into their first home together. I often write a cute description using the names of the items for them and fill a laundry basket with things like cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and the like. It may not be glamorous but those things add up (especially if you don’t coupon) and most couples are very grateful to not have to spend their wedding money on basics for their new home.

    • Lisa says:

      Another “basket” idea could be household items/”junk drawer” items such as a hammer, screwdriver, tape measure, etc.—things that you need but don’t think of buying until you have a project. Maybe even a plunger! 🙂 Who wants to buy that anyway?!

      • Kimber says:

        We got one for our wedding! It was hilarious – and very useful!

      • Cherie says:

        This is a great idea! If you have a Menards in your area, you could do this for very little. Almost every week they have basic tools (tape measure, hammer, hand saw, screw driver or bit sets, light bulbs, paint brushes, etc.) for free after rebate. The rebate comes in the form of Menards store credit, but if you bought a few items each week you could use the rebates as they come in to pay for the next free after rebate items.

      • Kristi says:

        My parents came to visit a couple of months before our wedding so that Mom could attend my shower. The sink in my apartment stopped up, so Dad bought a small plunger to unstop it. He told my husband that this would be his shower gift. We still have it 19 years later!

  • SSS says:

    A picnic basket is a lovely idea. One of my own favorite inexpensive gifts: a friend had our invitation mounted with dried flowers and framed. It was lovely, and 16 years later I still display it. Also check out etsy for vintage tea sets — who doesn’t need a decent tea set, to use or to display? How about a gift certificate to a local restaurant? Or find out where they are staying for their honeymoon and order an inexpensive bottle of wine to their room. A nice set of towels? Oh, another favorite gift from a friend: a set of books on love and giving (The Giving Tree, What Color is Love, etc.). I loved that!! Very sweet.

  • Jennifer says:

    One of my favorite wedding gifts was a stack of handwritten recipe cards from a family member. I had tried many of the recipes, and I knew that if they were in that stack they’d be good and that someone else had tried them. Many were decorated with a small sticker that matched what the recipe was about. Also included on the card was the name of the person that had originally made the recipe if it was known (for instance, Aunt Patricia or great-grandma whoever). I will always treasure these cards!

  • For my cousin’s wedding, I made a few coordinating homemade items. She loves to cook so I made a menu board along with matching frig magnets and monogram notecards. You can see at the link below.

    http://www.jamiekaufmann.blogspot.com/2012/08/handmade-wedding-gifts.html

    Now I am giving chemical-free cleaning cloths for weddings and baby showers. They are inexpensive, last years, and are extremely practical.

  • Sara says:

    My husband and I once drove around to each of the five houses/apartments the couple had lived at and took photos of each one. We changed hem all to black and white on our computer and put them in a unique frame with spots for 6 pictures that we purchased inexpensively from Big Lots. Then we printed out the quote,
    “Home.
    Yes, we are home.
    Home is wherever I’m with you.” (from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and put it in the empty middle photo spot in the frame.

  • Heather says:

    If they have a registry, definitely go online or to the store and look at it. Most people will have at least a few items for under $20. So you only buy one – you know it’s what they want! It’s fine not spend a lot if you don’t have it. I think crafts and home decor stuff is risky unless you really know the taste of the couple. As far as baskets go – depends on the needs of the recipient, but if the basket is costing you $20 to put together, you might as well have just gotten them something off of the registry that will last much longer.

    For example, I just made a tart using the tart pan that my sister gave me years ago. I’m sure she paid less than $10 for it, but I love it, and think of her every time I get it out. Or the nice quality kitchen towels that my little brother gave me for my wedding. Still using them 11 years later. Again they were probably less than $10, but still nicer than ones I would have bought on my own, and have given a lot of enjoyment. I like to give gifts like that, that are practical, but a little nicer than ordinary.

    However, if the couple is wealthy/has everything, and you can’t afford much, just write them a nice card! Or maybe compile some of your favorite recipes for them.

  • Sam says:

    Some of our favorite wedding gifts we received were not ultra expensive. One of my favorites was a stamp with our name and address on it to use on envelopes we mailed. It was made with a beautiful font and it was exciting to have my new name on it and our first address as a marred couple.

    For my bridal shower, a friend and her husband made us a gorgeous recipe box made with scrap wood from a house he tore down. They wrote a wonderful message on the bottom with the story of where the wood came from and how they hoped the recipes it contained would be treasured and nourish our families. It makes me smile everytime when I take it out.

  • Jessica says:

    When we were on a very tight income, I would give the couple a book on marriage or a cookbook that I bought from the Taste of Home sale. I created a stockpile of some of our favorites that I found on sale. I even bought a couple of them from a used book store that appeared to never have been read. These usually cost me anywhere from $2- $5 and the couples seemed to enjoy them.

  • Vikki says:

    I buy cooler or fun picnic basket and fill it with paper goods (that I buy on sales or with coupons). It’s a big hit and very inexpensive.

  • Aubrey says:

    As someone who just got married a few months ago at a more “mature” age, I would advise you to really think of the couple if you’re going to buy something that is not on their registry. We didn’t register for much because both my husband and I had homes when we got married, but there were a few things we registered for in addition to chosing a charity people could donate to.

    We had several people give us things that quite obviously THEY would have appreciated getting, but just didn’t fit us. For example one couple gave us a large piece of artwork that was definitely their style (they have similar artwork in their home) but not at all something that would fit into our home (and they had been to both of our homes numerous times before the wedding) I know they paid a lot for it – because they left the price tag on! (I’m choosing to believe it was an oversight) Unfortunately, it’s been in a closet since we got married, and only saw the light of day twice when these friends were coming over to visit. It saddens me that this money could have gone to our charity and helped people in need.

    Hopefully this post doesn’t sound too negative or judgemental. I would just hate to see people for whom money is already tight pay for something that won’t be used.

    By the way, if I had gotten married right out of college I would have loved the basket ideas listed here. One present we got from an elderly aunt was a recipe box filled with hand-written family recipes – I will treasure it forever, and it’s definitely one of the most- used gifts we received – and besides the time she put into it, it probably cost my great aunt less than $5!

    • Erin says:

      Well said. Too often, I think people think of themselves more than the recipients, either getting them what the giver would like to receive or the most inexpensive thing they can think of. I think it’s always best to avoid knicknacks (or dustcatchers as I call them) unless you are totally attuned to the recipient’s style. I think the baskets are a great idea as long as they are filled with thoughtful items, preferably unified by a theme, rather than a ragtag assortment of freebies and provided the recipient can actually use the products (i.e., those who are starting a home). Family recipes are great, too, even if the recipients aren’t into cooking, since they are heirlooms as well. Ultimately, I’d say go useful (cash, something from registry) or thoughtful (family recipe collection) and you can’t go wrong. Decorative, and you could be stepping into a minefield!

    • me says:

      I totally agree. We received presents that were simply put, wasted money. I know my cousins are very tight on money and while I appreciated the thought, the frames they gave us were not us. I would rather they just gave us a card with a nice message or just used the money (probably $10-20) in the form of a gift card. I know it is what they could afford and that’s fine.

      On the other hand, a good friend went off registry and gave us six pieces of cast iron when we registered for one skillet. Our kitchen is the 10×6 total and we did not have the space for six pieces of cast iron. It took some creative wiggling at Target to get it exchanged.

      On that note, don’t buy a registry item elsewhere, even if it is $10 cheaper. You’re going to cause the bridge a bigger headache. I got seven—yes seven—crockpots, three which were bought at amazon, because people found them cheaper somewhere else and the registry didn’t update.

  • Bridget says:

    Buy a cookbook on sale. It can have an expensive MSRP but they’ll never know you didn’t pay full price.

    • Beth says:

      Yes- I love this idea too. Sometimes I even pair it with a nice casserole dish. Christmas Tree Shop often has good deals on nice cookbooks. I also have bought hard bound Taste of Home cookbooks at the end of the year for $5.00.

  • One of the sweetest gifts we got was a card from my college pastor and his wife. It had a twenty dollar bill in it and a note that said, “Buy yourself a Christmas ornament on your honeymoon as a keepsake!” I thought it was such a creative idea, and as a young couple we definitely didn’t have a collection of Christmas ornaments, so the thought of one to remember our honeymoon was great.

  • Debbie Rioux says:

    make a gift out of the wedding invitation put in a frame or I have seen it put on a candle. Pinterest should be able to give you ideas for this. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    My favorite wedding gift to give is a personalized Christmas ornament from Bronner’s Christmas World (http://www.bronners.com/) along with a bottle of champagne (or sparkling cider, if you’d rather go that route). They have a wide selection of ornaments, and it’s lovely to give something with a personalized, thoughtful touch.

    • Aubrey says:

      Oh my goodness ~ I LOVE Bronner’s!
      Going into the actual store (in Frankenmuth MI) is like stepping into a Christmas wonderland any day of the year. Ah….great memories! 🙂
      (And Laura – great to see you over here. I’m a big fan of PYD!)

      • Laura says:

        Aubrey! I didn’t realize anyone would recognize my picture as I replaced it with my new (much more professional) headshot back in September on PYD.

        I have been to the actual store in Frankenmuth and it is AWESOME. 🙂

      • Elizabeth says:

        I got married last June IN Frankenmuth at the Rose Garden!! We got several personalized ornaments as gifts (I think some people may have shopped that day… :D) with our names, last name, wedding date, etc. When we put up our first tree in December we had such happy memories of our day and the people we shared it with. Even one ornament (less than $15 personalized) is a lovely gift.

        My other favorite gift was a handmade painting done by a dear friend from college. It was an outdoor scene–blue, green, and brown, my favorite colors and had our wedding date on it. Simple and beautiful. Every time I look at it I realize how well she knows me.

  • dEB says:

    When I was married my SIL gave me a picture frame with 3 pictures in it from our wedding. 1. At the alter,2 candle lighting Our kiss 3rd . When she remarried (2yrs ago) I gave her the same gift but I made hers black and white pictures with black frame. (mine color pics with gold frame) I still have mine hanging and now she does too. This was my favorite gift and costed about 10.00

  • Katherine says:

    Why not embroider their initials or a design on two white standard size pillowcases? I guarantee you they will love it and use it for many years.

  • Kristy says:

    My daughter received a laundry basket with items like toilet paper, paper towel, kleenex, and so forth. You might even try kitchen items like salt and pepper, spices, tea bags, and other common things you need to start off with. Most of these you could get with coupons for next to nothing!

    • Love these ideas!

      I like doing some homemade spice mixes (taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, chili seasoning, rosemary/garlic seasoning, steak seasoning and poultry seasoning). Make a little recipe book so that they can re-create them mixes when they run out).

      You could do something similar with baking mixes (cake mix, biscuits, pizza dough, etc).

      For a close friend, I made some homemade rolls, meatloaf cups, and stocked her freezer with frozen broccoli/green beans. No need to cook, when they got back from their honeymoon!

  • Kay says:

    If you have any crafting skills, make them something!
    – For my sister’s wedding (when 19 in college), I made a cross-stitch (she picked out the pattern) that they still display. Kit w/a coupon and frame w/a coupon made it about $25.
    – For my new BIL’s wedding, I am making them a lap quilt (I offered to make them a bed one, but they choose this). Buy the material on sale or make smaller items like placemats.
    – A friend made us caramels to give to our guests as wedding favors, which she boxed up. Not only were we delighted by her offer (we have had her caramels before and they are delicious!), our family and friends were pestering us so much we purchased some for Christmas.
    – My brother made us a batch of beer as a wedding gift. Our only regret was that my parents drank some of it down!
    – If you owned a garden, a promise of a basket once a month in the summer of garden goodies would be great.
    – Do they own pets? You could offer to pet-sit during their honeymoon and take care of the mail etc. Similarly, if they already have children, offer to babysit.
    – Are you artistic? Paint a picture.
    – Crochet/knit them an afgan.
    – A friend is in the process of drying my flowers from last summer.
    – Invest time for them. Offer to help out with the wedding in a substantive way (e.g. day of coordinator? serve as the driver for the wedding party? arrange wedding flowers? nowadays, in some states, friends/family will even do the service).
    – Invest time: For my brother, I drove to about 8 stores in different states to get him discontinued registry items (bonus: super discounted!).

    I do agree with one poster though, to be cautious about gifting items off registry items to ensure they are tailored to the giver. As an older bride, I already have many household items – and so did my husband, so our registry was carefully choosen.

    • Ashley_P says:

      I’m not “Crafty” by any stretch of the imagination, but the one craft I’m good at is cross-stitching. It’s so simple I call it “paint by numbers with string”. The only two skills required are the ability to tell the difference between colors and the ability to count. I always do a wedding record sampler for couples who get married. Sometimes, I have a lapse in time when there aren’t any weddings in the immediate future and I work on a wdding sampler with no one in particular in mind. That way, if I get invited to something last minute, I just stich in the bride and groom’s name and the date. I’ve never had anyone receive one who wasn’t positvely thrilled! I spent 9 months working on the one I did for my best friend, but that was a large one with beads and gold filament and lots of tiny details. His bride was positively stunned that I had spent so much time, effort, and love into something special for them.

      There are tons of samplers that can be stitched in a week or two if you spend an hour or so at it a day. It’s a wonderful, unique, personal gift that usually won’t cost more than $20 for the supplies and/or kit. And it’s super simple to learn.

  • Faith Storms says:

    I hope this does not come across as ungrateful, but I must admit that two and a half years ago when I was the new bride I was annoyed when people gave us gifts at our showers or for the wedding that were not from our registry or gift cards/cash. We were (and still are, with two babies in the mix!) poor students moving into a studio apartment right after our wedding. We painstakingly chose each item on our registry because we actually needed them in order to set up our life. I intentionally put items on the registry that varied in price from as low as $5 because I knew that people coming to the wedding and showers would have a range of budgets for gifts. Now that I am on this side of marriage, I make it a point to ALWAYS purchase something from the couple’s registry. With our small budget, this often means getting the couple a shower curtain or a set of hand towels, which to some people may be an embarrassing gift to give, however, they registered for it! That means they want/need it for their home. That is what works for us!

    • Anna says:

      I somewhat agree but add that it pays to know the preference of the couple. Interestingly this was a huge disagreement bewteen my husband and I when we were engaged. He values registries and I care less for them since my family and church buy little from them. We did register and received quite a bit off it from his side and nothing from it from my side (other than store gift cards). Now when we buy gifts we always buy off the registry but my experience with this has been mixed. The baby showers I attend frequently have multiple identicals gifted (as was the gift I gave). The most disappointing one was when I learned the bride registered based on advice given to her but really preferred handpicked or handmade items.

    • kelliinkc says:

      Great post. I try to find out where the couple are registered as soon as I get the invitation and buy what I can afford from the registry immediately. That way I know they will like/appreciate/use the gift and I have not exceeded my budget. I, too, got married as a Grad student living in married student housing. I truly appreciated the practical gifts.

    • Oh how I agree! Everyone has different tastes. My husband and I were most thankful for the items on the registry. I still use several of those items many years later–many of them everyday!

      When my nephew was married recently, I looked at the registries. I bought several lower priced kitchen tools as well as making a few things. I spent $15, which is more than I usually spend for nephews (I usually spend about $7-$10, simply because it’s all that we can spare, and I have a LOT of nephews and neices–around 45!) I was surprised because usually the low priced items are the first items to be purchased on registries. However, this time I was surprised to find that I was one of only 2 people who bought off of her registry for the shower!

      There were several items in that price range, and I felt that she would get a lot of use out of the items that I chose (they were basic kitchen tools).

    • Shannon says:

      Totally agree! I posted about this earlier also. Many couples spend alot of time planning, hand picking, and registering for items they need specifically for their personal lives. Most people do add registery items beginning at $5 so these things are always in ones budget. When I got married, I wasn’t interested in cooking, recipes, or decor items and my sweet family and friends knew that so they gave things from our registry knowing we valued necessities more than anything else. If I did receive such a handmade or crafty thing, I was still grateful to even be thought of and thanked that person just as much as the others.

    • melisande says:

      I agree with this! And I don’t mean it to sound ungrateful. I totally get that it is completely to the discretion of the gift-giver, and I totally respect that. However, I just hated the fact that we got a few things that will NEVER see the light of day (not just for the wedding – how do you tell Mother-in-law that her Christmas presents are a waste of money? – she’s on a VERY limited budget and it KILLS me that she gets us stuff that we just won’t.need.)

      I do want to add about the invitation framing. While I do know people who do this, and that it is much appreciated, I want to caution about being careful. I designed our invitation and already had begun the custom framing of it by the time the wedding rolled around – make sure they aren’t planning something before.

  • Lisa says:

    When there is a good deal on Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc. for hardbound photo books I make a recipe book of family/friend recipes and add in photos of that person/family member, etc.

  • Anitra says:

    Do something crafty! My husband and I received many wedding gifts, but 9 years later, I could only tell you who the givers were for a few of them. One was a wedding cross-stitch with our names and the date of our wedding – it hangs in our hallway now and makes me smile every time I pass it.

    Even something more simple – like buying a towel set and monogramming it, or making a themed basket out of things you were able to pick up at the dollar store or playing the drugstore game.

  • Kelsey says:

    The couple is merging homes, or buying a new home you can always do a nice, practical gift basket, stocked with paper towels,.cleaning supplies etc. We got a basket like this, while it wasn’t exciting it was useful! Peoplethat tend to forget cleaning supplies!
    Or you can make a recipe book, gather recipes from family members on both sides!
    If you are crafty, you can pick up a wedding cross stitch from Michaels and do that! My mother made mine, and it’s framed in my living room. It’s.by far my favorite gift ever!

  • Anna says:

    Unless it is a very small wedding, I don’t think the size of the gift matters a whole lot. One gift I got was a salad dressing container, with recipes for homemade salad dressing. Of course the checks for a bunch of $$ are nice and versatile, but not at all memorable. A few candles, body scrub and massage oil in a basket (these could be homemade or bought with coupons, maybe they’re already in your stock-pile if you are a couponer) makes a romantic gift that doesn’t have to cost much.

  • Melanie says:

    I enter giveaways online year round for nice items, and anything that would make a good gift, I save until an opportune occasion!

  • Stephanie says:

    I’d be careful with giving too much inexpensive decorating stuff unless you know they have the room. We ended up with several things we couldn’t use in a 500 sq. ft. apartment and didn’t have storage space for stuff either. I just give the amount of money I can/ want to (usually around $25 for most people) or a gift of that amount from their registry. The last wedding that meant they only got a pizza pan and oven mitt because the registry items were expensive, but it was something they wanted.

  • jennifer says:

    A gracious bride and groom shouldn’t care about the cost or value of any gift, or even notice if you are unable to give a money-based gift at all. Something homemade, even a nice letter about your thoughts on them as a couple is enough. If you want to buy something, I still appreciated a gift of just a spatula off our registry as much as a fancy blender. Honestly, you use small gifts much more!

  • jennifer says:

    This is what Im doing as we have 3 weddings in the next 3 months. Im making a story on my computer with items from my stockpile “How he and she met” For example- It was the “dawn (dishwashing liquid) ” of a new day. She “reach” ed (dental floss). Im going to number each item and put them in a rubbermaid or some type of box. I figure its useful and if you dont like/use some of the items- you can always donate them.

  • Whitney M says:

    Not sure if anyone has shared this idea yet…
    I will order a set or two of address labels for the couple and/or bride (with her new name applicable). You can get great deals on Vistaprint where you jsut pay shipping! This is perfect for thank you notes and change of name (and possible address). You could also do a stamp but I find the labels are more fun and personal to design. Address labels, sharpies/pens, a couple packs of notecards in a mail organizer and you’re set!

  • I recently bought a few things off the registry (kitchen tools; some were $2-$3 each) and then I made two potholders and embroidered two flour-sack towels (the towels cost me just over $1 for both and the potholders were very little (made with materials on hand). I made these to go with the color she wanted for her kitchen. You can see pictures here: http://theprudenthomemakerblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/last-weeks-frugal-accomplishments.html

    One of my readers recently commented that she looked at all of the pillows that the bride liked, and then made several pillows like the ones on the registry using materials that she had on hand.

    I have done a date night gift, too.

    If you need a basket, try the thrift store! Ours has baskets for $1 each, and they have a lot more choices BEFORE Easter than after! I have seen baskets of every kind there (not just Easter baskets).

  • All of these ideas have been FAB!! Here is a trick I found out and was shocked: I took my friends registry list and looked for the same items in other stores! I was able to get them part of their china set for less! Plus, because I went through Kohl’s online, I was able to find a code for free shipping and they were running their 30% off sale. So my suggestion is to run through the couple’s registry and comparison shop! (I did make sure to speak to the maid of honor to have her remove that item from the registry, parents or close family members could help you with that also)

    • Beth says:

      I’ve also called the store and let them know I purchased the gift, but didn’t have it taken off the list. They were happy to update the registry for me.

    • Lety says:

      You can also go through Ebates to get money back on your on-line purchase saving you even more. 🙂

  • Julie says:

    One of our favorite wedding gifts was a collection of gift certificates to places that served brunch. I had been friends with the couple who gave this gift for a long time, and we used to get together with a large group for brunch on a regular basis. They didn’t know my husband very well, but they knew he enjoyed going out for breakfast. They wrote a cute poem explaining how they settled on this idea. The whole thing was a wonderful gift because it was so personalized for us.

  • Cheryl says:

    Hi, I have been married 20 years and the best gift we got was a cooler, to this day we still use it for our picnics and trips to the cabin. Find out if the couple like the outdoors or indoor activities and tailor a simple basket for under $30.00 for them depending on their likes.

    • sally says:

      I would probably pick something from their registry – people register for a reason. When I got married I made sure to put inexpensive things that I wanted on it along with some pricier items. I got a lot of gifts that were not on the registry – although they were nice they became clutter as I felt I had to keep them. Finally after ten years I said enough was enough and got rid of most of them. For example, I got a dvd for an ok movie we had already seen – it was still in the wrapper after ten years. We got seafood forks – maybe used them once but not for seafood. We got a chicken roitiserrie – still in the closed unused – my uncle who passed away gave it to me so I didn’t get rid of it, but I know I need too. I would like to use it but there is less cleanup and hassle just buying the chicken already cooked. We got tons of candles and holders – I donated a huge box that were unused. I am not trying to unsound ungrateful but there is a reason why people register and it is so hard to fit random items into a starter home.

  • Amanda says:

    Some of my favorite wedding gifts were homemade items. My mom made me a “memory” box to put all my mementos from the wedding in. A friend who paints put my wedding invitation on a painting she had done that went with our fall theme and framed them together. It hangs where I see it every day. I have also given a cross stitched sampler that has the bride and groom’s names and their wedding date on it. Things don’t need to cost a lot to be meaningful. Often it’s the opposite. Good luck!

  • Cynthia M. says:

    While I know it’s not about the money, if that is the tradition where you live I wouldn’t negate it. What I would do, is give the gift you can afford, if they are friends I am sure they know your circumstance. Then I would take many of the suggestions here and inexpensively frame a special photo or the invitation. Maybe decorate a journal and ask people to write a message or blessing to the bride and groom and pass it around the best you can either at the church or the hall. The keepsake and time and effort will show you value them beyond the monetary gift.

  • Roxanne says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read the replies yet, so I’m posting blind.

    My husband and I come from very humble backgrounds, to put it mildly.

    At our wedding many, many (at least half our guests) people came and gave no gifts. Several people gave cards only. One person put a $5.00 in a card. Several gifts were from the dollar store.

    This did not surprise or offend us at all. If you know someone well enough to invite them to your wedding, you probably have some idea of their financial situation.

    We were truly blessed to have people want to come celebrate our day with us. We never viewed our wedding as a fundraiser, and had zero expectation of gifts. Perhaps our poor upbringing influences our views on this….But again, no gift was unappreciated or judged as insufficient.

    Lastly, WE were stressed over the pressure we knew some of our guests would feel over our wedding. Most of our family and friends are comfortable with attending and not giving a gift because they do not have the means. But we knew some people would receive our wedding invitation as a stressor, because they did not have money for a gift.

    So if the couple who invited you are anything like my husband and me, don’t be anxious about the size or worth of the gift you can give. Do whatever you can, if that is only a heartfelt note of congratulations. Anticipate their wedding with excitement, not anxiety!

  • Bonnie says:

    Didn’t read all the comments but I will say my ‘go-to’ wedding gift is an electric steamer. It’s inexpensive and it says ‘I care about you…eat healthy!’ 🙂 The first time the couple uses it they will thank you forever!

  • Michelle says:

    I was going to say like many others…..see if you can purchase from their gift registry with coupons. I have done that in the past and paired with a smaller gift of cash. Gift cards to the place where they are registered are a great idea too if you can’t give a lot.

    Some might not agree but I wish instead of people giving us “cheaper gifts” for our shower and wedding they would have given a smaller gift card or smaller amount of cash. I can’t tell you the number of random things we received and ended up throwing out or donating to goodwill as a result. We would have greatly appreciated something smaller, rather then wasteful.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I agree with Michelle. I recently got married and would have much preferred to receive things off our registry, as I am not a “stuff person”. Candles and knickknacks for me would have gone right into the garage store pile. Thankfully, most of our attendees know this about us, and we only ended up with two or three extremely random items!

      That being said, the “non-registry” items that we LOVED were:

      Movie basket (DVD of the “Sound of Music”, my fave! – popcorn – movie theatre candy)
      Wine! Wine and more wine!
      Board & card games

      Also, for weddings I ALWAYS go in with someone else for a larger gift. The couple will never know how much each individual/family spent, and it’s usually something useful from their registry.

      Good luck!

  • Suzanne says:

    One gift I received and like to give is bath towels. Most stores frequently have towels marked down or on clearance that are the nicer ones (I bought some very plush large towels for $3.99 each at Bed, Bath, and Beyond last year that I use for guests). A pair of bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths folded neatly and wrapped with a ribbon or with a nice bottle of soap (again, clearance at Body Works or Victoria Secret) can be useful and look elegant, and fairly inexpensive if you shop right. Even couples who already have a household can use new towels.

  • Katie L says:

    I would have loved a photobook filled with recipes. OR a framed map showing where we’re from and where we live now, OR a framed print of one of the readings from our wedding. All of these are thoughtful without breaking the bank.

    • Katie L says:

      Oh yes! Also, cute thank you notes. You can make them/buy them using a photo website deal/find a deal on them. A bride can’t really have too many.

  • Deb says:

    Just remember that you were not invited to the wedding based on the gift you would give – they wanted you to be there to join in their joy. And sometimes there is cost in just attending — whether it is special dress clothes to wear, babysitter, parking, etc. I love the fact that you are thinking about these situations ahead of time — and I know to ‘not do a gift’ isn’t very comfortable for you probably…But don’t overdo it either based on what you want to do for them sacrificing your own financial well being to do so….I love the candle idea below 🙂 Another idea — house sit for them while they are on a honeymoon – and let them come home to a fresh bouquet of flowers ( only if you live someplace you can still pick them this time of year), or candle (above) on the table, or $10-$15 pizza coupon (with delivery) for those stay in nights — Also love basket ideas (movie basket with microwave popcorn, 2 litre soda bottle or water, and some movie rental cards I have also put in an inexpensive fleece throw for us in colder climates for snuggling 😉 (I usually get those on Black Friday — Just keep it simple and don’t worry 🙂

  • kathy p says:

    Ok I’m going to be the only person to disagree. There is etiquette involved in wedding gift giving. Traditionally you are supposed to give a gift equal to the dinner. I had a very fancy wedding at $100 per plate and while I didn’t expect that in return we generally received gifts at least $100 per couple as the standard. I do have a few very close friends who are struggling financially and I didn’t expect anything from them. But before you make anything- Ask THE COUPLE WHAT THEY NEED!!!!!!! I can’t emphasize that enough. We already had our own homes and great jobs, I bought.things when they were on sale such as thank you cards and I knew that familywas planning to frame an invite for us. We were extremely.grateful for peoples thoughtfullness in the unexpected gifts, but really, people want money or what they register for. If you can’t ask the bride-because grooms never know what they need and or are getting, ask the mothers! But either way, find out what they don’t have and start there. If they need thank you cards, find out how many guests are coming and make enough to cover that. Have her show you some designs she likes. It wil just be even more appreciated, but i got several multiples of home made gifts and I can’t return them and I feel.bad that my friends and family spent so much time and effort and now I have deplicates that I cannot use. My aunt is the queen of.thoughtful homemade gifts and packages, and I haven’t gotten anything in 10 years that I don’t already have or need and I end up regifting the whole thing, I feel terrible but Its the truth. 🙁 I hope that helps give you a place to start, good luck!

    • Faith Storms says:

      Wow! I am glad I didn’t know about that “rule” when we got married 🙂 We had a dessert reception where we served pie, fruit and nuts. I would guess it cost us $2-$3 per person. We definitely were given gifts that far exceeded what we spent on the reception food.

    • Kay says:

      <>

      Actually, this a myth (just like my husband’s claim you have a year to write the thank yous). In fact, modern day registries are considered a bit of an affront to etiquette. In the olden days, a registry was more of an arrangement between a woman and a department store wherein she had her china pattern picked out. Guests who wished to give a gift could inquire about the china pattern from the relatives or the store, but it was for the bride (who indeed, would have it for many years prior to engagement) and not meant to be a Dear Santa letter.

      • Kay says:

        Ugh it deleted the line I copied that I said was a myth, namely the “cover your plate” notion.

      • Kathy says:

        You are partially correct. Eiquette and tradition are two different things, and so is expectation. Proper etiquette for the recipient is to RAVE over every gift no matter how much you dont like it, and we all do. My husband and I did, and my friends do because its the thought and act that counts. BUT if the GIFT is not something they need or want, then whats the point? People register for what they want. For example, my husband and I registered for $200 high thread count sheets. I knew no one was going to buy them, but I also knew they would be 15% off after the wedding, plus I could use a coupon making them a reasonable price after the wedding. Well one guest got us sheets in the same color, but from a discount store and the corners were all jacked up and the colors uneven, but I didnt get a receipt or tag. I would have rathered a $25 gift card to the store toward the sheets and I wish she just would have asked. I dont mind if people are on a budget, but I hate to fill up my house with more crap I dont need. So now, we are going to end up donating a brand new sheet set when we could have saved $25 on the ones we wanted–just a shame thats all.

        One other thing! one thing I have had a lot of people talk about- when someone raves about their new dress, shoes, purse that they spent a ton of money on and then they give you a $25 gift–it does not go over well. So if you buy soemthing new for the occassion, or pull up in a BMW-dont flaunt it because the gift will be taken as an insult.

        I wasn’t sure if you were also referring to the registry items, and according to America’s leading etiquette professional Emily Post,”One should always register as a courtesy to the guest–but buying a gift off the registry is not mandatory!!” However the etiquette part comes in when you should not include registry information with the invitation. For Showers, since gifts are expected, its proper etiquette to include registry info on a second sheet of paper and not on the invite. Emily Post is a fantastic resource, and even answers your question about the one year for wedding thank yous- is actually 3 months =) http://www.emilypost.com WONDERFUL info to help avoid those little snafus!! Hope that helps!!

        Long story short, Just find out what the couple needs! If they need furniture for their new house, then a gift card is better than a towel set they dont need. good luck =)

    • Melissa says:

      I’m so sorry you feel that way about guests spending over $100 because that’s what you spent as the bride. No one attending got a say beforehand in what you spent and therefore what you say they have to give. I hope other brides think differently as I don’t think God has a one-for-one rule. 🙁

      • me says:

        The one for one rule is pretty expected for several cultures. Those lavish weddings that cost 20K + are usual in that it’s not one for one but one for two, meaning that if it is a $50 plate dinner, your gift is at least $100. It is pretty common for Jewish/Italian/Greek/E. Europe countries and quite common on the east coast. I’m not sure where God comes into play when it is the party afterwards. Ceremony, yes. Open bar afterwards? no.

        I’m from the midwest, middle class upbringing. My parents are now upper middle class as are their friends who attend our celebrations also. Everyone would be mad with the other if gifts didn’t start at $100 unless of some life altering event (death/unemployment). It’s just what is expected.

        I’ve been to weddings in TX (baptist/dry county) where it was reallllly uncomfortable for those of us not used to weddings like that. 10 minute ceremony, 45 minute reception with people in jeans and the pastor directing everything at the reception. There is such a range and judgment from either side.

  • Anna says:

    A nice bottle of wine is a great gift that we’ve given multiple times. Wine says “celebrate”, so it seems appropriate to me. 🙂 For a nice red wine, we like to give away “Los Vascos” label malbec wine. It tastes as good as some $40+ bottles, and costs less than $15. Wines from South America tend to taste better for the money, as compared to European.

  • Ellen says:

    A local African store in our city has beautiful, large grass baskets for $5. They have become my wedding staple. I put in some homemade canned goods from my stash (jam, salsa, etc), and our very favorite/most helpful marriage book (http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Marriage-What-Designed-Happy/dp/0310242827/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361996470&sr=8-1&keywords=sacred+marriage) and tie it up with a bow.

    I have had comments from friends about how the book impacted them and I love seeing friends’ Facebook photos from around their homes and seeing the baskets in use! They are tough and beautiful!

    I like having a formula and sticking to it. Unless I find a good sale on a registry item, this is what we get.

  • When I got married a couple we knew wrote us a very long, very touching letter telling us why they knew we were the perfect couple for each other. They offered us encouraging words and scriptures. It cost them nothing and was the most valuable gift we were given.

  • Whitney says:

    I would echo a lot of sentiments here – go for something lower priced on the registry. Things I use often after our wedding are kitchen utensils. They are less than $10 and I love remembering who gave what to me!

    Wine is always good, too and even now, would be a great gift. Flowers, maybe from your garden or in a pot to brighten their new home, even if it’s a small apartment. One of the best gifts we received was staples to start our pantry. It would have cost us a couple of hundred dollars since we had nothing between us, not even flour!

    I have been invited to a few weddings where 1) the registry didn’t exist or 2) it wasn’t feasible because they did a poor job or it was at a very expensive store). In those cases, I usually go with a good cookbook. To a friend who I knew was familiar with cooking, I bought a copy of Joy of Cooking. For two family members whose idea of cooking is using a microwave, I bought the simple Betty Crocker one. They’re great, basic resources that even I refer to over again.

    • sally says:

      Forgot to mention do NOT buy seconds of registry items. My step MIL thought our places settings were too expensive so she went to the outlet and bought all seconds. There is a huge red stamp on the bottoms of the items. So at the shower everyone thought she looked so generous because she bought so much. Now every day I get to look at my imperfect plates – the colors are off and patterns crooked – grr…

    • Maria says:

      I am really surprised by some of the attitudes toward gifts given by others. These high expectations and almost demands are the very reason why the original question was asked and why the writer is worried about her gift being acceptable. A registry is list of requests not required gifts. What is more important is the spirit in which a gift is given and received. Is the gift given with love? This is more important than even the specifics of the gift. Is the gift received with gratitude? This is more important than whether or not the gift is something you need or would have chosen. Giving really shouldn’t be seen as an obligation but as an opportunity to bless another!

      • Whitney says:

        I’m not sure why you replied to my post as I’m pretty sure I didn’t show any “attitude” or high expectations in my post. If my gift can both bless them and fulfill a request/need, that’s awesome. And yes, receiving with an open heart is a good thing and ultimately is a wonderful thing. But I also don’t want to give an unwanted gift and so some extra thought (as much as my time/budget can allow) is warranted. That’s how I show care and the receivers show care by getting it graciously.

  • Allison says:

    One wedding gift that we really enjoyed was a basket with a bottle of champagne, two glasses and some chocolates. You could buy sparkling wine instead of champagne and do this for $15-$20.

    For a wedding I attended, I put together basket with fun/ interesting food items (candies, teas, etc.). I bought a lot of them at big lots and put together the whole thing for under $20. I got a really nice note from the couple saying it was one of their favorite gifts.

    Lastly I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying something inexpensive off of their registry. I think most couples will be appreciative that you got something they want/need.

  • Paige says:

    If you know the couple well, offer to help with part of the wedding. My aunt did a cookie bar for our wedding (that we used as our favors) and it was my favorite gift!!! She made a variety of cookies and each guest got to fill a box to take home. It saved us the hassle of the favors, was extremely thoughtful, and everyone loved it. I am helping with one for a friend’s wedding and she is thrilled!!

  • I struggle with this, too! Recently, I made a wedding gift that was personal, frugal, and well-appreciated.

    Glass bakeware can be found at thrift stores or garage sales on a regular basis, and the glass etching cream lasts quite a while!

    Here’s the details: http://gabrielsgoodtidings.blogspot.com/2012/03/glass-etching-for-wedding-gift.html

  • Vee says:

    I recently gave a new couple a large basket of all kinds of Asian foods. I knew that they like Chinese, Thai, etc., so went through my stash and was surprised at how many things I had . I added a couple of other small things, several sets of chopsticks, and a few recipe cards for things that I know are easy and taste great. The basket was one I already had along with red shredded paper (for good luck). They were thrilled and I spent less than $5 but everything was probably worth well over $50 – and their cat has a new cozy nest!

    • Snackmeister says:

      I received a gift just like this at my wedding, 21 years ago. It was AWESOME. The couple included a small paperback Asian cookbook and I still use it. It’s a bit splattered with sesame oil after all of these years : )

  • Jolene says:

    We always give a few games. Newlyweds rarely have any games to play together and we think it is a fun gift to give.

    • You have a year to give a gift, so there is plenty of time, and honestly I think its kind of nice to get a gift a few months after the wedding its a nice surprise! Also, one of my favorite wedding gifts was wall art of our names together (each letter was a photograph of an item) …you can order from websites such as ETsy and it is VERY affordable

      http://www.etsy.com/listing/73008551/alphabet-letter-photography-photo-letter?utm_source=googleproduct&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=GPS&gclid=CJSXiIO217UCFSRxQgodDycA2A

      • Blessed Mama says:

        I personally like to give money in cash to help cover the meal. ($20-25). Then I like to do a thoughtful personalized gift. My favorite is to make keepsake plate on Walmart.com for only $10-11. I ask the couple for a special photo or their favorite photo of themselves together and then I add text- like “May God Bless Your Marriage! then add the date. Or maybe “Mr. and Mrs. ______ and then the date. One of our friends that we attended their wedding said she cried when she received this gift from us. No one else had given them anything personal or thoughtful. It is super inexpensive too! A keepsake plate from Walmart is my very favorite inexpensive and extremely thoughtful gift!

        • Blessed Mama says:

          I forgot to say you could also wait until after the wedding and get a nice picture of the couple at the wedding and give the gift late too. Just another idea!

  • Jessica says:

    My husband and I spent some time taking letter pictures (find the letters in nature or manmade things) and spell out the couples last name. You can find some cheap frames with coupons from Michaels or JoAnns if your friends have short names. If they have long names like many I know you can find black 5×7 or 4×6 frames at Walmart for $1. Once you do the work of finding the letters all you need to do is print the pictures, frame them and wrap. As a bonus we had a lot of fun wandering through our town and a few other places we happened to be visiting looking for letters.

  • Lauren Coleman says:

    I like to give baked goods! It sounds silly and cheesy, but I’ve gotten huge compliments every time I’ve done it. I even had one bride text me the morning after her wedding, saying that she was ecstatic to be eating my cookies for breakfast because she didn’t have to fit into a wedding dress anymore! 🙂 If I can I’ll throw in simple coffee mugs, tea towels, or some of my favorite recipes, too.

    • One of our gifts was a basket of items, including freshly baked goods, for us to eat the next morning. It was handed to us as we left the reception, so that we would have it at our hotel in the morning. Her comment to us was that it would mean we wouldn’t have to leave our hotel room to go have breakfast. I thought it was really nice.

  • Catherine says:

    My sister was in a similar situation recently & she put together an experience for the bride & groom. She found a picnic basket from a second hand shop & filled it with picnicky items from the area the groom is from (but not where they live now).

    I would say you could do something similar…. if the bride & groom aren’t the picnicking type, you could put together a movie night or other date-night themed thing. Or put together a honeymoon survival kit (sunscreen, earplugs for the plane, etc). Think about things that you wish you had as a newly wed but never knew or thought to ask for! Usually, it is the thought that counts with this sort of item & it will be less expensive (or stuff you could get with coupons/sales or even second hand).

  • Lori says:

    Frame their wedding invitation. Go to Hobby Lobby with a coupon and get a frame very inexpensively. You can likely do this for less than $50!

  • Amanda L says:

    I don’t know how close you live. One of our favorite wedding gifts was a shadow box someone made for us. They used out invitation, program, and a few other trinkets from our favors and decor to make a unique shadowbox that captured the day. They gave it to us like 2 weeks after the wedding. I’m sure it wasn’t too expensive and oh so sweet. Only an option if you live close though. Or are willing to pay the insane rates for postage these days!

  • Candice says:

    Not sure if it was mentioned already, but I recently got married two months ago, and one of the nicest gifts I received was not on my registry but was wonderful and useful. A friend who could not attend due to finances, sent me a 10 pack of blank note cards with my new last name on it. It was such a nice gift and something that shouldn’t cost too much if you make them yourself or buy off a site like etsy.com. I also received other blank notecards with a nice design on them. It was something I didn’t think of buying, but definitely something I needed!

    • Kari says:

      One of our favourite wedding gifts came from my husband’s brother and his wife. They made us a gift bag with sparkling cider, two simple wine glasses, small candles and candle holders, a gift card to rent a movie, a bag of microwave popcorn, a couple’s devotional book and a gift card for supper. You could easily omit the gift card and just stick with the date in a bag. We’ve given them to many other couples, and they’ve all loved them!

    • Mel says:

      Candice, I love this idea. I recently gave a friend return address labels with MR. and Mrs. on them. She loved this! I ordered them online, but they could easily be made at home if you’re good with computer graphics.

  • Suzanne H says:

    Are you a good cook? Type up recipes and antecdotes if you have them – maybe some famous quotes from chefs (Julia Child, Emeril, etc.). You can make it humorous or sentimental or both… Save as gif files and use a promo code from Shutterfly, etc. to put in a book or have bound locally at Kinko’s type place.

  • Amy says:

    I see that a lot of readers have commented about recipes. I wanted to chime in that one of my wedding gifts that I still use often, almost 14 years later, is a hand-compiled recipe book from a family friend. I say “compiled” because some of them were photocopied, some clipped from magazines, but they were recipes that were “tried and true” that the giver’s family loved. We have grown to love them, too. She also included a few favorite verses and poems. I don’t think you’d have to be crafty or take the time to make it super cute to make it meaningful. A photo album full of recipes has been a great gift for our family! (We also received our invitation, framed, which we still love, and some snapshots from our wedding in a frame, which we love, too.) Everyone has great ideas!

  • Christy says:

    I haven’t read all the replies yet. But, my favorite thing to do is to buy a big Rubbermaid bin. I then shop the 75-90% off sales for holidays for the year. I then give the new family a year’s worth of holiday decorations. If I expect to have weddings coming up, I’ll keep a couple of these going. In the end, I can get $200 worth of items for $50 or less. I also add some other cute homemade items, or frame their favorite quotes for them.

  • Kristi says:

    Our budget is very tight as well, and a wedding gift we have given a number of times is a wedding picture frame from the Hallmark store. They are reasonably priced, and sometimes I have a coupon. They also do lovely gift wrapping so I do not have to add wrap to the cost of our gift.

    • Ang says:

      Weddings are an all around expensive occasion for the bride and groom and families, wedding party, and guests too with giving the gifts! You need to keep in mind that they are forking out a lot of money to have you as guests and to be tasteful as you are being frugal as not to stand out for being cheap or tacky. I can still recall a cetain MIL’s friend who didn’t give us a gift, not even a card because she stood out as the drunk dancing queen of the evening. If you don’t give a gift at least be more of a wall flower! An acquaintace of mine told me I must invite him and his fiance like we were super friends and then gifted us with a $15 set of glasses off our registry which had already been fulfilled for my shower by another person! If you’re getting someone a cheap gift at least don’t get the cheapest thing off their registry so they don’t know exactly how little you paid when they spent so much to have you as a guest! A crafty lady customized a cover of a photo album with fabric, lace, and beading then slipped a copy of our wedding invitation into the cover photo. Now that was a very special gift to us because she took time to personalize it just for us! Just goes to show you 3 examples of cheap gifting and what they mean to a couple.

  • Amy says:

    We received a thoughtful, unique gift from a frugal couple. She bought a cookbook from a yard sale and filled a basket with the cookbook and a food item that was in the photograph on the front of the photo. While we were on our honeymoon, she came to our house and cleaned it, as well as decorated for fall with some (gift) decorations.

  • Mel says:

    My mother-in-law gave us cleaning supplies, laundry/dish detergents, paper towels and even toilet paper. I have to honestly tell you, it was one of my favorite gifts. Some of the items lasted years and saved us tons of money over time. We “enjoyed” those items every week as we cleaned our home from top to bottom. Now, I happen to be one of those people that loves to clean (hate to cook!)-I know, a little weird. But we truly did enjoy the gift and it helped us set up our new home together. I would never have expected $50 gifts from anyone. Thoughtful gifts truly are the best!

  • Johanna says:

    I am not sure if this has been suggested, but we take the invitation and frame it. It only works if they have a flate invite, if not than you need to get really creative 🙂 Take the invite, mount it on a matching scrapbook paper, then, get your nice frame and mat. If you do not have any frames and mats on hand, I usually purchase mine @ Michales or Joannes with coupons 🙂 It has cost me less than $10.00 and it is very memorable.

  • Tina says:

    Go thru your stockpile and make a gift basket what newly wed couple doe not need laundry detergent soap and toothpaste!

  • Penny T. says:

    I truly love homemade gifts. In fact, I still have a homemade picture that someone made from my wedding over 25 years ago. I saw on Pintrest where they took the wedding invitation, cut it into strips and put it inside a clear Christmas ornament and added ribbon, etc. It was beautiful and something they would keep forever. I would search Pintrest and create some one-of-a-kind homemade gifts.

    • Most of the gifts we received for our wedding cost between $20 and $40. There were a handful of items that were above that price point (a $60 platter we received from our registry at our shower, and a few things at our wedding, including our pots and pans). While we did register for some more expensive items (as I had read was the proper thing to do, such as place settings), none of them were purchased. I am grateful that we registered as we did, for we received many nice, quality items that we still use. Most of our gifts were from our registries (I registered at Robinsons May and Target). We used cash to purchase our flatware and plates after our wedding.

      Jenny, if in doubt, buy a less expensive gift off the registry that you can tell they’ll use for years.

  • EV says:

    One favorite wedding gift we received was a collage picture frame (probably only a few bucks), with four openings. Two of the larger openings each had a photo of the sunrise and sunset on our wedding day (we live in FL so it was over the ocean). The third opening had the verse Psalm 113:3 that says “From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the LORD is to be praised.” The fourth opening was reserved for a wedding photo. I really liked the idea, although someone would have to be an early riser and probably not a guest at the wedding. 🙂 My friend had her mom do it for her. So it probably cost under 10$, and it is a really neat idea.

  • Lisa says:

    My sisters-in-law and I will often go in together to purchase a gift for family weddings. That way we can get something off the Registry without busting the bank.

  • Shannon says:

    One fun and useful gift we received was two cereal bowls in a fun design and a box of cereal. I think of the giver every time I use the bowls – many years later.

  • Rhonda Hall says:

    I think just a $10 Starbucks card and a $5 Movie rental card in a pretty bowl with some microwave popcorn and boxed theater candy in it..cellophane wrap and tie with a bow…nice date night…Less than $20….
    or even a $20 pizza gift card when they just don’t want to cook…..
    if you’re crafty, go to fabric store and buy a couple yards of fleece and make their own throw lap blankets also called tie blankets,…no sewing..less than $20….
    I love the idea someone had with the address labels…go to office store or even Walmart and buy labels and print off Mr & Mrs labels..love it…probably $10

  • kathy says:

    I have not scrolled down to the other comments so if I am being redundant, I applogize. One of the best wedding gifts that I ever received was a recipe book filled with a few tried and true recipes, with room to add my own. After being married almost 18 years, this is a gift that I treasure and actually use very often. Another gift I got was an inexpensive 9X13 pan with a handwritten recipe for a cake to be made in the pan. It’s really the little things that make a gift stand out. Try not to compare what you can give to what others might give. It is a loosing battle! You can rest in the fact that you put thought into your gift and you are being responsible with your decisions.

  • Sharon says:

    Do you have any nice, unopened items around your house that you could re-gift? Maybe something like a dining/kitchen item someone gave you at your OWN wedding that you aren’t using? I know some people think that is tacky, but if you aren’t going to use it and they are-think about what the couple likes and look at their registry….If they are a young couple just setting up house perhaps you could make them a basket of “medicine cabinet” items or baking items or something. The last thing people think about when they get married is band aids and pain reliever-they don’t think about them until they’re needed and have to run to the store at the last minute!
    My husband and I look for gifts all year long. When the Christmas items go 75% off, we stock up on things that we might need the next year. We have two weddings to go to ourselves soon, and we are giving really nice glass cake stands with the lids on them-that were purchased for 2.50! No one will ever know we bought them 6 months before for 75% off:-)

  • Andrea says:

    Bed Bath Beyond has a clearance section – i have bot very nice blankets there. Use the 20% off and it is a very nice gift – you can wrap it there for free too!

  • Katie says:

    One of my favorite gifts we received for our wedding was a bag of fresh groceries like milk, eggs, and produce when we got back from our honeymoon! For basics like that, it doesn’t cost much.
    One summer we had 9 (!) weddings to attend so I used coupons to buy cleaning supplies at stock up prices and bought buckets, sponges, and microfiber cloths from the dollar store. Each buck cost around $12 but was still well received.

  • Karen says:

    One of the most creative and memorable wedding gifts I received was probably also the least expensive. The lady bought a pack of paper plates, a set of paper plate holders, a couple of candles, and a cheap vinyl tablecloth. What made it all make sense was the note she included: “This is for one of those days where everything has gone wrong, you’re exhausted, and you just can’t possibly do one more thing. Spread the tablecloth on the living room floor. Set up the candles. Grab the paper plates and holders. And…call for a pizza.” It made me laugh, and it was SO unique!

  • Bethany says:

    Several years ago, I had more time than money (pre-marriage and pre-children). I made a cross stitch piece with the wedding date and the bride & groom’s names. I then framed it myself and gave that as a gift at the wedding. The bride absolutely loved it and called me on their way to the airport for their honeymoon the next day to thank me for such a thoughtful gift. She and her husband still have it hanging in their house.

    Likewise, when we were married, I had a friend who dried flowers and put them on a board and in a nice frame, again this is something that still hangs in my house.

    No money exchanged in either case.

  • Pam says:

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned already, but I traditionally do a wedding cross stitch for the couple. I know it’s a little old fashioned, especially for someone as young as I am, but all of my friends so far have really appreciated it. Or at least they say they do. 😉 I find that the time spent on things is usually worth more to people than the money when it comes to things like wedding gifts. Good luck with your gift giving!

  • Andria says:

    I am not sure if this has been mentioned, but what about a couple of your favorite encouraging books on marriage along with a heartfelt note about what you love about them? Perhaps this would be best for a couple you are well acquainted with, but I’m thinking titles like A Husband/Wife after God’s Own Heart, Howard Dayton’s Marriage and Money God’s Way or even The 5 Love Languages. These titles can be purchased very reasonably off of Amazon…you could even grab a used copy in great condition off of Ebay and no one would be any the wiser. I find too, that a little creativity put into the presentation of the gift/card can go a long way with making a gift appear more opulent than it is!

  • Amanda says:

    I get a cast iron pan from walmart for around $15. I then put in a bag of cornbread mix and call it a gift 🙂

  • Karen Johnson says:

    One of my favorite gifts came from a family with very limited funds. The mom put together a basket that she got from goodwill with some of her favorite recipes including lots of ways to use chicken, two small jars of strawberry raspberry jam, a cloth potato cooker for the microwave.
    Another one of my favorite gifts was a recipe box of the favorite recipes from the ladies of our church.
    One of the cheaper gifts I got for one of my friends when she got married, was took a basket and then filled it with things to start her kitchen from the dollar store. Things like spices, some cans of fruit, jar of tomato sauce, noodles, cake mix etc.
    Just a couple of ideas that don’t cost much but can mean alot.

    • Emily says:

      I’m getting married this June and more than any gift I really just want my friends and family to be there to celebrate with us. Many are coming from out of town and on limited budgets. The last thing I would want is for someone I love to be financially stressed by feeling as though they have to buy us a gift. Write the couple a heartfelt card and go have a nice time celebrating their love with them. That ought to be gift enough.

  • Jessica says:

    Unfortunately these days, “etiquette” has gotten out of control. For example, we are taught to assume the wedding will cost $50/plate, and use that for what to buy as a wedding gift. But wait, I am a lady and I am invited to a shower also. So far, I give a gift at the shower, and a card at the wedding, but current “etiquette” expects us to give a gift at the shower and the wedding, AND lately each bachelorette party I’ve been invited to (vs gift cards, night wear, guess the underwear game, wine/liquor). and if your in the wedding party, then all of that plus buy the attire, pay to get your hair/makeup did, plus possible (demand) requests to spend x amount on party favors for the shower

    It should be about what you can spend, but it has definately become an “expectation”. It used to be about giving people a good start, but weddings are much more blended than they used to be. Some family isn’t thrilled to support a shower for the 3rd (ect) wedding, but sometimes it’s the first for the significant other

    I think it a mix of what has been said would be a good summary. if you are going to do homemade or second hand, think of the person you are giving it to. art and decorations should be to their taste, if they don’t like “off brand” things then veer away, if they are craft then the framed/ornament invite may not be the best idea, ect.

    What I haven’t read is a suggestion to support the shower as your gift. offer to make center pieces, dessert, ect

  • Elizabeth says:

    Can you give the couple an invitation to your home sometime after the wedding? I felt like we had so little time to see anyone at the wedding, and would have loved just a card saying, “Name the date, and come over to have dinner with us!”.

    If the bride is young, and you know her well, you could also offer lessons of some kind. I would have been delighted to have someone offer me lessons in cooking a dish that was her specialty.

  • I’m sure many have said this, but what about a set of your favorite recipes? Depending on your budget you could just handwrite them on cards, or print them on index cards, or make them into a Shutterfly book with pictures (using a coupon code). You could also pair it with a kitchen item or maybe a basket with ingredients to make one of the recipes. One gift I received was a set of hand written recipes on index cards in a holder that was made out of the pocket of old jeans.

  • Nancy says:

    My daughter is getting married next fall and a friend of mine offered to address the invitation envelopes because she does calligraphy! I said yes, thank you, but only on the condition that this is your wedding gift to her!

    I have kind of a standard wedding/shower gift. I wrote a cookbook called The Brides Cookbook or Surviving the First Year so I usally give that with something else – the something else being bigger for the wedding or smaller for the reception.

  • Janna says:

    I am a wedding planner and have to buy a lot of gifts BUT I rarely spend more than $5.00……I find the $1 bins at Michael’s and some other stores like that have note cards, packs of thank you notes..etc… with initials on them for $1 or less. I bought a bunch one time for 25 cents! Brides LOVE having their new initial on everything.

    • KimH says:

      I’ve seen these in the back of the store at Staples too.. usually for $5 or less too. Great idea!

    • Heather says:

      I usually give books that were very helpful to me and my husband in our premarital days or early in our marriage (of course, I’m a marriage and family therapist, so….)
      You can find many of these classic books on clearance or secondhand stores…

  • KimH says:

    M’honey stains a wooden plaque and then lightly burns the edges of the wedding invitation and glues it to the plaque and then when its dry, he pours a 2 part epoxy gloss over it and then adds a hanging hook on the back with his name & the date on it. He calls it a Beautiful Thang and he always gives that as a gift. He says, if they stay married they’ll love it and if they dont, they wont fight over it. Works for us.

    I’ve also done a wedding album for some couples. I’ve been asked to take photos for 3 weddings and my pictures were my gifts to the couple. I put them in an inexpensive album that I decorated with beautiful fabric to make it look “more”. In all, the cost wasnt that much other than time since I just printed out 4×6 photos and gave them the files to have their favorites enlarged.

  • Anita says:

    One of my favorite wedding gifts was from a newlywed couple on a tight budget. She gave me a tote full of cleaning supplies. (scrubbing bubbles bath & tile cleaner, Lysol wipes, scrubbing brushes, rubber gloves etc.). This was such a great practical gift & if you use coupons you can save more money & it’ll save them money because they will not have to buy tho products for a while.

  • Carmen says:

    Maybe this has already been mentioned. I made a name sign for a dear friend’s wedding that I was in last. I had already made her a quilt and kind of felt like that was enough, but at the last minute I felt like I needed something. They loved it. My tutorial is on my blog. We spent no money since my husband does a lot of woodworking. We already had everything.
    http://www.thegarlandprojects.blogspot.com/2012/08/wood-name-sign.html

  • Carissa says:

    One of the most thoughtful gifts we received was a ring clip holding hand written recipesalong with her notes on what she found to be tried and true.it was a huge help as a newlywed who wanted to impress hubby and not have to go out to eat all the time!

  • Erin says:

    I’d stick with cheaper items on the registry or a gift card. When we got married a couple years ago, we got all sorts of homemade, creative, or on sale items. The result was a bunch of mismatched stuff that we had no need for (ex. queen sized sheets when we had a king sized bed) or that wasn’t our taste. We were students and moving into a 500 sq. ft apartment and our tiny space was overrun gifts we didn’t know what to do and no place to put them. My favorite gifts, however, were Bed, Bath and Beyond gift cards (where I registered). Most people didn’t write the amount on the gift card and I just took my stack of cards in where the cashier rang them all up and gave me a new card with the grand total. I had no idea how much each individual person gave. Honestly, I was just happy they remembered me and I had a lot of fun picking out the stuff we really needed.

  • emily says:

    My two-cents. Buy what you can afford and get something they need/want. Don’t worry about what most people spend. I was unable to find anything on a registry recently that i could afford. I bought a $20 Target gift card and decided they could buy what they need.

  • Sara says:

    I haven’t had chance to read all the entries so I apologize in advance if someone already suggested this. A coworker/friend is getting married this Spring, and her taste runs in the expensive side. One of the places she registered at is Williams and Sonoma, which is way out of my price range,

    Since I am not crafty and cannot make her anything that would look nice, a few of us in our department have decided to split the cost in order to get her a nice gift, that way no one will go broke in the process.

  • Dee Wolters says:

    While we all wish we could give wonderful and expensive gifts, sometimes it just is not the time. Do not feel bad. When we first married and were on a tight budget I felt terrible not being able to give big gifts, but knew that our family’s budget was more important. I would remember that there were other people who would give the big gifts, and I was invited because they wanted me to be there, not for the gifts. Anyway, when money was really tight, I would write down some favorite reciepies on nice cards and include a spice or herb that was used in the recipe. It was nice to give something personal.

  • Maegen says:

    I say, give towels!

    You can Always use more, and you can get a nice set for a modest price.
    Failing that, I’d get the nicest thing you can afford from their registry.

    They’re inviting you for the pleasure of your company, and if they’re so ill mannered as to judge their guests based on the value of their gifts-well, phooey-who needs ’em?

    While I really admire the crafty and creative posters on this site, if the couple is really setting up housekeeping, I think an inexpensive, but much needed, item from their list will be appreciated.
    If the registry doesn’t have much left, think of affordable but useful items-measuring spoons, sturdy mixing bowls, a cute mat for the front stoop-and go in good cheer.

  • Jennifer says:

    I always look for a nativity set just after Christmas (or during a great sale) and buy one or two, depending on what weddings I expect that year. Those are our wedding gifts. Newlyweds are so happy to have something to set out at Christmas.

  • When my husband and I got married a friend got as a pampered chef ice cream scoop and then put $5 in a card for us to use to buy ice cream with! I thought this was such a cute idea! You I can’t remember much of who got us what, but I can remember this gift because it was so creative!

    • Another great gift that we received were restaurant gift cards! You can get them at any value. I know ALOT of people that would love a simple $5-$10 gift card to Starbucks for a morning coffee date! Or a gift card to Cold Stone for a dessert date!

      I really don’t think it is about the amount of money you spend, it is the thought that counts. So do something really unique and creative!

  • Janelle says:

    I like to buy something small off the registry and personalize it. One go-to has been an ice-cream scoop along with my secret chocolate sauce recipe. If I have time, I sew cute napkins or an apron to go along with it, or I add in parfait dishes from an estate sale. I like to know that at least part of the gift is something the couple definitely wants, but I rarely spend more than $15- $20.

    I have to remind myself that I am not responsible for furnishing the couple’s new home. And my gift may not stand out or even be remembered. But my presence reminds my friends that I love them and wish them well. And hey– if they return my gift to the Goodwill, I’m not offended because I didn’t spend much on it in the first place!

  • Kelly Weston says:

    One of my favorite gifts to give is a nice basket full of little things that might be on their registry – hand towels, kitchen utensils, maybe a candle or two. Baskets always come in handy and you can help a couple check off a large list of items on their registry!

  • Katherine says:

    Having recently gotten married, I agree with what a few previous posters said about getting something inexpensive off the registry. Couples know to register for gifts in a range of prices for this reason. Pick one or two inexpensive (<$15 each) items and then combine with a coupon. Trust me, they will LOVE that it was something off their registry that they actually wanted, regardless of how little you spent!! I had guests who showed up empty handed and never sent a gift (that sucked) and guests who got us totally random stuff that we didn't want/need. Getting something off the registry is best!

  • Mason says:

    How about some recipes and a Pyrex baking dish, with some ingredients?

  • Kate says:

    I try to do something personalized that can’t have a $ value put on it. We’ve taken the invitation and either framed it, or modge-podged it onto a painted plaque or something decorative like that. There’s also a lady at my church that hand paints these beautiful wooden plaques with “The Lastname Home” and the wedding date and some flowers – that’s inexpensive, but unique. Also, we have a dresser full of gifts we’ve found cheap/clearance/etc. that I save for occasions. So if I find a really beautiful picture frame for really cheap, I just get it and save it until an occasion.

  • Julie says:

    Candles – Inexpensive and romantic!

  • Allison says:

    I have THE BEST idea. It came from my mother-in law. After each holiday when items are Rick bottom prices she stocks up. Little things, dish towers, small decor. Them at my shower she brought in a tub. Inside the tub was a gift bag for each holiday. Inside where a few items for wash holiday. It was great. We had no extra money ate first year to buy items to decorate for holidays. It was AWESOME to have a few thing for each.

  • April says:

    Here’s something I always like to do. Buy a jar of gourmet spaghetti sauce, a package of gourmet noodles of some sort, put them in a basket (from the Dollar Store) with towels and kitchen utensils you’d need to make a pasta night. You could even buy a dessert or bread mix package to put in the basket. Home Goods is another good place to find gourmet foods on a budget, plus they have cute baskets, towels, utensils, etc. You could always “splurge” on one bigger item to go in the basket, like a pasta pot or something.

  • Amanda says:

    I scrolled through these responses quickly, and don’t think I saw this one yet. My absolute favorite wedding gift was a pack of note cards from a good friend. She had my bridal party, friends from work and family members each write a card for us to open on each anniversary. They were all labeled with the year on the envelope: 2008, 2009, 2010, etc. I look forward to my anniversary almost as much as Christmas morning, because I get to read a note from friends that I might have lost touch with, or family members that don’t live nearby any longer. It’s a lot of fun too, because people started predicting how many kids we’d have, where we’d live, etc – some were spot on! I’ve done the same for a couple other friends too. Even if you don’t know the family super well, you probably know enough friends (besides yourself) and maybe a sister or mom who could write enough cards for their first 5 years. All it cost her was a box of notecards and a few stamps to mail cards out – she collected them at the wedding and dropped them in a gift bag.

  • sally says:

    For the posters that are saying some us have a bad attitude toward gifts – why are you judging us? We are entitled to our opinions. Like a lot of folks I got married right after college so after having used mismatched and hand me down items I wanted matching kitchen and bath items that were decent quality -so I registered. People are going to get you a gift anyway (even if you say no gifts) so why not tell them what you want? Most of the items I picked were under $20. For me I already had so much mismatched and random stuff that the stuff I received off the registry I felt obligated to keep and this resulted in a TON of clutter. Some of the stuff I received I already had and was lesser quality than what I had – it didn’t make sense to me to replace my spatula (I was hoping to replace it with an OXO brand to match the other items I registered for) with a dollar store one that I received – so that becomes clutter or a possible regift.

    If you framing an invitation or doing something one of a kind – I would give the bride a coupon with options for her to decide after the wedding. My cousin ended up with 10 framed invitations!!! Most of them sit in a drawer – as she only really needed one.

    My sister ended up with so many small appliances (not on the register) after 5 years she finally had a small appliance yard sale.

    I think the bottom line is that the brides are happy to receive any gifts but we feel obligated to keep the things we don’t like or don’t need which results in CLUTTER and until the bride feels she can get rid of it – it just sits around….

  • Patrice Cox says:

    My husband and I were both older when we got married, so we pretty much already had all the “stuff” we needed to make a home. Since we didn’t need or want many gifts, my coworkers threw a “recipe shower” for us. They each brought their favorite recipe on an index card along with all the nonperishable ingredients that went into the recipe. We LOVED it and while 8 years later, most of the other gifts we received are worn out or collecting dust somewhere, we still use those recipes all the time!

  • Anne says:

    We often give a gift card to a restaurant or even Starbucks. You can get a decent meal for 2 for $30 at most restaurants. Even if they end up having to pay a little, it’s fun to have a ‘mostly free’ date night. 🙂

  • Vicki says:

    Several years ago I typed up all our favorite family recipes. I have a master copy that I use to print copies from, and bind it all into a cookbook. My husband was worried that it was “cheap” because it costs us less than $10 a copy, but the couples love it. I have had brides write to me years after their wedding to tell me how much they love my cookbook and how much they use it. I get about 20 copies done at a time at a local copy shop, and have a standard wedding gift ready at all times, no extra thought required.

  • karen says:

    Take any one or several of the following…the wedding invitation (including stamps, wrappings, monograms etc), wedding favors or memorabilia, a picture of the couple, etc. Buy a shadow box or nice frame from Hobby Lobby using a 40% off coupon or during a 50% off sale (this should make the frame right around $10). Choose a coordinating scrapbooking paper or two and mount/make a collage of the wedding items you collected. I’ve done this gift many times and the couple always LOVES it…and it usually costs less than $15 for a thoughtful hand made type gift.

  • Chelsea says:

    We received a few “date night” gifts and loved them. $25 gift cards to movie theaters or local restaurants are great for the newlywed couple that probably doesn’t have a lot to spend on dates. Plus, you can usually find gift card deals.

  • August says:

    If I was really broke, I wouldn’t buy anything but a card. There were plenty of people at our wedding that didn’t get us anything and we didn’t care. We just liked that they were there. If they get upset, well you really didn’t need them in your life anyway.

  • August says:

    Or if you really had to get them something, I found out the first dance of a friend’s wedding. I typed them up in a nice font, had them printed on good paper, and put them in a picture frame. The layout I created made it so there was a square missing in the middle for a picture of their first dance.

    If you couldn’t figure out the layout, you could have it printed out on canvas or something. I love those gifts!

  • I also have had many weddings to go to recently. I think it’s nice to give some personalized. If you are crafty, check out the Glass Etched Dishes I made for every wedding I went to this summer! Cost was about $10 a dish, but people buy these for like $40!!

  • Lori says:

    See if you can find multiple offers to get a really good deal on a registered gift. I once went to look at a couples gift registry and happened to run into a sales clerk that I knew. She really hooked me up with offers and I was able to get 4 place settings for what I would have spent on one.

    I have also written a favorite recipe on a nice card and given the couple all of supplies (nice mixing bowl etc) to prepare the recipe.

    If you know other couples that are going consider a nice group gift. We recently went in with a large group to get a gift certificate for a high end hotel and dinner. ( we called the hotel and got a really good deal on a one night stay).

    Don`t worry about the value. Do what you can, they want YOUR company at the wedding.

  • Beth says:

    You can’t let what other people are giving set the budget for you. A thoughtful gift should be appreciated no matter the cost. I try to give a gift of my time and effort since we cannot give a $50 gift for a wedding. I often make an apron out of 1 yard of fabric that coordinates with the kitchen colors/style of the bride and make a button-on towel set (you can make two out of one kitchen towel). Another idea is a pyrex dish with a pretty stack of recipe cards filled out with recipes that fit in that dish, recipes from your experience in the kitchen. Another idea is a simple 6 X 6 or 8 X 8 scrapbook that is simply decorated in colors that coordinate with the wedding colors, ready for the couple to put a few pictures in right away. Think of your talents and how you could bless them without spending much cash.

  • I like to do a date night present. I used to include a movie, but it is too difficult to pick one I know for sure the couple will like and doesn’t have. So I started doing games. Board games are cool, but expensive. If I can find a nice one at Good Will I’ll get it but otherwise I will visit the small game section at Walmart or Target. I can usually find a game for 2 players for around $5. Then I usually include sparkling grape juice, a blanket, maybe a couple glasses (Good Will), a candle/candle holder (Good Will or Dollar Tree), some sort of special snack, a plant, etc. Anything that I come across that looks like it would be good for a Date Night. I usually manage to keep a present like this around or under $20.

  • My favorite inexpensive wedding gift is an annotated copy of my favorite cookbook. I use sticky notes to mark which recipes are the best, replace recipes that aren’t as good, and improve recipes based on what I’ve learned in the kitchen. It doesn’t seem cheap and it is very personal.

  • M says:

    I think there are a lot of inexpensive and very practical gifts you can give as wedding presents. When I got married we were going to be living in a small basement apartment for three months and then moving across the country, so we had very mixed feelings about receiving expensive and “fancy” gifts like nice glass bowls, knowing that they might not survive the move and we didn’t really have the space for all of it. (Plus, it felt so odd to have the fancy things when we were eating at a card table and sitting on folding chairs.) Honestly, I would have been thrilled to get a Costco pack of toilet paper because it would have been so practical!

    You could probably go with some basic kitchen items and only spend $10-$20. Spatulas, timers, meat thermometers, cookie sheets, cake pans, rolling pins, kitchen towels, table cloths, things like that. You can get any of those things from Target for a pretty good price. A basic soap dish and toothbrush holder for the bathroom could also be pretty affordable. I think most couples would also appreciate receiving a jar of spices or a bottle of nice hand soap. I have a friend who says she likes to give paper plates/cups/utensils with a note that says, “The first six weeks of dishes are on me.” We actually received a lot of $10 bills and $10 gift cards and thought they were great.

    One of my favorite wedding gifts was a ceramic figurine of a woman in a flowing white dress reading a book. I received it from a woman who had been my teacher at church when I was a teenager. It was slightly dusty in the cracks and I could tell it wasn’t brand new, but I could tell that she had put a lot of thought into the gift and I appreciated that she had made a sacrifice because she wanted to bless us with a gift. I didn’t care how much it had cost. I love the little lady because she reminds me of a teacher who loved me. Any couple who is concerned about how much people are spending on their wedding presents needs to humble themselves and recognize how kind it is of people to give them gifts.

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