Q: I’m invited to the wedding of a relative who travels a lot. He and his partner frequently move abroad for a year or two at a time. In fact, they’re likely moving abroad again next fall and will be gone for about two years. So far, I have invitations to a bridal shower, the wedding ceremony, and a follow-up party several months later. That’s three gifts I need to buy, and I’m a bit stumped. They don’t have a registry, and the mother of the bride has suggested that guests purchase something meaningful that we think the couple will enjoy.
And there’s the rub. Do I buy something practical that they’ll be able to use for the next twenty years? Something small and portable that they can take on their travels? Do I just give them cash? I’d like to be thoughtful about it and get them something that will really make them happy. I don’t necessarily mind my gift sitting in storage for a couple of years, but I suspect they’re going to keep traveling for a while, and that fancy mixer might spend more time in a closet at their parents’ house than on their counter.
Help! I’m having a shopping crisis!
Stuck Wondering About Gifts
A: Okay so first of all? On no planet do you owe these people three gifts. Just because they have some reason why they are taking two separate days to celebrate their wedding does not mean they get (or probably even expect) a gift for each day. You need one for the shower, and one for the wedding. (Technically you never need to give a gift at all, but you’re clearly on board, so cool.)
I don’t have any problem with no registry, but for future reference, let’s try and coach our moms not to say, “Oh just purchase something meaningful that you think the couple will enjoy.” God mom, really? That’s the worst gift instruction possible. This is how bad gifts happen to good people.
Because let’s be real here. If you don’t have a registry, you are telling people, politely, that you want cash. You might get cash, you might not. But what you’re saying is legit, especially if you’re a couple that doesn’t exactly have a lifestyle that accommodates serving platters and cake stands. Personally, I’d ignore that “meaningful” thing entirely and give them the meaningful gift of cash to spend on whatever they want. (Are you reading this and thinking ohhhh but we didn’t register but we really did not want cash we wanted macramé rugs and interesting pottery? Please tell us if that’s you.)
If you really, really, really hate giving cash (whyyyyyy? It’s amazing and always fits), I’d go for a store with a great return policy and pick out something nice with a gift receipt. Nordstrom has a great return policy, and also these truly enchanting passport covers for their lives full of adventure. And if they hate them (what is wrong with these people?), they can easily return them for cash or socks or something sad and mundane like button down shirts.
I am of the opinion that showers are for gifts that come in boxes with bows, and if you don’t want those gifts you shouldn’t be having a shower. So even for a couple that travels, I’d be looking for something I can put a bow on. My personal gift crusade is linens. Is there anything more perfect than this for a couple who travels? No, no there is not. Add in these extremely American options for a taste of home and you have yourself a shower gift that is perfectly respectable and completely packable. Looking for something more on the elegant side? Turns out the rest of the world is not as committed to the glory of paper towels as many of us are, so cloth napkins might really come in handy. And they are shiny.
Enjoy the celebrations, and remember it’s the thought, and the gift receipt, that count.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE EVERYWHERE YOU TURN, MORE PEOPLE ARE GETTING MARRIED? LIKE ATTENDING WEDDINGS HAS SOMEHOW BECOME YOUR HOBBY? IS “EXPENSIVE CRAP FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S WEDDINGS” A BIGGER BUDGET CATEGORY THAN “MANICURES, BOOKS, AND CHEESE”? EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM.