Do I Really Have to Buy My Friends Three Wedding Gifts?


It seems like... a lot

by Amy March

woman in mirrore sunglasses

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!

Sincerely,

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.


The Info:

Photo: Simon Wakaba

Amy March

Amy has loved weddings at least since the second grade when she made an epic diorama of Charles and Diana’s wedding for “important historical event” day. She has purchased every issue of Martha Stewart Weddings ever published and will happily talk to you for an hour about the relative merits of blush and bashful. Her happy place is poolside with a glass of rosé and a good book. 
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  • idkmybffjill

    NAILED. IT.

    • idkmybffjill

      Also cloth napkins are my favorite wedding gift.

    • Lisa

      Agreed. I think linens of any sort are perfect for someone with a nomadic lifestyle. They pack flat, can be used as filler for breakables, and everyone needs towels, pillow covers, etc.

  • Lisa

    The nice thing about cash, too, is you can decide how much of it you are willing to give and divide it equally among the different events. It’s more difficult to do that with a blender or a knife block.

    • Ashlah

      A knife for each event.

      • Sara

        That’s literally what I was just going to write. The block for the shower and then just give them the knives over the next two events :)

        • JC

          I’d go with the knives first. Nothing to put them in. Just a single knife.

          • rg223

            I LOLed at this and then read it to my husband and he LOLed, so you win.

        • NolaJael

          Or over the next several years?! A knife for every birthday! A knife for Christmas!

          • zana

            OoooOoooh, Christmas knife!

    • Amy March

      You guys nooooooo. Knives cut happiness and cannot be given as gifts, unless you include a penny in the card for them to give back to you to “purchase” the knife. Please tell me someone else’s mother taught her this so I feel less alone with my nonsensical superstition?

      • AP

        I was given knives with a penny taped to the box, but I was never told to give it back to the person who gave them to me. When I asked about the penny, the gifter said it was for good luck. Take from that what you will?

      • Ashlah

        I’ve heard of this, but not until after we’d already registered for and received an axe and a hatchet (without pennies). I’m not superstitious, so it was nbd to me. We needed to chop wood.

        • JC

          My new goal is to buy someone an axe as a wedding gift. Yes Amy, I will include a penny.

      • Lisa

        I have never heard of this before! My absolute favorite gift I got for our wedding was the knife block (shipped directly from C&B so no penny), and I ended up combining my sister’s shower and wedding present into one to purchase her the same thing, which she has also claimed was her favorite wedding present.

        This is just like the break-up cross-stitched belt I heard about the other day at work from one of our grad students. I’m learning all sorts of superstitions!

        • JC

          What in the world is a break-up cross-stitch belt?!

          • Lisa

            It’s like the sweater curse but in needlecraft belt form. A woman puts together a handcrafted belt, and usually the relationship turns sour around the point she completes it. The grad student in question said it was very common among southern fraternities and that his undergrad girlfriend was in the process of making him one when he broke up with her. I suppose at least she didn’t get all the way through the project before being dumped?

          • JC

            This makes my day so sad and so wonderful at the same time.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            One time I actually found a breakup belt at the Goodwill! At least, I’m guessing the demise of a relationship is how it ended up there…some poor girlfriend or mother spent hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars spelling out the guy’s name in signal flags and adding his fraternity letters only for the project to end up being sold for $1 at the thrift store. I actually tried searching Facebook and Google for the owner, but to no avail.
            Of course, I bought it, and I treasure it to this day, even though my name is not Jack, and I am not a DKE. If you’re out there, though, Jack, I’ve totally got your belt!

          • Lisa

            Awww, I love this story!

          • NotMotherTheresa

            Update: I had not searched for the belt’s owner in a decade, but telling this story re-energized my search, and I have now found the likely owner! The downside? I almost can’t bear to send him a Facebook message asking, because I’ve grown sort of weirdly attached to it! Like, I know it’s the right thing to do, but dang it, I’ve really enjoyed Jack the DKEs belt, and what if he’s a total jerk who doesn’t deserve to have it? I don’t want the belt to go to someone undeserving! (Even though, technically, I’m not deserving, either, and it’s not my girlfriend/wife/mother who at one time thought that I WAS deserving!)

          • Amy March

            Uhhhh I don’t think it’s the right thing to do to stalk a dude to give him a belt he obvi got rid of. You’re in the clear. Hang onto your belt.

          • Ashlah

            Agreed. Either he got rid of it, or the creator decided he didn’t deserve it. It’s yours, wear it proudly.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            Haha, okay, you have a point! Thank you for absolving my guilt, even if it does confirm that I sometimes go a little overboard in my attempts to “do the right thing”!

          • NolaJael

            This is ridiculous. Thank you for sharing.

          • Lexipedia

            Long-term craft project that takes lots of time and energy (sweaters, etc.) made for boyfriends (very gendered) without legal permanence are some sort of relationship curse. My grandma really, really insists on “no knitting for your man until that ring is on your finger” or you are doomed.

          • JC

            Ahhh. I appreciate your grandma’s wisdom. The idea of entering into a cross-sitched belt project with the eventuality of a doomed relationship is really overwhelming. But just “no knitting for you” is a good rule.

          • Lexipedia

            I think she also sees sweaters as some sort of “desperate girlfriend” thing – like, no woman who didn’t reaaaaaaaaally want to be seen as “wifey material” would take dozens of hours to knit a sweater. The creation of the sweater freaks the man out, because why is this girl so committed that she wants to knit him an itchy item of clothing to wear for all eternity, and boom – breakup.

          • JC

            Logic.

          • Vanessa

            Yes. I am happy to knit a close friend or family member a hat, but about halfway through my first sweater I realized I will never ever ever ever knit anyone else a sweater.

      • Vanessa

        Lol whut!? Fancy knives (but really though, it’s usually just one fancy knife) are my favorite non-cash wedding gift.

      • Cleo

        As a dedicated home cook who comes from a long line of kickass home cooks, knives = food preparation = great meals = shared time with family and friends = love

        I’ve never heard that superstition before, though even if I had during my formative years, I’d probably file it away into the “step on a crack” category (as opposed to never walking under an open ladder, which sounds like good sense). However, I do always throw salt over my shoulder whenever I spill some, so who knows :)

      • Caitlin Morrow

        You aren’t alone! This is a Danish tradition according to my family, but I was always told knives cut the relationship unless given with money to symbolize good luck and prosperity. We never did the giving the money back to the giver, though

      • Lexipedia

        Purchasing the knife with the penny is ABSOLUTELY necessary in my family.

      • Lawyer_Chef

        We had a nice knife block on our registry, and no one bought it for us – I was disappointed because I really wanted a good set of knives. I googled a bit and discovered this tradition/superstition. Had no issue buying it for myself though.

        • sofar

          We got our knife block — from my husband’s very practical friend. But we were surprised that it was one of the last-purchased gifts.

          We were also worried nobody was going to give us the fancy garbage can we registered for because it’s “not romantic” or whatever. Then my sister called me and asked, “Which gift do you think nobody is going to get you?” And I was like, “OMG the garbage can!” And she got it for us.

          • Lisa

            My sister bought us the dishes and blow-up mattress for this exact reason.

      • Rose

        I’ve heard of having to buy knives like that, although it’s not one my family passed on. I did notice that nobody bought the knives off of our registry, even though we don’t generally have a very superstitious crowd. I think a lot of people have a kind of subconscious idea along those lines, even if they’re not really thinking about it. (We just bought the knives ourselves with some of the cash gifts, so that was fine).

      • zana

        There’s too many superstitions to follow them all. I mean, first-look photos and seeing each other before the ceremony on the wedding day? Having something new/borrowed/blue?

        We just ignored them all. It just gets silly after awhile.

        • Amy March

          It’s okay, I just threw some salt over my shoulder and spun three times counterclockwise so you’re all set :)

      • Katharine Parker

        I’ve never heard of this, but I really want someone to send me a knife and a penny as a wedding gift now!

        • NolaJael

          I’d never heard of it either and my backwoods mother knows ALL the superstitions. ;)

      • Tulsaloosa214

        OH my god yes. I thought that was common knowledge until I started dating my husband!!!

      • rg223

        Hmm, that is not a thing in Pittsburgh (where I grew up). Curious if it’s regional?

      • Knonymous

        I learned it reading one of the Anne of Green Gables books, if that helps. Possibly Anne of Ingleside? Anne gives Gilbert a knife for their anniversary, but makes him buy it from her for a penny so it won’t cut their love.

      • Natalie

        How does no one know this? I distinctly remember learning of this at age 10 from one of the later Anne of Green Gables series books.

      • Anonymous

        I put a nice knife set on my Christmas wishlist & it totally freaked out my mother. This was the first time she told me about it needing a penny. Fortunately, my family does Secret Santa (so you only need to buy one gift – 2 if you have a significant other) & my mother included a bunch of pennies inside the box with the knives.

      • LJane

        I’m with you. We always ‘pay’ for gifts that can cut, we were told it being a gift “cuts the love” between you and the giver. You can be sure anyone who gives me something that cuts is getting a penny or a nickel in the card.

  • emilyg25

    Re: Cloth Napkins: The C&B linen ones are fabfabfab. The dinner size are nice and big and virtually indestructible and they get softer the more you wash them. They’re practical, but they feel very luxurious.

    • zana

      We went for ~8 C&B linen ones, and some sweet accent ones from Anthropologie. You can mix up the practical and the fancy, as needed. It works. Oh man, and then some HEAVY forged metal napkin rings from Restoration Hardware. Those f*ckers will last forever. And also double as a self-defense weapon.

  • Angela’s Back

    This is the perfect header image for all future Always a Bridesmaid columns, it’s like the ultimate non-drag queen personification of “really queen?”

    • stephanie

      This picture brought me tremendous joy when I found it. <3

  • Sara

    The picture associated with this article is perfect. If someone had asked me this question in real life, its probably the look I’d give.

    If you want something fun they can take with them easily on their travels, can I suggest this? http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/scratch-travel-journal

    • Alyssa

      Just added that to my registry. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • zana

      Or some really good eye masks: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FJQFJX8
      Or some gift cards for their Amazon Kindle. Or matching Amazon Kindles or cases.
      Or new luggage. Or stretchy clothesline for washing your clothes when you travel. Or Smartwool fast drying socks. Or bars of shampoo. Silk sleeping bag liners. Luggage bag bungees.

      • Natalie

        I want all of these gifts for me.

      • the cupboard under the stairs

        A combo of all, or many, of these things would make SUCH a badass gift basket.

  • JFC

    Maybe the LW actually wants to get their relative three gifts. SHOCKING, I know.

    • Laura C

      That eventuality is covered by the answer.

    • S

      Yeah, since the LW explicitly expressed that she feels that she “needs” to buy three gifts, I think Amy March was just clarifying that she doesn’t, before suggesting present ideas.

  • Lawyerette510

    Great advice Amy.

    I love linens of all sorts. My current obsession is with this woman owned and operated business out of New Mexico: http://www.keiandmolly.com/ I have some of their flour sack towels and they are wonderful!

    • BSM

      These are so lovely! Thank you for sharing.

      On a semi-related note: maybe we could have an open thread where everyone could share their favorite independent, women-owned businesses? Would love to throw more of my money at those companies!

      • Essssss

        That’s a great idea! Second it!

      • So into this idea!

      • S

        I would love this! And then maybe the best suggestions from that open thread can be vetted and compiled into categories – linen, kitchen, etc – for a indie, women-owned, registry post in the vein of “This Is What To Put On Your Registry” (/To Ask For For Christmas/Your Birthday, because let’s be real) for easy access and clarity? Honestly this is genius, I’d refer to it several times a year, it’d be a public service. APW if you’re reading this: just think of the page clicks!

    • Essssss

      Oh I received some tea towels from kei and molly and love them so much!

    • Sarah E

      I love all of their featured designs immediately. Spouse says we don’t need dish towels. WHATEVER.

  • Sara2

    We did not register anywhere not because we wanted cash or macrame specifically but because of my mom’s longstanding and unwavering opinion, which I sort of absorbed, that registries are tacky. For the record, we appreciated both cash and non-cash gifts, though the non-cash ones remain as happy reminders 9 yrs later.

  • Her Lindsayship

    “…the mother of the bride has suggested that guests purchase something meaningful that we think the couple will enjoy.” Useless!! I agree, this is a cash situation if ever there was one. (And, well, I basically always give cash.) We’re getting to the point where people will be looking at our tiny registry soon, and I’m definitely making a mental note to check in with my mom about her response to these questions should they arise!

    • Ashlah

      Seriously, that answer! Not helpful for the couple and a lot of pressure for the guest! At least, my response would be, “Oh yeah, sure, just something personally meaningful and useful, great, easy. *dies*” (Choosing gifts is not my strongest talent).

    • Lisa

      Totally agree with you! And for those who think cash is impersonal, it can be, but honestly, one of the sweetest, most memorable gifts we got was from my uncle, who sent us a check in a plain envelope with a heartfelt letter he had typed up in place of a card. He wrote all about how the money he and his wife received at their wedding made a big difference in how they were able to start off their life together and how he hoped we would find similar happiness in our new marriage. It makes me teary just thinking about it!

    • JC

      And it always includes the word “just.” Just buy them something meaningful. Just purchase something that symbolizes your enduring friendship. Just look for an item that they will cherish forever. No big deal. Just.

      • Katharine Parker

        Please let someone commission a portrait of themselves and the couple, I can think of nothing more meaningful or enjoyable than a very large oil painting

        • Vanessa

          A friend of mine has one of these – her parents commissioned an impressionistic portrait of her in her wedding dress.

          • nutbrownrose

            I really hope this girl is more into impressionism than anyone besides actual impressionists, or that’s one awkward gift. Tell me she is, and it was her absolute favorite gift of all time her spouse now has to top somehow.

          • Vanessa

            I honestly have never asked her about it because I am not that good at hiding my feelings.

          • Sarah E

            This thread is top ten APW of all time.

        • EF

          ahahaha someone in my family (note: i am not close with/did not grow up with most of my blood relations) commissioned a wedding portrait for my sister. it’s never occurred to me to ask her if she likes it or who did it. it just hangs in their dining room, judging you as you try to avoid their kids throwing spaghetti at you…

          • emmers

            Ha. I had a friend who was going to have his girlfriend’s brother paint a portrait for us for a gift. We were really relieved when that never panned out.

  • sofar

    Traditionally, showers were meant for small, less-expensive gifts (according to Miss Manners), so I like the idea of something like passport covers. Or durable, bright luggage tags to help them spot their luggage on the carousel? Monogrammed travel-toiletry holders? (I know I go through those like crazy because they always get torn or stained or full of spilled shampoo). LOVE the linens idea because those would perk up their home abroad and are also easy to pack.

    And then you can give a nice cash gift for the wedding itself.

    • I love all of this. Perfect suggestions and exactly what I’d do.

  • Elizabeth

    “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.”

    I mean, I personally don’t think it’s fair/right to put that on the mother. I hate that it’s her responsibility to disseminate the good word about registry and if there’s not a registry what people should get. I know that it’s a cultural norm, but in that situation I wouldn’t be much more helpful because as mother I might know what I’m going to get them but I’m not going to be picking out their registry for them.

    • Amy March

      “Oh anything or nothing would be lovely I’m sure.” “Well they travel so much, you know, but I think they’re saving up for their next trip.” I don’t think she needs to give specific ideas of gifts to buy, I just take issue with suggesting that the gift must be meaningful and something they would enjoy. Or, she could just say “well they didn’t register so I don’t think they need anything.”

      • zana

        When I buy gifts, I always aim for something meaningless and no fun?

        Here’s a used dish rag. A pre-broken piggy bank? An alma mater pennant to a school you have no connection to?

        • Amy March

          Hahaha. I just think it sounds like a phrase that made the gift-giver in this situation feel more stress and pressure, and to me it sounded like a situation where they either wanted nothing or cash, and Mom either disapproved or didn’t really get it and was making things unnecessarily complicated for guests.

          • zana

            Oh yes, that’s the most probably situation. But I also think gifts are generally intended to be sentimental or enjoyable…or useful.

          • rg223

            Oh gosh, I just said a similar thing two comments up! I agree Mom sounds potentially disapproving.

        • Katharine Parker

          Most wedding gifts aren’t that meaningful, in my experience. Dishes, pots and pans, linens, a kitchenaid mixer–often wedding gifts are Nice Things and useful things, but not meaningful beyond “here is a Nice Thing for your married life.” Having to find a meaningful gift sounds like a lot of pressure!

          • emmers

            Yea. A few people went off-registry. Occasionally they did a great job with the meaningfulness, but we got two monogrammed vases from two different people, which was sweet, but not something we use. Sometimes I prefer useful to meaningful!

          • zana

            This depends a little on how you view the item. When grandma buys you that sweet All Clad cassoulet pan, she might be thinking of you serving whatever-family-dish out of it to her grandchildren. Linens, like tablecloths, can also have similar meaning. The jury’s still out on electronics, though, but at least they’re enjoyable?

            Ah! I’ve got it! A garment steamer? UNLESS that’s the garment steamer you’re using to steam your wedding dress! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

          • Katharine Parker

            But those things aren’t necessarily inherently meaningful, you make them meaningful. Most guests are like, “you picked out these dishes so I will give them to you! Enjoy being married and eating off dishes!” Not like, “I give you this plate that was hand crafted by a potter who was inspired by the couple’s astrological signs! Feel the inspiration in your every meal!”

            It was once meaningful to my mother to give her friend’s daughter a Kitchenaid. But it was still the mixer off her registry. Someone else could have given it without any meaning beyond “here is a nice gift; I think you like baking” and it still would have been a nice gift.

          • S

            This is what makes me so stressed about ever having a proper big wedding (well, one of the reasons), as someone whose love language is gifts. I straight up don’t want things that are given to me just because they’re on some list I made. (People can pretend everyone gives from your registry in a really thoughtful, loving, considered way all they like, and I’m sure that’s true for some people, but we all know that lots of people are just logging on and getting literally whatever’s in their budget and crossing “wedding gift” off their to-do list.) I also don’t want cash. I’d prefer nothing to either of those options, and then if I asked for nothing I’d end up with 3 toasters. I’m doomed.

          • LadyJanee

            You might be surprised! We didn’t have a registry and didn’t ask for cash but we told key people that if they were asked for gift ideas we would like ‘house stuff’ (nice serving dishes, bakeware, vases etc because all we have is cheap mis-matching stuff) or people were welcome to give us cash and we would put it towards a few expensive items that we would like but would never ask for as a gift. It worked out well! We didn’t receive any toasters (and I was a bit disappointed by this actually haha) or double ups of anything, but we did end up with three monogrammed wooden serving boards… at least they are still practical! We also received a lot of cash, which I think seems to be the norm these days whether you ask for it or not.

          • Katharine Parker

            Is there a way you can reframe receiving gifts in your mind? It makes for an impossible standard if every guest has to give you something personally meaningful or nothing at all–not everyone sees gifts as a reflection of the nature of your relationship, but people do want to give you gifts at your wedding. Would having a registry where you explained how the items would be meaningful to you help? Or can you let go a little of idealized, meaningful, unique gifts and trust that even if someone just picks out whatever looks best in the $150 range, they are sending a gift with love and well wishes for your marriage?

          • NolaJael

            Or they try to be meaningful and miss? My parents have some lovely engraved silver platters with my father’s name misspelled, because he has an uncommon spelling of a common name and they were married before the internet when you couldn’t just look this stuff up easily. /sigh

    • rg223

      To me (who is admittedly reading a lot into this), it sounds like this is a mom who (secretly?) WANTED her daughter to have a registry, and is trying to make up for it by telling people to get them something super meaningful when they ACTUALLY want cash.

      • Vanessa

        I’m reading the same thing, mostly bc this sounds exactly like my mom and I. My fiance & I have particular taste and don’t tend to keep a lot of stuff around; I’m nervous people will give us the kind of “meaningful” gifts that they will notice if we don’t use or keep them.

      • S

        This is interesting – to me it sounds like a line she’s been fed, almost. While I see the usefulness of registries (or what we call in Australia “wishing wells”, aka asking for cash) my love language is gifts and in fantasy-land I’d prefer that everyone chose something for me and my partner themselves if they were going to give anything at all. If I ever went down that probably misguided path (just hoping for meaningful gifts and leaving everyone to their own devices) and my mum asked about a wishing well or registry etc I’d probably give her some speech about how I’m not interested in dictating what people get me blah blah blah….and then she’d end up spouting lines just like the poor mother in this letter. I guess we all bring our own biases and tastes and histories into reading these letters, it would have never occurred to me that this mother was being passive-egressive in any way.

      • macrain

        Yea. It sounds like she probably wants to throw a shower (I’m guessing), it wasn’t her decision to not have a registry, and she herself doesn’t know what to tell people when they ask about gifts. So this seems like a generic and not tacky (ie give them cash) response to that question.

  • Essssss

    Its hard to know what kind of living abroad the folks are doing, from the LW, but besides cash (which I have no issues with) a few ideas came to mind:

    – Something to keep them linked to home, like a subscription to the local paper or Skype credit
    – if they’re backpacking around rather than staying in one spot, I am such a huge fan of silk backpacker sheets, which take the scuzzy edge off of rough lodging, and humangear GoToobs, which are silly expensive but the best containers for all your travel goos.

    – Fancy luggage.

    • ART

      I also thought of GoToobs, and would also put in a plug for packing cubes. I LOVE my Eagle Creek pack-it half cubes. There are a lot of brands and styles out there and I’ve standardized on those for now, even though they aren’t the lightweight version, because we don’t really do backpacking (but I would consider lighter weight ones if I were to do something like that). I can pack so much more efficiently with those, and they make unpacking/repacking at your destination super easy. I’m not a big travel accessories person but those have become my constant travel companions.

  • GotMarried!

    I have a (plain) Coach passport cover that I absolutely adore. i carry it state side with a credit card and am good to go for all my ‘wallet’ needs. YES!

  • Katharine Parker

    I am not registered at crate and barrel, but I wish I were for those metallic napkins. Perfect for a fun dinner party. Or just for Tuesday night at home!

    • zana

      If you’re doing Zola or Amazon, you can add external items to those registries as well ;)

      • Katharine Parker

        Yes, that is the advantage of those guys. I didn’t go that route, though–I see the advantage of being able to include external items, but I would have had mostly external items (most of what I’ve registered for is exclusive to the places I registered). And then you miss out on the registry benefits that are exclusive to each place–one place invited me and my fiance to dinner at their associated restaurant. So charming!

      • Katharine Parker

        This is off topic, but thanks for sharing your blog a few weeks ago! Your job search stuff has been really interesting.

        • zana

          There’s so much insider knowledge with the faculty job hunt, and I learned so much, I figured why not broadcast it to the world? ‘Glad you’re finding it interesting!

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  • Nell

    I hate all the standard shower gifts, but I have come up with a standard (and inexpensive solution). Get a really beautiful photo of the couple (or you with the half of the couple you are friends with) – print it, frame it, write an inscription on the back. BAM! Meaningful! And if these guys are going to be away from family for a while – maybe they’d like to decorate their apartment with images of the people they love.

    • S

      Framed photo as a gift is a lovely idea. Caveat: I think a nice framed photo of you WITH the couple is a nice gift, or a nice photo of the couple that you took yourself. I personally wouldn’t give a couple a photo of just them unless I took it myself. If you took it yourself then it’s like, “Look at this beautiful photo of you guys you’ve never seen before that I thought you’d love!” Such a personal, lovely gift. If it’s like, a beautiful photo of just them that someone else took that you found somewhere, the sentiment feels a little creepy or like you’re claiming credit for someone else’s good photo? I also probably wouldn’t JUST give a photo of me with only one half of the couple, because it’s a day for both of them and they’re joint presents. I might give it with something else as well, or give it privately to that half of the couple, though – more of an “Oh my god I can’t believe you’re finally getting married!” sentimental gift than an official wedding gift. (Also framed photos and travel? Glass + suitcase = probably not, but in general I like the idea. A more travel-friendly photo gift could be one of those sturdy electronic photo frames that you hang and it slowly cycles through an album of photos, that way they don’t have to choose what photos to take/display. Personally they’re not my taste but I can see the appeal.)

      • S

        Oh I just realise you were talking about the shower specifically, in which case I retract what I said about not giving a photo of you and only one half of the couple. Assuming it’s a bridal shower for only one half of the couple, I think a nice photo of you and the bride (not the groom! THAT would be creepy, haha) would be perfectly lovely and appropriate. …And now I’m making myself giggle imagining a bride opening a present at her bridal shower and it’s a photo of her second cousin with her fiancé, LOL.

      • Nell

        Oh – wait, sorry, I meant a photo of you WITH the couple. My bad! And photo frames can also be magnets for a fridge or a photo gift you get from Shutterfly.

  • Whitney

    In my friends/family circles, the only people who bring gifts to the wedding are people who didn’t give one at a shower or before the wedding. I think I only received a shower gift plus a wedding gift from one person who attended both. Maybe this is a cultural/regional thing? I’m from Texas.

  • Another Meg
  • Megan

    If she’s changing her name (no assumptions here), I love to get the bride at the shower something with a monogram of her new initials. Monogrammed silver necklaces, a cute tote bag, or cosmetic bag (also great for travels). Marley Lilly does a great assortment of custom monogramming and they’ve been my go to this spring with all the weddings/showers I’m attending!

  • JLily

    Definitely cash (or those awesome gift suggestions–I really appreciate the personal shopping aspect of this response)! I can almost guarantee that they DO NOT want something “meaningful” that is going to need to go into storage when they go abroad again. Cash, definitely, or maybe something edible, or better yet, drinkable(!), that the couple can enjoy but that doesn’t burden them with something they have to keep.

  • Constance

    “Because let’s be real here. If you don’t have a registry, you are telling people, politely, that you want cash.” Uhm, sorry, but no. If I don’t have a registry, I am simply not eliciting gifts. Which doesn’t mean that I won’t be thrilled at receiving one, i.e. “something meaningful” that the gift seeker thought I might enjoy.

  • christinelouise

    Oh man, it’s so tough to know what to do when people don’t register. Just tell us what you want! I’m 100% fine giving a couple cash, but leaving guests *guessing* about what to give seems unfair.

    This company specializes in cash gift registries: https://tendr.com/ — It’s cool because you can write a note telling people what you’ll use the money for AND thank them. Anyway, I just thought it was a nice way (ie. not tacky) to tell your wedding guests that money is, in fact, what you want.

  • Eh

    I have a few weddings this spring (all of my weddings this year are spring so far) and I started stressing about gifts when I noticed that none of them had registries. Then I remembered CASH(!) and I was not stressed any more about wedding gifts. I’m also going to two bridal showers (out of the three weddings) and I’m (personally) not ok with giving money for a shower (with a caveat that I did give a bride cash for a shower because she lived on the opposite side of the country from where she was having her shower and wedding – and I did not want to contribute to her having to ship things home). My go to gift is usually tea and a steeper and/or tea cup (taking into consideration what I know about the bride) so one of the brides is getting that. The other bride is getting one of my favourite cook books because the theme for her shower is “what’s for dinner?”

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    A few thoughts.1) I am inviting Amy March to my wedding because she gives baller gifts. Kidding! Sort of.2) Is it cool not to have a registry at all? Because I would love to just not have one.3) I hate giving cash-only gifts because I feel like I’m telling them, “Your marriage is worth exactly X dollars to me.” And I’m afraid they’re going to sit there and think, “Wow, PAJane only gave us X dollars, and she brought a date, and we spent twice that on their plates. They suck.”My solution is to give money and a small, thoughtful, small, personal gift. Did I mention small? I usually go with a handmade ring dish from one or another artist on Etsy, particularly something that matches their style. When in doubt, go with the colors/theme of their wedding invitations. It’s portable, functional, and if they hate it, they can always tell me it’s always next to their bed upstairs, where I would never see it anyway, so they’ll never feel pressured to use it in front of me. Boom, we’ve blurred the line of just how much I was willing to fork over for their wedding gift.

    • Ashlah

      It’s totally cool to not have a registry, but that’s usually sending the message you’d prefer cash (which you seem not to like? Or maybe just don’t like gifting and are okay with receiving). Just be prepared for everyone to hassle you about not having a registry.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        We just don’t need a ton of stuff! I don’t mind receiving cash (who does?), but it’s probably best to have at least a small registry.

        • Ashlah

          We did a relatively small Amazon registry (as well as one of those cash registries), and it worked really well! We didn’t want to register for a ton of stuff just for the sake of registering for a ton of stuff. I think a small registry is good because it gives options to people who really want to give a physical gift, and it might also give people ideas for what other things they could gift you (like, if you register for baking stuff, maybe they’ll get you their favorite baking gadget. Or camping. Or crafting. Or whatever it is!)

    • Amy March

      Yes, it’s totally fine not to have a registry. But then you’re putting your guests in a position to just give cash, which you don’t like doing, so I don’t really get it?

      Also I’m totes available to attend your wedding :)

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Ahhhh, you’re right, I would totally be telling people to do the thing I hate doing. This is why we talk about it before we do it.

  • Colleen

    My sister and brother-in-law gave us a check and in the card told us to use it to buy a pice of art or memento for our home on our honeymoon. She said she regretted having gone on a honeymoon and not bringing anything back but for a bottle opener they bought in a moment of need. It was really sweet and helped us to have more fun on our honeymoon visiting local shops and galleries/studios trying to figure out something that best summed up our experience.

  • Khanna Chococraft

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