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With wedding season upon us, I thought it was time to share some gift-giving secrets from a fellow baller-on-a-budget, as well as a former bride! Many wedding guests feel the strain on their wallets just to attend, but shelling out big bucks for a fancy gift isn’t necessary if you plan ahead!
Most couples these days register with at least one major retailer, and many choose a few different options. If you’re watching your wallet this wedding season, the secret to registry shopping is to get on there EARLY – ideally as soon as you receive your Save the Date or Invitation with the website and registry information. There tends to be a pattern for the most reasonably priced gifts to go first, as well as the “fun” stuff – guests seem to enjoy buying colorful kitchen gadgets over a second set of sheets, so getting on there early is key to having options.
One huge benefit to shopping on the registry is getting them something you know they like as opposed to having to guess; this takes some of the pressure off, and ensures that you’re getting them something they’ve chosen themselves. The added benefit to you is that buying a gift off the registry early spreads out your own “wedding expenses”, making it less of a burden as the date approaches. Many registries give you the option of sending the gift when you buy it, or waiting until the wedding, but speaking from my own experience it was really fun to get some of our wedding gifts early on!Personalized Gifts
If you’re looking for a more personal touch but aren’t going the DIY route, there are a ton of great gifts online that allow you to personalize them for the couple. Using their last name, wedding date, favorite teams, etc. you can find some really unique ideas; I’ve seen everything from personalized cutting boards to framed maps of their hometowns and the wedding location. The trick again here is to start shopping early; many of these gifts require several weeks to make & ship, so waiting until the last minute gives you fewer options in this category.
The tough thing about personalized gifts is getting them something that won’t get tucked away in a closet somewhere after the wedding; there are a lot of fabulous gifts out there, but ask yourself before buying whether this is something they’ll actually use or want to look at every day. Home décor items are especially tricky since not everyone has the same style, but as long as you keep the couple in mind this can be a great way to get them something fun and personal, while staying within your budget. Some friends of ours got us personalized beer glasses, and we use them all the time!DIY
If you’re crafty and are looking to go the DIY route, this is a great way to give a personal gift without breaking the bank! Looking for inspiration online is a great way to get started as there are a ton of great ideas out there, just make sure you keep the couple in mind again – you want your gift to be used or displayed, not tucked away! I’ve seen everything from coasters using maps of their various travels to pallets turned into wine racks; my husband’s aunt even made us fridge magnets out of our own wedding invitations, which we absolutely love! Fun ideas that are personal and useful are a great way to show the couple you care while saving some money.Cash
While easily the least creative or personal idea on the list, you simply can’t go wrong with cash. I haven’t met a couple yet that didn’t appreciate this simple gift for it’s sheer usefulness in starting their lives together. The best part is that you can give exactly what you can afford to, and you know it won’t get tucked away in a cupboard somewhere to be forgotten. This is also a great option for any last-minute shoppers, since this gift requires no advance planning except maybe a quick trip to the ATM. If you’re looking for a slightly more personal way to give cash, many couples have an option on their website or registry to contribute toward their honeymoon fund; either way, cash will never go unappreciated by the newlyweds!
The bottom line is that your presence in their lives is the best gift, and your friends or family wouldn’t want you stressing over a gift you can’t afford, so keep it simple. If you truly can’t afford a gift, a card is always welcome and lets the couple know you’ve thought of them, which is what’s important. So put on your dancing shoes and enjoy the fun, knowing that you’re staying on track with your financial goals and showing the people you love that you care!