The Non-Obvious Wedding Gift Guide
The items every couples really wants.
Updated Apr 29, 2019 5:15 PM
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Creating a wedding registry is one of the most fun parts of the prenuptial process. However, it’s also a pretty big undertaking—considering what you’ll need to start your life together. No disrespect to previous generations, but the days when it was all about kitchen gear and servingware are in the past. And while there’s nothing wrong with going the traditional route, speaking for myself and many modern brides, a blender and slow cooker simply won’t suffice.
As someone getting hitched next year, this assignment particularly appealed to me. Basically, I was thrilled to have a work-related excuse to gather first-hand intel from my friends who had gone through this before.
So, I decided to poll my married pals—one of whom is a real-deal wedding planner, so that’s a plus—to find out what stuff they wish had wound up on their registry as well as the best gifts they got from thoughtful friends and family…and I’m bringing all their wisdom to you.
(Before moving on, I want to share some stellar tips that I heard time and time again: First, make sure your hubby-to-be is involved in the creation of your registry. Second—this is perhaps my favorite advice—add things that you really want and need, not just what you think is appropriate. Third, don’t limit yourself based on price. If you’re dying for something major, such as a piece of art or a beautiful mirror, put it on the list. You can always have multiple people go in on a gift.)
Whether you’re the bride tying the knot in the next couple of months or a wedding guest, scroll on for the items every newlywed really desires.
Across the board, the biggest thing couples wish they’d registered for was luggage. “We ended up using store credit to purchase it and was one of the better purchases we made.” – Linds
“It was the BEST registry decision ever. People were really excited to get it for us—thinking they were helping our honeymoon—and that was the number one piece of advice I got from our consultant at Bloomingdales.” – Kate
Say ta-ta to boring, old bags. Away is a prime example. Between teaming up with beloved travel photographer Gray Malin to Kode With Klossy, a collaboration with supermodel Karlie Kloss, the millennial-minded company has taken suitcases to new heights—both in terms of technology and style.
And Rimowa partnered with designer Virgil Abloh to create a capsule collection of transparent polycarbonate carry-on cases that rolled out in June of this year. The 120-year-old German luggage brand also makes stickers so jet-setters can track their journeys around the globe.
Visa or American Express Gift Cards
Asking for cash may be a bit uncouth, but you can totally request gift cards. A small nuance but a way to scoot around social protocol, nonetheless.
“I had a registry. And, of course, many of the items I do use—especially in the cooking category—but looking back on it, I would have much rather preferred a Visa or American Express gift card. That way, we could buy new towels, sheets, etc. when we needed them down the road.” – Brittani
Flights add up, especially if you want to fly in first-class style. So allowing guests to contribute to your honeymoon fund is a solid idea. I’m a big fan of Zola for this reason. Couples can break the registry into sections. The cash fund category includes an option for “round-trip airfare.” You can specify how much you want and guests can contribute any denomination. The site also has gift cards to Delta and Southwest.
Hotel Gift Cards
“I’m so grateful that we registered for gift cards to the hotels we were staying at for our honeymoon. They were huge in getting our bar bill down.” – Alex
“My husband wished we had put honeymoon excursions on our registry.” – Sara
Zola has an option to select activities, ranging from surfing lessons and snorkeling to museum tours and spa facials. How cool is that?
Rugged types will love this. You can register for backpacking, camping, and skiing equipment. Another option is to specify an amount that you want to put towards gear for your favorite activities.
“Experiential gifts—from cooking classes to mixology sessions—are one thing I wish we would have done. Anthony and I prefer those types of presents much more so that we have fun activities to do together!” – Brittani
Tasting Menu Dining Experience
“Then we had one set of friends buy us a tasting menu dining experience at a restaurant in Brooklyn and they had called ahead and done a beer and wine pairing for us at the restaurant too—so that was really sweet.” – Kate
Restaurant Gift Cards
“We also got a few gift cards to nice restaurants in the city, that have ended up being some of our most fun nights out.” – Linds
I actually bought Carolyn a certificate to Eataly for her wedding. I liked the fact that they could use for dinner, gourmet groceries, or even cookbooks.
Wedding Photo Book
Photo books are among the most meaningful gifts. “Ours was very pricey. I know a lot of people don’t get it as part of their wedding package these days” – Alex
Artifact Uprising makes gorgeous albums that are super high-end looking without being crazy expensive. Plus, you can choose from five sizes and 15 colors, including three metallics. (To anyone attending my wedding, take note!)
Framed Wedding Announcement
“My colleague bought us a tray with our wedding announcement and save the date on it, from Marye Kelley. It’s beautiful.” – Kate
Something so personal is sure to be a cherished keepsake that will last a lifetime.
“After our wedding, we had so many photos we wanted to display around our house and the nicer frames are usually quite expensive.” – Nicole
Drawing of the Venue
“This was amazing and such a treat. Eric, Bobby, and Chelsea got us a mounted drawing of the wedding tent by James Gulliver Hancock. It’s awesome and I have given another friend the same present because I loved it so much.” – Carolyn
Individualized presents show an extra level of thoughtfulness. Consider made-to-order pottery.
A monthly subscription, such a vino or hot sauce of the month club (if they’re a particularly fiery duo), is genius.
On a similar note, gifting couples really wonderful vino, perhaps something they’d enjoy on a wedding anniversary (hint hint) is a great idea.
“One of Kevin’s uncles got us 12 bottles of really nice wine that we have saved and drink on special occasions” – Carolyn
“One interesting thing we did was go to an art gallery and pick out a painting that we loved. My husband’s aunt and two uncles split the cost of this as their gift to us.” – Nicole
Cashmere Throw Blanket
“One person went off-registry and got us a monogrammed throw that I absolutely adore.” – Kate
Pro tip: William Sonoma makes gorgeous 520-gram-weight cashmere blankets that are sumptuously soft and come in a range of styles.
Waste Paper Baskets
Trash cans don’t get a lot of attention, but they are a household essential. So why not gift friends elevated versions? “And I love the nice waste paper baskets that we registered for at Scully & Scully.” – Kate
Quick aside: When Alex got married, I bought her a stainless vessel (similar to this one from Pottery Barn) and always felt bad that it was my wedding gift to her…even though she’s mentioned how much she liked it many times over the years. Having heard this opinion, not just from Kate, but from other brides, gave me solace in my decision.
“I love all of our kitchen applications—especially our juicer—and use it all the time. I’m glad we registered for so much of that stuff.” – Natalie
Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer B6000W earns rave reviews from consumers.
“I ended up returning a few of the cookware things (I registered for way too muchle creuset
and got all new feather down pillows for our bed. So that’s the gift that keeps on giving.” – Kate
Adult gatherings and nights spent chilling at home, call for a grown-up sound system. Sonos smart speakers literally rock.
Philanthropic gifting is becoming more of a nuptial trend. “The last three wedding we were invited to did not have a registry and instead asked for donations to be made to the charities of their choice.” – Nicole
Couples can also register for GlobalGiving gift cards, which lets do-gooders contribute a cause that particularly meaningful to them, such as No Kid Hungry or Save the Whales. There’s even a Project of the Month Club, which lets you support 12 deserving organizations.
HitchSwitch Name Change Gift Card
The process of legally changing your name can be daunting, not to mention complicated. Online concierge serves like HitchSwitch make it easy for newlyweds. The company facilitates everything from passport photos and paperwork to online accounts.
Want more registry and gift ideas?