The Only Wedding Gift Guide You’ll Ever Need

Whether it's for a cousin, coworker, or close friend, here are the only six tips you need to know about giving great wedding gifts.
by Hallie Goodman

Respect the Registry

Though your first instinct might be to go rogue (hey, everybody wants to be unique), we suggest thinking twice before shopping outside of the registry. Think of it as a (very long) letter to Santa. When you were a kid, were you hoping to be surprised? No way! You were hoping to get the things on your wish list. Well, that's exactly how the bride and groom feel about the list they spent hours putting together. Sure, if you're crazy-close with the bride or groom and have a great out-of-the-box idea you know they'll love, then by all means, go for it. Not positive? Better make friends with good-old Reg.

Adjust Your Attitude

When it comes time to shop, it can be a bit difficult to get excited about buying, say...a toaster. But guess what? That's an item that's likely to get used every single day. The same goes for a place setting of flatware. Sexy? Not really. Sure to be appreciated? You bet. Take a second to think about the items you couldn't live without in your own home (think: your buttery-soft sheets, or that killer coffeemaker) and let that guide your gifting. Suddenly, buying a household basic will feel far less impersonal and, well...basic.

Combine Forces

Wish your gift could make a bigger splash, but don't have the dough to make it happen solo? If you've got friends or family heading to the same wedding, consider going in on a registry dream item. Think big: A group of three or four guests could go in on a great grill -- while a whole family could give something major, like a refrigerator.

Cash Is Cool

Wondering if it's proper to send moola as a present? Not only does it pass the etiquette smell test, but with more and more couples financing their own nuptials, it's bound to be met with smiles. Rule of thumb: Send a check in advance of the ceremony, so you won't have to worry about possible name changes.

Shop and Ship

These days, many brides and grooms tie the knot far from home, and the logistics of hauling back a big pile of loot after the wedding can be daunting (not to mention expensive). Do the couple-to-be a solid by having presents delivered directly to their residence (if they aren't already roomies, have it sent to the home of the bride). Ready for another hot tip? Provided the bride has registered there, most stores will wrap and ship the gift for you. Can you say painless?

Don't Dawdle

That one-year rule? We're not really feeling it. While etiquette once dictated that guests had a full year postwedding to gift the happy couple, the reality is, anything beyond six months is likely to seem rude. If you're slammed with multiple weddings this season and need to stagger your gift buying (is that your wallet we hear, begging for a time-out?), feel free to space out your purchases by a month or two. But we vote for giving a smaller, more affordable gift on time.

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