9 of the Worst Wedding Gifts You Should Avoid at All Costs

Don't come away with egg (or wedding cake) on your face.
The 9 Worst Wedding Gifts You Could Possibly Give
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Alyssa Longobucco
by Alyssa Longobucco
Updated Jun 15, 2023

It's not hard to be a good wedding guest (despite any horror stories). There are some cardinal rules: RSVP on time, don't wear white and don't mess up the gift—then you're good. However, even with handy services like The Knot Registry, some guests still buy the worst wedding gifts.

We're not referring to choosing the wrong color bath towel here, either. We're talking about gifts that are uncomfortable, unwelcome or even downright rude—jeopardizing your friendship with the to-be-wed couple (not to mention your reputation as a guest). Looking to avoid any gifting faux paus? You've come to the right place. Below, we're rounding up some bad wedding gifts that you should avoid at all costs—along with some insight from couples who were on the receiving end of such atrocities. While there certainly are some exceptions to the below "rules," they're a good place to start (an even better place is the couple's registry) when shopping for the soonlyweds in your life. The last thing you want is to burden them with the task of having to return your wedding gift after the honeymoon. You want a nice thank-you card, don't you? Well, let's dive in.

1. Wedding Day Decor

Chances are, your friends have been dreaming of the details of their big day for many months—and we're certain they've covered all the bases when it comes to wedding day decor and planning. Unless you are a seasoned wedding planner whom they've hired to assist with their big day, don't get them any event decor. Even the most well-intentioned set of "Mr. and Mr." signs or a personalized card box can seriously upend their style scheme and they'll resent feeling like they have to keep your gift on display during their ceremony or reception. Let's leave the decorating to the experts, shall we?

2. Anything Regifted

Maybe you forgot their wedding shower was coming up or maybe you just fancy yourself a thrifty shopper—either way, regifted items are a no-go. Frankly, there's just no way to go about regifting an item gracefully, especially if it's something you received (and didn't want) for your own nuptials. "At my shower, I had a friend regift a set of coffee cups that I had literally watched her open at her own party not even six months ago," says one recently-wedded bride we spoke to, who chose to remain anonymous. "The worst part was she didn't realize the original card was still tucked in the box—it was really uncomfortable." Our advice? Buy your loved one something new (off their own wish list, preferably; here's how to find their registry on The Knot) and deal with rehoming your unwanted items in a different way.

3. A Pet

It's hard to believe we even have to put this on our list, but it has—indeed—happened before. OG's will remember Jim and Pam's wedding in "The Office," where Dwight bought them all the accouterments for turtle stew—including said reptiles, which then escaped during the main event. While we're not assuming anyone will go that drastic, please know that gifting a newlywed couple any form of a pet (no matter how cute) is a bad idea. Pets come with a lot of care needs and a decent financial burden, so it's never your place to assume a couple is ready to take that on, even if they mentioned they might want to look into it after the wedding.

4. Cheaper Registry Knockoffs

When it comes to buying the perfect wedding gift, shopping a couple's registry is always the way to go. And by that we mean actually shopping their registry, not using it for inspiration and buying items that are cheaper or ones you think are better. If a couple wish-listed a certain set of pans or knives, you can trust that they've done their research and maybe have even tested said items. Translation: They want the exact picks they put on their registry, not the sort of similar set you found for 50 percent off online. "Family friends told us they bought our coffee machine, so we marked it as purchased on our registry," said one engaged duo we spoke to. "Turns out, they got us a completely different model that didn't have the capabilities we wanted. It was disappointing and hard feeling ungrateful for a gift, which wasn't really the point. Now we're hoping to do enough gift returns to buy ourselves the version we actually wanted."

5. Anything DIY'd

We appreciate a crafty ethos just as much as the next person, but there is a time and a place for a DIY project. Unless you're a total pro (as in, you have your own successful business), it's best to steer clear of any handmade gifts for to-be-married couples. While these aren't necessarily considered bad or rude wedding gifts, they're likely something a couple would appreciate on a less-important occasion. Save the embroidery hoops and yarn for an upcoming birthday and opt for more traditional wedding gift ideas for this major milestone.

6. Gag or Inappropriate Gifts

Picture this: You're at your wedding shower, surrounded by dozens of your closest friends and family, and you open up a gag gift that makes everyone from your mom to great aunt Sally blush. Cringe, right? There is totally a time and place for racier wedding gifts (bach parties come to mind), but traditional wedding celebrations (think: a shower, engagement party or wedding day) are not it. Skip out on gifting rude wedding gifts or anything that has the potential to embarrass the couple. This includes, but is not limited to, things like lingerie, intimate toys, racy books, profanity-laden T-shirts and even something as innocuous as a rubber spider, if they happen to suffer from arachnophobia.

7. Relationship-Health or Self-Help Items

Life as an engaged or newlywed couple comes with a lot of outside advice. Most of it is well-meaning, but somewhere between "don't go to bed angry" and "happy wife, happy life," the to-be-wed couple is probably ready to be done with other people's opinions. Do you know what would be a really bad wedding gift? Anything that adds to that noise. Avoid any gifts that tread into self-help or relationship-health territory, like books, courses and journals. At best, you'll further fatigue the couple; at worst, you may even insult them. "We received several relationship 'help' books in the lead-up to our wedding and, honestly, they were such a downer," said a recently-married couple we spoke to. "I'm sure there were no ill intentions with the gifts, but they made us feel like we were already failing at the whole marriage thing, or that people were trying to tell us something."

8. An Item for Half of the Couple

At the end of the day, a marriage is between two people—even if you're only close with one member of the couple. Regardless of whether or not you know much about your friend or family member's partner, you should still shop for a wedding gift with them in mind. One of the worst wedding gifts you can give is something that obviously caters to just one of the to-be-weds, leaving the other feeling like an afterthought. If a gift is on a couple's registry, you can assume that the two of them have picked it out together—or at the very least agreed upon it—and therefore, is something they'll both be able to enjoy. Skip gifts that are specific to just one person's hobby (unless they appear on the registry) or anything that nods to a niche inside joke between you and the member of the couple you're closer to.

9. Anything Baby Related

When—and whether—to start a family is an incredibly personal decision for every couple and one they likely don't want to discuss with their entire guest list anytime soon. For this reason (and so many others), we're begging you to avoid any rude wedding gifts that center around having children. While we're at it, consider taking this advice to heart when it comes to conversation topics at wedding-related events, too. Compliment the flowers, tell them both how amazing they look, toast with their signature drink—basically, do anything besides asking them when they'll have children.

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