1 What Did You Spend on Your Last Wedding Gift? | The Billfold

What Did You Spend on Your Last Wedding Gift?

Yo, internet. What’d you spend on your last wedding gift? Why did you spend that amount of money? What is your wedding gift philosophy? Let’s gab.

Matt Langer:

I just bought a wedding gift last week actually! And I spent … I spent like three hundred dollars on it? But it’s ok because the bride’s a close friend. (I mean, ok, fine, yes, to be fair I don’t think I bought gifts for either of my parents’ remarriages? Or for either of my older sister’s two weddings? But I’m a Grown Up now, so.) But in any event, I’m a strict by-the-registry kind of shopper, and, well, weeks earlier I’d put some All-Clad in my cart but there was some sort of bug and the Sur La Table machines told me I couldn’t check out so I went grocery shopping instead and promptly forgot about it until the day before the ceremony when—surprise!—all four registries had been thoroughly picked over and all that remained was something called a “drinking table” from Crate & Barrel, which I decided I was ok with (because: drinking). Now, I do generally kind of hate this whole business? I mean, marriage is crap, really, on so many levels, but no more so than in this regard, this idea that should you decide to enter into what has historically speaking been a thoroughly bullshit institution then people will buy you all this stuff! Which: hooey. Crap. Total capitalist garbage. Ban it dead. HOWEVER: This is no excuse not to come with a gift! They’re throwing a nice party and serving you a nice dinner and you’re a good friend and good friends do nice things for other good friends, even when those friends do silly things like get married.

Emily Gould:

I bought a wedding gift last week and spent about $60 including shipping. The wedding took place last May and I was motivated to give it by that Times article that made me panic that my friends all hate me.

It’s weird, I am in general a great gift-giver and I love giving gifts. But wedding gifts are somehow something I’m extremely bad at. There are so many other costs associated with attending a wedding, especially if you’re in the wedding party or it’s a destination wedding, and because most people aren’t rich enough to get married in NYC almost every wedding I’ve been to has been a destination wedding. I know it’s a token and sentimental and that people are generally understanding, but somehow adding a salad spinner to the $450 hotel, $200 dress and $800 plane ticket tends to be the straw that breaks this camel’s back. But that’s both irrational and kind of dickish of me. I’m trying to be better.

People who get annoyed when they don’t receive gifts, though, need to reexamine their relationship to material things and think about the definition of the word “gift.”  

Christian Brown:

Last wedding gift I got was a donation to a pro-gay-rights charity, if that counts. If you want something physical, it was a waffle maker. Actually, I also got my buddy a 100 year old toy stuffed monkey, that looks like this. I found it at a yard sale on the same block as my friend’s apartment, as I was walking back from the liquor store on the day of the wedding. It cost 15 dollars, and belonged to the seller’s grandfather, and now it stands as an eternal reminder of the sanctity of marriage.

I am pretty opposed to wedding gifts, especially for people old enough that they’ve been living as adults for a while—it seems like once you’ve lived on your own, it’s harder to justify asking for things like cookware and what have you. I think more often than not a registry turns into an aspirational checklist. “We are not REALLY adults unless we have a panini press!” or whatever. And it’s reinforced by how balls expensive weddings are, which makes behavior you would not engage in for any other major life event/party seem suddenly economically reasonable. I think I’ve given a gift for every wedding I’ve been to, but some of them were donations to charities instead of gold-edged plates or whatever. Likewise, when I got married, we did not have a registry, and we told people they didn’t have to get us anything (especially since so many guests flew in from across the country) and that if they DID get us something, it could be a charitable donation. This didn’t stop people from coming up with very nice gifts, but made it feel a bit less transactional.

Nozlee Samadzadeh:

I will come out and say it: Wedding registries are such bullshit. Unless you actually have never lived with your future spouse and actually don’t have any house stuff, why is it “traditional” for me to bankroll your dumb expensive towels and dumb espresso machine and dumb Kitchenaid mixer that, let’s be real, you won’t really use because we all know you don’t cook? Also anything Le Creuset that isn’t a dutch oven is a total scam, and yet here you are asking for a $120 skillet in blue (oh sorry, “Caribbean”) to match the rest of the kitchen stuff you don’t need (or better, that should be replaced by a $25 Lodge skillet). Registries are just this really awful combination of greed and societal expectations and wishful thinking.

That said, they can be done well: A registry full of ~$40 things that you genuinely need and will use (I recently bought a set of Weck canning jars off a friend’s registry, which I know she’ll actually use forever) is a nice way to let everyone contribute to your future life. I just think opting out—because you can’t afford it (why would anyone want their friends to go into debt for them?), because you don’t know the person that well (if you can’t go, an invite does not mean you have to purchase a gift), or really for any other reason—should always be an option.

Weddings are not a transaction—a night of food and booze (oh, and true love) in exchange for an overly ornate crystal butter dish—but registries make them feel that way. That’s an ugly feeling.

Jon Custer:

I always buy bar stuff from wedding registries because I know my friends will use it, and think of me when they use it. I’ve probably bought about 10 cocktail sets for different people so far, and I’ll usually throw in a wine rack or some beer glasses to get up to around $50-60, which is what I can afford to spend right now. I don’t think I would ever not get a gift if I were going to someone’s wedding, but that’s really only because I can afford to—if I were really poor maybe I wouldn’t. I’ve been broke most of my adult life so that’s how most of my friends know me anyway. Amusingly, when we sent our wedding announcements, a friend whose wedding we attended recently sent a check for almost exactly the amount of the gifts we got them. Not sure if this was an accident or just their characteristic precision.

Our wedding was very low-key and a bit hastily planned, so we mostly got cash from various relatives. My mom donated the wedding ring and my dad sent me cash for a new suit, and they also paid for a hotel room for us for two nights, which was actually great since my wife loves staying in hotels and that meant her mom could save money by staying in our apartment. And then my mom picked up the tab for the dinner (I can’t remember if I actually chipped in or not, but I meant to pay for half of it. I think it came to about $600.) My wife’s mom bought my wedding band, plus her own expensive plane ticket to the U.S. The only other people at our wedding were my aunt and uncle, who got us a very nice silver serving platter, my wife’s friend, who got us a couple of small, useful kitchen gadgets, and two of my friends, who I think wrote a check. We didn’t judge anyone: I was very happy that our friends and family were able to join us, and also happy about receiving checks, usually in the $30-50 range. My feelings might be different if we had spent $10,000 or $20,000 on the wedding, though.

Taylor Jenkins Reid:

The last wedding gift I purchased:I bought my old friend from high school a planter on her Amazon registry. I think it was sixty or seventy dollars.

When my husband and I got married, our friends were all still in their early or mid-twenties and we didn’t judge any of the gifts. We were thankful for any gesture. But now we are older and when I go to weddings I feel like a heel if I don’t spend something significant. Basically, I think the gifts get grander the older the peer group. A picture frame is okay when you’re 23, but once you near 30, it seems tacky.

Meghan Nesmith:

I just wrote a dear friend and her new husband a cheque for $50. This feels gross and smacks of laziness and a lack of creativity, but they wanted money. I’ve never done that before—just given cash—although I completely understand why, for some couples, this would be desirable. They want to buy a house. I’d like to buy them a house! But I am unemployed, so here, friends, please take this cheque printed with my address from five years ago that might one day buy you a doorknob. $50 seems paltry to me. I’m writing a nice card. I hope they understand. It’s the thought that counts? That’s how I’ve operated over the past few wedding-y years: Put as much love and and creativity and generosity of spirit into the gift—into the entire EVENT—as you can muster. The actual dollar figure is not that important. My social circle is pretty much uniformly young-ish and financially strapped and for that reason, were I to ever get married (hahaha), I would not expect or even want gifts of any serious monetary value from any of my friends. Plus that’s not really the point? Is it? Of getting married? There’s something sort of off to me about the entire idea of wedding gifts when you break it down—we give you something because you found someone who wants to love you and your complexes forever and ever. Not to say I don’t feel compelled to celebrate that love, and that whole definition is an oversimplification, to be sure, and I’m totally alone, so whatever, but still—I imagine what it might feel like to have that, to have that kind of love, and then to have all of your community show up to witness it, and I would hope—maybe—that that would be enough? 

Zan Romanoff:

The last gift I gave was $50 towards their honeymoon because I was lazy about getting them a gift and by the time I got around to it everything good on the registry was taken. (I was planning on getting them a fancy humidifier but someone else beat me to it.) I felt a little cheap but I also flew out for the wedding/am deeply underemployed so that was all I could afford. I also bought them both drinks at the hotel bar after the party, so.

Chiara Atik:
Oh my god NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO if this were a TV show this would be the email I get out of the blue that is my past coming back to haunt me. I guess it’s time to come clean. 

I went to a wedding in 2011. And I had NO idea what to get the couple because it seemed, to me, like they had everything, and excellent taste, and the means to get whatever they wanted, and anything I could think of within my budget was just like. Embarrassing. Like, I was not going to be the person who showed up with a shitty serving platter from Crate and Barrel, when (I imagined), the other guests would be bringing things like, I dunno, an early Basquiat.

So I decided to rely on the etiquette (urban legend?) that you have a year to give a gift. And I hoped that, within the next 12 months, inspiration (and a small windfall) would strike. 

I just had it in my head that I had to get them something really special—that getting the perfect gift would make up for (what I saw as) the inadequacies of what I could actually afford to spend. Like, if I couldn’t afford to get them something amazing so at least I could get them something unique, or sort of hard to get.

Except…..I didn’t. And it’s been two years. And I’ve had both the means and the opportunity.

There are a billion things that I could have gotten them in the past two years, and I’m sure they would have been pleased with any one of them. This is not a snobby, persnickety couple, by the way! This is a couple that would have been touched—or at least, graceful enough to pretend to be—with a handwritten poem.

The more time passes, the more ashamed I am, the BIGGER the gift has to be to make up for its unexplained two year delay. (And it’s also affected my relationship with the couple because I am EMBARRASSED about this unspoken faux-pas.) 

I really do think about it all the time. 

I have to get them something!

It’s got to be good, at this point. 

Like, really good.

And I’ve definitely, humiliatingly learned my lesson. Not to be snobby about wedding gifts. A Crate and Barrel platter, a Crate and Barrel fork, would have been far more elegant and gracious than just showing up to their wedding and never giving them anything at all. 

Allison Cintins:

I believe the last wedding present I bought was a ridiculous print involving bears and mittens for a friend of mine and his now-wife (NSFW). It’s by Heather Buchanan, who is really talented and has a great sense of humor with her art (etsy shout out: http://www.etsy.com/shop/HeatherBuchanan). It’s not all weird bear/mitten porn!

I also gave them some cold hard cash since the print was only $20. I believe I spent about $50 in total. I didn’t feel bad giving them some seriously crazy wall art and cash because I’ve known the groom forever and I knew he’d appreciate it. 

My wedding gift giving philosophy in general is to go off the registry if you know the couple well and stay on the registry if you don’t. I also decide how much to spend based on how well I know (and like) the couple, as well as my current financial situation. Registries in general are weird things! I would love to always surprise the couple, but it can be difficult. I always, always feel compelled to give a gift, but I do find it obnoxious when people set up things like honeymoon funds or put ridiculously expensive items on their registries (I’m here to help you stock up on kitchen accessories, not furnish your house). Giving to charity funds is a nice alternative.

I also don’t really understand why cash is looked down upon in certain parts of this country. Personally, I think it’s what most people need after a huge wedding. It’s good everywhere. I WOULD hope that my parents and closest friends would know me well enough to buy me something they know my future husband and I would enjoy, but I’ll never scoff at money.

For me, I figure I’ll be pretty old (by wedding standards) if and when I get married and probably won’t need many things that most younger couples ask for. I also have this idealistic notion that I’ll be magically rich and all set by then, so I’ll gladly accept anything (or nothing!) at that point. Ultimately, I want my wedding to be fun for guests, not financially draining or stressful. 

Audrey Ference:
I usually buy off the registry because I am lazy, and, due to the niceness of the gifts I got at my own wedding, have been shamed into upping my gift amount from $60 to $150-$200. Maybe that’s just getting older, also, I dunno. I completely did not judge at all the gifts I got (people were so kind!). Here is a weird thing to be aware of: If you don’t get a thank you note from some, follow up! I know it feels like a dick move but there was someone I am prettttty sure got me a gift (because they are not the sort of person to forget) but I never got it, and there’s no polite way to be like “I never got your gift, did you send one.” Which, to reiterate, it would’ve been fine if they didn’t. But! My mom got my cousin a KitchenAid mixer (I know my mom is the best) and there was some shipping issue and it never got sent, but my mom got charged, and it’s only through a series of coincidences that both my mom and my cousin realized what happened and fixed the problem. Otherwise my mom would be out 250 bucks while my cousin wouldn’t have gotten her nice mixer! So don’t feel weird about following up with someone you’ve had a gift mailed to if you don’t hear a thank you from them, because it possibly never arrived.

Just give money. Always money. My cousin got married last year and we gave a thousand, they’re young and broke and used it to get some kind of hairball removal surgery for their cat.

Brendan O’Connor:

I’ve never bought a wedding gift. The only wedding I have been to as An Adult was my gf’s bro’s wedding and I was procrastinating on buying him and his wife a gift and then a couple months later we broke up and I just never bought a gift.

Jia Tolentino:

I’m currently behind on wedding gifts, so this question is giving me a serious case of mild but inexorable “you really do owe friend X a long, kind, thoughtful email” shame. Which I guess is equating a wedding gift to a nice long email, but maybe that’s fair? Both are tokens of affection; one takes no money but lots of time, one takes no time but lots of money.

Anyway, my boyfriend and I have been invited to eleven weddings this year, about half for his friends and half for mine, so someone please tell me how to stay alive with this. For the most part, we’ve split up our attendance and gift duties accordingly as to not go bankrupt (he is doing a very nice guy thing and just sending everyone checks). But I grew up in Texas so I’m pretty serious about certain areas of etiquette (always send paper thank-you notes, etc), and I definitely think the gift is obligatory. I was considering not sending one for the first time this summer (to a girl I went to high school with, who I’ve lost touch with to the point that I don’t even know her current email), but I think the shame would eventually overtake me; I still feel super guilty about not sending thank-you notes about a big collective birthday present I got a few years ago. I usually go on-registry, $50-100 as I can afford, or else send the couple this awesome picnic backpack!


86 Comments / Post A Comment

Caitlin with a C (#3,578)

I have been to a bunch of not-best-but-good-friends’ weddings in the past few years. So… for those guys, I get a $100 gift card to the place where they registered, so they can pick up the things they wanted most from what they didn’t get as gifts. For family/really close friends, I get something more specific to them. I think the last time we did this it was serious tailgating gear for SSO’s best friend from college.

fennel (#2,494)

@Caitlin with a C

that’s so smart, the gift card so they can get what they most want of what wasn’t bought on the registry!

greenhumble (#3,010)

For a family member’s wedding I did not get them a gift, but I did dog-sit for them for three weeks while they went on their honeymoon, so I was kind of counting that as my gift. I still feel bad I didn’t even give them a card though.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@greenhumble I registered for honeymoon cat sitting, and someone offered to sit my cat, and it was awesome. It totally counts as a gift.

selenana (#673)

@greenhumble Three weeks’ dog sitting saved them a few hundred bucks of having to hire someone. I would be so fucking jazzed if someone offered me free pet sitting as a gift.

Jon0x9Richard76 (#6,075)

@greenhumble best site find dsw coupons up to 70% off.

Oh my neighbors are getting married right now and there is a constant stream of Crate & Barrel boxes coming into our building. I like to go down when they’re writing thank you cards on the patio and distract them with beer, that’s kind of like a gift right?

Allison (#4,509)

Like $35 on some Cruset baking dish. It was oh, two days before the wedding and it was the least dumb thing left on the registry. (How many cupcake carriers/display things do you really need?)

This is why my mom handles the gifts at family events. Last time she just wrote a check they could put towards a downpayment on a house.

deepomega (#22)

Nozlee is correct about Le Creuset, but fails to mention that their dutch ovens are ON FUCKING POINT.

nzle (#291)

@deepomega TOTALLY AGREED. But man, those dumb needlessly expensive ramekins and butter warmers and skillets and spatulas and spoon rests and blah blah blah drive me nuts.

garli (#4,150)

@deepomega Right? I love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven. Also I live 45 minutes from an outlet so all of my friends who’s weddings are drivable get outlet Le Cruset. (Everything I own is also from the outlet and works great)

@garli Do they sell the dutch ovens at outlets (I live near DC, so the Leesburg store isn’t unbearably far)? I can’t really stomach the idea of spending that much on a single pot, and I’m eyeing the $50 Lodge dutch oven instead, but I might be willing to get the Le Creuset if it’s already slightly scuffed and on discount.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@bowtiesarecool Sometimes they show up at TJ Maxx. Also any enameled one will be fine, so…

@bowtiesarecool The Lodge works just fine.

Why would someone buy a Le Creuset ramekin? WHY?

garli (#4,150)

@bowtiesarecool They totally do but a lot of the time it’s like LAST YEAR’S PALE BLUE WHICH IS EVER SO SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FROM THIS YEAR’S. Which means by the 100th time you put them in the oven you won’t be able to tell them apart. Or the logo is slightly off perfect, or there’s a minor ding on the lid or some where you’ll never notice.

loren smith (#2,300)

@bowtiesarecool I <3 my Lodge set. I got a whole box set (small and large skillet, dutch oven, round griddle) super cheap at a camping supply store. It’s all the frying pans you need! Though that hasn’t stopped me from buying more cast iron at thrift shops and refinishing it.

hellonheels (#1,407)

@deepomega I actually disagree…at present my entire supply of cookware consists of a cast-iron skillet, an enameled saucepan, and a stockpot, all three of which are Le Creuset, and they are a million times better than the shitty pots and pans I had before I moved cross country. Worth every penny, especially if you get them on sales from the outlet or cutleryandmore.com.

squishycat (#3,000)

@deepomega I feel like basically all the the enameled cast iron pots are worth it, and their enameled lasagna/roasting pan is THE GREATEST and I use it for everything. (Almost all of my Le Creuset is from an outlet, and it doesn’t match.)

Oh also I have a tagine and it’s awesome, too.

sony_b (#225)

@bowtiesarecool There are several Le Creuset outlets in CA, and I’ve purchased seconds for 50% off. They usually have a visual flaw of some kind (that I usually can’t see without a microscope) and are still carry the full lifetime warranty. They also do discounts for buying multiple “pieces” – and they count the pot and the lid as two pieces in those discounts. I went in with a friend and a plan once and spent an asinine amount of money but saved close to a grand all told. If anyone wants to expand upon the classic dutch oven, I highly recommend the casserole with the lid – you can use it as a frying pan or a casserole dish. I prefer to fry without the long handle anyway, it’s harder to accidentally knock the pan around.

Beaks (#3,488)

@squishycat If you ever find yourself looking for nice looking/ less spendy roasting cookware, cazuelas are amazing. Gorgeous terracotta, and once you break them in you can use them on the oven and stovetop. The giant ones on La Tienda are still less than $50. They’re the perfect oven to table dishes in my not so humble opinion. (Although not nearly as perfect as my from the outlet Le Cruset dutch oven which is yellow and gorgeous and feeds us basically all winter).

squishycat (#3,000)

@Beaks I actually have no room for any more cookware at the moment, so when I do get something new it will be replacements for the shitty Ikea pots and pans my partner bought before we met, which are currently just-this-side-of-useful enough that I can’t justify actually tossing them. I am slowly building a collection of things that will last longer – the Le Creuset (I use their classic French oven for basically everything – oatmeal, pasta sauce, pot roast, cassoulet, EVERYTHING), a nice Lodge cast iron frypan, a few good nonstick pieces from Calphalon that are not the kind with a coating that will flake off… I do a lot of cooking so the kitchen is one area where I find it reasonable to spend money (like I said below, I actually have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, and I actually use it, a lot).

missvancity (#146)

I pretty much always give a selection of my homemade jams in a nice-looking basket from the dollar store. That’s what I can afford, especially since no one ever seems to get married in town.

My sister is getting married in two weeks, and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of a gift, since I’m doing small jars of jam for the favours. I finally came up with a plan to wrap a cheap plant pot in rope, and give them a primrose, which apparently symbolizes eternal love!

Blondsak (#2,299)

@missvancity Are you a bridesmaid? Because when I’ve been a bridesmaid, I consider the $$$ I spent on that to be gift enough!

Blondsak (#2,299)

@missvancity Though up until very recently I was also just scraping by month to month, so, maybe it’s different once you’re out of school?

missvancity (#146)

@Blondsak I am a bridesmaid, but so far I the money it has cost me is $40 for a dress, and $120 for the wine tour bachelorette, so it hasn’t been too bad! And she’s going to pay for me to have my hair, makeup, and nails done, as a gift to me, so I want to give them something nice.

mygoldies (#2,349)

@missvancity Making tiny jars of jam for the wedding favors is a pretty generous present already! A cute plant and a card sound like all that is needed after you spent that much time and effort on their wedding.

or Elsa (#4,716)

@missvancity These sound like such beautiful, heartfelt gifts that hit that perfect spot of being both luxurious and useful. I would swoon if someone gave me a basket of homemade jam.

missvancity (#146)

@or Elsa Well I am an EXCELLENT wedding guest! Besides the jam, I also am really good at talking to relatives, always get the dancing going, and never get so drunk that I make a scene. I love going to weddings!

shannowhamo (#845)

@Blondsak I think this needs to be the general rule! I have no idea if any of my bridesmaids gave me gift (I think the one who lived locally gave me some wine glasses at my shower, which was very nice and unnesessary) but the second there is travel involved, wrap a bow around the email flight confirmation and say “you’re welcome!”

selenana (#673)

@missvancity That sounds super awesome. I am kind of a stuff hater and I hate giving gifts that I am not SURE people want because I don’t want to add clutter and stress to anyone’s life. So I tend to give perishables and edibles. Handmade jam sounds so nice and I would definitely love that as a gift.

Blondsak (#2,299)

The last wedding I went to was while I was still in grad school, so I only felt obligated to spend about $30. Now that I’m out of school with a FT job, I think I will try to average $50-100, depending on how close I am to the couple.

Blondsak (#2,299)

@Bill Fostex UGH, I hate it when engaged couples (or people celebrating birthdays, etc.) pull that stuff! Just put what you want on your registry/lists/Santa letter, and leave it at that.

Last wedding I went to (aside from my own) was for my uncle & his new wife. I gave them a $100 check. I almost always give gifts at showers and money at weddings.

We received a lot of generous gifts at our wedding, but these stick out: (1) freshly baked bread from our friend who’s a professional baker, shared with friends the night before the wedding and (2) the presence of my husband’s cousin, who we thought couldn’t come but who ended up driving all the way from North Carolina to make it for the last 5 minutes of the party.

I know there are people who didn’t give us gifts, but I can’t bring myself to feel bad about it. They came to our wedding! As a person with traumatic childhood memories of throwing a party where nobody came, that counts for a lot.

antheridia (#2,995)

My go-to gift is $150 cash. Granted, I have only been to the weddings of close friends. If it was an acquaintance, I would pick something for $50 off their registry, or give a $50 restaurant gift card.

faustbanana (#2,376)

If you’re broke, I think a nice thoughtful card and a check for $50 is fine. Is that really cheap? I dunno. I usually give $100 in some form, though once I made a cookbook for someone. If it’s obvious that there’s caring intention behind the gift I don’t think it matters what it is or how much it cost. If a couple expressed disappointment because you “only” got them this thing or gave them this much money, they are the chumps, not you.

selenana (#673)

@faustbanana I… don’t think $50 is cheap. If it’s for someone really close to you, maybe (?) do something more but for a friend or acquaintance that seems fine to me.

Dancercise (#94)

I spent $63 this week for a college friend’s wedding. I haven’t stayed in touch with her too much.

But my best friend is getting married in January, and I spent $170 on her gift, so.

Emma M (#3,765)

I have been to SOO many weddings in the last few years (although not as many as Jia — holy crow 11 is a lot!). My go-to gift is something reasonable off the registry plus an extra something small because if it was me I would not want to only get the things I registered for. I usually shoot for something in the $50 range, but will go higher if it’s a particularly close friend or I find the perfect thing, etc.

The last wedding I went to was my room mate from my first year of grad school. I was excited to go to her wedding, but hadn’t really seen her since then (3 years ago), had never met her fiance, and had never been to their house, so I had a hard time picking things out. She also only registered for like 3 things under $100, so thankfully I got one… but they were ridiculous Martha Stewart spatulas that cost like $20 and Macy’s charged me $10 shipping (I was out of the country and didn’t trust my dear boyfriend to get the right thing). I also got her a small dish and a dish towel and some sassy cocktail napkins to go with. I think this one wound up being closer to $80 by the time I got all of the stuff and the giftwrap (ugh. Why was that gift bag $6?!).

honey cowl (#1,510)

Timely! We are attending a wedding on Saturday. We bought off the registry – about $90 split between my boyfriend and me – but because he is in the bridal party we also went in on a big group gift that is custom made and amazing. $25 each there, though he’s the one who purchased the gift so hopefully everyone pays him back. If so we will have each spent about $60 just on their gift. Seems in line with everyone else here.

And I do not begrudge wedding gifts or registries like so many of the folks above do! I’m a horrible gift giver and love to be able to click a button and send the couple something that a) I know for a fact they want and b) can go straight to their home address so I don’t have to deal with anything. All-around win.

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

This is relevant to my interests, as I am just looking at the registry for a pretty good friend, whose wedding is next weekend. Indeed, there is some Le Creuset cookware on there. They are getting champagne flutes from the registry, and a bottle of champagne and a card to go with it. Or at least this is my plan at the moment – checking with sommelier roommate for advice before purchasing anything. Total cost will be about $160, I think.

Gave my sister a cheque for $200 for her wedding a few months ago (bough at $650 plane ticket home, and had bought them a $200 engagement present last year). They were saving fora down payment, and just bought a house a few weeks ago!

Equestrienne (#862)

My friend’s little brother gives everyone an ice cream scoop as a wedding present, regardless of whether or not it’s on their registry. His line of thinking is that people are usually happy and celebrating when they eat ice cream, and he wants to be a part of these happy moments and milestones. It’s inexpensive and such a sweet idea!

@Equestrienne His logic is the best logic. That’s awesome. My friend just got married and they had people highlight/sign a word in a dictionary for their guest book. I signed “ice cream,” naturally.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@Equestrienne or they eat ice cream every night, just saying! not that I do that or anything……*sob*

kellyography (#250)

@Equestrienne Whenever anyone is registered for an ice cream scoop, that’s what I get, too. I love a registry and never stray, though, so if it’s not on the registry, I just pick something else that I would like.

selenana (#673)

@Equestrienne That’s cool (heh).

PrettyNicola (#692)

My husband doesn’t believe in wedding gifts, because he is a skinflint. His reasoning is that WE didn’t judge anyone who didn’t give us gifts, and we really didn’t even keep tabs on it. I love wedding gifts though, and my reasoning is that I may not know who didn’t give us a gift, but every time I use our glasses, or our nice cutlery, or our lovely griddle, I think of the person who gave it to us. I want my friends to think of me when they are drinking out of nice wineglasses or making bread or using their butter bell! Gifts for everyone!

clairkin (#1,279)

This was very useful and very nerve-wracking for me! I am engaged and getting married in 9 months, and aunts and uncles and friends of my parents have been asking about a registry, which is wonderful and amazing, but I totally do not expect gifts from people, and we are inviting people because we want to party with them, not reap gifts. I am definitely sensitive to the “registries are bullshit” way of thinking, and I would hate if any of my friends felt I expected something from them. But there is no way of saying “you don’t need to bring a gift!” without it sounding like “we know you are broke!” right?

sea ermine (#122)

@clairkin What if you did a family only registry? And if your friends ask you can say that the only gift you need is their presence, but that you created one for your relatives because that’s customary in your family/because your parents bugged you to do it. Or, you could put “Gifts are not necessary, but if you’d like to contribute to the wedding please bring a dish or drink of your choice” and combine it with whatever food you’re making/buying so that everyone can eat each others food and enjoy quality time together. I’ve also heard of some people asking for contributions to their favorite charity in lieu of gifts, which seems pretty nice.

@clairkin Some people feel the need to give real, physical gifts and you’ll get them whether you want them or not. Better to have a registry with items you really need or that would really improve your life, so you don’t get 14 sets of porcelain bride & groom figurines you can’t return.

You could tell your friends they don’t have to go by the registry (“I trust your taste! That’s why we’re friends!”) and/or ask them for something specific that happens not to cost a lot, like recipes, mix CDs, etc.

deepomega (#22)

@clairkin Except how many things on registries are actually needed or life improving? I went about 90% of the way through making one for my wedding, then scrapped it, because I found myself basically making up bullshit that I knew I’d never use just to fill it out. Having seen a lot of wedding registries (six weddings in the last year!) I have a feeling everyone does this.

loren smith (#2,300)

@clairkin I set up a registry, and we chose a few useful things we would really enjoy, and then only told our mums about it. If anyone asked them, or us directly, I told them where it was. Our friends were amazing and creative and gave us lovely meaningful things, and people who felt strongly about the tradition of registries were able to do that too.

@deepomega I actually suggest this to everyone who graduates college/strikes out on their own: when we moved out of a group house into our own place, (well before talk of engagement etc.) we started a running list of household items to buy/replace as we had the money for them. Whenever we thought “life would be so much better if we had X” we put X on the list. Things like an immersion blender, a comforter that doesn’t melt in the dryer, glasses that don’t chip every time you wash them, etc. I’ve used the list as my Christmas/birthday wish list for my parents for years. As we buy/are gifted things we cross them off, as we think of new things we add them. Anything on the list when we got engaged went on the registry, with just a few other fun things added (hello, tray for breakfast in bed).

emilies (#956)

My personal take is that wedding gifts are like the bottle of wine you should always bring when someone invites you to dinner. It’s acknowledging that they’re hosting you, and a small favor in return.

The Wedding Years are starting for me and I just attended a good friend’s a few weekends ago. I went on eBay and bought a vintage (“vintage”) dutch oven for $30 which I thought was super smart of me, though the lid was kind of banged up when it arrived so I hemmed and hawed and ended up giving them my lid instead since I have the same one and I love it. So I’ve got a crappier one now, but it’s a nice reminder of our friendship!

I’m hoping eBay isn’t tacky. Riiiiiiiiight?

garli (#4,150)

@emilies I don’t think it is.

sariberry (#4,420)

I generally spend about $100. It’s tricky if you have to travel for the wedding. When we got married, we told our friends who were flying to the wedding and/or staying in a hotel, don’t get us a present. We know it’s costing you so much to be there, and your presence is enough.

I think it’s really important to give something, even if it’s small. And handmade gifts are the loveliest gesture of all.

For our wedding, my sister and brother in law didn’t give us a present. I did, however, give one to them for their wedding. Is it petty of me to be offended? I think gifts should always be reciprocated, but perhaps I’m being too materialistic.

Yogi (#2,872)

@sariberry Not petty. This is something I would totally notice, and be offended about too.

EM (#1,012)

For a good friend’s wedding, five of us pooled $50 to get them a nice gift (we are all traveling to the wedding so it seemed reasonable). But one of my friends has an excellent go-to gift: a really nice bottle of French champagne with a note that says it’s for their first wedding anniversary. SO CLASSY.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@EM Totally stealing your friend’s champagne idea. Awesome!

itsk (#4,319)

I attended a wedding a couple weeks ago for a couple I met last year when I was working abroad. They got married in the UK, where I currently live and they live in Australia. When I asked about wedding gifts, they said they didn’t want anything (which made sense if they had to carry it all back to Australia).

I ended up getting them a bottle of Veuve Cliquot ($75 at the airport duty free), which I felt at first was a bit of a cop-out. However when I got to the venue, I found out that I had only been invited to the post-dinner reception (with a cash bar). I had a good time but between transportation (a flight and train ticket), the night at the hotel and the gift, I felt like maybe I could have at least been fed dinner?

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@itsk Er, what?

garli (#4,150)

I know this is the opposite question of what was asked but my husband and I got court house married and then told everyone about it (Including our parents, no one knew) and we didn’t have a party or anything because we just didn’t want to.

Some people did buy us wedding presents anyway, but for the most part they were 50ish bucks? And wonderful. My favorite was a gift certificate for a nice restaurant in town we had not been to before. I would copy that idea if given the chance.

stinapag (#2,144)

@garli Someone I know is giving gift certificates to three restaurants in New York and three in LA. I think the couple lives in one and visits the other often enough. It sounded like a lovely gift.

Kimberly Alison (#4,465)

For my cousin’s wedding, I put together a “make your own bloody Mary” kit with a bottle of nice vodka, good mix, celery salt, bottle of Tabasco, and a large variety of pickled vegetables. Total cost was $65ish.

@Kimberly Alison Ooh, that’s a good one.

kellyography (#250)

I have never been to a local wedding, so I generally find something on the registry/donation list that’s about $40 and write a nice card.

I don’t even wanna say what my go-to gift is because I give it to literally everyone but suffice to say, it is AMAZING and less than $20. It’s mildly naughty if you think about it for a minute, but also good as a group party game and very re-giftable, however everyone has absolutely LOVED it and I still see it in homes of people married 15 years ago.

The only time I didn’t buy this gift, and I still feel bad about this: was when my sister got married, and I was a bratty twenty year old and we weren’t getting along well so I purposefully bought the ugliest thing I could possibly find at Crate & Barrel and I’ve never seen it again so I assume she, rightly, burned it in the backyard.

@deb of last year I give up. WHAT IS IT?!

lemonadefish (#3,296)

The last thing I bought was a slip cover for a recliner, from the registry (came to around $35 on sale & with coupon). I also bought some lingerie and a nice vibrator for the bachelorette shower, for about $50.

I usually aim for $50 total, though if I like you especially much, I will also help make your favors / cake / invitations / decorations / grow your flowers in addition to a gift.

(Also, I must say, if people didn’t register for something, it’s probably because they already have one or don’t want one, so at least include a gift receipt…)

Megoon (#328)

Ha, I opened this KNOWING it would be a list of missives whining about registries, and that’s pretty much what it is. Oh, you reliable Billfold group posts.

Anyway, I give cash. But in my early twenties it was all about group gifts or finding a $30 vase. When I got married, I felt like the registry was there for friends of my parents who are really into the kind of thing. They are, actually, pretty dumb – but also not obligatory, so I don’t get why people hate them with such passion.

deepomega (#22)

@Megoon I just said somewhere up above – because registries encourage you to come up with more stuff to ask for than you actually need. This is easiest to see if you end up buying something late in the registry’s life, and realize that the only thing left is like a matched set of salt and pepper shakers or something. I’d ballpark that about 20% of registry items are actually going to get used, another 30% are aspirational (“surely I’ll cook more if I have the right pot!”) and the remaining 50% are there to make sure there are enough items for every guest to get something.

Crabtree (#774)

The last wedding I went to I spent $150-ish and I bought them all of their large dinner plates. I knew for a fact that they had bought cheap plates at the beginning of the year, and then half of them had broken, so I knew that it was a good/useful present. I usually spend $150 since I’m bringing my boyfriend. If I can’t make it to the wedding, I usually spend $40.

or Elsa (#4,716)

My last wedding present ramped up from the intended fifty-or-so bucks to $75-85 pretty fast: I (well, we) gave them the martini glasses from their registry, a cocktail shaker because the groom admired ours, a bottle of the gin preferred by the bride with a packet of cocktail swords with ribbon tied to the bottle neck, a bottle of vermouth, and a jar of fancy olives with a little olive fork tied with ribbon to the jar neck.

It was a pretty impressive-looking array of stuff, I have to admit. Maybe some cocktail napkins too? Maybe a can of salted nuts? Aaaand that’s why my present costs often escalate unexpectedly: I keep finding little things to add.

Important note: we hand-delivered the wrapped gift to their home well before the wedding so they weren’t lugging all this fragile, heavy stuff around.

ceereelyo (#3,552)

The last wedding I spent about $175 and got them a grilling set and griddle from their registry. I think the cost included shipping because I was able to score some sort of discount on macy’s website. I give cash to my closest friends who have gotten married ($150 usually) and in those cases, I’ve been in the wedding so I’ve doled out some money on other wedding related events. As part of my gift for some friends wedding a couple of years ago I cleaned their house while they were on h-moon. I have three weddings to attend by the end of the year and I’m thinking a nice gift off of the registry for my one friend, a GC to a fancy-fun food place in the city (NYC) for the couple of wedding #2, then maybe cash for the third, though it’s my cousin’s second marriage and they just had a kid and are moving to a new place, so I’m thinking maybe something specific like a Lowes or Home Depot GC.

I also got married not too long ago (May) and we did set up a registry and it was basically for things really needed since we just moved back out on our own after I was unemployed/parttime employed, like new non-chipped dishes, bedsheets for our new bed, a vaccuum, pots and pans. I didn’t feel like I was registering for things I didn’t need, but I did put some things that I know I won’t immediately need like a new carry on suitcase and also some nice wine glasses, that would be nice to have. I think one of our best gifts though was from a friend who gave us this painting of hers (that she made) that both me and my husband had been raving about and it it really something special to hang in our new place together.

selenana (#673)

The last gift I gave was a check for $50 in a card with a care package of funny little odds and ends of the kinds of thing I usually send in a care package (candy, hand towels, etc). I couldn’t make it to her wedding (time off + a $2000 plane ticket made it not feasible) and they registered at a “help pay for our honeymoon” site anyway.
Probably will do the cash and care package for the other two friends who got married this summer too, and probably for the person having a baby in Sweden.

squishycat (#3,000)

I’m just saying, the only reason a Kitchenaid mixer won’t be going on the registry when I get married is because I already have one, and I use it all the goddamn time. (My parents bought me a refurbished one several years back, and occasionally they give me attachment sets for birthdays/holidays. Some things get used less than others, to be sure (i only make homemade pasta a few times a year), but it gets used enough to be worth the money.

The last wedding I attended, which I did have to travel to, though not incredibly far, was that of a very good friend from high school. I spent a little over $200, but that covered gifts from me and my boyfriend, so ~$100 each. I bought some nice bedding off the registry, because I like fancy bedding, and a place setting from their classy-but-everyday choice, and a couple little things because basically all of it was on sale, and then I bought some toys and treats for their pets (they have two cats and two dogs). I haven’t gotten a thank you card, but I have gotten an update on how much the puppies love their rope toy.

Allison (#4,509)

@squishycat my kitchenaid was a housewarming present from my parents. it’s my pride and joy, I use it alllll the time, since I love making bread

readyornot (#816)

this is so timely! just last night i purchase three gifts for the weddings we’ve been invited to in september. leaving tomorrow morning for the first one! the values ranged from $150-$200. two nice pieces from heath ceramics, one contribution to a honeymoon fund. we didn’t always give at that amount, but we’ve gotten older and incomes have gotten higher. i LIKE giving presents. it feels nice.

i sympathize with a couple of the contributors above; torn between just picking something, anything by the helpful deadline of the wedding and giving myself time and space to think of something lovely and thoughtful within a year…which happens, oh, a quarter of the times i try that route. registries are a nice security blanket for knowing the couple probably has some interest in the item and it’s not a duplicate. deadlines are useful! and sometimes the registries are fun. i like going in with a big group to get something exciting. we got a kickass tent for our camping friends that way.

fennel (#2,494)

If it’s a close friend, I pick something really nice, but if it’s not a terribly close friend or if we have grown apart a bit then I go ahead and amuse myself and pick the most ridonkulous thing that they have chosen and put on their own damn registry. Most recently, I bought somebody a devilled egg platter (with little holes scooped out for the egg bottoms so that’s all it can be used for) and these little devices for frying perfectly circular eggs so you can make home-made Egg McMuffins, and I still laugh about it. In my clueless 20s, I bought someone a paper shredder thinking that was hilarious but now that I am older realize it’s quite useful, so joke’s on my (and I’m glad). I try not to take these things too seriously, otherwise the wedding-industrial complex gets depressing!

BornSecular (#2,245)

I honestly did not know wedding gift giving was this fraught with tension until today. I’ve never really thought that much about it. I am cheap, everyone knows I’m cheap. I generally always buy off the registry (for baby showers too), but I stay in the $20-$30 range. I have never felt guilt about this either. But I also wouldn’t care if someone didn’t bring a nice gift, or any gift at all to my wedding, so I probably just assume everyone feels the same way. It’s hard to get out of your own head.

My husband and I had a registry but we had never lived together or outside of our parents houses/college, so we legitimately needed the stuff!

amandapocalypse (#4,722)

My boyfriend and I recently went to a wedding in-town, we gave them $50 towards their honeymoon fund. Now I’m feeling like that wasn’t enough. It was a pretty informal wedding, and much of our social group is somewhat broke. While I have a good job in my field, my financial situation is grim to say the least. Still, I feel cheap now.

stinapag (#2,144)

We got our kitchen redone as our wedding present. We “registered” for IKEA gift cards, and we got various denominations enough to pay for a little over half of it. We really didn’t care about the dollar value all that much, and we didn’t track who gave us what (aside from thank you notes) or the people who didn’t give us anything at all. I vaguely am aware of a few gifts that people gave off the “registry,” but honestly, I have no idea who didn’t give us anything. It wasn’t that big of a deal to us, and we had 215 people at our wedding.

The last gift I gave was a goat through Heifer International. I gave the same couple a sandwich press off the registry for the shower. I think it was about $100.

My husband is a DJ and he’s given his talents as gifts to the last two weddings we’ve been to. One was remote. He put together four or five ipod playlists for the wedding, and he actually djed that night at another event.

AuntieMaim (#4,731)

My standard is $50, and I always go off the registry. I don’t see the registry as a transactional thing — “You’ll have to bring one of these to get in the door” — just an acknowledgement that a wedding is a gift-giving occasion and people like to have a place to start in picking something out.

I try to get something from their formal china, because I feel like those are items that aren’t very exciting for people to buy so couples end up with, like, 4 partial place settings.

ctkat1 (#4,732)

I do a mix of gift cards to wherever they registered or go off the registry if they have stuff on there that seems both (a) reasonably priced, and (b) not ridiculous.
For good friends, I usually spend $75-$100. I recently graduated from law school and clerked for a year before my current position working for the state, so I don’t make a lot of money and have massive student loan debt.

For my brother’s wedding, where I was a bridesmaid and had to spend over $1000 on travel, dress, bridal shower, etc. I ordered a cool customized picture from etsy ($35) and called it a day. I felt cheap after learning that my other brother and his girlfriend were getting them a rocking chair, but it’s been a year and they still haven’t gotten them the chair so I feel better.

FancyMachine (#4,401)

Within my group of good friends, we all give cheques for about $100 per person (so, $200 if it’s a gift from a couple). People usually have really small registries because 1. they already live together and 2. occasionally a guest (usually older) will not be comfortable with giving money. But pretty much everyone wants/gives money, so there isn’t really a stigma about it. No one has yet to actually ASK for the money on the invite (I feel like it’s awkward), we just kind of let it circulate by word of mouth between friends knowing what other friends want.

BUT! If someone was REALLY not able to give that much money, I can’t imagine the bride & groom being upset the way lots of articles online have been showing lately. I’m sure they’d be more happy to have them share in their big day with a smaller (or even no) gift. Other things to factor in – giving less if you had to travel, giving more if you’re in the wedding party.

Background! My friends and I are all late twenties-early thirties, in Vancouver and working. We’re not rich, but we’re not starving students either, so $100/person is a bit painful but doable without living without electricity or whatever. We’re also mostly Asian (all the girls, some of the guys) and some Caucasian people, which some people feel makes a difference. For example, the Asian weddings I’ve attended usually just have red envelopes from everyone.

I usually only attend about 2 weddings like this per year – usually if I’m going with my family to a old family friend’s wedding or something, I contribute WAY less.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised so many peers on here still have a registry! They’re great if you need things for the home, though.

I just realized that we usually give a tangible gift at the bridal shower and money at the wedding. Best of both worlds!

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Maria74 (#7,606)

If I do not feel very creative i just give them $100 all the way up to $200. It of course depends on situation. It is the most important to me to wear some hot boots such as these all day long. I would even get a pair of shoes for the bride, however the size could be easily wrong so I do not take chances. The gifts that I give, except money are useful things for home that I found on the net.

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