Dear 3Rivers: How Can I Give a Special Wedding Gift Without Breaking the Bank?
Every year in June, I can't help but feel a little overwhelmed at the amount of celebrations I'm invited to. Most being weddings. While I thoroughly enjoy every weekend spent making memories with those nearest and dearest to me, all of the celebrating kind of wreaks havoc on my finances. This year, for example, I've got three weddings in the span of four weekends. I don't want to seem cheap or careless by getting budget-friendly gifts for the newlyweds, but I can't really afford to go all-out, especially after travel, dress, and hotel expenses. Any advice?
Strapped for (Gift-Giving) Cash
It's easy to feel like if you don't get the flashiest wedding gift possible, your offering won't be as memorable or as appreciated as the rest. That's completely not true. If you can't afford to purchase one of the items the couple has requested in their registries, you've still got plenty options that will wow them.
If you're just itching to get that retro entertainment stand or beautiful French-inspired duvet the couple has requested, get in touch with fellow family members or mutual friends who will be attending the wedding and ask if they'd be interested in splitting the cost. Newlyweds are typically well aware that what they're asking for are items that they can't afford themselves, so they'll be more than ecstatic and understanding if they still receive their requests, even if it takes two or more of their loved ones to buy it for them.
Break it Up
If you'll be attending a bridal shower or wedding shower before the nuptials, and you've decided you'd like to purchase a set of something from the registry (a set of kitchen utensils, a bath decor set, a bedroom set, and so on), go ahead and get the set, but stop there. Split that set up, then, between the shower and the wedding. Give them the bath towels and bath mats at the shower and give them the shower curtain and vanity pieces at the wedding. Don't feel like you have to get two, totally separate and unique gifts for each event.
Gift Card It
If you really want to help the couple fulfill their registry desires, but are simply too strapped for cash to make a purchase, buy a gift card to the store in which they're registered for an amount that you are comfortable with. After the wedding, they can use that toward any item they didn't end up receiving, but really, really want.
Give an Add-On
Take a look at the couples' registry and see what big-ticket items they've asked for. From there, purchase an add-on to that item. For example, if they've asked for a juicer, skip getting the juicer and instead purchase a juicing recipe book. If they're registered for a French press, buy them a fancy bag of coffee.
If you're quite close to the couple and know their personalities, interests, and styles, then your best bet might be to create a gift yourself. Are they movie fanatics? Create a "movie night gift basket." Fill it up with a blanket, popcorn, boxed candies, and a gift card to Redbox. Did they meet or get engaged in a memorable place? Print a photo or buy a book that features, or centers around, that location.
Lend a Helping Hand
One of the most useful, memorable, and intimate gifts you can give is that of your time. Offer to pet-sit, babysit, or house-sit while the couple is on their honeymoon. Let them know that you can carve out time to help them move into their new place pre-or-post wedding. If you've got the right vehicle, offer to be the guest who hauls their wedding gift loot back to their place after the reception comes to an end. Letting them know that you're willing and able to lend a helping hand, especially in those first days and months following the wedding, will cost you only your time and help to strengthen your relationship with the lovebirds.
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We hope you are able to enjoy each and every wedding celebration this Spring. The most important thing is being there and making memories with the newlyweds. Focus on that, and have a great time!