Wedding gifts are customary and wedding season means you will probably attend a wedding or two or maybe more. You will also burn a few brain cells thinking about what to gift to the engaged couple. There are times when you can simply pick a gift from the registry and call it a day but there is much to think about when you want to give an off-registry wedding gift.Couples put in a lot of time and effort into forming their wedding registry. And in a way wedding registries make a lot of sense. This important step serves two purposes.
One- it makes it easier for the guests to select a gift without splitting hair, second-guessing their gift choice or worrying if the gift will be appreciated or not.
Two- couples are ensured they will get something they can actually use and not stored away in the garage or attic for years to come.
But it is also perfectly okay to buy a wedding gift that is not on the registry if you have a good reason to buy something off-registry like everything in your budget is already taken up, you don’t like anything in the registry or you have something better in mind for the couple.
After all, what matters is that you are giving a gift to the couple on their big day.
However, if you are planning on giving an off-registry wedding gift, here are 10 points to be mindful of (not necessarily in that order)–
#1 Off-Registry Gift When You Know The Couple
If you don’t know the couple well enough and don’t have much idea about their hobbies or what they need/ can use, it is better to stick to the registry. Giving a gift that is not on the registry means that you run the risk of spending money on something that the couple might not like.
(Not that you would get to hear about it from the couple … or maybe you will- depends on your luck!)
Therefore it is probably best to go off-registry only if you know the engaged couple well enough to know what they would like or what will make them happy. For instance, if you know the couple likes to brew special teas, go hiking, grilling etc, you can give a gift that they can use while indulging in their hobbies.
#2 Give A Thoughtful Gift
Under most circumstances, couples do appreciate well-thought gifts even if they were not put on the registry. For instance, it is likely that most couples would not put a dinner at a nice restaurant for their honeymoon or a hotel/ Airbnb gift certificate on their wedding gift registry but that doesn’t mean they won’t like it.
If you know where the couple is headed for their honeymoon, you can call their hotel and book them a message by the beach, dinner etc.
A well-thought gift, even if not on the registry, can also bring so much joy to the newly married couple.
#3 Avoid An Off-Registry Wedding Gift That Is Cheap
Of all the reasons why you didn’t pick a gift from the wedding registry, this one could seem unpleasant. If you are thinking of buying a gift off-registry be mindful that it doesn’t come off as inconsiderate and cheap.
Although the amount you should spend on a wedding gift depends on various factors like travel, hotel stay, dress etc. You should still set a decent budget for the wedding gift after factoring in all these costs. Good gift etiquette says that a wedding gift should not be less than $50, but if your party consists of more than just yourself you need to factor that as well into the gift budget. The wedding gift budget, in this case, should be higher.
If money is an issue, there are gifts that don’t carry a big price tag but are still memorable. Giving an expensive gift is not an obligation, but giving a heartfelt sensible gift should be the priority. In the end, people don’t remember gifts for their financial value but they always remember the ones that were memorable.
I have created a list of elegant and unique wedding gifts that are under $50. Do take a look as I am sure you will be able to find something that the couple can enjoy even if it is an off-registry wedding gift.
#4 Cash or Gift Card As A Preference
It is not uncommon to reach for cash or a gift card for an off-registry wedding gift when you don’t know the couple well enough and the wedding registry has not left you with any good option.
Or you might also think that cash is the best gift, over and above any other material gift. And that is not wrong either… cash as a gift is gaining more popularity as more couples tend to live-in together for a considerable time before they marry and most likely have all the things they need.
An engaged couple might even appreciate cash as a gift after they have been on a spending spree paying for all the necessary wedding expenses.
The only issue with cash as a wedding gift is that it might not seem like a memorable gift. But you can make it memorable by including a note with fun suggestions how the couple can spend the cash.
Suggested: Are gift cards a good gift idea?
#5 Stay Away From The Cliche Gifts
Some wedding gifts as expected would be less appreciated, but those are the regular offender type of gifts that have come to be considered just too cliche over the years like the infamous photo frame gift or the glass vase. Yes, the couple will have numerous pictures taken and they would want to put those up everywhere in the house but you should avoid giving them just a photo-frame as a wedding gift.
Photo frames although very beautiful are also fit for certain occasions and not all occasions. A photo frame is a good housewarming party gift when the couple is moving into a bigger house. But that is another story!
#6 Include A Gift Receipt
It is a good practice to include a gift receipt when giving an off-registry wedding gift. Buying a gift from the wedding registry in a way ensures that the couple is going to like your gift 100%. However, buying a gift that is not on the registry does not guarantee whether a couple would like the gift.
A gift receipt will at least give them an option to exchange the gift for something they need, instead of packing away your gift in their attic.
#7 Vetting The Gift Idea
Just because you think something is a great gift idea for the couple, might not be so in reality. It is sometimes a good idea to vet gift choices especially when you plan to give an off-registry wedding gift.Even if you know the couple you might not know all that they have already. You might think that a high power juicer is a perfect gift for a couple since they love to drink vegetable and fruit juice without knowing if they have a juicer already or they probably do not think they need one for their infrequent juicing needs.
If something is not on the registry chances are the couple doesn’t want or need it. The only way to find out if your off-registry wedding gift will be appreciated is to ask! If you are a close friend or a relative there is no harm in asking if the engaged couple already have what you are planning to gift. You don’t have to tell them what exactly are you gifting but you can ask without giving out big clues.
If you are not a close friend or a relative, it is still a good idea to reach out to family or very close friends of the couple to confirm.
#8 Buying A Similar or Same Wedding Registry Gift From A Different Store
It is possible that you might see something that a couple has on the wedding registry for a lesser price somewhere else. It is also possible that you have a better newer robotic vacuum cleaner model in mind than what the couple has on their wedding registry.
Whatever be the case, if you choose to buy something similar or the same product that’s on the registry from a different store it is best to either deliver it to the couple well in advance or inform them well in advance. This way the couple can take that gift off the registry just in time before some other guest buys it as well.
#9 Send The Gift In Advance
There was a time when people believed it was okay to send a wedding gift till about one year after the wedding. But times have changed. People don’t have to buy or give gifts in person anymore in this digital online shopping era so there is no excuse to wait a long time to give a gift.
Finding something nice for the couple that is not on their registry might take time but just because the gift is off-registry doesn’t mean that you should procrastinate sending the gift to the couple. A good wedding gift etiquette is to send the gift to the couple two to three weeks in advance of their wedding day.
Especially if you booked a massage or a nice dinner at their honeymoon hotel it is best to let them know well in advance before the wedding. Following the etiquette guide, you can send them a card with a note about your gift few weeks before the wedding. Doing this will allow the couple to plan when they want to use your gift on their honeymoon.
There is also another good reason why you should send the gift in advance. When you are buying an off-registry wedding gift the couple has no idea what you intend to give and if you intend to give a gift. While you wait to send the gift, the couple might assume that you decided not to give them a gift. It is not uncommon to have some guests attend a wedding without a gift, but you don’t want to be that person.
#10 Matching The Couple’s Style Aesthetics
Going off-registry is not an issue but you should still try to buy something that complements the style of the engaged couple. It is easier to pick something according to your taste and forget about the couple’s style when buying something. But what seems beautiful and elegant to you might not match the couple’s style aesthetics.It is even more important to be cognizant of their style and design preferences if you decide to gift dishware or anything related to home decor. It is a good idea to check the gifts in the wedding registry to gauge their style preferences. If that doesn’t help, it’s not a bad idea to ask for the couple’s near and dear ones for their favorite colors and design preferences just to be sure.
To summarize, it is okay to gift something that is not on the registry. A wedding gift is a reflection of your feelings for the couple- it is not measured by the price tag of the gifts but the warmth that your gift exudes. As long as the off-registry wedding gift is well thought and for good reasons, it is sure to make the couple happy.