Buying a wedding present can test your time, patience, and wallet. Keep it simple, celebratory, and personal, and you'll be a hit with the newlyweds.
Step 1: Use the registry Couples register for a reason--they're politely picking out exactly what they want. Using their registry is the simplest way to get them something they need and like, and to help them complete matching sets like dishes or silverware.
TIP: If you worry that choosing from a registry isn’t personal enough, pick something you can relate to and mention that on the card, like, 'Hope this blender will mix up many of those margaritas we enjoyed down in Mexico!'
Step 2: Consider the couple If you know the couple well and you'd rather not deal with a registry, feel free to make your gift personal. Go for something special that caters to their interests, like a classic first-edition novel for book lovers or tickets to a concert for music buffs. Or, just give them cash.
TIP: Think about how much storage space the couple has. If they live in a studio apartment, they probably don’t want a lot of big stuff.
Step 3: Don't overdo it Do you really want to blow all your money on a gold-plated doodad? Consider a gift that honors the couple while respecting your bank balance.
TIP: It’s ok to give a less expensive gift if you're attending a destination wedding or spending a significant amount on travel.
Step 4: Do it yourself If you're a skilled artist and you think the couple would appreciate a unique, one-of-a-kind gift, consider giving a handmade present.
TIP: It's one thing to give a handmade quilt, and quite another to present the pair with a last-minute pipe-cleaner sculpture. You don't have to blow your savings, but don't be a tightwad.
Step 5: Rely on tradition If you don't know the couple well, go for a traditional all-purpose -- and easily returned -- present, like a crystal bowl or picture frame. Or give a gift certificate.
TIP: Some people use the general rule that the gift's value should roughly equal the couple's cost per guest at the wedding.
Step 6: Respect the couple's taste Even if the newlyweds' taste redefines tacky, remember--you're buying a gift for them, not you. Give them something suited to their sensibilities, whatever they are.
Step 7: Ask them The very best way to figure out what a couple wants? Ask them or someone close to them, like the maid of honor. Even if they’ve registered, there might be an item they’re hoping for above all else.
FACT: Contrary to the belief that wedding guests have a year to send a gift, etiquette dictates that it should be delivered before or within three months of the ceremony.