For the couple who has everything — or didn’t spring for a registry.
It’s wedding season, and you know what that means. You’re probably knee-deep in three different registries right now, trying not to break your monthly budget while deciding between a $75 salad spinner or a rustic olive wood serving bowl. Or maybe you’re growing tired of writing out $100 (or $200, $250, or $400) checks. I know I am.
And then there are those couples who decide not to register for gifts. I still don’t feel right about not giving them at least a small token to mark the occasion. Call me old-fashioned, but my mom taught me never to show up empty-handed.
The truth is, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make a gift memorable. We’ve rounded up a list of the seven best nontraditional wedding gifts.
Donate to a Charity in Their Name
Are they animal lovers? Passionate about helping the environment? Or about helping underprivileged kids? Allot the funds you would have spent on a new set of sheets or hand mixer to someone who needs it more.
Not sure where to start? Use a site like Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to find top-rated charities or access ratings of certain charitable organizations. Then, create a handwritten card with that charity’s logo on it and the amount you donated, and tuck that into the wedding card instead. Good karma and a good gift? We’re sold.
Have you heard of Framebridge? It’s a relatively new lifestyle brand that professionally frames your digital and hard copy prints for a fraction of the price of traditional brick-and-mortar framing shops.
You can choose your own frame and mat or let a designer choose for you. Send a digital (or hard copy) of that perfect shot you captured on the couple’s wedding day to Framebridge, and have a professionally framed photo at their doorstep before they’re even home from their honeymoon. Plus, the price can’t be beat, and shipping is free! (Custom-framed prints, $39 and up, Framebridge.com.)
Make It Personal
Looking for something super personal? Etsy is a perfect “storefront” for that, and it’s where we found this personalized wine barrel Lazy Susan. Ideal for any wine-lover, it not only marks the occasion of the couple’s big day, but it’s also useful. My coworker keeps hers on her kitchen island and swears by it.
You can also choose whether to wall-mount or keep it as a Lazy Susan, and select your own wood finish. Just keep in mind that ordering items from Etsy — especially those that are personalized — can take a bit longer. (Personalized engraved wine barrel lazy Susan, $89.95 and up, Etsy.com)
Cute and Simple
Love it or hate it, Goop has seriously made waves in the lifestyle category as of late. While many of their offerings are astronomically expensive, we love these adorable Mr. and Mrs. keytags from Various Projects.
Small, unassuming, and affordable, this gift is sure to bring a smile to the new Mr. and Mrs.’ face every time they climb into their car. Considering the traffic I fight through every day, that’s an accomplishment. (Mr. and Mrs. keytags, $30, Shop.Goop.com)
Help Fund Their Honeymoon
HoneyFund is an online crowdfunding platform — think Kickstarter, but for honeymoons. This requires some setup on the couple’s end, but if they’ve created their own Honeyfund, then donating is a great, nontraditional gift idea.
Honeyfund has raised more than $417 million for over half a million couples in its 10-year tenure. And just think: You could help the newlyweds go snorkeling in Hawaii for the first time or treat them to a five-star meal on their honeymoon. That beats a china setting any day.
Try Your Hand at Videography
Gift them a homemade wedding video. This one requires a lot of extra work and planning, but when done right, it can become one of the bride and groom’s favorite gifts — at no or little cost to you. Plus, many couples forgo the wedding videographer for budgeting reasons, so this could be the perfect gift. (Make sure your couple doesn’t already have a videographer, so you don’t step on anyone’s toes!)
All you need is an iPhone (or a phone with high-quality video recording capability) and an easy-to-use movie editing program, like iMovie, which is available only for Macs. Be sure to record the highlights of the day, like the vows, cake-cutting, first dance, and some shots of the venue, as well as the general atmosphere. (Pro tip: record all video while holding your phone horizontally.) Want to go a step further? Recruit some of the couple’s family to give wedding advice on camera, and piece it together at the end of the video. Everyone will have their phones out at the wedding anyway, so the happy couple will be none the wiser.
Then, import your footage into iMovie, add some music to the background, and — voila! — wedding gift competed. Not technically savvy? Record all the videos yourself and then dispatch professional videographers (or a younger relative in school, perhaps) to piece it all together.
Commission a Painting of the Big Day
It’s called live painting, and it’s a top trend in wedding planning today. Here’s how it works: You hire an artist to capture a “snapshot” of the wedding the day of, usually the reception. Check out a reputable company like Wed on Canvas, or search for vendors in your area via wedding resources like The Knot or Wedding Wire. The artist will paint a scene from the couple’s big day in real time, resulting in a momento that will be cherished for years to come.
Worth noting: It’s probably wise to only take this one on if you are close to the bride or groom and are relatively certain they’ll react well. After all, who wants to spring an unwanted surprise on a couple on their wedding day? And be sure to loop in the bride and groom’s mothers/sisters/brothers to help with the logistics of getting everyone set up, transporting the painting home, etc. Another bonus? It’s added entertainment for guests.