You definitely don't want to show up empty-handed.
wedding gift tables sara lynn
Credit: Sara Lynn

Many couples are trading in traditional wedding details for more modern options, and this practice is one that's been extended to big-day registries, too. But how is a guest supposed to know what a couple needs or wants when they haven't indicated any preference? Instead of trying to guess, we asked wedding planners to share some great ideas to help you gift with ease.

No matter what, don't arrive empty-handed.

"As a wedding planner I have noticed more and more couples skipping the wedding registry tradition entirely," says Jenny Orsini, owner of Jenny Orsini Events. If you're invited to a wedding without a registry, Orsini says this doesn't mean that you're off the hook for a gift. She suggests arriving with something simple and useful-gift cards to their favorite restaurants or stores are perfect. You should consider why they decided not to have a registry in the first place. If they've lived together for some time, they may already have all the household materials they need. In that case, avoid purchasing a random home good that they may already have or that they may have no use for.

Give the gift of experience.

Catherine Bachelier Smith, owner of CBS Lifestylist suggests giving the gift of an experience-something unique like a hot air balloon ride, a spa day, or a gift certificate to a trendy new restaurant in town are sure winners. She also suggests gifting something towards their honeymoon experience if you know where they are planning to go-a gift card to a restaurant in the city they are vising, having a bottle of Champagne sent to their hotel room, or even arranging for the bed in their hotel room to be sprinkled with rose petals would be nice. If they are going on a cruise, you could arrange to pay for one of the excursion options the company offers.

Lauren Chitwood of Lauren Chitwood Events echoes that sentiment. "A couple who forgoes a wedding registry likely isn't into material gifts." She goes onto suggest additional experiences that the couple may not normally choose for themselves, like a cooking class or a gift card to a hotel for a weekend getaway.

Let the couple pick their own gift.

Of course, you can never go wrong with a monetary gift. It not only takes the pressure off of you, but it affords the couple an opportunity to do exactly what they want (or need) to do with your generosity. If you decide to go the monetary route, Hovik Harutyunyan of Harutyunyan Events says the best way to do so is by check. "It's the most secure option. If a card box gets lost or stolen the cash and gift cards won't be coming back!"


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