• Ajay Manaktala

Wedding Gifts Couples Actually Want

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Looking for ideas on wedding gifts that are useful and appreciated?


Why Wedding Gifts are Going Down


Traditional wedding gifts are declining, but not in the way that you think.

Couples still appreciate the gesture, the thought, the time and money you will spend to gift them something...it's just that as a society, we're all pretty much provided everything we need thanks to Amazon Prime and technology.


I know, it sounds so snooty and weird to say that people don't want gifts, I get it.


It's not that nobody wants another toaster or microwave, it's just that even if a couple needs it for their new house in a new city, they'd rather buy it and get free shipping than try to figure out a way to carry it from California to Texas or whatever their situation is.


Or yes actually, they just don't need it.



Hmm is this going to mean another checked bag on Delta for $45?

After my own wedding, since we already had toasters and pots and pants, we kept a lot of our gifts in the garage for almost a year until we moved to a larger house and decided to toss the old stuff out or donate it.


But of course, couples are way too polite to say "No thanks."


Also thanks to folks like Marie Kondo and the minimalist lifestyle being good for your health, folks are generally trying to declutter their life and not have too many gadgets and products sitting around the house collecting dust.



Destination Wedding Gifts are Trickier


Destination weddings are even more difficult to handle, because you carried something in your suitcase for them, and now they'll have to pay $40 in extra luggage to accommodate taking it back.


You might feel you went out of your way to gift the bride and groom some custom shot glasses, or an iPad case, or a really cool espresso machine...but now it's a temporary inconvenience for them logistically.

That being said, since MATERIAL gifts are declining as in our Indian wedding trends in 2019 (blog) that doesn't mean other gifts aren't valued and often part of the wedding gesture process.


They're still a bunch of things you can spend your time and/or money on to gift your close friends/family on their wedding day, and my goal with this post is to explain each item and also why it would be a good idea.



On the flipside, customized passport covers are a great $4 a piece gift for your guests who flew out to your wedding.

A Nice Way to Ask Guests for Cash Gifts


One of our most viewed answers on Quora was about just this. Often times couples don't want to tell guests "Hey just give us cash" because that's tacky and tasteless. A nice hack that I often see is to write:


"No Gifts, Only Blessings Please."

The risk here is people might actually take it literally and say "congrats" and carry on, but many will attend your wedding, see a box for "Cards" and quickly get it.


And like most people..yes, we're not expecting gifts at all. But if you're going to anyways, well, we may as well guide our guests on how to make their efforts.


On that note, y'all ready?


Let's go!



What are the Best Wedding Gift Ideas in 2019 for couples who have everything?



1. Amazon Gift Card



I mean who wouldn't want to make it rain with these?



Everybody uses Amazon, whether for physical material goods or online digital goods. As one of the top websites in the world you can be sure your friend or family member will find something useful as he/she moves into the next phase of their life.


Pros: It's not as obvious as cash, it's digital so it won't get lost, and it lets them pick and choose what they want.


Cons: It's got a monetary amount attached to it so people know how much you spent.


2. Cold Hard Cash



If only we could write that on the invite.


Pros: It's super versatile and let's be honest, it's the best thing you can do. Under certain amounts and you don't even have to worry about taxes although you should report larger amounts based on your laws.


Cons: It can be lost, and it has an amount attached to it. It's also awkward to give in person and worrisome during the wedding wondering about when you should give it. Will it be safe in the box? Will it be safe in the hotel room?





3. Check


Simple and professional and doesn't need to be used right away.


Pros: Pretty much removes the losing aspect of cash.


Cons: Awkward for the couple to cash later, and awkward for you in case it bounces or gets rejected for some other reason. My brother got a $200 check in India from a relative and it got declined due to an error in the way it was written...and we didn't have the nerve to tell the Auntie who sent it to send another one. So yeah.


4. Stocks



I personally love this one, because it could potentially be the gift that keeps on giving! Imagine you buy your buddy $500 in Google or Amazon stock a month before the wedding, and during the wedding you tell him/her that you just transferred the stock using your online account. (Doable, I checked here.) If all goes well, that gift could double in value in a few years ! Heck yeah!


Pros: Little work to setup online and you need your friends stock accounts to transfer the stocks, so there goes any surprise. Can double or even triple in value. Or better yet, if your buddy is a finance or corporate type of person, they he/she is always talking about investing in this company or that why not do it for them in some small token amount? (E.g. less than $1,00).




Cons: You could also lose everything, but I mean most big companies like Apple/Google/Facebook won't devalue too much. Also in case you strike it big don't be a jerk and not give them the stock and try to keep the gains for yourself!


5. Gold


The value of Gold has gone up, and even though you and I roll our eyes every-time our aunt and uncles talk about it...it still has value and you can still make a lot of money on it . Yes, during the final apocalypse a glass of water will be worth more than gold, but you can say the same thing about cash or your bank defaulting.


Regardless, if you have spare Gold lying around from old bracelets or necklaces...


  • take them to your local jeweler,

  • have them melt it into a gold brick

  • gift it to the wedding couple or their parents.


Pros: Gold is appreciated by old people, it's still a widely used currency, it's very tangible like cash so it has some appeal, and it's already quite a big part of Indian weddings!


Cons: You can lose it, and if you're flying into a wedding in India they 100% will catch it in your suitcase or notice excessive amounts on your arms/neck. Don't travel with excessive amounts.


7. BitCoin or Cryptocurrency


No I'm not joking. I wish I knew more about it, but if the folks getting married are techies or up to date on the trends, maybe buy them a few hundred dollars of Crypto as a gag gift, and watch it become a very cool gift? Maybe your friends will then even start looking at crypto, start investing themselves since you already got their foot in the door and really appreciate you five years down the line?


Pros: It could have an insane upside.


Cons: You could lose your initial $200 gift investment, but I mean, you could also buy them a toaster or vacuum they'll never open that will sit in the garage.



8. Custom Artwork


Pros: You could use it right away. At my cousins wedding we gifted them this and then kept it by the cake for people to pose with. And they did!


Cons: A print will be something to carry and worry about during wedding commotion, and you'll need to find front facing photos of the couple to send to the artists to use as a reference (so the surprise will be tricky to plan). You'll likely lose the printout but always have the soft copy for social media so that's a good thing!




9. Massage or Spa Experience (Weeks After Wedding)



Wedding planning can be insanely stressful and the entire wedding weekend comes and goes in a blur. As human beings we naturally enjoy giving many times more than receiving, so once all is said and done, it's time to get pampered.


I personally am not big on massages unless I'm in a place where it's very reasonable like $10 in Thailand, China or Malaysia. But if somebody gifts me a $100 massage for my wife and I on the other hand....(Whoa, that was a pun by mistake!)


Pro: Who doesn't like a free massage on you the wedding guest? It will usually be a great experience and the couple will thank you a week or months later when they redeem the massage! So they'll appreciate you when they get the gift certificate and then again when they redeem it!


Cons: Hopefully they do like massages and it will have to be somewhere convenient to the couples address. Don't buy it during their wedding weekend as they will be too busy to try and use it then. They want to spend time with the guests who have flown in, not a random massage for 2 hours!



10. Dinner for Two



I normally never use stock photos but since we're talking about all weddings (not just Indian ones) here we go!

Did you know that many couples forget to eat during their wedding? Gift them the fancy dinner they gave you but probably couldn't enjoy!


Similar to the massage, once the couple is back home and settled into the mundane life (I'm kidding!) there will be a small afterglow of the wedding. My own wife kept telling me to shut up when I kept reminiscing about how much I miss the whole wedding weekend!


Marriage is about communication and always treating your partner fresh, and trying to rekindle those honeymoon phase moments. Why not gift the newlyweds a nice dinner for two at a chic or fancy restaurant to be used a month or two after their wedding? Again, they'll love it (who doesn't like going out) and they'll think of you twice, both when receiving it and again when they redeem it! You'll know when they tag you on Instagram stories saying "Thanks bro!"


Pros: Will likely be used and appreciated.


Cons: You better pick a restaurant they like, is convenient and make sure it's fancy enough to warrant as a gift (e.g. not McDonalds or Applebees).


11. Refundable Tickets to a Concert


Music, Comedy, Theater..take your pick!

Assuming the couple likes Drake, Coldplay, Adele (HeyI like Adele!) or even neutral music like Hans Zimmerman (His concerts are insanely cheap and amazing), concert goers and music lovers will really enjoy this thought.


Pros: They'll remember the experience and thank you when they actually go for it.


Cons: They could likely be busy that day, or not enjoy concerts or that particular artist. (So try and buy refundable!)


12. Google or Facebook Ad Credit


I know this is random, but any small business owner would appreciate a few hundred bucks in Google or Facebook advertising for free. Ok maybe this is the gift I wish I got!


But with social media and digital marketing driving most business these days, this will be guaranteed to be used by the couple who runs a small business, like a bakery, a hair salon, an automotive business or even doctors and dentists who need to spread the word out in the community.


Pros: Could be the gift that keeps on giving, in case they work very effectively.


Cons: You need to make sure they know how to use it, otherwise they may blow their budget in a day and think it was useless. (As many beginner digital advertising folks do!)



13. Surprise Performance


  • Was there a favorite band or DJ you guys liked in college?

  • Or a special comedian you saw for the first time on a date?

  • Or a magician or something else that will be a welcome surprise and not interrupt the wedding festivities?

  • Or maybe you don't have the cash or ability to provide a monetary gift, but you want to sing for them, dance for them or do something else thoughtful?


If you checked with the planning team and there is space for it, go ahead and plan something for them during the wedding.


For example, a groom's gang we worked with in Los Angeles all went to college in San Francisco. They used to all party at 2AM in SF and would always go to this same hot dog guy late at night. Guess what they did?


bring your favorite dude down!

When his wedding reception was winding down, they drove down the same hot dog guy ALL THE WAY FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO LOS ANGELES to fire up some buns for all the drunk party goes at 2AM!


What a cool touch!



14. Baby *cough* Photo Shoot (scheduled later)


Most couples don't enjoy their wedding because they're so busy with logistics like posing for photos.


But I predict in years to come, as we all focus on the moment, we will tell photographers to take portraits (dedicated posed photos) after the event, as it's probably costing us thousands of dollars per hour to have our wedding reception and we want to ENJOY IT!



I'm gonna get me one of these soon!

If you can afford a $500 gift, go ahead and hire a local photographer to take amazing shots of them a week or two after the wedding, or hey, maybe even for after they have a baby.

They'll remember to use your gift in 9 to 12 months and it will be a great long lasting memory!


Pros: Will be very handy as many people don't want to spend money on a baby photo shoot, but will happily do it willingly if it's a gift. Plus they'll be getting a million baby gifts and onesies during the baby shower anyways.


Cons: If they don't want a baby or are camera shy....then...awkward...


15. Apple or iTunes or Google Play Store Credit


Many couples will have a $10/month Apple Music bill, or pay for various apps they enjoy and games they play. Why not pick up the tag for this for six months or a year? The gift cards can be added to their account and then deducted from each month, people can use it on what they want and a year from now when they have to start paying for it again they'll be like "Damn, that was a thoughtful gift!"


Pros: Everybody has a smartphone that's either Google or Apple so everybody will use it!


Cons: Has a monetary amount attached to it, a little off the cuff but I think it's way better than a coffee machine sitting in the garage!


16. Travel Gift Card (Uber, Hyatt, Southwest, etc...)


Uber, AirBnB and any Hotel/Airline has gift cards available. Let them apply some of these during their day to day married life and/or use it on their honeymoon?


I personally would love an Uber Gift card! Anybody!?!?


Pros: Seems pretty obvious, assuming they use cabs and/or like to travel.


Cons: Can have expiry dates or it might not be the hotel/airline they like. Will also have a monetary amount attached to it.


17. Online Courses


Forget Netflix and Chill, how about E-Learning and Skill?

Most people quit online courses or YouTube tutorials because they're free, and they have very little value associated to them as a result, even if the information is priceless. But a lot of digital marketing companies are giving million dollar educations for between $10 and $100 on sites like Udemy and Skillshare. If the bride or groom is moving to their partners town (say from India to Texas) and needs to start over or figure out a new career, sites like these are golden.


Not only will they provide expert advice in a week that would take years to learn on the job, they will also not be abandoned as they have a monetary amount associated to it and progress is tracked.


If somebody gifted me a $200 course on "How to Build Followers on Instagram" would I feel guilty about not watching all 9 hours of the course? You damn right I would!


Pros: A gift that can keep on giving.


Cons: You have to make sure they'll appreciate it and want or need it. (e.g. I don't think a busy dentist will care about digital marketing or learning French online just because you did.)


18. Gym Memberships





Wedding weight blues? Assuming the bride and/or groom won't take it personally, a gym membership is something we all use and if gifted to a nice/chic gym will be used for sure.


And since post wedding we need to stay busy and settle into married life with a routine, what better way than to gift a 6 month or one year membership to the couple? Just make sure your gym doesn't try to take their credit card info and up-sell them or make them feel guilty about only coming for six months or less.


Pros: Who doesn't love a nice luxury gym membership?

Cons: You have to make sure the gym doesn't try to up-sell them anything or be shady with follow ups. Also that the couple doesn't think you're saying they need it.


19. Costco Membership or Gift Card


I love Costco and I wish they paid me to write this here, because I'd take that money and give it right back to them. But most married couples will move in together and settle into a new life/routine/house, and as we all know, Costco is not just a place to buy stuff, it's an experience.


Pros: They'll get plenty of stuff they need for the house, whether FMCG goods or a TV or other products.

Cons: They need a Costco nearby. Has a monetary amount that's obvious.


20. Pet Accessories


Do the newlyweds have a cat or a dog or other pet? Or maybe they're about to get a puppy post wedding? If so, buying something in the pet department is again, going to save them costs down the road and be utilized.


Pros: Thoughtful in a different way, because often times we love our pets more than we love ourselves and they'll be happy to know you love their pet also!

Cons: Has a monetary amount that's obvious.



Conclusion


Remember the slogan "it's not the gift, but the thought that counts?" Well these days where people don't really NEED gifts, the thought counts even more.


You can of course still get physical, material gifts...but the goal of this post was to simply make sure your gesture is the most useful and appreciated.


I have seen people spend thousands of dollars on a gift that was forgotten, and people spend nothing yet the gift gave a memory that will last a lifetime.

If you have a special momento or something you really want to buy them as a physical product, go ahead and please do! But if you're on the fence on what to do and want a gift that is practical yet special, I think the Amazon gift cards or similar will be a great choice!


Do you guys have any suggestions or great ideas we missed? Please do comment below and I'll add them in!



Ajay Manaktala DJs and plans big fat weddings every week. He knows the joy and stresses of wedding planning, and a lot of that involves side stepping courtesies and politeness. But if you're going to buy a wedding gift, you may as well get one that the wedding couple would want, need or appreciate right?