Classics are classic for a reason — you’ll love these as much as your mom and grandma did. These days, engaged couples can register for their wildest desires, from things like swimming with stingrays in Tahiti to a down payment on their first home and everything in between. And “everything in between” seems to consist of literally anything you could imagine one might want for their home. So staring at a registry can be just a liiiittle overwhelming.
The good news: There are a lot of classic gift ideas you can’t go wrong with, whether they’re on the registry or not. We’re talking things that your mom, her mom, and her mom’s mom likely got when they tied the knot. There’s no way your favorite brides- and grooms-to-be won’t appreciative of these more traditional wedding gift options.
In this day and age, if a couple is living together before marriage, chances are, they have a fully stocked kitchen. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to upgrade it. Graduating from the hand-me-down pots and pans your mom gave you when you first moved out is a big deal, and a wedding is the perfect excuse for a fancy new set of copper or Le Creuset cookware (and it’s the kind of thing that’s hard to justify buying for yourself if you’ve already got a perfectly good, if outdated, set at home).
Realistically, no one uses crystal decanters, stainless steel cocktail shakers and strainers, or those complicated corkscrews that often, but that’s exactly why they make a good gift. A fully stocked bar cart just screams “adulthood,” and these kinds of gifts last forever — meaning your bride- and groom-to-be will still be using that Waterford carafe you got them when they’re celebrating their silver (or 25th) anniversary.
Speaking of drinking, give newlyweds the goods to keep toasting their marriage post-wedding. There’s the classic route of gifting an expensive bottle of Veuve that the couple can drink on their honeymoon or first anniversary, or buying them bar cart 101 staples like a good whiskey or scotch. A more creative idea: Gift them a case of wine with tags on each bottle telling them what milestone to drink it for (think: first dinner party, first fight, first baby…).
Some folklore says giving knives (or anything else that “cuts,” as if you would gift someone scissors) is bad luck for a relationship, but in the same way newlyweds appreciate cookware upgrades, they would love a reason to toss the cheap, dull knives they’ve been using for years. When someone you know is going to start entertaining as a married couple, why not help them start with the kind of equipment you know will last forever?
OK, sure, appliances aren’t exactly a sexy gift, but most couples don’t really want to shell out for a hi-tech new vacuum or the like when they’re also footing the bill for a wedding. But you can bet they’d appreciate a Dyson over the vacuum they got on Black Friday at Walmart, a brand-new Kitchenaid to replace their janky old mixer, or a Vitamix over some bargain blender. (In general, cooking appliances tend to still be the most popular wedding gifts for new couples.)
Sleeping on 200-thread count sheets from Target is really NBD, but if you have the chance to sleep on 800-thread count Egyptian cotton, why wouldn’t you? There’s nothing more luxurious than slipping in between silky soft sheets, and no better reason for a newlywed couple to try that for the first time when they finally have a marital bed to share.
Fancy luggage is a splurge, and something not many people think they want until they’re stuck at a hotel or airport dealing with an overstuffed bag or broken zipper. But gift a couple with some chic, lasts-forever suitcases pre-wedding and you’ll give them the kind of travel high they’ll be riding long after the honeymoon ends. (Bonus point if you throw in monogrammed luggage tags or a passport holders with their new initials.) Check out The Best Luggage Brands for Every Budget.
Here’s something most brides- and grooms-to-be don’t think about when they’re registering for all those place settings, serving dishes, and wine glasses: where they’re going to put them. A dining room armoire or china cabinet isn’t something you want to spring for if you’re not super close to a couple or don’t know what the inside of their kitchen/dining room/living room looks like, but even a gift card to a store that specializes in that kind of storage is a nice gesture if you know they’re planning on stocking up on china and glassware.
You know what comes out of a wedding, besides a hangover and a new lawfully wedded husband and wife? A ton of photos. Most brides and grooms shell out big bucks for a wedding photographer and a photo book, so you can’ go wrong in giving them a way to display the gorgeous photos from their big day. If you want to take it a step further, engrave the frame with their wedding date or something else significant to the pair.
No matter how much time a bride and groom put into their registry, no one is going to scoff if you give them money. But you can make a check feel a little more personal with a nod to certain traditions: At Jewish weddings, for example, monetary gifts in multiples of the number 18 are considered lucky (the number is equivalent to the Hebrew word for “life”); for Buddhists and Hindus, it’s numbers ending in one; and in Chinese culture, it’s traditional to give money — in combinations of lucky numbers 6 and 8 — in red envelopes.