Unique Wedding Gifts

Wedding season is officially upon us, if you haven’t guessed by all the wedding-related posts lately.

If there’s anything more complicated than your own wedding, it’s buying gifts for other people’s weddings.

Now, let me begin by saying that this is why wedding registries exist. If you don’t know where they’re registered, ask the mother of the bride or the maid of honor, or try a search through WeddingChannel.com. If you’re close to the bride (as I am with my own four bridesmaids), feel free to ask her yourself. And remember, in this day and economy, I know very few people who don’t appreciate cash.

But, if you’re visiting this article, it’s probably because you feel that a wedding gift is a symbolic personification of yourself. You want it to be unique and thoughtful, and maybe yet another serving dish or china set or waffle maker just doesn’t scream “meaningful” to you.

If that’s the case, here are some wonderful things we’ve given or been given over the years. (And remember – please send your gift beforehand. The last thing a Bride and Groom want to do is tote that espresso maker to the car after the ceremony.)

A Framed Wedding Invitation

Jack’s aunt and uncle gave us my all time favorite wedding gift: our wedding invitation (which had many, many pieces) thoughtfully displayed and framed. This was especially meaningful as I had under-ordered invitations and literally sent every last one out; I was agonizing about how we hadn’t even kept one for ourselves, and there arrived a beautiful framed keepsake. I almost cried.

You can tote the wedding invitation down to your local framing store and pick out the colors and frame all by yourself, or with assistance from a framer. Or, if you want something particularly unique and handmade, you must check out the paper filigree work of Sandra White. Paper filigree is the artform of rolling and shaping strips of paper to create delicate designs.) Don’t be thrown off by the homemade website: Sandy is a pro.

But don’t just think you’re limited to the invitation – she’ll also do photos, the couple’s vows, or a combination. Sandra’s personalization will run you between $175-$200, depending on how fancy you go, but remember – not only does that include the mat, frame, etc, but it also includes handmade artwork that ensures the bride and groom will never confuse you with someone who gave them a pasta strainer.

Shannon & Rod, Quilling by Sandra White

Sandra's own wedding invitation from 1973

A Family Tree

Boy, does this ever take some dedication, but the pay off is worth it. If you’re artistic, you can tackle the display by yourself; if not, you can enlist the help of an artistic friend. Either way, you’ll have to enlist the family for research help. The mother of the bride and mother of the groom are ideal places to start.

I recently tackled this for my best male friend who’s getting married. Because we’re so close, I basically just leveled with him about what I was doing, and made him track down the necessary information to get me going (essentially just interviewing his grandparents on either side and letting my Ancestry.com account do the rest), and verified the final results with him to make sure everything was relatively accurate.

I drew it out in calligraphy, and framed the entire thing in their wedding colors.

It was a smashing success – he was touched, but his bride (whose family I’d managed to trace back to the founding settlers of Virginia) was floored. It currently hangs in their foyer for the world to see. And I made it!

If you don’t know where to start, Ancestry.com is a great place – they store census records, military records, social security indexes – everything you need for your detective work. For a mere $155 membership, I’ve done my tree, Jack’s tree, and countless friend’s trees, all with relatively minimal information to start with.

If you’re looking for some design ideas, Martha Stewart has a fan-chart that requires minimal artistic endeavor, as well as a slightly more abstract but equally beautiful hand-lettered tree. For something simpler, Roots of Time sells artistic family tree kits; the basic set will run you a mere $40.

Arts Tickets

Now, this is a shameless plug, as Jack and I are both employed in the arts, but arts tickets make awfully romantic dates in your first year of marriage. Whether ballet, symphony, opera, or theatre, a subscription is always a welcome and thoughtful gift that a couple would not normally spend money on in their first year of marriage. (The same might be said, given their personalities, of sporting event tickets or concert tickets.)

Even if you’ve never purchased anything like this for yourself before, the box office staff will be happy to accommodate you. Subscriptions usually require choosing a pair of seats for each performance; you can either choose them for the bride and groom yourself (be sure to check the policy on changing seats), or you can request a voucher that will allow them to choose their own seats at a later date. Be sure to throw in a season brochure (so they know just what, exactly, they have tickets to) and maybe some merchandise to dress it up.

Additionally, you’ll be on their mind long after the wedding has passed.

Jump Start Their Wine Collection

Jack and I buy a case of wine from every city we travel too, and one of the most romantic things Jack has ever done for me is build me a wine cellar in which to store said wine. For months, I told everyone “I’m getting a wine cellar” with a certain smug satisfaction. You can imagine my delight when one of Jack’s uncles jump started our wine collection with six bottles of wine specifically selected to age well for our first, fifth, tenth, etc anniversary, each accompanied by tasting notes on the outside of an envelope and a personal anecdote concerning Jack’s own parents’ 30 year marriage inside.

Don’t Forget the Pets

Jack and I had two dogs when we got married, and inherited a third soon after. Because our friends all know how crazy we are about our pooches, they really knocked it out of the dog park. Two of the most loving gifts we’ve ever been given was a year’s worth of grooming appointments for our schnauzer, and a gift certificate for five days at our local dog boarding spa. This mean that it was easy for Jack and I to get away during our first year of marriage, and took of the pressure of having to rely on our friends to dog-sit while we were out of town.

One Response to “Unique Wedding Gifts”
  1. KC says:

    Love the idea of gifting wine that ages perfectly for anniversaries and the pet boarding gift certs. Thanks for the great ideas!!!

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