Apr 02 2008

Ideas for saving on wedding presents

Another wedding-related question from M:

Any gift-giving tips? My fiancé and I usually try to stick to the couple’s registry (neither of us is particularly crafty) and have set a budget/gift. However, I try to use store credit if I have any, 20% or competitor’s coupons, or other good deals.

I think you’re making great points—if you already have store credit or a good coupon consider using those benefits for buying someone a nice wedding gift!

A wedding present doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. It should be something you think the couple will appreciate.

For our wedding last May, people generously gave us a variety of presents. We registered at Target and Macy’s for things like bedding, kitchen items, bathroom things, etc. We received things from the registries and also cash, checks and gift cards.

We were thankful for everything, but for our situation (we moved to Pittsburgh just a few days after our wedding and were fairly broke), we really appreciated the cash and gift cards. It was nice to have less to pack, and that money went a long way in our new home.

Depending on the couple (consider their age, stage in life, financial situation, and what they might want), they might really appreciate cash or gift cards as gifts.

Use their gift registry to find out exactly what they want–then shop elsewhere for a  better deal.

If you plan to use a couple’s registry, get the exact item—not another model or size. But, you don’t have to buy that item from that store.

Search for the exact product at another store or online, such as on Amazon.com. Chances are, you’ll be able to find it at a lower price. When you buy it, call the gift registry number and have the customer service rep mark the item as “purchased” so they won’t get duplicates.

Earn free gift cards to give away, or to use toward buying presents.

I’m accumulating gift cards through sites like MyPoints.com (and thanks to a special promotion, I’m expecting some Target gift cards from Ebates.com as well).

My debit card is linked to a points program, and I can redeem points for gift cards for shopping and restaurants.

My credit card company (that I’m no longer using, btw), gave me two $25 Amazon.com gift certificates.

You can give away those free earned gift cards (be sure that store exists in the couple’s city, and is something they would genuinely enjoy). Or, you can use acquired gift cards to buy the gifts yourself.

For the wedding we’re attending in May, I looked at the couple’s registry on Bed, Bath and Beyond, and tried to find a way to give them $50 worth of gifts in value, without spending that much.

They had several wine-related items on their registry, so I chose their selected set of wine glasses ($27), a vacuum wine saver ($9) and extra stoppers ($8), and a stemware brush ($6).

Those wine glasses would probably shatter if I tried to bring them on our flight, so I bought them online and had those shipped to their doorstep. I bought the other items on Amazon.com with my free gift certificates, and I’ll bring them with me. (When flying, it’s a good idea to wrap gifts after you arrive, so TSA won’t tear open the package to inspect it.)

Thanks to those gift certificates, I was able to avoid spending $23, while still getting them a nice gift set.

Start saving money for gifts now, so it won’t break your budget when suddenly you’re attending a wedding per week.

If you aren’t paying off debt right now and if this won’t hurt your budget, start saving money for gifts and wedding-related travel. You could designate a sub-account within ING Direct to include all presents you expect to give throughout the year (birthdays, Christmas, weddings, etc.).

Add up how much you typically spend on gifts in a year, and aim for saving that amount.

If you can save $10 – $50 (or whatever) per month specifically for gifts, you’ll be that much ahead when it comes time to actually purchase the presents.

Straying from the gift registry/cash options is a-ok

Want to know the wedding gift that made me cry? My maid-of-honor printed an old poem about marriage on nice paper and framed and matted it herself. I’m not sure how much the materials cost, but I know it was quite frugal of her, and it was so touching.

My great-grandmother gave us several gifts, but one of them was a book about marriage she’s had on her shelf for many years. Even though its old and used, it was hers, and I appreciate it.

We received a coffee table book that’s filled with pictures of our beautiful college town of Bloomington, Ind. It was an especially thoughtful gift, as sometimes we get homesick.

Not-in-a-box gifts

Why not give tickets to some area attractions? Maybe they could have a fun day at the zoo, or an art museum, or a baseball game.

Or maybe you have a service you could provide, in lieu of a physical gift. Maybe you’re a skilled cosmetologist and can do the bridal party’s hair and/or makeup on the big day. If you’re a musician, maybe you can provide the ceremony music. Or maybe you can prepare a lovely brunch for the bridal party while they get ready, like Meredith did.

What are some ideas for gifts you’ve given (or received)? How do you save money on wedding presents?

8 Responses to “Ideas for saving on wedding presents”

  1. This is slightly off-topic, but I notice in a lot of your recent posts you are poo-poo-ing the credit card in favor of the debit card. While I have a tendency to do the same, always remember that the credit card has a *lot* more consumer protection than the debit card! Once the debit card is used the money is gone, and very difficult to get back even if you find you’ve bought a defective product or were cheated, while with a credit card you can call the *card* company and get the charges back, and the card company will fight the seller for you. Definitely something to keep in mind, especially for online purchases, or products that may be a pain to deal with if they break, (or any large item repairs that might be defective…).

    A lot of people think the debit card has the same protections, since it uses a Visa or MasterCard logo, but it does not. Something to watch out for.

    Love reading and lurking. :)

  2. My dear friend married last June and we put together a huge basket of Pittsburgh themed “fun” items that she and her spouse could share — she’s from NYC but always jokes about moving to pgh. We included the Pittsburghese book of course, but two inexpensive Pirate tee shirts, two coffee mugs with Pittsburgh logos, a baseball cap (for him), a blanket (for her) and some Pittsburgh food stuffs that could survive the plane ride. They loved the personal touch. I shopped around for the items and then had the basket assembled. They received a ton of china, but I gave them mugs they could easily use every day and think of us!

  3. I’ve been giving Dave Ramsey books for weddings and Financial Peace Junior books for babies.

    All the stuff I wish I’d known when I got married in 1980!

  4. I make quilts for all family members getting married, however if I can’t make a quilt I go to Things Remembered and buy a small photo album and have their names and date engraved on it. I spend about $20, and everybody is happy.

  5. When my aunt flies from Georgia to Pittsburgh bringing gifts on the plane, she wraps the bottom and top of the box separately. The lid can than be lifted off for inspection and she has one less thing to do after arrival.

  6. For my nephews shower [not wedding gift] I put together a “dish” basket–lots of good dishwasher detergent, Jet dry, liquid dish soap, SOS pad, etc–several months worth and coupons for other brands in case the ones I picked didn’t work well in their dishwasher/water. I put it all in a laundry basket [since I knew they had a dish drainer] that was in their color scheme and “wrapped” the top with pretty dishtowels that matched their chosen kitchen colors. My sil did the same for laundry–laundry soap, softener, drier sheets, stain treaters, spray starch etc in a second clothes basket. Since my new niece had never kept house before [not even the dorm!] and had her hands full learning to run the house while finishing her degree, adjusting to marriage,etc, these gifts were really appreciated! It also helped with the first few months of their budget. Neither had ever had to buy groceries and stuff so this gave them a break-in period!
    For the actual wedding gift I give cash. Stuff happens even on honeymoons that you need CASH for!!

    FYI–I will think of you as we dine at the “Overlook” this Saturday! What’s the best dish there–I’ve never been there before!

  7. We have a special savings account just for gift giving … of course it’s usually depleted because I love giving gifts. :)

  8. I very rarely buy wedding gifts from the happy couple’s registry. One reason is that I buy gifts waaay ahead of time (like on after Christmas sales) and stash them. I have given a very nice “couples first Christmas ornament”, a guest book and a book or exhortation about hospitality in the home and (this one has been a favorite) a basket of goodies for the couple to eat when they arrive back from the honeymoon…since they often don’t have time to stock the fridge.

    Jill mom of eight

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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