I knew that 27 was a hot age for marriage. But I didn’t expect this many of my friends to take the plunge all at once. I have 10 weddings so far in 2013. And I don’t think the list will end there. My bulletin board looks like a calligrapher vomited all over it.
My wedding season kicked off two weekends ago with a black tie evening at Lincoln Center, continued to gain momentum last weekend as I celebrated my best friend from high school’s bachelorette in Nashville, and moves full speed ahead this weekend with my college friend’s nuptials in Florida. It’s like going to a 5-year-reunion 3 weekends in a row. Which means that I’m having tons of fun. So much fun, that my body officially hates me. Wedding season is a marathon, not a sprint.
As much as my liver is feeling the wear and tear, my wallet is suffering even more. The travel is expensive, but so are the gifts…
I’ve never been one to cheap out on my friends. But I’ve also never been someone who remembers to go on the registry in time to snag some of the more exciting and affordable items. Usually, in the few weeks before the wedding, the only things left are a couple of $300 plates or vegetable spoons. Not my idea of money well spent.
Being a professional kitchen hag, I also feel like it’s my duty to go rogue and impose my superior cooking wisdom on the couple by giving them something they didn’t even know they wanted. As I’ve Dr. Schollsified my metallic pumps and packed my clutch for action, I’ve also refined my arsenal of non-registry wedding gifts that I know my friends will love. Some of these things are experiential. Some are material. All are customizable, as any gift for a close friend should be. Here are some of my favorites along with ways to tailor them for the bride and groom at hand.
If you have any other clever ones, let me know in the comments! Lord knows I could use more ideas.
1. Cooking Class. Of course, I’m biased since I do a large part of my class business through wedding gift certificates. But it’s also one of my go-to’s. No, I don’t give myself to my friends. That’s just tacky. I have a few places in New York that I love to gift. For the Manhattanite, I always go with Haven’s Kitchen. It’s just the most lovely atmosphere and they have tons of interesting classes to choose from. Okay okay, I may be the one teaching some of them. But that can be avoided. For the Brooklynite, I go with Brooklyn Kitchen. Both places have a retail shop in front, so I’ll give the couple enough moolah to take a class together and get some goodies after. This is a great option if you’re splitting with someone. Budget, $250.
2. Vintage Serving-ware. The risk of going off-registry is that the couple will already have the item you’re getting them. The one loop-hole is getting them something that is inherently one of a kind – and something that they wouldn’t mind having more than one of. Most people end up registering at more mainstream retail shops that can support online ordering. And that means that most of the time the couple is signing up for the basics or special occasion China. I love going to more niche boutiques or surfing Etsy shops to find vintage platters, cake stands, and tableware that fit the couples’ style, and will be an interesting addition to their entertaining arsenal. In New York, one of my favorite places is Le Fanion in the West Village. They have beautiful Provencal gems. Budget, $125.
3. Of the Month Clubs or Cooking Services. This is one of the better options for personalizing for the couple. If they like coffee, get them a coffee of the month club. Ice cream fanatics? Perhaps something like the Milkmade monthly club. If they’re new to cooking, I like to go with a meal package from one of the new cooking services like Plated. Depending on the price of the club, I like to also get them a customized or cute item to go along with it like a pair of coffee mugs, ice cream bowls, or aprons/oven mitts. Budget, $100 – $200.
4. Restaurant Gift Certificates. Clearly, I love experiential gifts. I think especially for the first year of marriage, it’s important to keep up the excitement and give the couple an excuse to have a special night out together. Especially for people who live in a different city, I love finding out what their favorite restaurant is (or somewhere they’ve been wanting to try) and getting them a gift certificate. You can always add a more personal flourish by creating a nice package with the gift card and a printed “prix fix” menu of your own creation, designed especially for the couple. Budget, $200.
5. Wedding Wine. Similar to the above, I love the idea of celebrating through the years. A nice gift to split with more than one friend is a case of wine. You can find out via one of the parents whether or not they will be keeping any of their wedding wine. If not, find out what it is and buy them a case. They can enjoy a bottle each year for their anniversary. Another fun idea is to buy them a vintage from their wedding year. Again, you can choose something that you know the couple likes. Or buy local from somewhere in the state or town where they’re from. Budget, $250 – 400.