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How I Discovered the Perfect Wedding Gift


Every guest wants to bring the perfect gift. But sometimes, that is easier said than done, even with a registry as your guide.

I’ve been married a long time and have quite a few friends in the same boat. Looking around my house, I’m hard-pressed to find any wedding gifts that survived. But, a few items were home runs, and I still use them today.

guests at weddingGuests at outdoor wedding; Photo by gorodenkoff/

Four words: CorningWare French White Bakeware. I have all three pieces with lids. They’ve contained mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, vegetables at dinner, dry rice and a wet cellphone, and a casserole that actually won a contest. They’ve been used thousands of times. They were on my registry. I silently thank the giver each time I pull them out of the cupboard. And to my twenty-two-year-old self I say, "Nice job putting those on the list." Boss move, given I’d never made a casserole at that age.

There aren’t many things I knew for sure back then, but I did know I’d never be a “Good China” kind of gal. I also knew white dishes and linens were a sure bet. The surviving white pieces have coordinated well with the millions of decor styles I’ve traversed. They fit nicely in my faux Tuscan phase and my faux industrial farmhouse phase. They still work, now that I’m in my faux transitional phase.

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I surveyed my friends to find out more about their weird and wonderful wedding gifts.

A clear winner in the weird category was a package of socks. In hindsight, the socks proved useful, but as a wedding gift? Another friend received five electric woks on her wedding day. Five. She must have put off a very strong, pro-stir-fry vibe. On the upside, four of her friends received electric woks for Christmas that year, so it worked out. Another reported that they received a single blue dinner plate. She is still scratching her head.

I received a set of sheets that weren’t my “colors” or the size that fit our mattress. I was young. I didn’t realize that an extra set of sheets is always useful. Especially once kids enter the picture.

Then there’s the flip side: What was your best wedding gift?

toasting at a weddingToast being given at a wedding; Photo by Thomas William/

When it comes to giving wedding gifts, there are only two slam-dunk choices. Either get something that’s on the registry or give the happy couple cash. But above all, don’t judge. As one with lots of life experience, it’s tempting to tell a young couple that the odds of using asparagus tongs are low, but hey, they want a set of asparagus tongs. Or, to conclude they know that a popcorn maker is superfluous. We all have different dreams.

Some of us cannot be bound by a list. And it turns out, some of the best wedding gifts aren’t on anyone’s list.

One friend got a card table and chairs. They didn’t register for the set, but in life, you won’t regret having a card table and chairs in the basement. Another friend received a box fan. I mean, yes, right? One bride opened a set of luggage on her special day. She said they used the heck out of that luggage! Another bride received a crystal vase that she didn’t want or need. And now, whenever she gets flowers, she thinks of her wedding. Tears welled in my eyes when I learned that. Or get this, a friend of mine received a framed copy of the sheet music from her wedding song. I really want to steal that idea.

Couple giving gift envelopesElders giving red packet to newlywed couple; Photo by hxyume/

Back to the practical, one friend received a step stool. Who doesn’t need a step stool? Another couple— each one preparing for their second marriage—requested that friends purchase gift cards to the local nursery. They were able to plant a pretty landscape at their newly combined home. I really loved that one, too.

The bottom line is gratitude. You may not know you need an extra set of sheets or a lone blue dinner plate, but you do!