Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's that Time of the Year Again

My fiance's friend's wedding yesterday marked the opening of that time of the year again...yes, the wedding season. Weddings can be fun if you're not going to 5 in a year (way too much for me). Every couple is different, so I try to have fun with it by being creative with their gifts. I know the registry and cash are usually the preferred gifts of choice for the bride & groom, but I truly believe in being personal and thoughtful. So below, I'm letting you in on my gift giving secrets, all functional AND thoughtful.

Give a gift that keeps on giving

A gift certificate to a culinary school is a favorite of mine. We found a school that offers a wide range of classes, from wine appreciation to cooking. Learning about wines (and tasting lots of it) or cooking is not only fun, but really pays off. I got this this idea when I gave my fiance (a wine lover) a gift certificate for the local culinary school for an introduction to wine class. Now every time we go out for dinner, he's confident and knows exactly what to get!

Here's the one rule I follow with gift certificates - while it's nice to get a piece of certificate with meaning behind it, combine it with a little of something. If you think the couple would enjoy a cooking class, include these rubber spatulas - they're great not only because they are a must have for the kitchen (I swear by them), but also because they can be personalized with the couple's names. And if you think they would enjoy wine classes, start them off with a great bottle of wine or champagne.

Give a gift they can use on their honeymoon

We just used this idea recently. Since the happy couple were going to France for their honeymoon, we combined a gift certificate that's great for international travelling with a mini travel guide for Paris. See that I followed my rule here for gift certificates?

Anyhow, the gift certificate could be used in hotels & restaurants in any country of your choice. For the mini-guide, I made it from scratch and put in tips, a map and the top must see's in Paris based on our own lovely experience. I'll blog about this craft project later, but here's an image of what I made.

Give cash when you know you should

For me, cash could be a personal gift if you mean it. This is ironic considering my general belief that registry and cash are very impersonal. They are safe bets if you don't really know the happy couple, or on the other extreme...if you're family.

The family thing and cash gifts is especially true for the traditional Chinese culture...for practical reasons perhaps. This is traditionally how it was done - the groom's family throws the wedding banquet (which is about a 10 course feast with no dancing *gasp!*), and guests show up with cash in red envelops. Basically, the bride's family does not spend a cent on the wedding; instead, they get a dowry. This is because in the old days, the precious daughter was thought to be taken from her family to live with her future husband and in-laws. This was how the bride's family was "compensated." Believe it or not, some form of dowry is still customary today.

So with cash, I usually add to it little things like a scrapbook of our good times together (me and bride/groom), or a shadow box with meaningful objects in it. This is how I add personal meaning to an impersonal gift.

If you're in a bridal party, the gift really depends on the much you're spending on everything - the attire, travel, hotel, etc. The bottom line to creative wedding gift giving is that if you really know who the bride & groom are (their personalities, interests, needs), a little bit of thought should take care of the rest. Hopefully my gift giving secrets gave you some good ideas.

I hope you enjoyed this really long post, and I sure hope my married friends enjoyed my gifts to them. Here's to a fun wedding season and life-long happiness to all my married friends!

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