Wedding gifts in a college world


Gifting in general can be a laborious, stressful process. Whether it’s for a birthday or holidays, it’s difficult to be completely sure that the gift you’re giving will be a winner.

Buying gifts for a wedding is no less of a challenge, especially when you’re going to be among a large group of other gift givers.

Before delving into department store bins or looking up every store the wedding couple is registered for, it is best to first reflect upon your relationship with the couple. Do you know both individuals well or are you closer to one more than the other? Are these people your coworkers or old, school friends? Are you in the wedding party?

Answering these questions can help determine your level of intimacy with the couple, where you fall on the gift scale and what expectations there might be.

Your own financial situation should also be taken into consideration. If you’re a college student and expect many of those invited will also be in college or recently transitioned into a postgraduate position, it may be safe to assume that the couple has taken these things into consideration, thus alleviating any obligation to produce an overly lavish gift.

To registry or not to registry

There is an internal battle that many wedding gifters experience – to stick to the registry or to branch off and be creative. While registries leave out much of the guesswork, some people have the urge to deviate and present an item of sentimental value, perhaps a gift that reflects the unique relationship between the giver and the couple. In these instances, the questions asked previously to identify that relationship will help you make that distinction.

“I think they (gift givers) should stick to the registry, but if they think they know the couple well enough, they can diverge into something fun or creative,” Kelsey Koblitz, senior in psychology and family studies, said.

If you do choose to stick with the registry, it is important to keep in mind that not every item is set in stone.

“Registry items are merely suggestions, not obligations,” Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, said in a Real Simple article.

A registry serves as a guideline for what the couple wants and needs. Reasonable deviations could be made if cost is an issue, just make sure what you intend to buy or make will fulfill the same requirements.

You’re just not that close

There are going to be instances in life in which you get invited to a wedding and you barely know the couple or even one of them. Maybe you work with one and you got the courtesy invite or you’re one of a hundred extended family members whose name they only know because they asked their Great-Aunt Matilda.

Either way, don’t worry in the slightest about going above and beyond for this wedding. Sticking to the lower-priced items in the registry is perfectly acceptable. Another option is to go with a nice card and a gift certificate to a store the couple is registered with.

Don’t, however, give cash. It can be perceived as tacky and determining an amount to give can be uncomfortable. With a gift certificate, at least, you are being intentional about where the money is going and show some awareness of their interests.

Bringing a gift or not

Some couples may request donations to charity in place of gifts, while still others may tell guests not to bring or give anything at all.

“I did not (bring a gift), but only because the groom asked us not to,” Nick Scherrer, junior in economics, said. “He knew a lot of the guests would be of young age and didn’t want anyone to feel guilty for not being able to afford anything.”

Ultimately, the couple will be understanding of anything you decide to do, gift or not. What matters most is the intention behind it.

“I’d appreciate the idea of people bringing gifts and I’d expect my closest friends would do what they could in terms of wedding gifts,” Felipe Ojeda, sophomore in open option, said. “But on a college budget, I wouldn’t expect anything extravagant.”