Reader Question: Inexpensive Wedding Gift

This reader question comes from Aileen.  She is trying to find a nice, but inexpensive wedding gift.


I am going to a wedding in a few weeks and need to buy a gift. I cant afford to spend too much, but would like to get something nice. The couple already has a house and are in their 30s. Any ideas for a nice, yet inexpensive, gift?

Do you have any advice for Aileen?

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  • lisa d

    I received a charming gift when I got married. It was a wicker picnic basket filled with plates, cutlery, tablecloth, napkins, plastic wine glasses, corkscrew. Plus a bottle of wine and assorted crackers and biscotti. Shopping sales and discount stores, you can probably put this together easily within your budget. It was very creative, romantic,and memorable. I’ve been married for 27 years.

  • Alyson

    A movie night basket would be fun – and you can get most of the stuff at the dollar store! Get a couple date-night worthy movies and stuff the basket with popcorn, candy… and as the “keepsake” gift, check to see if you could find a nice throw blanket with their last name embroidered on it. I would have loved to get something like that when I got married!

  • nuny

    When money was tight, I used to buy a beautiful frame the size of the invitation and frame the wedding invitation. I’d write my wishes for the couple on the back of the framed invite.
    You’d be surprised what good buys you can get on ornate frames at local frame shops.

  • Nina

    I know everyone is different but I always thought you were supposed to give cash at the wedding. The bridal shower is where you have the oppourtunity to give a actual gift. I know you may feel that you can not give them as much with just money but I bet they know your gift has the best intentions and it is what you can afford. I am getting married and I would much rather someone just give me cash. Most likely if the item is not from my registry I do not want it. I am not trying to be a bridezilla lol but people give gifts as a nice gesture and try to get something that the gift receiver will like…There is a 100% chance that the receiver will like cash no matter what amount.

    For a gift though think about what the couple likes and go from there.
    And there is always a nice lenox picture frame…If you have an outlet near you they always have great stuff on the cheap.

  • Leslie

    Keep watch for gift card deals

  • Etah

    Find out where the couple has registered and buy them something from their registry. I think most couples would agree with Nina that they want things that they register for. So even if you get them one of the lesser priced gifts on their registry, the couple is going to be grateful that they got something off their list. I used to work in a kitchen store and when couples registered there, we told them to register for some lower priced gifts as well because not everyone can afford $50 or more.

    Otherwise, a $20 cash gift will probably be received with much more gratitude than a frame or knick knack that cost as much or more.

  • lizv

    Sometimes people can not afford to give cash at weddings, and I think that’s what’s going on here. She’d rather give a thoughtful gift to make up for not giving a large cash sum. That is how I’m reading this. I think. That being said, anything personalized would be really nice. is great. Maybe Christmas ornaments, glasses, a personalized frame with the wedding date on it. You can even buy something like nice pillow cases/sheets or towels and get them embroidered with the couples initials.

  • Jessica

    Check out Pinterest… they have some amazing homemade (looks expensive and store bought) gift ideas that are inexpensive to make. I personally do not agree with the one post. As a bride you are having this reception to thank all those who have and will support you in your relationship and marriage and the gift is not important. If someone wanted to give us a gift that was thoughtful or home made I would of been touched by the thought

  • Jodi

    Hmm, I agree, might be a little strange to bring a gift to the actual wedding. You might want to bring it up with the bride and make an attempt to try to give some type of token or gift later on down the road.

  • Jessica

    This is one of my favorites…

  • Rachel

    I went on etsy, and had a picture made up of the couples last name, with a different photo for every letter. It came nicely framed with the date on it.

  • lizv

    Times is tight, and things have changed. People have to be more open minded about giving and receiving gifts. My best friend got married last year, and she knew we were budgeting very carefully. the gift I gave was doing the entire bridal party’s makeup (my profession). She was so over the top appreciative, more so than a couple of hundreds would have done.

  • Maria

    Like some of the responses here, I also suggest getting something personalized. If you are crafty and have some time, visit Michaels for their cross-stitched kits. If not, go with a site like etsy. If they’re into Xmas, Hallmarks and mall kiosks should have ornaments to personalize now.

  • Lady J

    where I am from, if you are going to a wedding reception you are supposed to give a cash gift that covers the cost of your plate. Where I’m from, it is not uncommon for receptions to cost well over $100 (maybe even $200) a person, so, you’d give at least that. But not everyone could do that, and no one is supposed to throw a party expecting to receive gift.

    since they’ve already set up house, they probably have whatever odds and ends they need for the house.

    For someone’s anniversary, I tend to give a gift that the couple can enjoy or share together, such as a gift card to a restaurant. But, you can always put together something from your stockpile. You can make a basket for a meal they can make together, and maybe add a wine that would go with the dish.

    Or, maybe you can find some people to chip in with for something bigger.

    • Lady J

      P.S. How close are you with the couple? If you are really close, you can probably arrange to go and clean their house while they are on honeymoon, this way when they come back, everything is nice and neat. It would only cost you time. I know I would have loved that.

      • Cindi

        I love this idea. THings can be so hectic leading up to the wedding. I think most couples would be greatful with a gift of your time!

      • Claire

        Great gift idea! Just window cleaning alone can cost a fortune!

  • Claire

    If the couple already has kids (or pets) maybe you could offer to watch them during their honeymoon or one night before the wedding so they can spend time finishing up loose ends?

  • karen

    How about making a scrapbook of there special day. Take pictures. Alot of craft stores have coupons 50% off a regular or sale priced item, and coupons on photo processing too. Buy a photobook and take pictures of there wedding. Scrap book supplies are always on sale. Use there wedding invitation for the cover. They’ll love it.

  • Jenn

    I am in the same situation, going to a wedding but cannot afford a cash gift. So I am making a homemade personalized gift that I think will be appreciated much more than the $10 it will take for me to make it– first part, I found a styrofoam wreath in the dollar bins at target, I wrapped the whole thing in twine that I had on hand, made fabric flowers from an old sweater and glued little pearls from an old bracelet in the center of the flowers and glued those to the wreath, and bought a wooden initial of their last name from a craft store, painted it to match the fabric flowers and glued that on. Second part of the gift- many of you have probably seen on pinterest, writing with sharpie onto white dishes and baking to make it permanent- I bought 2 white mugs and 2 white plates from the dollar store, on the mugs I’m going to write “Mr” and “Mrs” and their wedding date on the handles, and on the plates I am going to write out the lyrics to their first dance song around the edge of the plates. I disagree with the commenter that all brides would prefer the cash that it would take to make a personal gift. I know for a fact that this bride will LOVE this much more than $10 in her pocket.

  • Andrea

    Things have been tight for us too and I try to make my gift look nice than than the amount of money I spent on it. If the couple is registered at a place like Macy’s–most of their items will likely go on sale at some point. I often purchase a couple of the smaller things from the registry and put them together in a basket with some things that coordinate–like mixing bowls and spoons from the registry with a small cookbook, homemade (or nicely packaged) cookie mix, recipe cards, dish towls, etc. I also put together a kitchen basics laundry basket for a bride who was moving here from across the country to the groom’s house. I know many people have talked about just giving the amount of money you can because people like cash, but I guess I just feel really cheap giving someone $20 when I could put my coupon skills to work and create a whole basket for the same amount of money. HTH

  • Laura D.

    Find a nice sized crystal bowl, one that can fit mashed potatoes in it for holiday dinners. Most couples will get some sort of china/dinner set for family dinners, as well as the glasses to go with it. The sets usually come with bowls for vegetables, platters for meats but never a bowl good enough for the potatoes or yams. If you just purchase a clear crystal bowl, cheap ones can look very nice, it will go with anything. You can probably find one on sale for $19.99 to $24.99.

    I’ve changed my china three times over 25 years to keep up with the amount of invites. Since the normal dinner is now 18 to 25 people I have gotten 2 more bowls so there’s one at each end of the table and one in the middle. The nicest part is I always get compliments on it, and I still like it!

  • Andrea

    Oh something else I put together was a set of date nights with an Around the World theme. I used a code and purchased a bunch of certificates to different places–Spanish, Thai, Italian, etc. Of course this couple lived in New York city, so there were tons of restaurants to choose from. Everyone needs (or wants) a date night!

  • Claire

    You can also get lots of new things on craigslist from brides who recieved doubles. I know this because I sold an extra set of toasting flutes and cake servers. They were the ones I wanted but I got doubles so I sold the new in box ones on craigslist for a fraction of the price.

  • Claire

    For my SIL’s wedding I made them a candy buffet table. I found out her colors beforehand and bought the vases (variety of sources). The candy was all candy that went on clearance during the recent holidays and the remainder I got from Oriental Trading.

    It did take quite sometime to collect the vases, but now I have them (see link for photo idea) :

  • Claire

    For my SIL’s wedding I made them a candy buffet table. I found out her colors beforehand and bought the vases (variety of sources). The candy was all candy that went on clearance during the recent holidays and the remainder I got from Oriental Trading.

    It did take quite sometime to collect the vases, but now I have them (see link for photo idea) : philadelphia.craigslist(dot)org/art/3283204976.html

  • Bettyanne

    Why not buy a discoumt restaurant gift certificate from that they can use at a local restaurant of their choice? This usually requires you spend an additional amount at the restaurant. Then give a visa gift card for that amount (typically $35.00) they must spend to redeem the certificate.

  • Kelly

    I just recently go married a couple of months ago. I know times are hard and I expected not to get much money from certain guests at my wedding.It didnt bother me because I wanted them to share my day. The only thing is if you are attending a wedding you should give cash not a gift (a gift is for a engagement party or bridal shower). Just remember when you go out to eat with your husband at a restaurant It is going cost you more money the $20.At a wedding you are going to have music,dancing, dinner, dessert and alcoholic beverages which would cost you more money than $20 if you are going out for the night with your husband.

  • pa girl

    My grandma is going to a wedding and she its on a limited income so i suggested putting together a basket with items from my stockpile, she bought a laundry basket and celophan paper and we filled it with Landry care and clenineg items, (with all the glade deals, the couple will definitely have their house house smeling nlike fall). We placed a beautiful bow and the basket worth was more than any other small gift she would have bought from the register and my grandma’s oop was just $3.

    • Kim D.

      That is an awesome idea!! Whenever I go to bridal showers, I always like the kitchen gadget/food gift baskets, but no one ever thinks about laundry! (And my laundry stockpile is HUGE).

  • Amanda

    I have always given a custom wedding scrapbook. Use their invitation to help with a theme and colors. Then all the bride has to do is slide in photos and wala! Instant awesome scrapbook for her and minimal work.

    I do cheat. I use an etsy vendor. You can usually get a decent size scrapbook for about $30 and it’ll be shipped to them.

    Another idea… when my hubby and I got married we were already living together. But my Gma gave us new pillows and made pillow cases. The great thing about pillows is that every year SOMEONE in the house will need a new one. Good practical gift. And custom made pillow cases are always special.

  • Jessica

    I am not sure where everyone is from, but we give gifts at weddings around here.It is each guests choice ti give a gift or cash. There is no rule. As far as the original question. I love to give a personalized gift. A holiday ornament, or anything the couple would like. If they are into gardening maybe a gazing ball with stand. the possibilities are endless. I have many items from our wedding I still display.In my opinion much more memorable and thoughtful than a cash gift.

  • Carol

    I have seen this done at showers, but it would also be great for a wedding idea. Buy a few bottles of wine or champagne, and label them for the special occasions that are going to come after the wedding. You can find nice inexpensive wine these days, and VERDI is a great inexpensive sparking wine. You can have one for Wedding night, 1st Christmas together, 1st fight, 1st New Years, 1st Anniversary, a sparking bottle of cider for 1st baby (if they are planning on kids), 1st dinner party. And you can find cute poems to go with them.

  • Kim D.

    As much as I hate to say it, I would avoid bringing a physical gift TO the actual wedding. It is one more thing for the couple to worry about bringing home from the venue- it may get lost in the shuffle (you’d be surprised), left somewhere it’s not supposed to be or even broken.

    Bridal showers are a different story entirely- actual gifts are so much better to give there than cash is. No one has fun watching people open envelopes.

    **However**- if for whatever reason, gifting at a shower is not possible, you can very easily make/purchase any of the above gifts and have it sent to the couples’ home. If you are dead set on handing them a gift at their wedding, it should probably fit in an envelope- MUCH easier for the designated gift person to keep track of (typically the maid of honor, who is already doing a lot of work that day). Cash is traditional but by no means necessary. There are always a ton of gift card deals that happen at grocery stores and a gc to a restaurant would be really nice. I loved the idea that Bettyanne mentioned above- I always snag those when they have their 70-80% off codes.

    Another nice idea that fits in an envelope? Homemade “Gift Certificate” booklets. Are you known for a special dish that you make extremely well? Throw in a certificate for one of those meals, hot and delivered (must be ordered in advance, naturally lol). How about one night of babysitting? One day of help around the house? Any special skill that you have- offer it. They will definitely appreciate anything you decide, but no one here knows them as well as you do. The trick is to be creative, but think about things that are useful. There is no sense in spending your hard earned money on something they will never use and might possibly (*gasp*) sell or throw away after a few years- even if you get it on clearance.

  • Kim D.

    Oh and in case my post wasn’t long enough…..I wanted to clarify that I think most people who are saying that gifts are not given at a wedding probably mean that gifts are given before or after the wedding, not AT the wedding itself. Otherwise……why on Earth would any couple have a registry?

  • Aileen

    Thanks for all the great ideas! Now I have a ton of things to consider. 🙂

  • Brandy

    Where I am from, Illinois, we normally bring a gift and leave it on a gift table at the reception. Not at the actual wedding ceremony of course. We are actually going to a wedding tomorrow. The couple live in Texas and we didn’t attend a bridal shower so we will be bringing our present to them with us to the reception.
    I was fond of the themed gift basket ideas. Breakfast in bed; panacake mix, syrup, jam, and things like that all wrapped up. Or the spaghetti dinner idea, pasta, sauce, apron, wooden spoon, pot holders, and a towel all wrapped up.
    Another idea I thought was fun was board games. It’s kind of cheesy, but I would like it if I were getting married. What a fun way to spend time with the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with!