HomeFamilyWe presently need presents.

We presently need presents.

I admit it. Girl Ninja and I have been terrible wedding gift givers as of late. In fact, we are four wedding presents behind, with the most overdue gift being 10 months late…and counting.

This is especially embarrassing considering Girl Ninja and I got gifts from each of these persons on (or before) our wedding. Needless to say, we’ve dropped the ball major and after attending Girl Ninja’s older sister’s wedding this last weekend, we are ready to play catch up.

During our first year of marriage we attended approximately eleven billion weddings. The idea of picking a gift (even if off the registry) for reach of these weddings severely stressed me out. This is why I tried pitching the “cash only” gift giving policy. Whenever a birthday, wedding, shower, etc came up, instead of giving the person a gift they may not like, we would simply give them cold hard cash.

Girl Ninja obviously shut that idea down as it clearly showed a lack of effort and thought. So here we stand now, four wedding gifts behind, about to be at least a couple hundred dollars poorer, wondering what is the perfect gift that will say “we love you and we are sorry this is late” all at the same time?

Today, we begin our mission to be less-sucky friends to those we love most. Something tells me Pottery Barn, Crate And Barrel, and Macy’s Home are in my very near future. Wish me, and my bank account, luck 🙂

I’m four wedding gifts behind. Are you behind at all? Have you ever just NOT gotten someone (whose wedding you’ve attended) a gift? What dollar amount do you typically try to spend?



  1. I just give cash. I loved getting cash when I got married, and I’m perfectly fine stuffing a few £20s into an envelope now. I know there’s something to be said for getting a special gift, but if there isn’t something obvious to get a person or couple that really speaks of the true and deep friendship we have for each other, I fork over the notes and don’t feel a smidge of guilt about it.

  2. I completely agree, cash is king. When you’re that belated though, it will likely make your laziness look even worse. “Hey, congrats on your wedding 10 months ago. Here is twenty bucks to help you buy all the things people need as newlyweds, even though you already bought them.”

  3. Maybe because I’m a guy but I always though cash was preferable. My girlfriend generally picks something off the registry for the shower and then I provide the cash for the wedding. Is this not how it’s done?

    I agree with Midwest however. You missig the wedding or the immediate aftermath, cash is no longer an option. Your problem is that they either received all they wanted on the registry or they went out and used the money their better friends gave them to get the things they did not receive. If you’re 10 months or even 2 months late, you’re best option is a REALLY nice bottle of wine. Something in the 100 dollar/bottle range.

    Good luck.

  4. I do wedding gifts early because I always do the same thing. I’ll pick up a set of the couple’s wine glasses (or wine paraphernalia, like a Houdini or wine bottle rack) and then I’ll couple that with a his/hers bottle of wine (I’m a fan of “Fat Bastard” and “Mad Housewife,” as they come in white and red and are reasonable). In the ten or so weddings I’ve attended thus far, this gift has been well received. Although, being as the gift is a little late, a nicer bottle of wine would probably be worth it in apology points.

  5. I dislike the idea of registries on principle. A gift, in my opinion, should be the giver’s choice, not a response to the recipient’s list of items they wish others to give them. That being the case, I think you can’t really go wrong with cash, but you really can try to use some imagination to find ideas that others are less likely to discover. If they’re sports or concert fans, get them some tickets. If they like art, buy them a drawing or painting. (And yes, you can do so in the $100 range; see my archived article for you.) If they like wine, buy an especially fine bottle.

    Personally, I solve the problem for myself by never going to weddings. I really can’t stand them; if it’s not the bad food it’s the ear-splitting band, the forced conversations with people you have nothing in common with, the intrusive photographer/videographer, the need to buy gifts, etc. . . .

    • ohhhh, I would really dislike it if someone else selected art for me! My spouse and I have enough trouble both liking the same piece, let alone having someone else select it!\
      While some gifts not on the registry are great (ie concert tickets), many end up being guilt trips that the couple doesn’t have space to keep and really dislikes 🙁

      • With any gift, there is the risk that the recipient won’t like it. I still think that if there’s anything “crass” (n.b. Jake’s comment later on), it’s publishing a list of things you want on a registry and expecting people to buy it for you. If you don’t like a gift you’ve received, it’s yours to dispose of however you wish.

  6. We normally give $100 as a gift and have always given cash, more if the wedding is immediate family around $250. We actually think it is the most thoughtful gift to give- registries aren’t always updated and this allows people to use it as they actually wish. We would never do gift cards as that is just money that is limited in some form or fashion (only use in a certain place or use in a certain fashion) Money was the thing we were most pleased to receive and it is still sitting in a Tax Free account. We plan to use it as a down payment or to furnish a place when we eventually buy.

    Ninja, I love both you and and Girl Ninja but I have to say I have never even heard of people falling behind in this area. This means that you actually attended the event they have opened the gifts and sent out thank yous and are aware that you guys haven’t given anything. I just wouldn’t have been able to do that. I am surprised that Girl Ninja shut the money gift idea down but went for the delayed gift idea.

    Side note the most weddings we attended together in a year was 14. That was a very expensive year 🙂

    • All the etiquette books say you have a year to send a wedding gift, so technically the Ninjas aren’t in the wrong yet.

  7. The cutest wedding gift we got was a year late and my friend gave it to us at HER wedding! On her big day she had gone out of her way to have our gift sitting there at our place setting at her own reception, I thought that was pretty adorable (it was also a big turquoise box from Tiffany’s…so that was ridiculous!!). We are in the $50-$100 range and since we live out of town from so many people we typically send it via registry and knowing that people get gajillions of gifts, I don’t really care if we get it there before or after the wedding…I just send it when I remember;)

  8. Well, I am rather opinionated on this subject and have covered it a lot!
    Cash is King… one of the reasons is that most places give the couple a discount, so why would you buy a gift, just to pay more than if they buy it themselves with cash?
    Plus, cash doesn’t have to be boring, there are a LOT of ways you can make it more interesting – self plug, I have a section started on my site with some ideas.
    Currently, I’d say I’m ahead… but only because it’s my lil’ bro’s wedding this summer and I’ve kind of made it an Olympic sport to get them things. My spouse has made me repeat, “I, Anne, will not buy anymore presents for my brother.”
    I haven’t attended any weddings since ours, but boy are we going to be amazing gift givers now. We were pretty good before, but will be way more awesome. We spend anywhere from $100-250, depending on our relationship with the people/what we’re invited to/etc. (Note: I don’t subscribe to the cover your plate theory, but it’s moderately common here to invite larger circle friends to the post-dinner party, so in those cases we tend to give less.)

  9. Actually the last wedding I attended had a “Honey Moon Registry” where attendees can either purchase a gift off the standard Wedding Registry OR they can apply funds towards the couple’s honeymoon like funding a snorkling tour, a romantic dinner, an italian serenade off their balcony etc….
    I thought the idea was pretty neat.

  10. Wow, looks like I’m not inviting you to my wedding if I ever have one.

    I don’t really understand how you can mess up wedding gifts. Go to their registry and pick something…???

  11. I think I’ve only given one gift off the registry. Having attended mostly Asian weddings, they don’t even have a registry and it’s assumed that cash will be given. I usually give between $100 – $150, more if I’m bringing a date.

  12. I have a list of people in my head that showed up, at $64 per plate and gave no gift. There were also 12 People who didn’t show up, and we had to pay for their meals. Apparently I’m still pissed about it.

    • I must have been a very laid back bride. I can’t tell you who gave a gift and who didn’t. Nor can I remember who didn’t make it to the reception. The only distinct memory I have about guests behaving badly was my husband’s aunt and uncle who were upset that we wouldn’t allow their high school aged daughters to bring dates to the wedding due the size restrictions on the venue. They did not come to the wedding, but DID show up for the reception just to eat the food and then left without speaking to us or my husband’s parents. They did give us a gift, which seemed nice initially, crystal candlesticks, except that they are 2 different sizes. I can’t figure out if it had once been a set of three and they gave us their cast offs when one broke or if they honestly thought 2 candlesticks of different sizes was a nice gift. Since they behaved so badly, I expect that the gift was intended as an insult.

  13. We have only been to one wedding so far and we gave them a gift card to crate and barrel. Granted, I had already talked to the groom, and he said he would prefer the gift card so he could buy his dream couch from that store. I honestly would prefer cash than a wedding gift. Cash is king. Plus, I bet you I would find a better deal on stuff than most people.
    Good luck on gift shopping!

  14. Hubby and I loooved getting cash for our wedding… it bought us a heap of new funiture when we moved from our rental apt into our condo, but that’s not to say the actual gifts we got weren’t appreciated. We’ve only had to attend 1 wedding since we got married almost 10 years ago… and it was my first cousin’s the year after we got married. The amount of the gift depends on the relationship we have with the bride and groom; family members will get about $200-250, friends get $100 or something off their registry.

  15. The theme I am seeing in the comments reflect the experience I have seen in life: guys think cash is king, girls think it is thoughtless, and society says it is crass. I had a cousin get married about a year ago, and their wedding page simply called for cash gifts if interested, but people still brought gifts because lots of people seem to be uncomfortable not giving a physical gift.

    I am getting married soon and would love it to be able to just request cash, which would go towards a down payment of a house. We already live together in an apartment and have all the spatulas we need.

    For the questions, not behind on any gifts (registries make this so easy), always gotten one if we went to the wedding, and we generally spend $50-100 on the gift.

  16. Etiquette-wise, you have up to a year after the wedding to give a gift, so you are still OK. Personally though, I feel uncomfortable attending a wedding for which I have not yet given or at least ordered the gift, so we have not gotten behind. Our gift price range is $70-80.

    I’m with you on gift-giving stressing you out. I scored a 0 on gift giving as my love language. But that’s why I love registries so much – the recipient is telling you what they want! Just pick something! If GN is so concerned about the type of gift to give, she should take (timely) responsibility in picking it out.

    Don’t shift the responsibility of communicating a message to the gift itself. Just pick something (or bundle up cash) and send a card that explicitly states “I love you and I’m sorry this is so late” if that’s the message you want to get across.

  17. In the Asian culture (I’m Chinese), cash is actually the preferred gift. The idea is to generally cover the cost of you and your significant other’s attendance, plus a small bonus, which generally is $200-400 per couple. Obviously, if you are close to the couple, then you may decide to give more.

  18. We’ve done cash this year, which seems to have been appreciated. It’s given at least one of our sets of friends cash for their honeymoon, so that works for me!

  19. I’ve never been late on gifts, but that’s probably because I have a plan B. If I’m ever late, I plan to get them tickets to something like Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo or the Puyallup Fair and pair it with a picnic basket appropriate for the season. Like a date night to go.

  20. For most of the weddings I’ve attended recently, the couple planned to move soon after they were married to another apartment or another state. In that case, I really do see cash as being the best option. If I got them something, even if the wedding was local to their current home, they’d still have to pack it up once more and unpack it in the near future. If I gave them cash, they could buy the things they needed once they got to their new destination and only do that whole process once.

    My plan of action for these gifts that are several months out would be to see if the registry is still active and if there’s anything left on it that they may not have bought themselves. If there’s nothing left, and you know the couple well, find something that you know they would appreciate. If you can’t think of anything with a good bit of head-scratching or don’t know their taste well, then I would send a cash gift or a gift card to one of the places they registered.

  21. My hubby and I LOVED getting cash. I think that it depends on the couple, though… our friends and family knew that we were in the process of rehabbing our house, so we really needed the money more than china. After all, what is the use of getting china when you don’t have a kitchen to store it?

    Apart from cash, my favorite gifts were cooking gadgets… I got an immersion blender and a KitchenAid mixer that I use all the time.

    We’re going to a wedding this summer where the couple registered for some ridiculous things – $60 for a dish drying rack? Really?? We asked them if they wanted anything specific off of their registry and they replied that they “needed everything” off of the registry.

    They’re getting cash… then if they want to spend that money on the dish drying rack, they can spend it themselves.

  22. I’m a dude so perhaps I’m not up to date on the wedding gift rules…but I don’t know anyone that is that far behind on so many gifts. Definately not the group you want to be in.
    If it’s alrady 10 months late, I would almost wait and present them the gift on their one year anniversary.

    You seem to do really well with budgeting and other financial issues, so perhaps you need to put some terms on your wedding gift giving:
    Treat it like a student loan – for each month that your gift is late, you have to pay $X (or some percent interest) towards something you want to punch in the face (Cats, donate to new Hipster clothing, black licorice, etc). That should resolve the problem immediately.

  23. I’m a dude so perhaps I’m not up to date on the wedding gift rules…but I don’t know anyone that is that far behind on so many gifts. Definately not the group you want to be in.
    If it’s already 10 months late, I would almost wait and present them the gift on their one year anniversary.

    You seem to do really well with budgeting and other financial issues, so perhaps you need to put some terms on your wedding gift giving:
    Treat it like a student loan – for each month that your gift is late, you have to pay $X (or some percent interest) towards something you want to punch in the face (Cats, donate to new Hipster clothing, black licorice, etc). That should resolve the problem immediately.

  24. Wow! Some of these folks take this stuff pretty seriously!

    About 8 years ago DH and I showed up to our very first mexican wedding with (I think) three large boxes because we worked with the groom and really liked him. I should’ve known something was up when they didn’t have a registry! Turns out mexican weddings are much like asian weddings and primarily just have a money tree and a money dance.

    I buy gifts for the bridal shower and usually give cash for the wedding itself. It’s a lot easier to transport and we didn’t get much cash for our wedding so I really appreciated what we did get. Of course I’ve also been through the hassel of “re-homing” all the weird gifts and have seen what other couples do to dispose of stuff and it isn’t pretty. I can’t even remember who gave us most of our stuff. I usually give $50 in general, $100 for someone I’m close to, $300 for my best friend’s wedding, on top of buying my own bridesmaid dress & accessories.

    Weirdest wedding gift I’ve ever given? Right before DH’s half-brother’s wedding his dad passed away. We paid the cremation expenses (around $1k) so brother could use the last of dad’s cash for wedding expenses. Felt a little weird, but it worked out.

  25. I’m a couple gifts behind. No wedding ones though. Right now I need to unpack all my cards and stationary to catch up. Just haven’t gotten that far in unpacking land yet.

  26. Wow. You didn’t give gives to people at weddings. That is pretty classless.

    Give cash, the hell with gifts. Gifts can be given at the showers. My wife and I got 1 registry gift at our wedding, the rest was all cash.

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