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Kip Tips

7 Worst Wedding Gifts for Newlyweds

Don’t waste your money on a gift the happy couple doesn’t want.

When it comes to wedding gifts, it’s not just the thought that counts. The money counts, too. The average wedding guest will spend $127 on a gift for a family member, according to a 2016 American Express spending survey, and $99 on a gift for a friend. You’re wasting your money by giving gifts that brides and grooms don’t want and won’t use.

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The safe course, naturally, is to stick to the couple’s gift registry. “The key to giving a good wedding gift is pretty simple: Get the couple what they want and what they have asked for,” says Sarah Trotter of Lasting Impressions Weddings of Minnetonka, Minn. Nothing on the registry you like or can afford? Then give cash, says Trotter.

The 1,803 adults surveyed by American Express concur: 37% prefer gifts from a registry, followed by cash (31%) and gift cards (13%). Just 5% want a gift that’s not on the registry. (And if you insist on going off-registry, at least include a gift receipt.)


Here’s a look at seven of the worst types of wedding gifts to give, based on feedback from wedding experts and wedding participants. Consider yourself warned.


For Jim and Pam’s wedding on the hit TV show “The Office,” colleague Dwight Schrute gave the couple turtle boiling pots and turtle bibs to go along with live turtles (which, thankfully, escaped). But that’s a sitcom and this is, well, reality.

“While they may look cute and cuddly, pets do not make a good wedding gift,” says Sacha Patires, event planner and designer at Whimsical Weddings & Events of Oklahoma City. “Newlyweds do not need the responsibility or financial obligation that comes with a new pet.”

An alternative? “If you are looking for a gift to give the animal-loving couple,” Patires says, “consider putting together a canine or feline gift basket with toys and treats for [their current pets].”


Anything Matching

Stay away from gifts that are branded his-and-her or his-and-his or hers-and-hers. “Couples have started their life together at their wedding ceremony, but it does not need to be represented on matching shirts or bedding,” says Trotter.

Adds Patires, “Not every couple thinks that it is cute to look like ‘twinkies’ by wearing identical or matching items. This is a choice that is best made and selected by the couple if they want to do it.” As an alternative, she suggests putting together a gift basket with mugs, coffee, hot chocolate and sweets. “It will be used more than matching T-shirts.”

Anything Monogrammed

By and large, couples and wedding planners say that unless you absolutely, positively know what monogram the couple is going to use, don’t give monogrammed…anything.

One bride says she received monogrammed towels that said “Mary” on them. Not only is her name not “Mary,” there’s not even an M in the chosen family name.


Anything Traditional

Sorry to upset traditionalists, but wedding planners say stay away from china, crystal and similar tried-and-true “forever” items – unless the couple has specifically asked for them. “I know that it is traditional and a lot of people really appreciate the quality of this gift,” says Trotter. “However, this is not a good idea for a couple that does not have a lot of storage space or is planning to move a few times before getting their ‘forever home.’”

Plus, as many married (and once-married) folks will tell you, a lot of those precious items are one and done, taken out one day and put away forever – until divorce or downsizing, when they are then off-loaded.

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Exercise Equipment

Hint much? Don’t gift exercise equipment for a number of reasons, wedding planners say, but above all because your intentions could be misconstrued. That and the couple may not have room for the equipment or like the type of exercise equipment you’ve chosen. Or, they may prefer the gym to exercising at home, and already have a membership.

An alternative? “Check the couple's registry to see if they have food-related or kitchen items on their registry,” says Patires. “If so, you can put together a healthy, nutritious gift basket by choosing a few kitchen items from their [registry] website and pairing it with non-perishable healthy food items.”


Self-Help Books

Like exercise equipment, the gifting of self-help books, while done with good intentions, may not be well-received. Same goes for anything related to relationship advice or having children.

Instead, focus on fun experiences the newlyweds can share. “Purchase a gift that is something the couple can do together,” says Patires. “Research the city the couple lives in and see what kind of classes you can find. Some examples include: dance, rock climbing, cooking or painting. Then buy them a gift certificate.”

Home Décor

Table the thought. Buying furniture as a gift has multiple risks. The item might not physically fit in the home or it might not match the couple’s style. Same goes with art or other home decor. Your taste for the finer things in Elvis-on-velvet may not be the newlyweds’.

If you can’t suppress your inner interior decorator, at least start with the wedding registry. “Find out where the couple is registered to see if they have any furniture or home decor on their registry,” says Patires. “Couples love receiving gifts for items they have put on their registry, and you know they will like it since they picked it out.”

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