“Best Wedding Gift I Ever Got”

Gearing up for wedding season? For a memorable gift, skip the registry and think outside the Crate & Barrel box. To help your creative juices flow, we talked to real brides and discovered that their favorite gifts fall in one of these three categories.

1. Experiential Wedding Gifts
Kitchenware is always useful, but couples-to-be often receive five of the same ones and have to return four. Opt for an invaluable gift instead: a memorable experience.

  • Honeymoon surprise: “We went to Bora Bora on our honeymoon, and knew there were some activities we would love to do,” says Jennifer Matthews. “One of our friends sneakily asked us details about our honeymoon, and when we got to our hotel, we found out she booked us a day trip to swim with dolphins. We were thrilled!” You can also ask the bride and groom if they have a honeymoon registry, such as HoneymoonWishes.com or HoneyFund.com.
  • Chef’s hat special: Perhaps the bride and groom have registered for every kitchen utensil under the sun, but do they know how to put them to good use? “Neither of us knew how to actually cook,” says Rebecca Scott. “Friends of ours realized this, and bought us a cooking class so the kitchen items would actually be used -- and be used well!” Plus, a cooking class is a great bonding experience for newlyweds.
  • Outdoor adventure: Are the bride and groom daredevil types? “A friend of ours got skydiving lessons for their wedding to remind them to keep the excitement and adventure in their lives,” says Maria Weicker. Once the excitement of the wedding is over, this is a great way to help an (adventurous) bride and groom keep the excitement alive.

2. Sentimental Wedding Gifts
If you’re a crafty or creative person, sentimental gift ideas will allow you to put your creativity to work to make a truly unique gift.

  • Threads of joy: “My mother-in-law sent a fabric square and marker to each guest, to write us a message on it,” says Diane Weiner. “She then quilted them together, and we have the quilt with the heartfelt memories in our bedroom.” If you can’t send to every guest, group together some close friends and family.
  • Photographic treasure: Has the couple registered for picture frames? Think about ways to personalize a frame. “One of my bridesmaids woke up before the sunrise, went to the beach and wrote my name and my husband’s name in the sand,” says Alison Hubbard. “She took a picture of our names with the sunrise in the background and the waves coming up to it. She enlarged it, framed it and gifted it to us. It’s beautiful.”

3. Long-Lasting Wedding Gifts
Why not give a gift that keeps on giving?

  • Wine lovers’ treat: If the bride and groom enjoy wine, or registered for a wine decanter, create a milestone wine gift. “A few of our friends got together and created a beautiful basket with wines for major milestones in our marriage: our first anniversary, our first home, first dinner party, first baby, first New Year’s celebration as a married couple,” says Rachel Ross. “They decorated each bottle for each milestone, and we’ve made sure to remember to drink it at each occasion!”