The Changing Nature of Wedding Gifts

by Caitlin Frauton   |   March 17, 2015

If you’re getting married or know someone who is, you’re well aware that couples and their loved ones are taking on increasing amounts of the planning and orchestrating of weddings. Maybe it’s because couples are inspired by the DIY décor ideas that adorn wedding websites everywhere. Maybe it’s because couples have more student loan and housing debts than ever and are looking for creative ways to stretch their wedding budgets. Maybe it’s because the internet has empowered all of us by providing easily-accessible information in any area we need, including weddings.  

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that weddings are changing, and as a result, wedding gifts are changing, too. A wedding gift no longer needs to be wrapped in a big box or tucked in a small envelope. Couples are reaching out to their loved ones to ask for direct support with the wedding instead of expecting traditional wedding gifts; for instance, they are asking for help creating the wedding cake, help manning the iPod station, and help setting up and cleaning up the venue. As many couples focus on long-term financial goals like owning a home and paying off debt instead of adding more “stuff” to their lives, these gifts of time and energy have become more important than ever.

However, it’s become a bit tricky for couples and loved ones to navigate gift-giving etiquette since most registries don’t acknowledge amazing, marshmallow-filled cupcakes baked by a generous aunt as a gift. Oftentimes, there’s a slightly awkward exchange as these gifts of time and energy are requested by the couple or offered by a loved one. Questions such as “How do I go about asking Aunt Alice if she wants to bake 150 cupcakes for the wedding?” and “Do they really want my cupcakes as a wedding gift?” crop up in people’s minds even when everyone has the very best of intentions.

It’s for this reason that I recommend SoKind to all the couples who take our DIY Wedding e-Course. SoKind is the only registry I’ve seen that truly understands the changing nature of wedding gifts. The registry allows couples to clearly ask for wedding gifts of time andenergy along with more traditional gifts, and that makes gift giving amazingly clear and easy for everyone involved in a DIY wedding.

SoKind also sets expectations early on to let guests know that the wedding will be a community-centered event where people will be showing support for the couple in unique ways. The most challenging DIY weddings are those where the guests arrive not realizing how much help the couple needs and then find themselves lighting candles and clearing trash in their nicest suit and least comfortable pair of high heels. DIY weddings with the strongest sense of community are those where the guests know long before arriving how they will be contributing to the day and feel they had a choice. It’s in the latter situation when I often hear things like, “This was the most touching wedding I’ve ever been to,” “It was so nice how everyone chipped in,” and “What a special wedding that was.”

The last thing that makes SoKind such a great option for couples these days is that it also lets guests show their support for couples with gifts that come in all shapes and sizes. If guests are financially strapped or want to give a more personal wedding gift than fancy plates, silverware, checks, etc., they can give an alternative type of gift that is more in line with what their wallet and/or personal values. This way, no one feels pressure to give beyond their means or what they are comfortable with.

But here’s what I personally appreciate most about SoKind: It reminds us all that love from family and friends—just like the love of the couple who is being celebrated—comes in sorts of in all beautiful shapes, sizes, packages and non-packages. And after all, celebrating love and its infinite possibilities is what a wedding is all about. 

Caitlin Frauton is the owner of DIY Wedding Mentor, which provides affordable wedding-planning services for couples who are planning their own weddings. Caitlin started DIY Wedding Mentor after she and her husband planned their own DIY wedding and realized that couples needed more help when it came to DIY weddings. The DIY Wedding e-Course is a 10-lesson program that teaches couples the ins and outs of planning a DIY wedding in a straightforward, easy-to-follow format. People who sign up for the e-course also receive access to the DIY Wedding Mentor member-only forum, where they can ask Caitlin questions about their planning and receive support from other couples who are DIY-ing their weddings.