Note: Since publishing this post, we’ve created a mega (non-obvious) wedding registry guide.
It’s summer-wedding season, that time of year when you’re on the hunt for a gift that strikes the perfect note: splurgy but not precious, practical but not pedestrian, fun but not kitschy. To help you find that off-registry gift, we asked a few dozen newly(ish)weds about the best gifts they got, from the life-changing Japanese knife set to the wearable sleeping bag. And if you’re getting married yourself and looking to build a registry, Amazon makes the process seamless.
“The most cherished gift that I received at my bridal shower was a beautiful pair of toasting flutes from my aunt. I hadn’t thought to register for these on my Zola — bonus points for a surprise off-the-registry gift! — but my husband and I ended up using them on our wedding day, and also pulled them out to celebrate our one-month anniversary and our one-year anniversary.” — Jess Kelly, health-care director, married October 2015
Unfortunately the blue stripe option is sold out, but the blue polka dot version is available here.
“Since being gifted this programmable coffee maker, I’ve never once had to wait for my coffee to brew in the morning. A true game changer. Also incredibly thoughtful: The gifter packaged it with a gift card to a roaster for beans and adorable Kate Spade initial mugs.” — Kase Wickman, editor, married July 2014
“Although my fiancé would have rather registered at Guitar Center, we really needed to upgrade our kitchen and household items. The one thing that I was most looking forward to is a new vacuum! I’ve only had one real vacuum and it is now over 7 years old, sounds like a jet engine, and isn’t working so well. We went with the Dyson Ball vacuum so that we can easily clean up without lugging our dated and heavy vacuum around our new house.” — Jenna Caswell, PR account executive, marrying August 2017
“This may sound super wild, but the best gift I’ve ever received and would absolutely give to anyone in my life was a ‘Relationship Reading’ with an astrologer, who reviews each of your astrological charts and shares what aspects are most compatible about the two of you and what areas you will need to work together on as partners. Luckily, our charts are very compatible. After our first reading with her, we did a follow-up call with her so she could help us select the best date for us to get married. So we will be getting married on the summer solstice: ‘The triumph of light over darkness.’ If you don’t have a good astrologer in your area, this book is a really great substitute.” — Jess Ray, yoga instructor, married June 2017
“I’ve been basically the best bride ever so far — no bridal shower, no bachelorette party. That said, a few indulgences would be great. This record player is one of the fanciest things on my wedding registry, and something I really hope someone gets for us. How picturesque would it be to have this thing playing in our newly purchased fixer-upper that we would, according to my fantasy, move into some time next year? We would christen our dream home by violently dancing to ‘Land of a 1000 Dances.’” — Claire Kim, English professor, married June 2017
“This is one of those single-purpose tools that everyone tells you you don’t have space in your kitchen for, but when the single purpose is setting things on fire, you definitely have room. You also have perfectly toasted s’mores on demand.” — Kase Wickman
“My favorite bridal-shower gift was this frame from Carla Carstens. It’s acrylic, but so well made it looks like the fanciest item in my apartment. Very excited to put my favorite wedding photo in it! I also got Carla’s I’M BUSY towel for my bachelorette in Bermuda, which was a very fun photo moment.” — Alexandra Chapman, account manager, marrying July 2017
“I LOVE all things ice cream, and both of these are easy to find. I actually have this machine and a more old-school version and use them all the time. My husband is lactose intolerant, but loves all the fun flavors and toppings, so we end up making a lot of dairy-free sorbets and Icees in these, too. Insanely easy and delicious.” — Amirah Kassem, owner Flour Shop, married April 2017
“I love anything monogrammed. One of my go-to gifts for couples is an engraved cutting board or serving tray with the groom’s last name and the wedding year. I got one from a family friend that introduced me to the gift over ten years ago.” — Rachel King, teacher, marrying November 2017
“When is the last time you bought yourself a big, new, supersoft towel? I like white towels because they work for any room and can be bleached. It’s a great feeling to get out of the shower and wrap yourself in one of these. We didn’t know what we were missing until we got them.” — Jamie Collins, married April 2017
“I already ordered stationery for my thank-you notes, but would be especially grateful for a pen with which to write them. I have my eye on this one by Tom Dixon because it has a great weight and stroke to keep my penmanship perfect.” — Madeline Rudin, general manager, Camp David, marrying October 2017
“My favorite gift is this amazing wooden mat for the shower that I LOVE. I asked for it after getting used to the one in the SoulCycle bathroom — but having it, it’s great that it doesn’t require constant laundering, and doesn’t get moldy in small New York City bathrooms. It’s also the one thing that will go with pretty much anyone’s décor.” — Jennifer Conlon-Pavelchak, publicist, married May 2017
“My husband and I were both living like bachelors or college students prior to our wedding. The week before our wedding, the handle fell off of our ridiculously old frying pan that we used for everything, and we were cooking using the pan with pliers for a handle. Needless to say, when we started using these Mauviel pots and pans, it was as if we had gone from being the Swedish Chef to Eric Ripert.” — Jesse Lee Hale, the Wall Group, married June 2014
“I seriously love this thing because it reminds me of when I spent time in Japan, since I used my rice cooker daily while living there. It plays a cute little jingle when it starts and ends, and it makes perfect rice every time. It also has settings for different kinds of rice (white, brown, sushi), which is convenient.” — Laura Snizek Ramirez, physician assistant, married June 2014
“I didn’t know I wanted one of these things until I got one as a wedding gift. We LOVE this thing. You can transport it easily; it’s simple to set up anywhere you have two trees; and it’s super comfortable. I swear, each time I set up this hammock, it transforms my day. I joke with the friends who gifted it to us that it’s the gift that keeps on giving.” — Laura Snizek Ramirez
“Generally, my favorite gifts were actually just things that people picked off my registry. I took a lot of time to pick them out, so they were definitely things I needed and wanted. I’ve been to weddings where it’s clear that the person registered for random crap or just signed up for a generic registry, or worse … had their mom pick out stuff for their registry. I love these glasses. They’re so cool-looking and super durable.” — Michelle Rego, attorney, married January 2015
This exact set of double old fashioned glasses are only available from third-party sellers on Amazon, but there are other sizes of this style from Bormioli Rocco — including these cooler glasses and these tasting glasses.
“I’m typically a very calm person, but wedding planning threw me for a loop. I super appreciated the gifts I received that helped me feel my best up until the big day, including this ashwagandha antioxidant powder. A half-teaspoon of powder in hot tea lifted my mood and made my skin glow.” — Stephanie Liu Hjelmeseth, blogger, married November 2016
“A honeymoon bag is such a good gift. You fill a fun and bright straw beach tote or tote like this one from Mar Y Sol, with sunglasses, a circular beach towel, beach cover-ups, even lingerie. It’s a fun group gift, and it’s helpful to the bride who is already planning enough as it is.” — Heather Muir Maffei, Real Simple beauty director, married October 2016
Unfortunately this tote is sold out, but here is another striped option.
Unfortunately the black sunglasses are sold out, but here is a peach option.
“It sounds funny, but I don’t know how I lived without one of these. I use it daily. I like that it’s glass, so you can see what’s happening, and it heats up quickly. Silly, but I also find the sound that it makes to be calming. Changed my world.” — Laura Snizek Ramirez
“Two and a half years after my wedding, a few of the standout gifts that I still love today and have held up are this olive wood-handled steak-knives set and this beautiful copper tea kettle. All of those are also pretty neutral, so if you’re not feeling something on the person’s registry, they’re a fairly sure bet.” — Amanda Gorski, interior designer, Gimme Shelter Designs, married November 2014
“I saw something like this set when I was in Scandinavia and thought they were awesome. I love having fresh salt and pepper to grind in my kitchen, and these are so modern and chic, and not really the kind of thing I’d spend the money on myself, which makes it the perfect wedding gift.” — Michelle Rego
“Something else that’s really held up for me are these olive wood-handled steak knives. They’re so handsome and classic.” — Amanda Gorski
“Prior to receiving the Shun knife set as a wedding gift, I had knives that were tough to keep sharp. I would often get frustrated while cooking, because I was used to the more precise instruments used in the operating room for plastic surgery. Especially while preparing meat, I would try to navigate ‘tissue planes,’ as I do during my plastic-surgery procedures, and had a difficult time doing so with dull knives! The Shun knives are such an incredible upgrade: They are almost as sharp as surgical instruments, stay sharp, and are easy to re-sharpen. The knife set has a variety of knives suited for specific tasks as well.” — Dr. Joshua Zuckerman, M.D., plastic surgeon, married July 2016
“We got a lot of art for wedding presents and those were my favorite gifts. The No. 1 was from my friend Mauricio, who commissioned a pink neon heart for us. He knew that I LOVED pink neon and wanted my wedding to feel like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, so he sent it to the venue. It’s given every place we’ve lived a warm red-light-district glow. Urban does a very similar one!” — Tasha Green Spice, stylist, married October 2012
“We received a selection of these acrylic frames in different sizes, and they just make life easier. The clear, sleek lines make all your photos look cooler, from goofy Polaroids and vintage Kodak prints to splashy wedding pics. Since the edges are borderless, images don’t have to be sized perfectly, yet still look chic — almost like they’re floating — and strong, foolproof magnets make for easy photo switch-outs. We have them all over our apartment, and no matter how many times we overhaul our décor or furniture over the years, they always fit in.” — Rachel Rosenblit, writer, married March 2014
“The best gift we got was our Big Chill buttercup-yellow stove. It’s the perfect future vintage accessory in our urban farm-stand-inspired kitchen because it looks retro cool and cooks up a mean quinoa risotto. We also got the Ninja blender because my husband, Justin, and I do love our utilitarian gifts. Nothing better than a wedding present you use daily, and this one makes a mean protein shake for breakfast.” — Michael Shome, photo director, married November 2013
“We received a gift for both of us that we never expected, but it was actually amazing. It’s a wearable sleeping bag! We are huge camping fans, and one of our friends decided that this was super cool — he was completely right. We have done a couple of camping trips, and I don’t even take the thing off. We even use them around the house. The coolest gift we received by far.” — Cristobal Velasco, designer, married March 2017
“A gorgeous set of custom stationery from Happy Menocal was another one of my favorite gifts — she has postcards you can buy online as well.” — Madeleine Fawcett
“This is actually my new favorite thing because it obviously gets the job done, but there’s something satisfying about watching it move around the room. It’s like a dog you can turn off.” — Kelly Yeung, physician assistant, marrying August 2017
This model is no longer available, but there is a newer model of the Roomba that is.
“A friend bought us the Nest Cam off-registry, but it has turned out to be the most incredible gift. We have a Siberian husky, who often gets restless when left alone. (He has managed to open the refrigerator on his own a few times!) It is great to be able to keep an eye on him with the Nest Cam, and possibly come home early from an evening out if he is getting stressed out.” — Dr. Joshua Zuckerman
“A piece of rolling luggage may seem like an odd wedding gift, but now I can officially travel like a grown-up.” — Hilary Waks
“One of our friends bought us the Tacopedia — a.k.a. an encyclopedia of taco recipes. It was funny at first, but it’s slowly become one of our most-used wedding gifts, as we love to cook and (obviously) we love tacos. Would be great paired with a tortilla press and a molcajete.” — Carly Cushnie, designer, Cushnie et Ochs, married February 2017
“One of the best gifts we received was a Phillips Micro Juicer. It’s smaller than most of the huge masticating juicers out there so we can keep it on our counter, but it’s still powerful and quick. My husband made me an apple, pear, and mint juice yesterday and it was tasty as hell.” — Emily Mlot, certified registered nurse anesthetist, married May 2017
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