Their OLD kentucky home
October 10, 2012 6:52 PM   Subscribe

How do i buy thoughtful and (kinda) inexpensive wedding gifts for people I don't know that well?

I have some friends getting married in a couple weeks, and I'm brainstorming ideas for good wedding gifts, and I'd love to get some hive help!

Some info: younger couple (mid-20s). They're a hetero pair. Both from Kentucky, living in Colorado, but coming back to KY for their wedding. He is into music production (although he does studio recording as his career, so I doubt there's anything I could or would get him that's really related to music) and outdoorsy stuff. She is into...typical 25 year old woman stuff (I hate that I know so little about her interests, and that I just said "typical 25 year old woman..."!). They are good friends, in that they are central in my circle, but I don't know either particularly well.

I don't really like the idea of getting them something for their home; they are financially pretty well-off, and I know they have an abundance of that stuff coming. I'm thinking something more fun, but still thoughtful and nice.

I'm thinking maybe something specifically "Kentucky," since after the wedding they'll be heading back out west and I think they'd like to have something state-specific and related to their marriage.

So far, my ideas are as follows:

A nice bottle of bourbon and a set of etched julep cups
Some sort of horse paraphernalia (I know she likes horses!)
Or something else along those lines? Ideas?

Another option is to get them a nice bottle of bourbon and a bunch of pretty Kentucky native flowers, but that's a little short on keepability.

Any ideas? Or suggestions on where to buy, etc.?

Thanks MeFi!

(I'm not terribly concerned about cost here. I want to keep it reasonable, of course, but I don't mind getting them something nice!)
posted by broadway bill to Shopping (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Go to their registry. Sort by price ascending. Pick something you don't find completely tacky.
posted by pla at 6:54 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Great idea.

I should have mentioned, however, that they don't have a registry, making the entire effort more difficult.
posted by broadway bill at 6:56 PM on October 10, 2012

Yeah, just go to their registry. That way you will know they want it! It's tough to come up with something out-of-the-box thoughtful that they will both love when you don't know them both well. This is why registries are INVENTED.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:57 PM on October 10, 2012

Registry for sure. It's their way of saying, hey, this is the stuff we really need/want. And have it shipped ahead of the wedding to their home in Colorado. They don't need to be transporting more than necessary back from Kentucky.
posted by cecic at 6:57 PM on October 10, 2012

Whoops, just saw your update. These poor people are going to be getting a lot of random stuff. If you know they drink, I think the bourbon and julep cups are lovely.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:59 PM on October 10, 2012

No registry. Ouch.

In that case, yeah, go with the liquor, if you know they like bourbon but don't count as snobs about it. Everyone (that drinks) likes gifts of liquor. :)
posted by pla at 7:00 PM on October 10, 2012

Just saw your "no registry" update. In that case, I'd go with a glass vase maybe from Tiffany's. They can be surprisingly inexpensive and the box is cool if you're into that sort of thing. Still, have it shipped to CO!
posted by cecic at 7:00 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

No registry? Geeeez...

I would get them a bottle of liquor and make a donation in their names to a charity they like.
posted by telegraph at 7:00 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the bourbon and the julep cups are perfect. Bourbon because: bourbon. Julep cups because: Kentucky and she likes horses!
posted by cooker girl at 7:02 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Maybe something from Etsy, like a small print with Kentucky and their new family name?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:03 PM on October 10, 2012

I just searched "customized Kentucky print" on Etsy and found all sorts of cute stuff.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:05 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

A cutting board in the shape of Kentucky? For additional sweetness, you can get have the heart placed at the location of their wedding.
posted by mchorn at 7:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

Great ideas so far! Lots of cool stuff on Etsy, and that cutting board might just be perfect!!
posted by broadway bill at 7:10 PM on October 10, 2012

I love the bourbon and julep cup idea too.

As to vases, that was one thing we got in spades for our wedding for some reason. Of course I was grateful that people had though of us, but you can only use so many vases, you know?
posted by goggie at 7:11 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know that gifts aren't usually opened at the reception, but speaking of cups, I gave a couple a pair of colorful handmade cocktail glasses, and only wrapped them with bows. They ended up using them all night, and they were featured in the photos, so that was fun.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:14 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cutting board or nice wooden salad bowl/serving bowl made by local artisan is a good fallback.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:47 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

A funky pair of candlesticks or wine glasses?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:50 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I believe it's Jessamyn who brings a fire extinguisher as a present to weddings. I love this.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:51 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

I absolutely covet these state-themed letterpress prints with the state bird and flower (link goes to the Kentucky one). I might get the one for my home state...
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:45 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some of my favorite wedding gifts were gift certificates for movie tickets or favorite restaurants.

When you're not sure of someone's taste I think experience gifts rather than physical objects are often a better bet.
posted by Saminal at 8:54 PM on October 10, 2012

Actually, it's me who brings fire extinguishers. Don't know if jessamyn does it, too, but it's my go to wedding present. You can get a kitchen extinguisher for about $25, and another small all purpose one for about the same amount if you feel a larger gift is warranted.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:57 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah in the past I have always given a quart of local maple syrup and pancake mix and a nice spatula. Since you have a while to think on wedding gifts you may want to even poke around a little bit when you are there. Wen I think of Kentucky I think of the Ohio River, the fact that it's a Commonwealth and not technically a state, and about local woodworking stuff because my cousin lives there and is a woodworker. Poking around the KY Guild of Artists and Craftsmen may give you some ideas.
posted by jessamyn at 9:17 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

More great ideas!

MAN, I just love the fire extinguisher thing! It's almost like a gag gift, but just so great! Likely impractical, though, since they have to travel back to Colorado.

I live about a 10 minute ride from Berea, KY, which is--as you all of course know--the crafts capital of Kentucky. I might ride out there tomorrow and see if anything catches my eye.

And showbiz_liz! That's just too perfect for words! No matter what else I find, I'm getting them that print! He happens to be a HUGE University of Louisville fan, and their mascot is the cardinal. I also happen to know that her taste precludes the hanging of tacky sports paraphernalia around their house. That print, though, allows them to both be happy! GREAT FIND.

God you people are good at this! Keep em coming!!
posted by broadway bill at 9:53 PM on October 10, 2012

That is great - I was specifically thinking of Berea when talking about woodcrafts. I'm sure you can find something perfect there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:08 PM on October 10, 2012

If they are well-off and they didn't bother to create a registry, are you sure they *want* gifts?

My fiance and I are in an okay financial position, living in a furnished apartment (though we each have a fair amount of our own kitchen/etc type stuff we've accumulated over our years living alone), and will be moving frequently to different continents over the next 5-7 years. Speaking as someone alarmed at the prospect of a massive influx of measuring cups, stand mixers, and candlesticks, the last thing I want is more stuff to have to move (particularly anything breakable). Because of that, we're not creating a registry. We just want people to show up to our wedding and have a good time, and if they can't make the trip, to send us their good wishes. Really, that's all. If you asked our parents or best man/maid of honor that is what they should be telling our guests our wishes are -- so, by any chance, have you asked the parents, best man, or maid of honor? Could the reason they don't have a registry be that they don't need or want more stuff?

So I guess maybe I wouldn't worry too much. In our case, if someone did insist on getting us something, consumable things (such as bourbon) would be awesome -- it doesn't take up space forever, doesn't have to be moved, and it can be enjoyed on a special occasion that will create its own happy memories. The Kentucky-themed cutting boards and prints are cute too. So I vote for finding out a little more about their gift-desiring situation, and depending on the answer tend toward the bourbon/etc, because if the bride and groom really don't want more stuff, they really don't want more stuff.
posted by olinerd at 1:51 AM on October 11, 2012

I like to give people a huge pile of pretty dishtowels (matching their cookware/casual china) because they're practical but most people don't buy pretty ones for themselves.
posted by vespabelle at 7:40 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

My parents once got a bride and groom an iron skillet and brought it to the reception. The MIL sniffed at this choice of gift and did not want it displayed on the gift table with the crystal, etc. The bride and groom later reported that it was the best present they got.

Moral of the story: You can never go wrong with a really good Griswold!
posted by Leezie at 8:16 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If they are well-off and they didn't bother to create a registry, are you sure they *want* gifts?

There's a school of thought still gasping along in certain old Southern families that to even HAVE a registry at all is terribly tacky and implies that you're asking for gifts (my mother, for example, is finally sort of coming around on the idea of registries in gneral but would probably disown me if I had a wedding website with a registry link and would straight-up die of shame if I put registry info inside my invitations - it's a slippery slope, see). So no, I would not assume that no registry = no presents.

I also think the Bourbon and julep cups (monogrammed?) are a delightful idea. Everyone needs a set of julep cups.
posted by naoko at 8:49 AM on October 11, 2012

Naoko, you are absolutely correct. This is A Thing.
posted by broadway bill at 10:58 AM on October 11, 2012

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