A big element of wedding planning is honoring established traditions. There are so many rules, though, that it can get frustrating sometimes. One area where there's some real freedom to choose a unique and individual course is in whether or not to have a bride and groom gift exchange. There are no set guidelines for giving spousal wedding gifts -- yet, anyway. They have the meaning and weight you confer on them, and if the practice seems like too much, you can skip it. But if you do endorse a gift exchange, it can be an oasis of intimacy during a very public time if you do the honors in private, or a charming photo opportunity among family and friends.
There are some things to keep in mind, though. If the prospective groom is wandering around looking dazed and disoriented, the last thing he'll want is to be responsible for finding the perfect wedding gift to create a memory-making moment. On the other hand, if he's a poet at heart, he may appreciate the opportunity to express his more tender sentiments. Finances can have an impact on the gesture too. Weddings are pricey, and if you don't need one more expense, skip the exchange. If you like the notion but money is tight right now, write each other IOUs for kisses, backrubs or other intimacies that are priceless but not a drain on your finances.
If you've ever thought of yourself as a songwriter, this might be a good opportunity to write something special. If you're a crafter and have some time available (don't laugh), making a piece of jewelry, a set of lathe-turned candlesticks or a handmade memory scrapbook would be a nice gesture too. Sites selling everything from pearls to crystal portrait frames will encourage you to go for something grand. We think you should go for something simple that expresses the essence of what you feel for each other. It's an opportunity to make a sweet gesture that speaks to the heart of someone dear to you.
Some couples opt for jewelry that they can wear for the wedding, like cufflinks, bracelets, necklaces or earrings. Others go for:
- Leather goods
- Memory boxes
- Photo albums
- Sentimental books
- Monogrammed handkerchiefs
Jewelry seems to figure prominently, but jewelry is a staple for significant occasions of all kinds, so don't feel obligated to make this your choice. If you think his and hers golf clubs are the perfect, quirky gift to celebrate your union, go for it.
One of the best things about a bride and groom gift exchange is that you can do it any time within a week of the wedding (or not). You can also make it as large and public or small and intimate a gesture as you want. When you're up to your elbows in wedding traditions and formalities, it's refreshing to have the freedom to perform this one very personal ritual your own way.
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