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Alternative Wedding Gift


Have you ever been to a wedding where they have said “your presence is our present”? In other words, saying there is no need for gifts?

A couple months ago we got a wedding invite with that printed at the bottom of the invitation.

The problem is we were NOT able to be present (as the wedding was being held in Austin at a time when we could not return). Also, these are relatives of ours that gave us a very generous wedding gift when we were wed 5 years ago. Not that everything has to be tit-for-tat, but we definitely wanted to do something for the couple, especially given that we were unable to be there personally to support them on their big day.

Also, the main reason (in my opinion) why they said no gifts were necessary is because they have been together for nearly a decade, living together for the past 7 years. So most of the newly married type gifts (kitchen accessories, household items, etc.) were unnecessary since they already have a fully furnished home they own together. Why did they not get married years ago? Well, without turning this into a political thing, it’s a gay couple so they were legally unable to be wed until the new law passed. My point is that they don’t want/need the traditional wedding type gifts. But that doesn’t mean their marriage shouldn’t be recognized!

The wedding was actually about a month ago, but according to Emily Post (the go-to name on etiquette), wedding gifts can be sent within 3 months of a wedding. (side note: good thing I’m still within that time frame! I’d thought etiquette was within a YEAR of the wedding!)  Soooo, I finally got around to getting a wedding gift figured out.

First, I bought a card for $3. This is a splurge for me because I typically buy cards from the Dollar Tree, 2 for $1, so getting a $3 card is certainly an exception (not my norm). Next, I checked out what kinds of points I’ve got available on my credit card. If you recall, I still use a credit card for set withdrawals (not for everyday purchases, but for big expenses like preschool). I had enough points to order a $25 Amazon gift card totally free! And, because I felt like that wasn’t quite enough, I made a $25 donation to the Human Rights Campaign in the couple’s honor.

In all I spent $28 (that’s a $3 card and $25 donation), but I was able to gift $50 worth of gifts:  a $25 Amazon gift card for their use, and a $25 donation to an organization the couple supports.

I just dropped the card in the mail, but I wrote a nice letter to the couple and included the Amazon gift card and the email print-up about the donation made in their honor.  I’m sure they’ll be happily surprised when they open their mailbox to discover a little something for them and a little something for the Human Rights Campaign. I realize it’s not a lot of money for either source (the gift card or the organization), but I think the gift shows thought and consideration and I hope it is appreciated.

Have you ever made a donation in someone else’s name in lieu of buying the person a gift?


  • Reply Walnut |

    A made a donation to a cause close to my parents hearts a few years ago and I think they appreciated it over “stuff”. I also like to turn to edible gifts on these occasions – wine, restaurant gift card, etc.

    Amazon is ALWAYS a useful present and nice job remembering to use credit card rewards points.

  • Reply Jen from Boston |

    When my nieces were young we used to give donations to Heifer International in their names, and then did likewise. I think it’s a nice antidote to accumulating too much stuff.

    While I’ve never been invited to a wedding where my presence was the only gift needed, my dad’s 70th birthday was like that. He really doesn’t need much, and it was more important to him that all his children were there. Also, my fiance and I will likely issue wedding invitations such as the one you received. We’re in our 40’s and don’t need much. In fact, we need to get rid of stuff so we can fit under the same roof! I tell people that he’s moved in but his stuff hasn’t.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Lol! Something else you might want to consider is the honey fund (honeyfund.com). I’ve had a couple different friends use it as an alternative to registering at Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It allows you to basically solicit cash (yes, can be tacky), but its supposed to be used toward honeymoon purchases. So you might have $25 – taxi ride from airport to the honeymoon resort! or $100 – couples massage! etc. You set the donation amounts and say what the money will be used toward. Of course, it all ends up in your bank account so in reality you could use it for whatever you want, but I haven’t been offended when people have done the honey fund and I think its actually a fun little alternative to normal gift registries for people who don’t need “stuff.”

  • Reply Theresa |

    I think that is fantastic. I only buy a few gifts a year. I have a lot of friendships where we decided years ago that presents weren’t necessary. But for the people (esp. teachers) that I do buy for I am making a conscious effort to only give consumable gifts. I often bake homemade bread- which people love. This summer I canned salsa I may give those for teacher gifts this winter.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Oh man, I would go crazy for some homemade salsa! I should keep this in mind when it’s time to do teacher gifts at our new preschool. I mean, I can’t do my own salsa, but I could bake some bread or something similar!

  • Reply Christa |

    Great idea, as everyone in my family is trying to de clutter we now do more activities together for birthdays and choose names for Christmas. Every Mother’s Day, I make a donation in my moms name to WomenSafe, the local hotline, safety for abused women. They always send her a beautiful handmade card recognizing it.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Beautiful!!! I wondered about this when I made my donation because there’s definitely no place to enter info for the honored person to be recognized. That’s why I just printed up the email to include inside the card, but it’d be great if a nice card is actually sent to the honored individual!

  • Reply Jeremy |

    I think that was a great idea Ashley. At the end of the day, i’m one of those people that truly believes its the thought that counts. I’m sure their favorite part of your gift was your personal letter to them.

  • Reply April |

    I just did this twice! My uncle was getting married, and he was clear that they did not “need” anything since they’re both quite mature 🙂 and a colleague is also getting married (now that he can legally) and also has no need for gifts. But since I couldn’t go to either (out-of-town) wedding, I made donations in their honor. For my uncle, a veteran and still in reserves, I gave to Fisher House Foundation, and for my colleague, the Boys and Girls Club chapter where he is a Board member. Both appreciated the acknowledgment, and I felt better, too!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I love this!!! Honestly, thinking about the charitable organization to support was the hardest part (but fun, too!) That’s very cool that you were able to select places that really have a sentimental value to the people your donations honored!!!

  • Reply C@thesingledollar |

    I think this is great. It’s very unlikely I’ll ever get married, but if I did, I’d be in my late 30s at best, and lord knows I have enough kitchen stuff for a lifetime already! I’d much rather have people donate to a charity I support, or, if they really want to do something for me directly, get cash or a cash equivalent like the amazon card.

  • Reply Jean |

    I think you did fine in your choices! My husband & I ran off to Las Vegas last year to get married (2nd marriage for both, didn’t want the fuss of a wedding or worrying about who got invited/who didn’t, etc). We had a small party (immediate family & close friends) about 5 months later. We insisted on no gifts but did receive some nice restaurant gift cards. I have a friend who is an attorney who I called to ask advice for my mother; she wouldn’t take money so I donated it to a charity where she is a board member; she was very touched by the gesture. My siblings & I (and spouses) have done away with Christmas presents; we do a $10 white elephant and then take turns choosing a charity to give the money to that we would have spent on gifts. The parents now get gift certificates or trips – we don’t need anything else to have to clean out of the house down the road!

  • Reply Chantal |

    My husband’s family is wealthy and once all children were grown I suggested charity donations rather than unneeded presents. Everyone, no exceptions, thought this a great idea and this gas been done for several years. We always give a check to our small city’s food pantry.

    In my own family for years we helped with our grandchildren’s school fees. Now that they are in public high school we just exchange surprise Christmas stockings and love receiving ours = mostly homemade and cooked items– very cheap and good fun.

So, what do you think ?