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Ask a Savvy Bride: We Can't Afford to Buy From Their Registry!


We all know that being a guest at a wedding can be expensive, especially when the bride and groom have an expensive registry. If you've had a hard time finding a gift in your price range, weigh in and offer your two cents on Callie's question below. You can also submit your wedding-related finance questions in our Ask Savvy group.

Dear Savvy, My husband and I are attending a friend's wedding this Summer and their registry is chock full of expensive items — things well out of our price range. The groom is a fraternity brother of my husband's and we've only met the bride-to-be a few times so I'm having a hard time justifying spending over $200 for a wedding gift. I know most couples don't like receiving gifts they didn't register for, but can we make an exception this one time?

Not to be Cheap Callie

Savvy bride says: While one would hope that brides and grooms would register for things people can afford, unfortunately they have free rein when it comes to picking the items they want for their future as husband and wife. With that said, those who don't think about other people's budgets could be doing themselves a huge disservice. I happen to agree that $200 is a lot to spend on a couple you're not that close to, so my advice would be to absolutely purchase something that is not on their registry. So they aren't stuck with something they really don't want, get your gift from a store where they are registered so they can exchange it for something else if they decide to go that route. I'm sure you're not the only guest who feels this way so just do what you can — buying them a gift they aren't registered for is better than not buying them a gift at all!

Ask anything budget-, etiquette-, or planning-related — well, almost anything — by posting your questions in the Ask Savvy group, and I'll find the right expert to help you out.

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Debbie5113 Debbie5113 3 years 12 weeks
I often do give cash, but I think I might feel odd giving cash/gift card to people who didn't register for anything under $200 since my budget is less than that and they apparently feel that's the minimum amount that guests should spend. I'd rather give them something personal and thoughtful that was in my price range and include the gift receipt, so if they hated it, they could always return it. And by the way, I hate that gift registries now have this level of dictatorial control over guests - come on these things were supposed to be a guide for ideas for guests, not be decrees that strike down all creativity and thoughtfulness for any ideas not on the Official Registry. Registries should be suggestions not obligations. And when brides take it too seriously and demand only gifts from the registry, that's serious control-freak bridezilla time.
4 years 12 weeks
One option I had not seen mentioned: if you know other friends/couples going to the wedding, see if anyone wants to go in with you on something... that way you can all throw in 50 bucks and get them something they registered for.
jesssa jesssa 4 years 19 weeks
There's no problem with giving cash, that's what the card/cashbox is for!
jadenirvana jadenirvana 4 years 19 weeks
A gift card is the way to go! It's not personal because you don't know them that well, so it's perfectly appropriate.
imLissy imLissy 4 years 19 weeks
give them money, it's what they really want anyway
4 years 19 weeks
Honestly, if they only registered for items 200$ and up they teally shouldn't expect everyone to get them what they want...I mean really? I don't knpw, maybe the crowd they roll with is just really wealthy. I say give them a gift certificate. They'll have so many expensive things to swoon over, they won't even notice!
Spectra Spectra 4 years 19 weeks
I never bother with registries for wedding gifts...I always just give cash. It's so much easier.
4 years 19 weeks
i think giving cash to a peer, especially if it not for very much, is tacky — it's so impersonal and kind of weird. i'd also feel really uncomfortable accepting cash from a friend.
Liss1 Liss1 4 years 19 weeks
I would get them a giftcard to the store they are registered at. It is just rude on their part not to have items picked out in all price ranges. Not everyone can afford or even want to give a gift that costs $200
4 years 19 weeks
So I actually had a similar issue. I only could spend a small amount of money on the gift, and while she had cheaper items I could afford, I felt they were overpriced and didnt want to just give one little thing. So I actually handmade her gifts. I was able to duplicate many items myself and made her 10 things, with the money I would have spent on 2. And bonus no one got her what I made to match the things on the registry, and she loved that they were handmade. That being said a gift card to the store they are registered at would work too.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 4 years 19 weeks
I would go with a gift card from a store where they're registered. I would much rather get a gift card than something I would later have to deal with returning. And, while I don't like gift cards for birthday gifts or Christmas gifts from close friends and family, I would appreciated gift cards (or cash) as wedding gifts.
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 4 years 19 weeks
I agree with runningesq - I'm glad to see I'm not the only person that thought it was rude that all of the gifts would run that high, or that they only put a small number of less expensive gifts (which I'm sure were snatched up first off the list!). I mean, when I was at Macy's, the lady in the registry area even printed out a breakdown of the number of items in various price ranges to let us know how we were doing.
Zivanod Zivanod 4 years 19 weeks
Give cash. It's not tacky at all.
Happsmjc Happsmjc 4 years 19 weeks
agree, most of my bride friends want/need cash! if you can't get them something from their registry that is the way to go.
bengalspice bengalspice 4 years 19 weeks
i support giving them cash, or a gift certificate/card to a store they are registered to.
runningesq runningesq 4 years 19 weeks
Gift card/ check in an amount you feel comfortable giving. And it's rude for the couple to only register for only very expensive items. They should be items in the under $25 range, under $50 range, etc.
inmybubble inmybubble 4 years 19 weeks
If I were the one getting married I would rather have a gift card/cash as opposed to something I really wasn't interested in in the first place. It's more of a hassle to return things than to just pick out something you want to begin with.
skigurl skigurl 4 years 19 weeks
i was going to say, give them cash in an envelope i know some people would say that's tacky, and maybe it's a regional thing because where i'm from, i'd say 75% of the gifts you'll get will be money, but cash is always useful
le-romantique le-romantique 4 years 19 weeks
I'm going to go with the easy answer of getting them a gift card for their registered store for a 'decent' amount of money, then buying a nice, personal type of gift like a scrap book for them... something nice but not over the top.
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 4 years 19 weeks
Yes I agree - and it's much more personal and shows some thought was put in it, as opposed to just giving them a gift card... though I wouldn't rule those out, either!
SFCA SFCA 4 years 19 weeks
I totally agree with SavvySugar. What a great idea to buy something from a store where they're registered!