Among the innumerable wedding customs out there, one of our favorites is the wedding day gift exchange in which future spouses offer one another something special just before or after the wedding. This tradition is a fun, festive, and meaningful way to connect ahead of one of the most important moments of your life.
If the quest for the perfect gift has you caught in a quandary, fear not. Below we explore a variety of gift ideas and strategies to find something that will make your spouses-to-be’s heart skip a beat on your wedding day.
How to Select the Right Gift
Understand Your Spouse’s Preferences
What are your partner’s hobbies, interests, and personality traits? What brings them excitement and joy? Before you start shopping, think through what makes your person tick. Then, narrow your focus in order to find a gift that truly resonates with their passions and character. If your partner’s birthstone is a diamond and they absolutely love diamonds, consider a diamond-studded watch. If they spent much of their childhood playing guitar but laments having fallen out of the habit, strum their heartstrings with a new guitar. Whatever you choose should reflect something that’s meaningful for your spouse-to-be.
Recall Shared Experiences
Another way you can approach the wedding day gift search is by recalling meaningful shared experiences and memories the two of you have lived together. Think about what gifts could be connected to these memories. For example, if you went walking in a pine forest during a blizzard on your first date, a snow globe with a similar scene inside could preserve this special memory forever. Similarly, if you had a great time learning to cook Sichuanese food together in the mountains of western China, put together a kit full of the spices, ingredients, and recipes you need to replicate what you learned there.
Seek Inspiration from Others
Your family and friends know your spouse and your relationship well enough to offer unique insights and ideas that just might be just right. Furthermore, the internet offers a wealth of inspiration–search for ‘meaningful gift ideas for spouse’ or even get more specific with ‘gift ideas for guy who loves snorkeling’. Or, try this chat GPT prompt: “Gift ideas for [insert personality adjective here], [insert personality adjective here] [insert spouse’s gender] who enjoys [x], [y], and [z]. For example, yours might read “Gift ideas for funny, energetic guy who enjoys watching baseball, hiking, and red wine”.
Whatever you turn up online, make sure you personalize the gift to suit your spouse’s preferences as well as your relationship dynamics.
Surprise Vs. Pre-Planned
Should you surprise each other with your wedding day gifts, or agree upon them in advance? Both are acceptable. Here’s what to consider.
The Element of Surprise
Surprise substantially intensifies emotions, which is why some couples choose to keep their gifts secret until the wedding day. Surprises can also be incorporated throughout the day. Leave little love notes in unexpected places. Arrange for a surprise performance of a song that’s special to both of you. Unexpected moments like these add to the atmosphere of joy and romance and make your wedding day even more memorable.
Communication and Collaboration
Some people don’t like surprises–or simply prefer to communicate about a gift in order to make it more meaningful. Does this describe the two of you? Collaborate on gift ideas to bolster your sense of unity and shared excitement. This way, you’ll both be sure to receive something that you like and which reflects your love for one another. Or, come up with a joint gift. It could be something you’ll use on your honeymoon, like activity vouchers, or it could be two pieces of an item; if it’s a new bed, one of you could order the mattress and the other could select a few sets of nice bedding.
What Not to Do
When choosing a gift, avoid the following: Don’t choose a gift based largely on societal expectations or the expectations of your friends or family. Don’t choose a gift based on your preferences; base it on your partner’s preferences. Don’t choose something generic; make it personal. Definitely don’t wait until the last minute to start looking around, or to make a decision. Finally, don’t disregard your partner’s wishes. If they have mentioned a particular preference, listen to them and try to bring their wish to life.
Timing and Presentation
Perfect timing and presentation of a gift enhance its impact. Select a moment during the wedding day that allows both of you to fully embrace the emotions of the occasion. Some couples like to take a pause together a couple of hours before the ceremony in order to exchange gifts. If you’d like to do the gift exchange prior to the ceremony but don’t plan to see each other beforehand, opt to have a member of your wedding party deliver the gifts as you’re getting ready by yourselves. Or, you could do a surprise reveal during the reception in front of all your guests, or choose a quiet moment at the end of the night after the festivities have wrapped up. Finally, consider creative wrapping and packaging ideas that make the gift visually appealing and heighten the sense of excitement and anticipation.
Types of Gifts
Here are some ideas to get you thinking about potential gifts that you or your spouse would find meaning in.
Personalized and Sentimental Gifts
A necklace with your spouse-to-be’s initials carved into rose gold. A handmade sweater with their favorite quote embroidered onto the front. Cufflinks engraved with the outline of an alien, in honor of your inside joke about one of you being an alien. One of the most cherished gift options for a wedding day is something personalized and sentimental, such as customized jewelry or accessories.
Think about your partner’s personal sense of style and what gift might show that you see and understand their taste, and consider adding a meaningful message or symbol that represents your love and commitment.
Another thoughtful and personalized gift idea is to present a framed photograph capturing a special moment in your relationship. It could be a snapshot from an exciting vacation you took together, a family holiday memory, or your favorite engagement photo. Whatever you choose, a visual reminder of your love story is a surefire way to evoke nostalgia. Alternatively, create a personalized photo album or a collage depicting the journey you’ve taken together.
A thoughtfully-chosen experience is just as precious as a physical gift. If this is more your style, surprise your spouse with an itinerary for a special date or weekend getaway after the wedding. A few ideas to spark inspiration:
-A rafting trip on their favorite river
-A custom dinner of their favorite cuisine cooked by a professional chef right in front of you
-A spa day featuring vouchers for body treatments they enjoy, such as a massage, body scrub, or pedicure
-A flexible plane ticket to a weekend getaway destination you’ve been talking about checking out together
The anticipation of creating new memories will add an extra layer of excitement to your wedding day.
Some couples choose to complement their wedding day gift with a wedding card; doing this in place of or as a gift is also an option. These words will be cherished for years to come, reminding both you and your spouse of the depth of your emotions on a momentous day. You can choose to share this letter privately or create a memorable moment by reading it aloud during the wedding reception.
Practical and Useful Presents
While sentimental gifts hold a special place and are suitable for some people, a useful present designed to serve a particular function could be even more meaningful and appreciated–especially if the character of the person you’re marrying is less sentimental and more practical. In this case, something useful that speaks to their needs will make them feel even more seen and understood than a sentimental item with no real utility.
Your partner’s a wizard in the kitchen? Present them with an upgraded version of their favorite blender. Marrying a techie? Consult with a similarly-minded friend for advice on a cutting-edge gadget or software relevant to your partner’s interests or work. Another popular option is a subscription box tailored to their interests, such as books, beauty products, or snacks from other countries. Practical gifts show support for their hobbies and provide them with something that will remind them of your wedding day every time they use it.
Symbolic and Traditional Gifts
Incorporate symbolic or traditional elements into your wedding day gift to add an extra layer of significance. Is your partner strongly connected to his or her cultural lineage? Get them something that says “I see, love, and support your culture”. If they’re Jewish and interested in Kaballah, invest in some kabbalistic art. If they’re Hindu and have always felt a resonance with Vishnu, find a beautiful Vishnu statue for your house. If they come from a long line of Dabke dancers, find a source that offers the traditional Dabke garb of the region their family comes from. Or, explore cultural and religious symbols of love and luck that resonate with both you and your spouse.
In addition to the artsy examples above, artwork, in general, makes a meaningful gift for a partner with an artistic flair. Go to a local art walk and choose something that aligns with your partner’s tastes and that would look good in your home. Commission a local artist to create a piece of artwork that represents your love story or captures a special moment from your relationship. If you’re someone who enjoys creating art, make something yourself–and do so within the context of a class if you feel more comfortable.
Gifts don’t need to break the bank to be meaningful; there’s no particular price for love and thoughtfulness. DIY gifts, for instance, allow you to infuse your personal touch into a gift. Try brainstorming handwritten coupons or vouchers offering free or low-budget services or experiences that your spouse would appreciate. Or, get them a small trinket that is meaningful to them, like a keychain from a sports stadium where you bonded over an epic game, or a collection of vapes in their favorite flavors. It’s the sentiment behind the gift that’s going to evoke emotion, so focus on the meaning rather than the price tag.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wedding Day Gifts
Q: What are some unique gift ideas for a spouse on the wedding day?
A: Some unique gift ideas include personalized jewelry or accessories, a photo album or framed photograph, surprise experiences or getaways, and handwritten letters or poems expressing your love.
Q: How can I make the gift more sentimental and personalized?
A: Adding customized engravings, incorporating inside jokes or shared memories, and selecting gifts that align with your spouse’s interests and passions can make the gift more sentimental and personalized.
Q: Is it better to surprise my spouse with the gift or involve them in the decision-making process?
A: It depends entirely on you and your spouse’s preferences and the dynamics of your relationship. Do you two have a history of surprising each other? Is the vibe of your relationship more on the spontaneous side? Or, is your dynamic more collaborative? Does it typically involve a lot of planning? Let the answer to this question guide your choice.
Q: Are there any traditional symbols or customs associated with wedding day gifts?
A: Sometimes! Some couples choose to keep traditions such as “something old, new, borrowed, and blue” and/or to make use of cultural or religious symbols in choosing a gift. This is your wedding, so make it yours by doing what feels right to you. If honoring any particular traditions is a part of that, then go for it!
Q: What if I have a limited budget for the gift?
A: Your future spouse already knows and accepts this, so no stress. The sentiment and meaning behind the gift matter far more than the price tag. Explore budget-friendly options such as DIY gifts, handwritten letters, or thoughtful gestures that don’t require significant spending.
Choose your wedding day gift carefully and with deliberation. This is an opportunity to express your love, care, and understanding and to cement your connection even more on your special day. So, consider your partner’s preferences and character and choose whether the gift will be an item, an experience, or a gesture. Make sure whatever you choose is personal and tailored to their taste. And, weigh whether it should be a surprise, or agreed upon in advance. Take your time in carefully selecting the right gift; your spouse will treasure it for a lifetime.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]