Engagement rings, dresses, dress codes, venues and menus — there are plenty of things to stress over when planning a wedding. Gifts should, hopefully, not be among them. (Opening gifts, though, may be another story.) But whether you’re a couple putting together a registry or a guest shopping for newlyweds, it never hurts to have a little inspiration.
Experts have already told The New York Times what wedding gifts they’d suggest for foodies, new parents, people who have enough stuff and those who want to be more socially conscious. The opinions in this article were solicited from authorities of a different sort — namely, 108 couples whose weddings were featured in The New York Times, each of whom were asked in an email to share the best wedding gift they received and why they loved it.
Read on for a selection of those gifts as well as for gift-giving tips and trends that we observed in the couples’ responses. Among those takeaways: Personalizing certain items (whiskey glasses, cutting boards, even Monopoly editions) can make them more special; chipping in on a group gift can be just as meaningful as giving one on your own; and the thought behind a gift, as the adage suggests, can matter as much to recipients as the gift itself.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Off Registry
Registries are always a good way to get a sense of what newlyweds desire, but 55 couples told us that the best gift they had received was not from their registry. One of those couples, Bridgette Summers, 34, and Andrew Wicks 33, received a handmade marbles game modeled after an heirloom version that belonged to her maternal great-grandfather. “We were totally surprised and incredibly grateful,” the couple said. “It wasn’t something we even thought was possible.”
Bianca Turetsky, 43, and Peter Bach, 58, did not ask for a monthly cheese subscription from Artisanal Premium Cheese (prices vary), but Ms. Turetsky said the gift transported her husband “back to his Wisconsin roots.” She added that the subscription “provides an opportunity to travel the world without leaving home.”
The handmade Chinese teapot ($62) and teas given to Sarah Santucci and Kevin Zhang, both 28, were something the couple said they never would have thought to ask for. “The tea ceremony is a whole sensory experience that forces the participants to slow down and savor,” the couple said. “When we make it, we not only appreciate the taste, but the smells, the texture of the pottery and even the cleanup and carefully putting the set away.”
China Sets Beyond the Basic
China is seemingly as desirable as ever, with several couples naming sets bought from their registries as their favorite wedding gift.
Lauren Weaver, 36, and Burnell Holland, 39, got a blue-and-white five-piece set from Wedgwood ($245) that the couple hope to pass down to future generations. Erik Leibovitz, 32, and Dara Leibovitz, 31, also wanted timeless china. The Bernardaud salad plates with 24-karat-gold detailing ($95 for one) that the couple received fit the bill, they said.
For something a bit simpler, Caitlin Thompson, 36, and Richard Thompson, 39, suggested Juliska’s white four-piece Berry & Thread set ($156) that they had been given. The pieces, they said, “are incredibly well made, wash and stack well and are much more practical than a formal china set that might only be used on holidays or special occasions.”
Colorful, Mix-and-Match Glasses
Two couples said their favorite gifts had come from Estelle Colored Glass, a Black-owned business.
Alexandra and Bryan Scotland, both 35, received a set of six wine glasses in mixed colors ($185) and a set of six champagne coupes in mixed colors ($205). “It’s fun to choose which color you would like for the moment, depending on the season, holiday or even your mood,” they said.
Chelsea Crowder-Luke, 30, and Emerson Luke, 35, also received a set of six of the brand’s stemmed wine glasses, which come in colors including blush pink, cobalt blue and mint green. They described the pieces as “heirloom-worthy glassware” and said the glasses were particularly fun to use at dinner parties.
Air Fryers Are Seemingly Foolproof
The air fryer came up more than any other kitchen appliance, with five couples naming it as the best gift they’d received. (Three of them had included air fryers on their registries; two had not.)
The gift of an air fryer, said Robert and Anessah Williams, both 42, is also the gift of free time. “We get to reflect on our day sitting at the table versus waiting for an hour or more to prep and cook dinner,” said the couple, who received a Ninja Air Fryer Max XL ($170). “After a long day, having our food ready quickly and well prepared is a major plus.”
Ninja was one of several brands mentioned. Sue Jin, 33, and Amit Seth, 43, raved about their Kalorik Digital Air Fryer XL ($100); Joseph Iervolino, 35, and Meghan Louttit, 36, recommended their Ultrean Air Fryer ($70); and James Miles, 31, and Meron Miles, 29, suggested their Cosori Pro Smart Air Fryer ($130), which can be controlled through an app. Wynne and Christian Hendry, both 32, said a couple living in a “small apartment with not a lot of counter space” might appreciate the Cuisinart air fryer-toaster oven hybrid ($230), which they’d received.
Newlyweds Like Pizza …
Two couples — Olivia Barket and Cory Yeffet, both 29, and Jacob Rowton and Morgan Wolfe, both 26 — named the Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven ($399), which they each had registered for, as their favorite gift.
“This gift gave us a new hobby to do as a couple,” Mr. Rowton and Ms. Wolfe said. Ms. Barket and Mr. Yeffet agreed, saying the oven is “a fun way to bring people together.”
For a couple who enjoys pizza and lives in (or likes to visit) New York, Emily Maretsky, 34, and Isaiah Bryant, 36, suggest tickets to one of Scott’s Pizza Tours in the city (prices vary). A tour was not on their registry, but they loved it. “It was so unexpected and fun,” Ms. Maretsky said.
… and Caffeine
An appliance almost as popular as the air fryer: the espresso machine. “This wedding gift has transformed our morning — putting smiles on our faces, connecting conversations over coffee and providing a daily boost of energy,” said Lindsay Martuscello, 33, and Jason Martuscello, 34, of the Breville Barista Pro ($850) that someone had bought from their registry.
Two less expensive machines from De’Longhi were also recommended. Jennifer Valdes-Skogen, 37, and Brian Skogen, 41, suggested their 15-Bar Pump Espresso & Cappuccino Machine ($200), while Blake Song, 27, and Bailey Kinsolving, 28, recommended their Dedica Deluxe Espresso Machine ($380).
Coffee drinkers may appreciate subscriptions to Trade and MistoBox (prices vary for both), gifts that Ryan Watzel, 35, and Matthew Sipe, 32, didn’t register for but called “very practical.”
Hobbies Provide Inspiration
Several newlyweds said the best gifts they’d received were items from their registries that appealed to favorite pastimes.
Eva Maria Janerus, 38, and Gautam Mukunda, 43, have a garden, and Ms. Janerus said the Worx Aerocart Yard Cart ($230) had been a welcome addition to the couples’ arsenal of equipment.
Of their Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Backpack Cooler ($325), Elizabeth Conway, 36, and Kyle Manley, 35, said they “can think of very few excursions where we haven’t put it on our backs or loaded it in the car.”
Jordan Hart, 32, and Sean Bredbenner, 41, another outdoorsy couple, suggested the North Face Eco Trail 3 Person Tent ($300) that they’d received, which provides “some luxury when we are roughing it,” the couple said. “It’s great for new couples because it encourages a shared hobby and spending unplugged time together.”
A Specific Linens Brand Kept Coming Up
Items from Brooklinen, a brand that our colleagues at Wirecutter have reviewed a lot, were mentioned more than those from any other line of linens.
Valentina Stackl, 37, and Alexander Campbell, 35, called the brand’s Hardcore Sheet Bundle ($363), which contains a cotton sateen duvet cover, fitted and flat sheets and four pillowcases, “a treat we probably wouldn’t have splurged on.” Emily Black, 34, and Anais Ovalle, 32, also recommended the sateen sheets, which come in several colors and sizes, from twin to California king.
Two more couples praised the brand’s Super-Plush Robe ($99), which is available in four colors. “It was so nice to put on these robes and some Netflix when we got back from getting married,” said Gabi Conti, 35, and Daren Johnson, 34. Deborah Levitsky, 34, and Matthew Levitsky, 32, said they used their robes “almost daily,” adding that the items “have held up incredibly well.”
Memorialize the Invitation
Many couples put lots of thought and time into designing their wedding invitation, and a handful of newlyweds said their favorite gifts acknowledged that creativity.
Heather Hwalek, 35, and Taylor Washburn, 41, said such a gift could be as simple as the “lovely framed set of our wedding invitation and high-resolution photo” that they had received. For a more functional option, Mosheh Oinounou, 40, and Alexandra Sall, 33, recommended Current Home’s acrylic tray ($250), which showcases an invitation. “We will cherish it for years,” they said.
Particularly unique was the stone tile imprinted with the invitation of Candace Tucker, 36, and Iam Tucker, 39. “We absolutely loved our wedding invitations, and this was a way to commemorate and display that day in an elegant way in our home,” Mr. Tucker said of the custom tile from Artstones by Heavenly Delights (price upon request).
Airbnb Gift Cards as Alternatives to Honeymoon Funds
For a gift that’s a little more personal than a donation to a honeymoon fund, consider an Airbnb gift card, which can be put to use on a post-wedding trip or a subsequent couples’ getaway. “We were able to use Airbnb gift cards on our honeymoon and future travel together,” said Jamie Drucker, 35, and Scott Huber, 36.
Adam Dalva and Alana Salguero, both 36, said their gift card “immediately gave us something exciting and new to look forward to after the wedding, and let us talk about the future and how we’d want to spend it together.”
Jack Kramer and Geordon Wollner contributed research.