Historians believe that in ancient Athens, a bride would mark her wedding day by giving her groom a woven cloak as a sign of her weaving skills. Grooms may have given their brides gifts too, but even in ancient times, guys probably weren’t great at remembering gifts … so we don’t know for certain.
It definitely hasn’t always been customary for a marrying couple to exchange gifts on the wedding day — but it’s common now, so you best be prepared with a little something special on the big day. Whether you agree ahead of time that you’ll exchange gifts before the wedding or you prefer to surprise your beloved, presenting a gift is a meaningful way of privately expressing your feelings before you go out and express them publicly.
On second thought, don’t worry about that loom: It’s the intention of your gift that matters, not how traditional it is. So whether you’re a straight or LGBTQ couple, marrying in a church or a hot air balloon, exchanging gifts on the morning of the ceremony or in bed the night before, all that matters is that you choose something that’s special to your soon-to-be spouse.
Gifts for the Bride
For most brides, jewelry is the perfect wedding gift. Not all ladies care about diamonds or gold vs. silver, but if she likes to wear jewelry of any kind, you can surprise her with a special piece that has significance. If she errs on the traditional side, pick out a locket or a bracelet and have it engraved with a simple message like your initials and the wedding date. But if she lives for “Game of Thrones,” pick out a pendant with a dragon or swords on it. Whatever you pick, it should be personal to her.
Wedding planning is hard and exhausting, and you know your bride likely did most of the work. Show your appreciation for her efforts by putting together a thoughtful gift of pampering stuff. Include bubble bath, a candle, some chocolate, a gift certificate to get a pedicure or facial, a DVD of her favorite silly movie — whatever helps your bride relax.
Blew your budget on the wedding? Make your bride a gift instead of buying something fancy. Paint an abstract piece of art in her favorite colors, or buy a cheap set of wine or drinking glasses and paint inside jokes or flowers on them so she thinks of you every time she takes a sip. Or gather up some of your mementos of your relationship so far and create a scrapbook for her. Intersperse photos with handwritten notes from you, and add concert tickets or other small things that have significance in your love story.
Gifts for the Groom
For a groom who knows the joy of sneaking booze into grandma’s birthday party, a sleek new flask is the perfect gift. Get him one wrapped in buttery leather or have a wooden or metal flask engraved with his family crest or a personalized message from you. Tuck a bottle of his favorite liquor into the box to get him started.
No matter what you think of Kim Kardashian, you probably won’t be surprised by the wedding gift she chose for Kanye: a book of selfies. Embrace that idea by scheduling a photo shoot a few months before the wedding. Get all dolled up in sexy clothes and lingerie and pose for a professional boudoir photographer, then put together a book of your favorite PG-13 poses.
Jewelry’s not just for brides. Buy him a pair of cool cuff links, a stainless steel watch, or a leather cuff or beaded bracelet. Or if he’s planning to wear a cheapo generic wedding band, surprise him with a Manly Band that perfectly accentuates his personal style.
Gifts for Either
Love letter: The only downside of penning a heartfelt love letter to your spouse on the eve of your wedding is that if she or he reads it right before the ceremony, things might get a little teary. (And if your bride has false eyelashes on, tears are a real problem.) Still, a handwritten love letter is the perfect traditional pre-wedding gift. Grab some scratch paper and start jotting down a first draft, then polish it until it says everything you want your spouse to know. Copy the letter on some nice stationary and tuck it into an envelope. Your partner will keep it forever.
Honeymoon stuffs: If you’re planning a honeymoon, think about items that might make your trip a blast. Buy your spouse a new pair of designer sunglasses before a beach vacation, surprise them with a gift certificate for a massage on your cruise ship or buy a pair of tickets for a romantic helicopter ride for two.
Keep it Cozy: Okay, maybe those ancient Athenians were on to something — everyone loves a good robe. It’s a little indulgent, a little sexy and just practical enough to make a great gift. Pick a really luxe long robe made of silk and have it embroidered with your spouse’s initials and include a note about how you’re looking forward to seeing him or her in it (and out of it) on the wedding night.
A puppy!! Hey, it worked for this couple.