Never go off registry—but if you do, avoid these 18 wedding gifts
Step away from the baby clothes!
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Wedding gifts can be tricky. On one hand, choosing a random pot or pan off the couple’s registry seems impersonal and thoughtless. On the flip side? It’s so easy to commit a faux pas when you go off-registry.
If you do want to pick a unique gift for the newlyweds, there are some things that are almost never a good idea. Unless the couple has specifically told you otherwise, you’ll want to avoid these 18 bad wedding gifts.
1. Off-registry linens
Even if those super cute towels totally remind you of the couple’s style, it’s not a good idea to give them as a wedding gift. Why? Most people want their linens to match, and if you buy a set of random ones, they probably won’t get used much—if at all. So stay away from towels and sheets, unless they’re on the registry.
You might be able to get away with a pair of cute kitchen towels, if you’re really keen on gifting linens. Just make sure they’re not corny (see #17) and try to pick a set that will match the couple’s decor.
2. Regifted items
If you didn’t like the set of weird-smelling body products your aunt gave you for your birthday, chances are the couple won’t either. Regifting is never a good idea, even if you’re sure there’s no way the newlyweds (or the original gifter) would ever know. It’s rude and even more impersonal than sending something off the registry.
3. A half-gift…
Some wedding gifts come as a set—like salt and pepper shakers, or wine glasses. As such, it should go without saying that just sending a solo pepper grinder as a wedding present is a big no-no. If you do this, chances are the couple is going to have to finish off the set themselves, which is frustrating and counterintuitive. So, if you’re not ready to buy the whole set, choose something else.
4. Or an item for half the couple
On a similar note, wedding presents should ideally be something that the couple will use together or at least equally. Buying a gift for just the bride or just the groom is frowned upon—even if you’re much closer to one of them.
Bottom line? Save that gel manicure kit for the bride’s next birthday.
5. Artwork and other home decor
Decorating is a fairly personal thing, especially for a new couple, so it’s best to avoid buying newlyweds wall art or any other type of home decor. After all, you don’t really know how they’re planning to decorate, so it might be better to just give them a gift card to a home decor store instead.
6. Any kind of baby-related items
Cute onsies. Baby shoes. Baby books. Fertility idols. Any and all of these things are a hard no as a wedding gift (even if the bride is pregnant—save it for the baby shower).
Newly married couples inevitably get asked about when they’re having kids, but these questions are often imposing and could very well be a sore subject for them. To avoid making anyone feel awkward, skip the baby gifts—even if they are wicked cute.
7. Gag gifts
Sure, gag gifts can be funny (emphasis on “can” because sometimes they’re just rude or offensive), but they’re better suited for a bachelor/ette party. So please, for the love of marriage, do not bring a ball and chain as a gift to the wedding.
Even if the couple has a good sense of humor, it may be offensive. It’s also a waste of money, since it will probably get thrown away shortly after.
8. Self-help or relationship books
There are lots and lots of books about marriage out there. There are books on how to make a marriage succeed, how to love your spouse on bad days, how to set boundaries in your marriage, and much much more.
While these kinds of books may seem like a useful gift for newlyweds, it might come across like you’re insinuating the couple is going to have problems—and no one wants to do that. As an alternative, why not get them an e-reader and let them find their own books to read?
9. Something that could go bad
This is especially true if the couple is heading out on their honeymoon right after the wedding. Avoid buying them a food basket or something perishable, as they might not open your gift right away! If you want to go the food route, get them something with a longer shelf life, like wine or candy.
10. Exercise equipment
Hopefully this goes without saying, but it could be quite insulting to give exercise equipment as a wedding gift. Whether it’s a cool stationary bike or gym membership, you risk sending the message that you think the couple needs to exercise more… which is not what people want to hear on their wedding day.
11. Live animals
As a general rule of thumb, you should never give someone an animal as a gift—not for weddings, birthdays, holidays, or ever. Animals are a whole lot of work to take care of, even if it’s just a fish, and it should be a decision that the couple makes for themselves. So go return that poor hamster to the pet store.
12. A homemade gift
You run the risk of coming off as cheap if you give the couple a homemade gift for their wedding. Whether it’s a portrait you painted yourself or a hand-sewn stuffed llama, homemade gifts typically aren’t the best way to go.
There are two notable exceptions here, however. First, if you’re a bona fide artist or tradesperson, you might be able to get away with gifting homemade ware. Second, children who want to give a present to the couple can obviously get away with something handcrafted, such as a sweet card or DIY wind chime.
13. Cleaning supplies
As cool as that easy-wring microfiber mop may seem, it probably won’t make a good wedding gift—you never know if they already have one, and it’s just not a fun present to open.
Plus, most couples include cleaning supplies that they want on their registry, so check their list to see if there are any vacuums or other tools on there.
14. Any kind of… inappropriate gift
Yes, newlyweds typically spend a lot of, ahem, quality time together, but most couples would greatly prefer to keep their private life private. So before you buy them a sexy book or adult toy, consider if there’s a more appropriate gift you could give in its place.
15. A check that’s going to bounce
This is arguably the most awkward gift for the happy couple. If there’s even the slightest chance the check you give them will bounce, simply don’t give them the money. It will only create an awkward situation for both of you! Plus, some banks even charge the recipient a bounced check fee, so you could inadvertently be costing the couple money. Bottom line? Send cash or just a card instead.
16. Random kitchen gadgets
There are lots of random kitchen appliances out there, from breakfast sandwich makers to automatic potato peelers, and everything in between. Many of these gadgets are quite expensive, and while you might think they’re cool, you never know if the couple has any use for them or even the place to store it. As such, it’s better to stick to registry items if you want to send a kitchen tool.
17. Corny his-and-hers items
When you search for “wedding gifts,” the first results you’re going to see are likely his-and-hers items, whether it’s a pair of coffee cups, aprons, or pillowcases. While some are undeniably cute, a lot of these items are corny and will get limited use. It’s better to give the couple something that they’ll use for a long time, like a smart speaker (assuming they like tech) or a fun board game.
18. Cheaper versions of registry items
Have you ever seen one of the memes about “what you ordered” vs. “what you got”? That’s how the couple will feel if they put a nice set of knives on their registry and you get them a cheap knife set instead. Even if you’re sure the alternative is just as good, it’s better to just stick with the registry items—the couple picked that product for a reason, so you should trust that they know best.
No matter what? Always get a gift receipt.
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