Photo: Christian Oth Studio
Exchanging gifts with your soon-to-be spouse on your wedding day may be tradition — but it doesn't have to be expensive, our experts say. "A gift exchange is a perfect way to be in the moment, connect with your love, and focus on the importance of the day," says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Philadelphia-based Two Little Birds Planning. "It's OK if an extravagant or pricey gift isn't in the budget. Some of the best gifts are heartfelt, sentimental, and don't cost a thing." Here are seven of our favorite (and free!) wedding day gift ideas for your almost-spouse.
1. Give the gift of breakfast in bed.
Whip up an omelet and hash browns for your soon-to-be spouse, and ask your BFF or a family member to deliver it to him the morning of the wedding. "If you don't have time to make pancakes from scratch, bake some muffins or breakfast pastries the day before the wedding," suggests Fisher. "This sweet gesture shows that you care and it's the perfect way to start the day."
2. Exchange cards during your first look.
If you've opted for a first look, you can make the moment even more memorable by handing your soon-to-be spouse a heartfelt card. "The anticipation and excitement have been building all day," Fisher describes, "and because your emotions will be at an all-time high, you may have a hard time verbalizing your feelings. By writing it all down ahead of time, you ensure your partner knows exactly what's on your mind and how you're feeling in that very special moment."
3. Write a love note.
If you're not sharing a first look, consider writing a love note your partner can read on his or her own time. "There's nothing sweeter than a love note from your honey," says Aviva Samuels, owner of Kiss the Planner in Palm Beach, Fla. "Consider sending it via messenger while you're both getting ready for the wedding and expect at least a few tears of joy." What's more, if you've hired a videographer, you can catch your partner's reaction to your love note on film, and treasure that for years to come.
4. Scrapbook your love story.
Calling all scrap-bookers: Grab a brand-new book, but begin to fill it with all the old things we know you've been collecting for years, from photos to cards, tickets, and everything in between. "Making a book of your love story is a sentimental and heartfelt gift," says Fisher, who suggests including the stories of how you met, your first date, and your proposal story. "You will both cherish this unique gift forever."
5. Give your partner a family heirloom.
"Giving your spouse-to-be a family heirloom is a beautifully symbolic way to show the joining of your families," says Fisher. Your grandfather's pocket watch or your father's cufflinks could make the perfect gift for your groom, while a grandmother's locket or the handkerchief your sister carried on her wedding day will surely be appreciated by your bride. "These gifts are also the beginning of family traditions that can be passed to future generations," Fisher says.
6. Write every reason you love him or her.
Each time you think of a reason you love your partner, jot it down and save it in a box or envelope, suggests Fisher. "From foot rubs on the couch after a bad day at work to saving you the last bite of dessert, writing down all of the reasons you love him or her will make your partner feel loved, appreciated, and special," she says.
7. Say "I love you" without a word.
As Samuels reminds us, a photograph is worth a thousand words. So, find or snap a meaningful photo, then, "wrap it up in tissue paper and seal it with a kiss, attach it to a card, or leave it in his jacket pocket or even his shoe," Samuels suggests. "Finding it as a surprise adds another element of sweetness."
8. Request a song.
Loop your DJ in on this gift by giving him the heads-up you'd like him to play a song you've picked for your partner at the opportune moment during your reception. You can decide whether to explain the song's meaning to your guests, or keep it as a gift between just you two, Fisher says. "The song might be the one that was playing when you first met, one with a message that means something to your sweetheart, or one that just moves him or her for whatever reason," she says.