What Should Wedding Guests Give as a Gift If There Is No Registry?

Does no gifts really mean no gifts?

wedding stationary

Photo by Davy Whitener

When receiving a wedding invitation in the mail or logging on to a wedding website, you'll most likely find some note for guests indicating gifting protocol. For most, there is direction of how to access a registry or honeymoon fund to help contribute to the couple's post-nuptial vacation. However, in a few cases, there isn't a registry listed or even the phrase, "No Gifts." In these cases, a guest may be a little confused how to proceed.

"If there is not a gift registry included, check the wedding website or you can call the bride or groom. In other words, don’t hesitate to reach out to see if there is a registry you may have missed or if there is something in particular they may enjoy receiving," says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman. "If the invitation states no gifts, then it’s important to follow their request."

Still unsure if you should still give something extra for the newlyweds? We asked a few wedding pros to weigh in.

Meet the Expert

Gift If You Can

If a couple says no gifts, that doesn't mean it's bad form to give one. "Normally when couples avoid registering, it signals that they would prefer no boxed items as gifts," shares wedding planner Nicole-Natassha Goulding. "In most cases, it's totally acceptable to bring a monetary gift in lieu of a registered item. It's always a great idea to check with the hosts of the event, mainly the bridal shower, if no registry has been listed to find out the couple's preference."

Event planner Nathalie Cadet-James echoes those same sentiments. "When I see the words ‘No Registry,’ it generally suggests that cash gifts are welcome—even when it says, ‘Your presence is our present.’ Personally, I love the way I feel when I give a meaningful gift. My go-to gift as of late is planting trees in honor of the couple in a place that is special to them. What gives roots flourishes."

Don't Feel Obligated

Of course, if the couple indicates "no gifts," it is not a faux pas to not bring one. If you want to do something small, even a handwritten card is a nice way to give back to the newlyweds. "Gifting these days should really be about the ability to give (if you have a budget for it) and the heart behind it—and neither of those are dependent on a registry," shares wedding photographer Perry Vaile. "If someone is tapped out from other wedding expenses, I don’t think any couple would want them to extend their finances to buy an expensive gift. Perhaps a couple skipping the registry is a way to let guests off the hook when it comes to financial obligations. Coming from the South though, I don’t think I could show up without something—so that’s where the well-thought or heartfelt gift would come in!"

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