Thursday, May 30 2024 10:26

21st-Century Wedding Gifts

Written by Shannon Montgomery

What today's newlyweds really want

Today’s brides and grooms are older when they say “I do,” and three-quarters of couples live together before tying the knot. Because of this — and the fact that all wedding traditions are changing — many couples find they don’t really need what we’ve come to expect as typical wedding gifts.

So what do you give the couple that has everything … or almost everything already? Definitely not another toaster!

Modern couples prefer presents that reflect their unique lifestyles, passions and values. From experiential adventures to personalized tokens of love, read on for what today’s couples truly want for their special day.

The Modern Registry

Let’s start with some overall trends. As technology evolves, so too has the wedding registry. In the digital age, many couples are opting for an online registry. Instead of registering at a brick-and-mortar store, couples set up their registry on sites like The Knot or Zola. This is often part of the couple’s wedding website — another nod to tech — where guests can also RSVP and find other info about the wedding, like the dress code, menu and accommodation options.

A major advantage of an online registry is the ability to add gifts from a variety of sources, including local shops, and not just a single national chain store. Guests can browse the registry, purchase gifts online and even have them shipped directly to the couple. Plus, the registry updates in real time, preventing duplicates.

Because of this flexibility, couples are getting creative with their registries. Instead of the traditional gifts — dinnerware, linens, kitchen appliances — couples are able to tailor their registries to their specific needs and interests.

Around the House

Spruce up the home with some decor from Adorn Goods

Though many modern couples already have the starting-married- life essentials, there are still ways to help make their house a home. Couples may still be decorating their home and include items like throw pillows and blankets, cozy rugs and wall art on their registries. Local shops like West Chester’s Old Soul Decor, Glen Mills’ Studio 882 and Wilmington’s Adorn Goods have beautiful pieces for every room of the house.

For couples living in a fixer-upper, some home improvement supplies — a nice toolset, stepladder or power tools — can go a long way. For tech-savvy couples, consider gifting a robot vacuum, video doorbell or smart home device.

Or, if the couple has everything they need for the inside of their home, consider helping spruce up the backyard. Let the newlyweds unwind with outdoor furniture or decor from Terrain (in Glen Mills, Devon and online), such as lounge chairs, hammocks or twinkly lights. Or choose gifts to create the perfect entertaining space with backyard games like cornhole, a cozy firepit, Bluetooth speaker or brand-new grill.

Meaningful Mementos

Bouquet Casting Co. turns wedding flowers into cherished keepsakes

For an extra-special gift that the couple will cherish, consider presents that commemorate their special day. Coordinate with the couple’s photographer to gift a wedding album full of formal portraits, candids and snapshots of memorable moments. Gift a customized guestbook, where wedding guests can share heartfelt messages and advice for the newlyweds, or a personalized wedding keepsake box to store invitations, dried flowers and other souvenirs from the wedding.

For a truly memorable gift, enlist the experts. Gift the bride a flower preservation service, like Delaware-based Bouquet Casting Co. or Pennsylvania Floral Preservation, to transform her bouquet into a beautiful piece of artwork. Give the services of a custom framer for their wedding portraits, or, better yet, commission a painting from a local artist to capture the couple on their big day.

Bon Voyage

Get ready for the honeymoon with luggage from Bag & Baggage

Another great option for wedding presents is travel gear. Help the newlyweds prepare for their honeymoon, mini-moon, many moons or future vacays by gifting luggage. Find suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, packing cases and luggage tags at Wilmington’s Bag & Baggage — and personalize your gift with a monogram.

Give the gift of comfort with travel pillows and blankets, or ensure their electronics are always charged and ready with a portable charger or universal travel adaptor. Arm them with knowledge by gifting a guidebook for their destination from a local independent bookstore. Traveling abroad? A language phrasebook can be immensely helpful — even if they studied on Duolingo beforehand.

Special Interests

Gear up for the great outdoors at Trail Creek Outfitters

Modern couples are also looking for gifts that reflect their personal interests and hobbies. For an outdoorsy couple, consider hiking gear or camping equipment, such as sturdy boots, camp chairs, a tent or cooler, from Trail Creek Outfitters in Glen Mills and Kennett Square. Couples with a green thumb may appreciate gardening tools or planters from Newtown Square’s Mostardi Nursery.

A pair of coffee snobs would enjoy an espresso machine or subscription to coffee from a local spot — Wayne and West Chester’s Gryphon Coffee Co. delivers coffee, espresso and decaf to your door weekly, biweekly or monthly. Wine connoisseurs may enjoy wine tasting classes at Collier’s of Centreville or a Wine Club membership from West Chester’s Turks Head Wines.

Many couples register for gifts for their beloved pets

If, like two-thirds of U.S. households, the couple owns a pet, they might register for gifts for their fur baby. Gift some upgraded pet supplies, like an automatic feeder, water fountain, self-cleaning litter box or gourmet treats. For a gift that keeps on giving, consider a subscription to BarkBox, which delivers toys and other goodies monthly, or keep it simple with a gift card to a local pet store, like Concord Pet Foods & Supplies or West Chester’s All the Dogs. For a really special gift, give the couple a custom portrait or framed photo of their pet.

Making Memories

Treat the newlyweds to a romantic day at a local vineyard

Give the newlyweds an opportunity to spend time together by gifting an experience. For a memorable day together, gift a couple’s massage, hot air balloon ride or a private tasting at a local vineyard or distillery, like Chadds Ford’s Penns Woods Winery or Elverson’s Botanery Barn Distilling.

Another option is a romantic night out with a gift card to a restaurant — like Andiario in West Chester, Le Cavalier at Wilmington’s Hotel du Pont or any of our Best of the Best restaurant picks. Or choose tickets to see their favorite band or sports team. You can also help fund a weekend getaway with an Airbnb gift card. Or give a year’s worth of memories with a membership to one of our area’s many museums and public gardens, including Longwood Gardens.

For couples who like to try new things, consider gifting an experience where they can learn something. For foodie couples, pick a cooking class from Chester County Lifelong Learning or a subscription to a meal-prep service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. Artsy couples might enjoy a painting course from West Chester-based artist Randall Graham, or a local pottery or photography workshop. For a fun-loving couple, give the gift of dance lessons at West Chester’s Carousel Ballroom — and encourage them to bust out their new moves at the wedding.

Final Options

Perhaps not surprisingly, many practical-minded couples are requesting cash gifts. Though it was considered taboo in the past, modern couples are seeking contributions to their honeymoon, down payment on a house or renovations to their current home. And some couples who don’t need (or want) more things in their lives are asking instead for donations to a charity that’s special to them. This makes a highly personal way to mark starting their lives together.


Today’s couples hope for meaningful and personalized wedding presents that reflect their individuality. Though traditions may change, one thing remains the same: the most important part of gift-giving is the love and care put into it. Whether it’s a grand gesture or a simple token of affection, the most precious gifts are those that come from the heart.