Sometimes the Best Wedding Gifts Aren’t Found on the Registry

One of the fun things you get to do as a bride is create a wedding gift registry. It’s easy to get wrapped up in this process, overthinking what you want versus what you need, comparing prices at different stores, and coming to an agreement with your fiance on how a brand new KitchenAid will benefit both of you….

A registry is a necessity for couples getting married. Whether you’re comfortable with it or not, the majority of your guests will want to give you gifts. The registry gives them ideas as to what you like and can use as a couple. Most people will ask where you’re registered, and that’s how they know what to get you.

But others will want to do their own thing. Some of your friends or family may want to get creative or give you more personal gifts, things you never would have even thought to put on your registry.

At my bridal shower, I received a good balance of household items I had registered for and personalized gifts. But there is one gift that stands out that is incredibly meaningful and personal, yet it’s also traditionally seen as a necessity for married couples, according to the packaging.

The gift came from my mom’s best friend, Barb, a woman I’ve known for years. I knew from reading the card that whatever this gift was, it was going to mean a lot to me. Barb had written:

“I can honestly tell you that I don’t remember who gave me many of my bridal shower gifts, but I always remember what your grandmother gave me, cause I take the out every year at Christmas time. I love looking at them and remember her sweet and loving heart. I hope these do the same for you.”

You see, my grandma passed away two years ago and she had gushed for years about seeing me on my wedding day. Losing her was extremely hard for me, my mom and our family.

The delicate white box looked like it might contain a nice piece of lingerie, and I laughed at the thought. But I opened it to find a set of Christmas ornaments.

The set consists of beautiful ornaments that represent the essential hopes for a marriage and the couple’s home:

Fish: represents Christ’s blessing, as well as fertility

Teapot: represents hospitality

Bird: represents joy, happiness and the Holy Spirit.

Angel: a symbol of God’s guidance

Rabbit: reflects hope and peace with nature

Fruit basket: symbolizes generosity and plenty

Heart: a symbol of true love and love in the home

Pine cone: represents fruitfulness, eternity, motherhood and fertility

Flower basket: symbolizes good wishes or beauty in the home

Rose: symbol of affection and of the Virgin Mary, faithfulness in marriage

House: represents protection or family shelter

Santa: symbol of good will, giving and sharing

If your wedding is in the summer or fall, you likely wouldn’t even think about putting Christmas items on your registry. When I put these symbolic ornaments on my Christmas tree this year, I was reminded of our wedding day, inspired by the meanings of these ornaments and filled with sentiment for my grandma, knowing she had a large part in this incredibly meaningful gift.

And I’ll get to experience this again every year. The gift will live on and follow my husband and me as we move from house to house.

Brides, don’t get too hung up on your registry. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you’ll never think of on your own.

Tip: Add some Christmas items to your registry! Ornaments, picture frames, decorations – you might not think you need them in July, but you’ll be glad you thought of it when the holidays come around!

What are some of your favorite wedding gifts you’ve received that weren’t on your registry? Tell us about it by leaving a comment!

About the blogger: Michelle Chalkey is a Des Moines-based freelance writer. Her writing has appeared in Iowa Living MagazinesAround Iowa and on the Iowa Food and Family Project blog. Michelle’s Iowa wedding was in September, and she has learned the do’s and don’t bothers of wedding planning. To learn more about Michelle, visit her website at


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