I have a lot of married friends, and seeing them tie the knot has prepared me for my own trip down the aisle someday. I know things like invitations should be proofread before they’re sent out, red wine should never be placed near the bride and overspending can stress out newlyweds (and land them in debt if they’re not careful).
But one thing I never expected to learn was how you can never prepare for what’s inside the wedding presents. Sure, there are registries filled with everything from cookware and linens to cash and gift cards. But what happens when guests go rogue and get a little too creative?
Hilarity — that’s what.
My friends are chock full of stories about crazy, inappropriate gifts they received for saying “I do.” Now I’m passing these gems on to you so you can avoid giving a cringe-worthy gift this season. (Note: I’ve kept this on a first-name-only basis to help protect them from any more gift-giver cruelty.)
1. Soaps From City Hall
Christy and her husband said their nuptials at the local courthouse, but walked away with more than a marriage certificate. “When we arrived, they gave us a little bag full of sample laundry soaps,” she said.
2. A “Gift” From Mom
Things got weird for Annalisa when she received a gift from her future mother-in-law. “I received a bottle of emotion lotion – ‘Blow on it, and it gets hot’ – from his mother! Awkward!”
3. Tarnished Silver
There’s re-gifting, and then there’s what happened to Alexia. “We got a ‘silver’ platter with someone else’s initials engraved on it,” she said.
4. Not Well Done
Stephanie’s family sounds like they were thinking more of themselves than the couple. The gift in question? “A giant 30-piece outdoor grilling set, probably from Costco,” she said. “At the time, we were living in a 350-square-foot studio. Also, we’re vegetarians.”
5. The Book That Keeps Giving
Spencer’s weird gift actually came in handy years later when he had another wedding to attend. “Someone — still, to this day, I’m not sure who — gave us a Kama Sutra book with a subtitle that read something, like ’70-plus Mind-Blowing Positions.’ About five years into our marriage, my wife’s cousin got married, and we needed to get them a gift,” he said. “So rather than spend money on them like normal people, we decided to impart some marital wisdom — we re-gifted the book. But instead of giving it to them in the pristine condition it was in after five years, we roughed it up a bit. We bent a few page corners and wrote a bunch of notes throughout, like ‘Spencer’s favorite,’ or ‘Remember to stretch first’ or ‘Do not attempt on a wood floor.’”
6. Advice From the ’90s
Courtenay wouldn’t have minded some tips on how to combine finances after marriage, but she didn’t expect them to be so outdated. “We got a used Dave Ramsey cassette tape on how to manage your personal finances,” she explained, “and this was in 2010, so it’s not like cassette players were still widely in use.”
7. Painting the Future
Tiffany likes her creative friends, but she didn’t expect this gift: “My future mother-in-law’s friend painted a picture of baby Jesus and Mary and paired it with a box that contained a marriage advice CD. We’re not religious at all.”
8. As Seen on TV
Late-night infomercials and self-promotion seemed to be the theme for Megan’s wedding gifts: “My husband and I got an ‘As Seen on TV’ slider burger press, even though we’ve both been vegan for years. I did actually try to make black bean veggie patties in it once, but it was a huge fail. We also had someone give us a signed copy of their own book.”
9. The Junk Drawer
Leilla and her husband didn’t receive a kitchen sink, but they got nearly everything else. “Someone gave us candles, a cheese knife, a bread knife and other random items that were obviously from their kitchen drawers,” she said.
10. A Not-so-Sweet Gesture
Jaime didn’t expect a huge surprise, but this gift was a bit hard to swallow: “My cousin got me two packs of old, half-melted gummies. I kept thinking there was something else, like maybe a gift card or a ‘Just kidding!’, But no, nothing.”
Who knew there were so many bad gift-givers out there? These are just 10 of the stories I heard, and they kept coming. If you have a wedding to attend, there are gifts that won’t require you to run up a big credit card bill (which could hurt your bank account and your credit score) and will even be useful to the couple. For some ideas, check out our list of 30 wedding gifts that keep giving.
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