By Kate Hall (the incredibly wonderful, @ethicallykate)
Photo credit: Sandra Henri, (www.sandrahenriphotography.com.au) shared via Less Stuff More Meaning (@lessstuffmoremeaning)
It’s not often you receive a wedding invitation in the mail and think “oh yes! I know exactly what to buy them!”
Saying “I do” to the perfect wedding present is difficult.
Questions spin through your mind: how much should I spend? Will they use it? Do they already have this? After these initial thoughts, the invitation sits on your fridge.
A few days (or hours!) beforehand, you jump onto the registry, buy them the remaining candle-stick holder or contribute to the only remiaining honeymoon experience (a bus-trip) - or worse - whip down to the shops, coming back with some random artisan wood kitchen-knick-knack they will probably never use.
Even harder can be setting up your own wedding registry. What you really need is for everyone to help out on your down-payment on your home, but Nana's pretty keen on getting you a lot of silver photo frames instead.
Some guests simply don't want to give you cash or a night on the cocktails at your honeymoon hotel. No, they want to give you something they know you will remember and something they can see in your home, whenever they pop around for tea. (So don't even consider packing it away or re-gifting it away.)
We’ve all been there, but what if we looked at weddings gifts in a different light? What if we completely tipped the idea of wedding presents on its head and used this chance to buy sustainably and send newlyweds into their new lives together with gifts of meaning and purpose - which could last a lifetime and don’t cost you the earth, literally.
Welcome to the Sustainable Wedding Gift Guide, for all types of couples who made the awesome decision to get hitched. With a little less crap and clutter and instead, things they might just treasure, for many years to come.
For the Vintage Lovers
The stigma around buying second-hand has drastically changed - can you hear that?... That was the environment letting out a big sigh of relief.
Buying second-hand doesn’t mean you are poor or stingy.
Rather, it means you have spent hours sifting through auction houses or vintage-stores finding the right gift for them. You care. Second-hand items come with a story and can always be returned if they don’t like them.
If you are planning a wedding registry or gift suggestions, let people know you'd be more than happy for them to buy things second hand. Things just waiting to be passed to the next set of hands.
Stunning copper or cast iron pots and pans
- Auction houses and second-hand stores are always full of amazing copper and cast iron pots. They look amazing and incredibly well made. Robust enough to pass through generations. Bought new, they are often out of reach and are a true indulgence for new married couples. So taking a bit of time to find the right one, giving it a polish and this is an incredible gift to host guests in style. (Anne from Elkie & Ark tells me her all-time favourite wedding present is a copper frying pan they use nearly every day)
Silver Cutlery, Knives and Servers
Just like the copper pans, these are something you'd be crazy to buy brand new when there are so many stunning sets sitting around auction houses begging to find a new home. Special cake or salad servers may seem like excess now, but can all become a favourite for birthdays and celebrations for many years.
- You can have them engraved for an extra touch.
A Retro Vase or Glassware
- Vases are the type of thing you never buy for yourself but always need. A quirky vase is a unique gift to brighten up their home.
- Perhaps they have a favourite drink... negronis, martinis, or whisky anyone? You can find some stunning one-off or small-set, vintage glassware that I can promise you they will adore and treasure on romantic evenings in (and hopefully not break, at least for a while).
Classic or Kooky Books
- Whether it be a cheesy book on looove (Rumi is a not-so cheesy choice), a beautiful coffee table hardback, a first edition of something they love or something funny for them to read on the toilet, a book or book-set could make your couple totally thrilled. Berkelouwe books is always a winner.
- Remember those games you played as a kid? Find the most classic, crazy, and outrageous board game or puzzle. This will take them back to their childhood, and bring fun and joy into their home for many years to come.
Where to Go?
- You can sometimes find gems in your local store, but we highly recommend auctions houses like Lawsons in Sydney or check out this great list of vintage, auction and second-hand gems from The Concrete Playground in Sydney
- You could even create a little gift card that includes a trip WITH the couple. Include a note saying they can choose an item or multiple items of an approximate budget. This means you get to spend time with the couple when they are home from their honeymoon, plus, they can choose what they really need. And auctions really are a lot of fun.
For The Wanderers
Everyone wants an experience to remember, or inspiration for new adventures. A wedding gift does not have to be a physical item, in fact, more and more couples are choosing experiences instead.
A honeymoon experience
- Scrap the idea of a physical object and buy them an experience. A bungy jump, snorkelling adventure, romantic dinner on the beach front, a night out at their favourite bar, white water rafting, or a day trip excursion are excellent alternatives to usual gifts - something they won’t ever forget.
- These gifts aren't for everyone (often Nana really does want to get you something 'real') but more and more people are getting used to the idea, that experiences are one of the best things you can give.
- It may not even be on their honeymoon - perhaps cooking lessons or surfing or language lessons. Something as a couple they've always wanted to do.
- A book detailing local hidden walks, swimming holes or beaches in their area, or perhaps top places they could visit around the world. Perhaps a map of a country you know they’ve always wanted to go. Your newlyweds will feel touched that you know them so well. You might just get invited along too.
Patagonia or Prana Voucher
- Patagonia and Prana are two companies that are making leaps and bounds in the eco-outdoor clothing and gear space. If they are heading off on an adventure, make sure they are rugged up properly and ready to go. You can buy a voucher to go on an eco-friendly shopping spree. Visit Patagonia or Prana here.
For the Home Stylers
In the age of IKEA, we often find we don't fill our home with furniture that is made to last.
If your newlyweds don’t already have their home setup, or are the type of people who adore home décor… now is your chance to fill their home with items of meaning which give back to our global community and don’t harm the environment. There are several incredible companies who offer eco homewares of quality and style, with so many products to choose from. When you purchase from an ethical company, you are supporting artisans and villages all over the world.
- Find something they really need, like a dining table that will be worn from family dinners, Christmases and dinner parties for many years to come. Pool together with friends to buy it all, or if you are having a wedding, send out a photo of what you are buying so guest can feel they are contributing to something tangible that will be truly enjoyed and can be made just for you.
Vintage or Antique Furniture
- Or how about a coffee table, a stool, or a statement armchair? Add a personal touch by writing or engraving their initials and wedding date somewhere inconspicuous.
- Support local artisans, vintage or antique stores, or people who are refurbishing old pieces and bringing them up to something lovely and new.
- We love Tangerine and Teal, Collecktica, any Antique house and Kitsch Please
Delicious organic bedding
- This is an all-time wedding favourite.
- Naturally, we think amazing-feeling, organic, sustainable and ethically made sheets are a winner! I got mine (a gift for our own wedding!) from Elkie & Ark and am absolutely in love. If you don’t know the size of their bed, simply purchase a gift voucher so they can choose what style and size they need. Practical, ethical, giving back to communities and the environment... and who doesn’t need sheets?
For the Foodies
Then you have the couples who simply love their food. This is one that is so easy to get right.
Cooking lessons or books
- Find a cuisine you know they both love and sign them up for a course that is flexible on timing. Japanese or Italian are often absolute winners.
- There are some delicious sustainable cookbooks out there. Like Tasmania's own Agrarian Kitchen or River Cottage from the UK.
Backyard farming lessons
Tea towels and pretty things
- Yes really. These aren't your nana's tea towels. They're more useful than you think too! A tea towel is not only practical, but a visual pop of colour in the kitchen that changes the vibe of the home. Tea towels dyed, woven and made fair-trade are a simple gift idea every couple would love. Places such as Bohome and Roam offer ranges of beautiful sustainably made tea towels.
Organic food box subscription
- If they can't grow it themselves, then an amazing present is to arrange for locally grown, organic groceries to arrive straight from the farm to their door.
Wine. Wine. Wine. Champagne.
- We're not even going to qualify this one. Perhaps get a subscription to a monthly wine services that specialises in organic or eco wine. We know this will be their favourite wedding present of all.
- No-one serves good friends capsule coffee. Environmental issues aside, we all know it just doesn't taste as good. You can help a friend out by pitching in together with other guests (or arrange a wedding registry people can contribute as much as they want to big items - see our tips below) and getting them a bona fide proper espresso machine. They will truly love you. Eternally.
For The Givers
Prince William and Princess Kate asked their guests to donate to charity rather than give presents. They are in a fairly good position not to have any need for more, but they also know what’s up! Giving back to our global community is important and if the couple think so too, supporting a charity, village, or organisation will mean so much more to them than ‘stuff’.
- Is an amazing group that points you in the direction of charities that are making a big impact for every buck. They may not be the most popular charities, but they are doing incredible things.
Less Stuff - More Meaning
- LSMM, an Australian based eco-wedding hub, offer connections and opportunities to give back. They go beyond a simple donation online, and personally connect you with a charity of your choice. LSMM can even arrange for a tangible gift to be sent from the organisation so that you have something physical to gift the couple.
Who Gives Crap? (or perhaps a wee Thankyou.!)
- Know them well enough to give them something truly cheeky? Tell them they've got a truly nice bum, with a year's supply of Who Gives a Crap? toilet paper or perhaps tissues too. Voila. You're helping to build toilets too.
- To take away the pong a little, pair with some amazing home goodies from Thankyou. A year's supply of hand soaps or indulgent pamper packs, this is another business doing magical things.
Top Notch Registry Ideas
Finally, if you're planning a wedding, how can you tell people that these kinds of things are just what you want? Well, lots of wedding registries are popping up online where you can add just what you want. Elkie & Ark organic bedding and sleepwear is an absolute favourite for newlyweds and they will happily wrap it beautifully (but sustainably!) and wait until just the right moment to send it on.
Here are some wedding registries online, that help you showcase all the experiences, second-hand goodies, charity giving and things you really want:
- Melbourne's own Envelope Registry is brilliant and super easy to use. Add furniture, lessons, experiences, and goods. Everything you could want and nothing you don't need.
- Karma Currency is for those who have quite enough and really just want to give
So you see, wedding gifts no longer need to stress you out. Instead, your gifting decisions can positively impact people and the planet, while making your newlyweds feel loved and cared for through your mindful and purpose-filled gifts. Whether you buy your couple an ethically made gift, or excite them with an experience, choose a wedding gift outside of the box… I dare you.