Is it okay to give cash?
Yes. When American couples were asked which gifts they most hoped to receive, cash won by a substantial margin.
And it’s not just Americans who prefer cash. In this 2017 survey, 77% of Irish couples said they prefer cash as a wedding gift.
Buying gifts not on the registry
You can buy a gift that's not on the wedding registry— but be sensible. You’re still fine to buy something not on the registry even though 98% of wedding websites have a gift registry.
Here’s a tip for doing it: buy something you wouldn’t normally find on the registry. For example, don’t buy your favourite blanket if the couple has a blanket on their registry— you should instead buy the one that was on the registry (that’s their preference!). The couple is the one who has to live the gift— so make sure it’s to their taste.
Free gift ideas
If it is appropriate to give a gift that doesn’t cost anything, you will want to be creative. here are a few ideas I came across while searching:
"Best wedding gift I received came from friends who were really poor. They explained, a new couple never has enough rags to clean up with, and they gave us a bundle of rags. That was thoughtful." Source
"I got married before digital cameras. The gifts I appreciated the most weren't really even given as official gifts, but they should have been - some of the guests took many pictures and sent us copies. I let hubbie pick out the wedding photographer. He went with the lowest price and the official photos were awful. So the candid shots taken by guests were my favorites, and the ones that fleshed out my wedding book. A very thoughtful gift I think today would be to make a photo book of the shots you take at and around the wedding and send it to the bride and groom after the wedding." - Source
"A few years ago I got an instant camera (for those my age: a Polaroid camera... Though not made by Polaroid) and have brought it to events, and recently I brought not just it, but a blank book (which had individual removable pages), a box of gel pens and a bunch of stickers and double sided tape, and passed it around the reception. People took pictures and wrote notes and decorated the pages. Since people could remove a page and work on it, multiple people were doing it at once and it ended up being an instant scrapbook. It was pretty cute." - Source
"One of my favorite wedding gifts is a framed needlepoint picture of my wedding invitation."- Source
When a couple says 'No Gifts'
It's always appropriate to take the couple at their word. Though make sure you’ve read the language carefully!
Plus-ones don't need to bring a gift
Allow the person who invited you to take care of the gift. You can always ask them if you'd like to go in on the gift.
Want to save money? Buy from the registry early
If buying off the registry, buy early. If you buy the gift as soon as you receive the “save the date” then you have the widest selection in the gift registry.
This is also handy for price-conscious gifts. If you buy early you’ll have the most options for something in your budget.
Consider a group gift— couples love them
According to a survey by The Knot, couples favourite gifts are often group gifts— people pooling their money to buy something bigger.
A group gift may also be handy for single guests who are having trouble finding something affordable in the registry.