Weddings can take more than a year to plan and can cost more than many people spend on a car. When it comes to spending a lot on a wedding, it’s not just the bride, groom and their families who have to pony up — guests often spend a lot on weddings as well, especially if they have to fly in from out of town and pay for lodging. While some couples request expensive gifts on their registry, there are plenty of ways to get creative and give the happy couple a thoughtful gift they’ll love — without breaking your bank.
With June, September, and October taking the cake as the most popular wedding months, chances are you might have a wedding coming up sometime soon. Plan ahead with these unique and affordable wedding gift ideas.
1. Send Them to a Winery
With the stress typically associated with planning a wedding, gifting the couple a trip to a winery will give them a chance to relax and have some fun. If you live nearby, you could even take them yourself and bring along some snacks or picnic to celebrate the couple pre-wedding. Check out local deal sites for discounted winery packages. There are many deals on Groupon that offer wine tasting packages that include souvenirs at a cost of just $25 for two people or under $50 for four people.
2. Make a Photo Scrapbook
Create a photo scrapbook chronicling the happy couple’s life together before the wedding day. With many people sharing photos on Facebook, Instagram and other social media, it shouldn’t be hard to find photos without asking them and ruining the surprise. Make the photo scrapbook by hand with an elegant book from Target or craft store for under $20, or order a digital one online. Shutterfly, for instance, has a variety of wedding photo book options starting at $15.99 and up.
3. Personalize Some Wine or Beer Gifts
For the couple who loves to drink beer and wine, give them something fun to drink it out of with some Mr. and Mrs. beer or wine glasses. Most sets are under $25. You could also add a personalized wine stopper for under $15 to complete the themed gift.
4. Help With a Wedding-Related Task
A successful wedding requires a lot of work from a lot of people. Think about what you’re good at and offer to help instead of getting a traditional gift. The bride and groom will likely love the chance to get rid of one of the many duties on the wedding checklist. Offering your help with wedding set up at the venue the day of or with the clean up afterwards won’t cost you anything — just your time. Your friends are much more likely to remember you for cleaning up everything for them at the end of the night instead of some plates you got them that got buried with all of their other gifts.
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5. Map Out Their Love
For a personal gift that won’t cost you much, grab a cute picture frame or a shadow box. Find maps — either old atlases or even printed Google maps — for locations that are special to the couple. For example: where they met, where they got engaged and the location of their wedding. Cut out that part of the map in a heart shape, and glue the hearts to cardboard or thick paper. Then simply add those to a frame or shadow box. You can make this for under $20 if you print out the maps yourself and find an inexpensive frame or shadow box at your local craft store.
6. Turn Their Wedding Invitation Into a Gift
If the previous idea sounds like too much work, here’s another unique and thoughtful gift that’s practically hassle free. Save the couple’s wedding invitation when you get it in the mail and frame it as a memento for them to keep in their home. To make it extra nice, add matting to match the invite or find a frame that matches the style of their wedding. If it’s a vintage theme, go with a vintage frame; if the wedding was super modern, use a slick black and white modern frame and matting. You can get a nice frame and matting for under $30, so this gift will hardly cost you anything.
7. Share Your Favorite Recipe
For the couple who loves to cook and try new recipes, put together a food basket with one of your favorite recipes and all the necessary ingredients. If it’s pulled chicken barbecue sliders, grab the chicken, your favorite BBQ sauce, buns, cheese and green onions. Add some beer or dessert, along with cute napkins, and this won’t cost you any more than $40. You could even offer to cook the meal for them then get out of their hair so that they can enjoy a romantic dinner alone.
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8. Buy Them Brunch Before the Wedding
Surprise the couple with a gift card to their favorite brunch place before their wedding. Giving the gift before the craziness of their wedding day means they’ll be more likely to remember and appreciate it. Plus, then they can use it before the wedding to de-stress and have some time to relax at their favorite restaurant.
9. Create a Personalized Wedding Guest Book
As a great alternative to a plain wedding guest book, order a unique one from Etsy. You can find the perfect one to match any couple or wedding theme. Personalize it with their name and wedding date, and you can get a memorable gift for under $30. If you’re feeling creative enough, you could even make them one yourself.
10. Find a Personalized Wedding Sign
If you don’t think the couple will need a guest book, but you still want to surprise them with a neat personalized gift, go for a wedding sign with their names and wedding date. It will serve as a beautiful decorative piece in their home and will remind them of their wedding day — and you. There are many beautiful wedding signs on Etsy for under $40.
11. Help Them Relax With Wine
Sure, wedding planning can be fun, but it can also be tiring and stressful. Help the couple relax by giving them some of their favorite beer and wine. Grab them a bottle or two of some inexpensive wine or a couple six packs of their favorite beer and your gift won’t cost more than $40.
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12. Help Them While They’re on Their Honeymoon
Offer to pet sit or house sit for the couple when they’re away on their honeymoon. This will save them a lot of money if they have pets, and you can make sure their mail doesn’t pile up. This is another gift that doesn’t cost anything besides your time. Go the extra mile by stocking their fridge with essentials like milk, orange juice, eggs and their favorite foods for when they return home. It will help make the dreaded transition from traveling the world back to the real life a little easier and shouldn’t cost you more just $20 or $30 — depending on how well you decide to fill the fridge.
13. Offer Elegance With Monogrammed Towels
Giving the gift of a monogrammed hand towels or wash cloths can be a nice reminder of the couples’ union — and the bride’s new last name. Amazon has some monogrammed hand towels for under $15, and you might even be able to find some cheaper and more unique on Etsy. That makes this an elegant gift for under $40.
14. Give Them a Gift Card — or Just Cash
Let’s face it, everyone appreciates the gift of cash or gift cards. One of the best, and easiest, gifts you can get for the bride and groom is a gift card to Target or Amazon or just some cash in a nice card. This way, they can get what they want when they need it.
Instead of spending more than you want on a wedding gift for your friends or family member, use one of these ideas to save money without sacrificing quality. Best of all, you won’t spend the wedding annoyed at how much it’s costing you.
This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.