It’s nearly wedding season, and if you have a friend or family member who’s tying the knot, it’s easy to get lost in wedding registries and home stores looking for the perfect gift.
If you’re clueless about what to buy, and you don't want to be limited to the wedding registry, MainStreet thinks you should at least rule out a few things first, to avoid flubbing your well-wishes to the newlyweds.
Chances are you know one half of the couple better than the other. When picking out a wedding gift, however, you’ll want to choose something both husband and wife can enjoy together. After all, if you don’t, you could unintentionally contribute to some early marital strife.
Some of these may be good gift ideas on their own for one person on a birthday or holiday, but these items aren’t likely to be a hit among many newlyweds.
Unless both halves of this marrying couple like to play video games, getting a Nintendo Wii, Microsoft (Stock Quote: MSFT) Xbox or other video game system as a wedding gift could cause an early rift in your friends’ marital life, even if you genuinely intend it as a gift that can bring the couple closer together.
What’s more, if one of them is already an avid gamer and isn’t already overweight, hours on end of playing video games could lead to more than a few extra pounds, which may not be be too popular with his or her better half.
Parents, grandparents and friends often get excited about new babies whenever a couple gets married, but getting baby clothes and other baby gear may be a bit premature at this point.
Even couples who don’t want kids get married, so don’t assume that kids are a given. Hold off until the baby shower.
A case of wine may seem like a nice wedding gift for a couple, but you’ll want to be sure that both spouses actually drink. Otherwise your gift could make for an awkward moment, especially if you have a recovering alcoholic on your hands, a person who’s allergic to wine or someone who sticks to a strict vegan diet. Most wine and beer is made with animal-derived proteins, as MainStreet previously reported.
A police radar detector may make a cool gift for certain single drivers, but chances are a spouse who cares about safety won’t condone the serious speeding that the device helps drivers get away with. But even tamer car gadgets might not be the best wedding gift ideas.
For instance, if one spouse is the primary driver, or one doesn’t drive at all, a portable GPS navigation device like a Garmin (Stock Quote: GRMN) or TomTom, may leave out one half of the couple, so it may be better off as a birthday present.
A Flatulence-Absorbing Blanket
Soon-to-be married couples often put linens and bedding on their gift registries, and some wedding gift shoppers may be tempted to buy something better than the average blanket.
But even if you know that one or both spouses have a gas problem, buying a flatulence-absorbing blanket called the Better Marriage Blanket might not be your best move. It may be a brilliant invention, but it’s probably not appropriate as a wedding gift, as tempting as it may be.
There's no accounting for taste. You may think a certain lamp is beautiful, and others might think it's absolutely hideous. Unless you’re sure of the bride and groom’s collective style (and how could you be really sure?), you might want to steer clear of buying decorative accents for their home. In fact, even if you know the preferred style of one of the newlyweds, you can’t be sure it’s the same as their partner’s.
And this goes for both indoor and outdoor décor. One reader of TheNest.com recalls getting a birdhouse shaped like a flip-flop for a wedding gift, according to the Web site. Do you need a better example of tacky?
Whether you’re looking at works of art for their living room wall or sculptures or figurines for a new married couple’s home, you may be in the wrong section of your nearest department store.
Just like home décor, artwork can be an iffy gift when you don’t really know a couple’s taste or their home’s color schemes. And whether you realize it or not, you could be causing some discomfort by buying wall art for the couple if they have to debate whether to hang it or hide it, especially if you’re a frequent visitor.
Wedding site TheKnot.com notes some horrible examples of wedding gifts readers received at their weddings, including "a really ugly art piece involving a cow tooth," "a picture of a wine cork" and “ a 3-D painting of horses."
Gifts made with leather, like a set of leather picture frames, might seem like a fitting and luxurious gift, but if one or both of the newlyweds is a vegetarian or animal lover, your gift might be considered insensitive.
And even vegetarians who refrain from eating meat for health reasons may avoid wearing or buying items made with leather as well.
Gift baskets with gourmet meats, cheeses, fruits and snacks might be a welcome gift for your favorite foodie couple, but they could make for a big stink, quite literally, if your gift is completely wrapped, as one married couple found out, according to Cleveland.com.
Some couples leave straight for their honeymoon destinations right after their wedding, so if the goodies you’re getting them could be sitting out for a while, opt for non-perishable goodies or make sure that it’s clear that your gift could go bad if left out for too long.
-- Tell us about some of the worst wedding gifts you’ve received in the comments section below!