PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Spring has sprung and so have the wedding invitations. They'll be joyous events, but finding the perfect gifts to bring along can be stressful during these tough economic times.
Here are a few ways to cope if a crystal sugar bowl or a setting of designer china just isn't in your budget.
Keep your goal in mind. You are giving someone a gift to celebrate their marriage, not attach a price tag to your relationship with them.
So buy what you can afford, with their taste in mind. And forget the rule that the gift's value must equal what your hosts spend on your meal, says Rebecca Black, etiquette specialist at Etiquette Now in Davis, Calif. There's no magic amount.
"A gift should be thoughtful," Black says. "We want them to have this because we care about them."
Often there are affordable items in a couple's registry, with a wider array of choices if you shop early. Even a honeymoon registry can include affordable options, like snorkeling gear rental at the couple's destination.
But it's perfectly acceptable to give something that's not on the registry, and you can use the registry as a guide to the couple's preferences and style.
If you can sew, cook, work with wood or have other creative talent, consider making something. Someone with calligraphy skills could provide a handwritten love poem. Most couples will cherish a wedding quilt made for them by a friend or an heirloom handed down to recognize the big event.
"It's quite appropriate and means a lot more, you remember it — and you don't tend to remember that beautiful vase that got broken," Black says.
If you're all thumbs, consider framing the wedding invitation, a special photo or another memento.