In this article, Annabelle (from Bridechilla Directory friend Evergreen Lane Productions) talks about the traditional pillar of the wedding planning experience: the registry. The place where your future mother in law insisted you must request china, luxurious bed sheets, and a KitchenAid mixer. While there is nothing wrong with these gift ideas, more and more of us are eschewing the collection of more things we need to store and or keep clean. Enter our hero, the experience-based gift.
When you don't need more stuff...
I’m a recent Bridechilla grad myself (and guest on The Bridechilla Podcast). My husband and I were married on a lovely beach in Belize and spent 13 months of our engagement and newlywed season traveling around the United States in an RV. We did not have room for a bunch of stuff, to say the least. The experience-based gift ideas in this article are all things we either included on our registry or wish we did.
Gift Registry Ideas For Creative Date Nights:
- Flytographer session - This company has professional photographers all over the world that will come take photos of you and your partner as you explore the city. We really value having pictures together, and sometimes selfies don’t do the trick. Plus, we had a destination wedding and missed engagement photos, so we don’t have pictures together in our hometown of Denver. A mini photo session would be a fun date option, and you could knock out your Christmas cards at the same time!
- Sip and Craft night - almost every city around the world has a paint and sip place where you can drink a beer or glass of wine while creating a piece of art for your new married pad. Increasingly, there are options Upstairs Circus for couples who would prefer to create with a hammer and nails instead of a paintbrush. My husband and I had a date day at a paint-your-own pottery spot where we decorated a Christmas ornament together. For crafty couples, research a local option that inspires you and add a gift certificate to your registry.
- Couples massage - Need a little stress relief after all the excitement of wedding planning? You’re not alone. Registering for a couples massage or spa day is an experienced-based gift that’s great for your relationship AND your mental health.
- Admission to a sporting event, concert or amusement park - We put a cash fund for baseball tickets on our registry since it’s my husband’s favorite sport, but you could just as easily customize this based on the interests of you or your future spouse. Concert tickets or amusement park admission make for unique date night gifts, or could add some variety to your honeymoon activities, depending on your chosen destination!
Gift Registry Ideas For Foodie Couples:
- Gift certificate to a meal kit service - My husband and I received a gift certificate to Blue Apron, and we were able to get several weeks of new recipes to try. Typically, my husband does the cooking in our house (I know, I’m lucky!) but it was so fun to learn something new together. We poured a glass of wine, put on a playlist, and had a date night in. This is an excellent gift for both couples who are more experienced chefs who want to try some unusual ingredients and for those who are new to the whole cooking for themselves routine. Plus, there are many meal kit options to choose from based on your location and dietary restrictions.
- Collection of family recipes - If you’re in search of a bridal shower idea that won’t require you to add another 50 knick-knacks to your registry, consider gathering family recipes. Invite everyone to bring a favorite recipe and store the cards in a keepsake album or box. Having recipes from my husband’s grandmother back in the Philippines sitting right next to the one for Texas baked beans my aunt would make in the summertime is something I cherish and serves as a symbol of our blended family.
- A Passport Program - Many cities have initiatives to help residents get out and explore the culinary scene. The Passport Program is one of those, serving US cities like Denver, Washington D.C., Minneapolis and more. Essentially a fancy coupon book, the passport provides 2-for-1 specials on drinks at a wide variety of local restaurants and bars. This is the perfect gift for foodies who love exploring local haunts, and as a bonus, it’s a budget-friendly registry addition.
Annabelle and her husband, Christian. Photo by Alicia Lewin Photography
Gift Registry Ideas For adventurers:
- City tour - one of the best gifts my husband and I received was a food and street art tour in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami through Cloud9 Living on Zola (also, make sure when you sign up to Zola, you use this link and codeword BRIDECHILLA, for $50 credit).
The walking tour meandered through the arts district, and we sampled from 5 different restaurants while learning about the artists and murals throughout. Adventuring with your partner and learning about the culture and history of a new place can be so much fun. Pick your local city to explore or choose an area that you’ll be traveling to for the honeymoon.
- Honeymoon Film - Are you heading on the trip of a lifetime after the wedding? Bring home a souvenir you don’t have to pack in your suitcase with a keepsake honeymoon film. One of my favorite things to do is take all our iPhone or GoPro video footage from our travels and edit them together into a vacation film my husband, and I can watch over and over again. Don’t worry if you’re not a professional video editor either - that’s precisely why I created my heirloom honeymoon film offerings. Find me on the Bridechilla Wedding Directory!
- Membership to a local museum - We’ve supported both the local botanic gardens and the art museum, but there are tons of options depending on your area of interest. Since my husband and I travel a lot, we chose the level of membership to the Denver Art Museum that included reciprocity with 70 other museums across the United States. We’ve visited at least 10 of these museums for free thanks to this gift! Museum membership is a great way to support the arts and/or sciences, your local museums, and get some travel perks too.
- National Parks Pass - More into the outdoors than museums? Add an annual parks pass to your registry. Whether you’re in Australia or the United States, the park service has various levels of park membership. You could pick a favorite park that’s close to home so you can explore it in depth, or choose a regional or national level pass if you plan on lots of adventuring as newlyweds (you’re my kind of people!).
I hope this list inspires you to add experience-based gifts to your registry. Some of these ideas require a little extra research up front, but they pay dividends when you and your future spouse get to fill up your first year of marriage with incredible experiences that strengthen your relationship and create memories that you’ll be talking about for the rest of your lives. When my husband and I set up our registry, we were a little worried about ruffling the feathers of our more traditional guests. In the end, however, the experience-based gifts were some of the most popular items on our registry overall, and the KitchenAid mixer we thought we had to have is still there, un-purchased. No regrets!
Listen to Annabelle's Bridechilla episode