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Washington Post
Bookends by Timothy Richards

Wedding gifts that stand out

Bridal registries, like so many things, favor the proactive. Popular items get snagged by the early birds, leaving the rest of us with a short list of catchpenny choices that just don’t seem quite right. What’s a procrastinator to do?

“Be thoughtful and splurge a little,” says Sarah Newell, lifestyle editor for “It’s a good time to go for those larger-ticket items they wouldn’t have bought themselves.”

Newell suggests that those late to the gift game glean the couple’s interests from their registry and then shop accordingly.

“If you see that they picked out a lot of wine-related items, such as glasses or wine racks, consider getting them a decanter or tickets to a wine tasting,” she says.

Consider where the couple is honeymooning. If you’ve been there or know the hotel they’ll be staying at, give them a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant or slip spending money into a guidebook of the destination.

For guests who are stumped about how much to spend, consider all of the wedding-related events before shopping. Of your total budget, Newell suggests spending 20 percent on the engagement gift, 20 percent on the bridal shower and 60 percent on the wedding gift.

While inspired gifts are a welcome surprise, resist the urge to get overly inventive.

“Sometimes, guests spend so much time thinking outside the box that they wind up getting the couple something they simply aren’t interested in,” Newell says. “The key is to balance thoughtfulness and personalization with practicality.”

Here’s a list of 10 go-to gifts for every aisle-bound couple this season. If an item blows your budget, remember that group wedding gifts are common. Go in on it with a friend.

Kitchen aids

Wrap up a pair of his-and-hers oven mitts and send the couple to a cooking class. There, they can learn to create everything from baby food to homemade ice cream from expert chefs.

Picnic basket

Whether they’re celebrating Fourth of July or going for a morning drive into the country, a wicker picnic basket is an indulgent item they’re not likely to buy for themselves. (Williams-Sonoma has a luxury version for $249.95 at

Unique bookends

Bookends by British architectural sculptor Timothy Richards are works of art. Richards, who works in a small studio in Bath, England, has designed models for the queen. (Starting at $150 and available at Washington’s National Building Museum, 202-272-2448;

Elegant pitcher

A beautiful pitcher is a staple item for any kitchen and great for entertaining. The Bannerman Pitcher by Ralph Lauren Home has a wide, turned-out lip for easy pouring. ($395;

Buy the book

Thinking of buying the couple a book? The experts at Assouline Publishing have assembled Survival Kit collections, divided into four categories: art, design, fashion and lifestyle. Within each category are four of the company’s finest books. It’s a bibliophile’s dream. ($150 per Survival Kit, Assouline Publishing,

Accent pillows

Shabby-chic French pillowcases by designer Heidi Devlin are available in any monogram or message of your choice. For more handcrafted gifts, check out Etsy’s marketplace. (Mr. and Mrs. Pillows, Heidi Devlin Designs, $72 at

Retro photos

Escape from the digital world with the next generation of Polaroid. After rescuing the last Polaroid factory from near extinction in 2008, the Impossible Project has since brought analog back to life with new instant films for vintage and hybrid Polaroid cameras. (Film $18 to $171, cameras $120 to $249;

Cozy blanket

A luxury blanket will make the new nest cozy for the lovebirds whose ideal Friday night involves a glass of wine and a movie. (Brahm’s Mount Herringbone Blanket, starting at $261 for a twin at Timothy Paul Bedding and Home, 202-234-2020,

Remember the pets

Treat a couple’s canine companions to a spa day or two with high-quality shampoos and soap. Their owners will thank you for the olfactory improvement. (Kiehl’s Pampered Pooch Collection is a set of three items for $44 that includes a spray for dry shampooing between bath sessions;

For wine lovers

Set up a romantic weekend getaway by giving tickets to a winery or adding their names to a wine club. For example, the Virginia Wine of the Month Club will deliver a bottle of wine each month for the first year of their marriage. ($15.95 per month;