Surprisingly, the answer isn’t just “send cash.”

By Liz Steelman
Updated August 17, 2017
Floral Gift
Credit: Povareshka/Getty Images

Maybe the only items left on the registry exceed your budget or that group gift fell through. Or maybe you just waited a bit too long to even look at the registry, and the pickings are quite slim. Whatever the case may be, picking an item off a restrictive wedding registry can be difficult. So, what do you do when it seems like there’s nothing left?

First, make sure that the registry has been absolutely completed. If there is something left on the registry—even if it’s smaller than you want to gift—purchase that first, says Jennifer Spector, newlywed-at-large for Zola, a wedding planning and registry website.

“Let’s say a bundt pan is all that is left,” Spector says. “You can add your favorite cake recipe with a sweet note for the couple—maybe you’ll even get some cake out of the deal!”

And if there’s absolutely nothing else left? Use the completed registry as a roadmap. Pick a gift from the same store the couple has registered with or buy another item from the same collection the couple registered for, Spector says. For example, if the couple has asked for just the basics from a dinnerware set, you can gift some of the accessories—a serving platter to match, perhaps. Since these items will match the couple’s taste, it’s likely that they’ll appreciate it (or know they’ll be able to use the store credit if they choose to return the gift).

Thinking about just sending cash? Spector suggests that friends, family, and colleagues explore other avenues before resorting to writing a check. Two thoughtful alternatives are experiential or personalized gifts. Cooking classes, wine subscriptions, Airbnb gift cards, and custom photo framing services are popular on Zola's experiences section, but you can also select a personalized gift for something truly memorable.

“My best friend gave me and my husband matching monogrammed cashmere robes because she knows we love to lounge,” Spector says. “That was one of my most favorite gifts.”