Can I Buy a Wedding Gift That Is Not on the Registry?

Should you adhere to a couple’s wish list, or is it OK to stray? See what we told Bethany, who asked us via e-mail, for our etiquette advice on the topic.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Q: Can I buy off-registry? My niece registered for inexpensive measuring spoons and cups, and I’d like to get her the same items, only more high-end and longer-lasting.


A: If you’re close to the newlyweds and know their style well enough to pick something you’re sure they’d love, go for it. After all, a registry exists to provide well-wishers with guidance, not demands; we’re all for surprising couples. But you might want to be wary of upgrading a pair’s picks. “It could come off as vaguely insulting, as if you disapproved of your niece’s taste,” managing editor Lindsay Brown points out. Also, someone else, seeing that the items on the registry are still available, will probably snap those right up, leaving the bride and groom with two sets and a trip to return one of them. The safest option is to buy a pricier item on their wish list, or look for an unexpected present that doesn’t conflict with their registry picks.