Here's how to surprise couples with an unexpected gift they're sure to love.

By Sarah Schreiber
March 13, 2019

If you ask designer Jenni Kayne, there's something to be said for going off-registry when purchasing gifts for the bride- or groom-to-be. For a lot of guests, that might feel like a faux-pas-especially since you've been told that the registry is law when it comes to nuptial gifting. Kayne, the founder and designer behind her eponymous brand, which encapsulates both footwear and home décor, however, wants you to go for it-within reason. "Personally, I think going off-registry is sometimes nicer-as long as you know the person and the way they live well, and get them something that goes with their décor," she says.

Another advantage to shopping outside of a couple's pre-made present list? You're able to gift them an item that they might not even know that they wanted (or needed). To help you on your search for the perfect off-registry option, we asked Kayne-who recently launched her own curated registry guide, which features products perfect for bridal showers or weddings-for her best tips. Ahead, discover the designer's favorite wedding gift trends and learn how to select an unexpected item any newlywed would love.

RELATED: YOUR WEDDING REGISTRY ETIQUETTE QUESTIONS, ANSWERED

An unexpected gift doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.

In fact, the best wedding presents often involve elevated classics that work across multiple aesthetics. "Regardless of personal style, beautiful linens or vases are always great to have around the home and a welcome gift for a couple starting their life together," says Kayne. "These things, which newlyweds might not choose to spend their money on themselves, are some of the special accents that couples can keep and use for many years."

Search for items with multiple functions.

According to Kayne, modern couples "want basics that are timeless and can be used in different ways." She suggests gifting with a bundle mentality: "I believe in building a pantry uniform: Having the perfect neutral linens, dishes, and glassware, and then adding in some special vases and candle sticks and accents that you can create different vibes or tables with."

Think beyond traditional homewares.

Sleepware, robes, and slippers are nontraditional, but welcome wedding gifts, she explains: "They're luxurious but practical and can be gifted to both men and women-and are often the things that people really enjoy but don't frequently update for themselves."

Consider personalizing your presents.

"I think personalizing things makes a gift really special and unexpected, so embroidering napkins or hand towels, if it's done small and tonally, can be really nice," Kayne adds.

Don't rule out smaller items.

Gifts that may seem too small-scale, like candles, vases, pottery, or a linen set ("These are the little things that it's hard to have too much of and feel super useful and easy to integrate into my life," says Kayne), are often her favorite gifts to receive-they work just as well as big-day presents.

However, don't go off-registry unless you know the couple well.

"If you're not particularly close with the couple and can't be sure you're picking something that will fit into their lifestyle, that's when it's best to stick to the registry," she says.

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