There are a few exceptions worth noting.

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Wedding registries are a time-honored tradition that allow the bride and groom’s friends and family to purchase all the necessary housewares for the couple to begin their life together in a well-appointed home. Unfortunately, the biggest complaint with buying gifts off a registry is that they can feel impersonal. When you’re used to customizing Christmas and birthday gifts for a niece you’re very close to, it can feel unoriginal when you celebrate the biggest milestone in her life by giving her a knife set—even if you know she and her husband-to-be love to cook.

So, the question is: Is it okay to give a couple something not on their registry? The short answer is no. The couple took the time to register for items they know they’ll use and that they don’t already have, so it’s important to give them something they actually asked for—even if you don’t personally like it. However, there are a few important exceptions worth noting when it could in fact be appropriate to give a couple something they haven’t registered for.

You Know the Couple Extremely Well

If you’re the maid of honor or the groom’s godmother and are very close with the couple, you may feel it appropriate to give a wedding gift that’s personal and unique to your relationship. Whether it’s a passed-down family heirloom or a large piece of furniture you know the couple has been eyeing, there are times when it makes sense to stray from the registry—especially if you already gave the couple something from their registry for a previous shower or engagement party.

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They Have an “Experiential” Registry

Recently, more couples have opted to register for experiences instead of things. There’s a commendable message behind it (We have all the stuff we need, but would love to experience these adventures together) but for those traditionalists among us, purchasing a meal for the couple’s honeymoon may not feel like an appropriate wedding gift. Again, if you know the couple well and have an idea of any housewares they might need or like, go for it. But if you’re not close and aren’t sure what they might like, it’s best to bite your tongue and just buy them something they asked for.  

There’s Nothing Left on the Registry for You to Purchase

Whether their registry only has big-ticket items left that aren’t in your budget or you waited until the end of the appropriate window of time to buy the couple a gift (up to one year after the wedding date, by the way), there simply might not be anything left on their list you can purchase. Our suggestion? Pick a gift based on what they did register for. Stick with the same stores, color palettes, and themes—and certainly don’t buy them a coffee maker that you like if the one they picked out has already been purchased.