Diploma Diaries: Wedding Gifts on a Post-Grad Budget

By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University

Image courtesy of Boykung / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Summer wedding season is in full gear and coming fresh off the college campus with a less-than desirable budget can create some awkward friction when getting the perfect wedding gift for family and friends.

While many brides and grooms opt for the idiot-proof method of wedding registries for their gifts, it’s always more heartfelt to surprise your hosts with a personal touch.

DIY "Love Map"

I like to think of myself as the opposite of Martha Stewart in the DIY department. I thank the Internet gods everyday for the advent of Pinterest and the amazing ideas for people like me, who find themselves more willing to shell out $50 than craft something. But for my brother and soon-to-be sister in-law’s wedding shower, I wanted to reach outside the box and actually try my hand at a homemade gift.

I love photography and creating interesting framed pieces using Photoshop, so I found the perfect gift that the newlyweds can frame in their house even before the big day! This "Love Map" is a cute way to commemorate each landmark in the couple’s lives. Some opt for different variations of the locations, but I stuck with "We Met" (their college), "We Married" (their ceremony location) and "We Lived Happily Ever After" (their current home).

Do a little research and you can find Google maps of the desired geographic locations you want on the piece. I went for a more vintage look to match their decor taste and found old weathered maps of all locations to give it a chic look. When you find your maps, head to a craft or framing store and pick up a cheap horizontal frame. Use the matting that comes with it to give it a more polished look! Here are some directions below for your own "Love Map"!

Wedding Wine Basket

I fell in love with this idea when my mom and I got inspired by another bridal shower. If you aren’t a DIYer like myself and want to play it safe, go for the wine basket that commemorates each moment in the couple’s life. Funny and cute moments can range from first baby, the honeymoon, first fight, first dinner party, etc. Make it more fun like we did and match the moment with a funny or unique wine label. Take your time in the liquor store and see what creative label can match your moment tag perfectly. This gift can be as expensive or cheap as you desire, as bottles of wine can range from $10 to over the $100 mark. This is also a great idea to go in with other guests so you can cut costs and spread your creativity with a wide net! Here are some templates for the ‘moment tags’ you can choose from.

Mrs. Wedding Hanger

While I certainly am not a professional welder and I would not recommend doing this craft on your own, the lovely crafty folks at Etsy have the cutest and simplest wedding gifts for even the tightest of budgets. I love this personalized wedding hanger as a modern and practical gift that the bride can remember her big day by. The wire portion of the hanger can be customized to for the bride and is a great way to give the bride a personal gift. She can use this to hang her wedding dress and veil or hang it in the bedroom for decoration. At only $25, this gift is unique and creative at a price that won’t bust the wallet!

NEW FROM U CHIC: Get the scoop on finding post-college success from women who have achieved it in U Chic’s "Diploma Diaries," a perfect gift for the recent college graduate! Heading to college soon? Check out our best-selling and fully updated 3rd Edition of "U Chic: The College Girl's Guide to Everything" — your 411 on what college is really like.

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!