We love summer for many reasons—but most of all because it’s the season of LOVE.
“We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair
And we'll never be royals
It don't run in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us
We crave a different kind of buzz.”
- “Royals” by Lorde
At its heart, weddings are community events. The community is bestowing best wishes on the couple as they embark on the joyous challenge of building (and sustaining) a life together. As witnesses, the community promises to support and guide them through both good times and bad. Many of us have been part of these communities, cherished witnesses to the love between two people, whether there were two or 200 others alongside us.
One of the most visible demonstrations of this kind of community building through the power of love is a royal wedding. Though dresses designed by Alexander McQueen and crown jewels aren’t in the card for most of us, they embody that community spirit, in which an entire country (even an entire world) turns out to watch, to witness, and to celebrate LOVE.
In fact, we’d argue that the dress, the flowers, and the table assignments are the least important part of these lifelong pacts of partnership. As Lorde says, “we crave a different kind of buzz.” What excites us? If only for an afternoon, it’s an opportunity to leave behind anger and resentment, to forget that nagging sense of pessimism, and to honor that most important emotion: love.
No one could have said it better than Reverend Michael Curry, who delivered a rousing address at Megan and Harry’s wedding last month. He began “Oh there's power—power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love...There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There's power in love to show us the way to live.”
Reverend Curry then asked onlookers to imagine a world powered by love:
“Think and imagine a world where love is the way.
Imagine our homes and families where love is the way.
Imagine our neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way.
Imagine our governments and nations where love is the way.
Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.
Imagine this tired old world where love is the way.
When love is the way - unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.
When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.
When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.
When love is the way, poverty will become history.
When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.
When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.”
And he concluded with a reference to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who made it his life’s work to emphasize that love for ALL people was the way forward: “Dr King was right: we must discover love - the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world.”
There’s another important responsibility that comes with wedding attendance beyond serving as a witness: it’s commemorating the occasion with a gift of some kind. It’s easy to get caught up in surfing registries and writing checks, but as we shop for wedding gifts, we like to remember the spirit of the occasion: showing love for the couple and those around us in the community.
If you’re attending a wedding (or six!) this summer, here are some of our favorite gift ideas that will make the lucky couple feel absolutely LOVED—and gives back to the community to boot:
- Make like Will and Kate, and give a donation in their name to a meaningful charity. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge forwent wedding gifts, instead establishing the Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund, which raised over £1 million for 26 charities, including the New Zealand Christchurch earthquake appeal and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
- Know their honeymoon plans? Gift them an experience they’ll enjoy at the destination of their choice. Think: a special dinner for two, couple’s massages, or tickets to a local performance, art gallery, or museum.
- Go off-registry with a relationship reading with an astrologer. They’ll have fun—but also emerge with new learnings about themselves and their relationship, which will empower them to build and maintain a healthy married life.
- Skip generic homeware, and browse unique works by well-known artists from the Art Production Fund. Proceeds help support a foundation that enables installations of public works of art.
- Show some LOVE for Mother Earth, too (and help offset the carbon footprint of that destination wedding). The Climate Store is a one-stop shop for everything eco-friendly from cutting boards to planters.
- Perfect for adventurous couples, National Geographic partners with Novica to offer eco-friendly gifts made by artisans all over the world. Their extensive inventory ranges from homeware (think hand-blown margarita glasses) to sculptures made from upcycled materials and hand-sewn wall tapestries.
- Ten Thousand Villages, founded in 1946, has long been an advocate for fair trade and has created over $140 million in sustainable income for makers in developing countries. They currently work with 20,000 artisans in 30 developing countries to make a wealth of beautiful objects inspired by local culture, including singing bowls, baskets, cookbooks, and more.
- Magnum is a photographic cooperative owned by its photographers with an emphasis on diversity and global coverage. Artists profit directly from sales—you’ll never find a copy or fake here. Grab a fine print or poster with a memory from the happy couple’s homes or travels, or find something beautiful and inspiring for their walls.
- Looking to purchase them a special book? Whether it’s for the coffee table or the kitchen, go the extra mile by seeking out a local independent bookseller. This is a great resource for finding one close to your home or theirs.
- Meditation and mindfulness are wonderful building blocks for a happy life together. Gift them a subscription to an app that makes it easy to get started, with modules for every scenario imaginable.
- Ebooks are great for listening together at home, while traveling, or in the car. They’ll be able to start their own book club with a selection of thousands of books from Audible.
- Uncommon Goods partners only with independent makers to curate truly unique merchandise. While you’ll find troves of treasures on the site, they also have a special wedding gift selection with finds like a personalized anniversary pushpin map and “open minded” couple’s mugs for that all-important cup of morning joe.
- Give the gift of feel-good family meals—and help them save on grocery bills—while supporting local farmers in the process! CSAs allow customers to purchase season-long shares of produce (and sometimes dairy, meat, and bread) directly from farmers. Find a local CSA here.
- New, shared experiences are tailor-made for bonding. Let them learn something new (and broaden their horizons in the process) with a couple’s cooking class, a language class, museum tours, and more. You can browse a great selection of classes from coast to coast here.
- The couple that exercises together stays together, right? Make it easy for them to take the best yoga, cycling, barre, and other studio classes that will make ‘em sweat right here.
- Capture this special moment in time with a custom star map poster that shows the night sky exactly as it was (or will be) the date of their wedding.
- You know they’ll have at least one wedding photo they’ll want to frame. Rather than choosing a frame (and size) for them, let them get a custom frame job, on you of course.
- Nothing commemorates the occasion like jewelry made with LOVE. We’ve got bracelets perfect for couples, families, friends that feel like family, and even four-legged fur children. They’re all made by female artisans in the developing world, and your purchase helps create another unbreakable bond of LOVE in this world.