Cash is King.
Honestly, this is what most new couples would like for you to give them. A couple of tips to giving cash. You will want to pick an amount that at least going to pay for your dinner, so you should at least plan for $15-$20 per person, depending on the venue.
I would also suggest that you write a check. That way you will know when it's cashed that they have received their gift. Also, if there are any issues, you can stop payment (say if someone runs off with the card box.)
Gift Cards are Nice.
You know what I like best about giving gift cards for weddings? You can buy that the supermarkets (you know when you stop en route to the church to get a card?) Since most stores that offer registries give the Bride and Groom a discount when they go to close their registries, try and target (no pun intended) stores they are registered at, they will get more for their (or your) money.
Other fun ideas are gift cards (or certificates) to restaurants (maybe the one they had there first date at?)that you know the happy couple frequents. The same rule on amount applies here as it does with cash.
Picking Off the Registry.
This is another popular way to go. It is also the best place to try and save some money on a gift. By checking the registry you can monitor when items go on sale (I suggest checking every Sunday or at least once a week). You will want to buy this present early, because the registry usually gets raid before Bridal Showers which are typically held anywhere from 2 months to 2 weeks prior to the Big Day.
Not sure where the Bride and Groom are registered? The Internet has made this so easy, most stores will let you search by the Bride and Groom's names and state. Below is a list of stores that are good bets:
- Bed, Bath and Beyond
- Crate and Barrel
Going off on your own is risky. If you know the couple well, this is probably not a bad idea. Think about what they like? Do they enjoy wine? How about a bottle of something somewhat expensive that they would never buy for themselves? Golfers? Get them a round at their favorite course. Just think for a minute and I'm sure that you will come up with something wonderful.
Good Luck and Happy Shopping!
PS - Since you are heading to a wedding anyhow, check my post on Being a Good Wedding Guest.