Wedding gift registries really bum me out, even when I want to use them. I find the choices overwhelming. If the couple has picked 100+ items, what difference is our gift going to make? They are not prioritized, so there's no way to know if I'm giving them their 1st Choice or their 100th pick. And when I get to looking at the items, I get all judgmental, first about the prices and then the non-eco-sustainable consumer orgy going on.
Duh, the obvious choice - a check. Somehow, it's never been my style, unless the couple is hardworking and poor. When the couple's net worth likely exceeds mine, a check seems weird.
Sometimes I compromise between a material gift and a donation, if the couple has specified a favorite cause. ( I wrote about this on Get Rich Slowly and while many folks agreed with me, others really made it clear that not giving money or an item straight off the registry made me an egotistical, clueless idiot.)
It IS egotistical to want my present to stand out and be meaningful and cherished by a couple. But I still want our gift to be a reflection of what we think is important in life. Now I have the perfect option: a Kiva gift certificate. You purchase gift certificates in $25 denominations and they are sent electronically to the recipient. They go on line and can choose whom to lend the money to, from the choices on the Kiva website. You can also download a nice copy of the certificate if you want to also give them a hard copy to remind busy brides and grooms that the loan is waiting for them to disburse. But after the loan is paid back, it's cash in the couple's Kiva account, so you're still giving them a gift.
When the loans get repaid (they're fairly short-term, so it's a matter of months or at most a year), the cash reappears in the couple's account as Kiva Credit, with a reminder. At that point they really can withdraw it, or maybe they'll be so inspired they'll reloan it; both are options. A third option is to use it pay it forward, and purchase a gift certificate for someone else. It's a little like giving cash, but a thirdworld microentrepreneur gets to use it first, in honor of the couple's wedding.
We just did this.... Phew. The couple thought it was creative and cool!