Q: My oldest son is getting married in a few months, and I’ve been obsessing over what to buy him and his bride-to-be as a ‘big’ gift. My son and his fiancée are sensible, down-to-earth kids who live relatively low-impact, space-conscious lives in New York City. He works mostly from home as a software consultant and she works in advertising.


I want to give them something that will last a lifetime and is also practical and will really get used. Do you have any thoughts on practical wedding gifts that won’t be shoved to the back of the closet or end up in a landfill after six years?


— Marcy, White Plains, N.Y.


A: Hey Marcy,

The first item that comes to mind is something that would be impossible for your son and daughter-in-law to shove into the back of a cramped NYC closet: a mattress. Sure, buying your son and his wife something that they’ll be spending their first night of marital bliss (and hopefully many blissful nights after that) atop may seem a bit naughty but what the hell … a mattress is about as practical as it gets and if you invest in the right one, a mattress really can last a lifetime.

If you think about it, the bed is hands-down the most important piece of furniture in the home and in recent years they’ve become much more than places meant strictly for sleeping and making sexy times. You mention that your son works a lot from home. I’m guessing that although he sits at a desk or table, he also probably spends a fair amount of time checking e-mails in bed (like this work-from-homer). So your son and his wife, especially as space-strapped city dwellers, won’t just use a bed for the usual reasons but they’ll also perhaps use it as a home office, a rec room and even dining room.

As you probably know, mattresses can vary wildly in both make and price. Since this a wedding gift/serious investment and you want it to last, I wouldn’t recommend skimping (not that you would). Try looking into models that transcend 1-800-Mattress status. Even though they sound like a modest, Earth-conscious couple, I wouldn’t shy away from “luxury” models if your budget allows.

One company worth looking into is Hastens, an old-school (founded in 1852) Swedish manufacturer of blue and white checked mattress that are hand-crafted with natural materials like cotton, horsehair and flax and not foam, latex rubber and other off-gassing materials that you probably wouldn’t want to spend a third of your life in close contact with. The price tag? Depending on the model, a more “budget” Hastens bed (including a base and mattress) will set you back a few grand.

Scary, yes, but keep in mind that these beds come with a 25-year warranty and are considered a lifetime investment, not a replace-every-eight-years product. And think about it: Replacing a $600 mattress every eight or so years does add up. Additionally, Hastens beds are Swan Certified, meaning that they meet the stringent eco-criteria of a Nordic environmental labeling system.

Another spendy but sustainable mattress company with an impressive pedigree is Savoir, which after 105 years of high-profile custom bed-crafting in the U.K. recently debuted stateside with the opening of showrooms in Scottsdale, Miami, Austin, Los Angeles and New York City.

Like Hastens beds, allergen- and toxin-free Savoir beds are built to last by hand using natural materials like horsehair, wool, cotton and wood and start at a few thousand dollars (Savoir’s No. 1 Bed, the undisputed Rolls-Royce of beds, costs $50,000). All Savoir beds, not just the No. 1, are bespoke, meaning that they’re built to a client’s specifications, and come with a lifetime warranty. Plus, I’m guessing your son would enjoy telling his friends that he sleeps (and works) in the same kind of bed as both Winston Churchill and Oprah Winfrey.

I actually had the chance to “test-drive” a Savoir bed and while it was a heavenly experience I admit it was also dangerous. Dangerous in that if I owned one myself, I would never, ever want to get out of it.

So there you go … if your budget allows for a $5,000 to $10,000 (or more if you’re feeling generous) wedding gift for your son that will last a lifetime, look into handcrafted, eco-friendly beds, particularly those made by Savoir and Hastens. Forget a washer and dryer set, a fancy honeymoon, or expensive china that I’d probably use a total of five times … if you were my mom, I’d want the gift of healthy sleep and the peace of mind that I’d never have to buy a bed ever again.

— Matt

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Photo: Jupiterimages

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

What's a good 'big' wedding gift that's both practical and long-lasting?
Matt Hickman's suggestion for a gift from the mother of the groom is so crazy that it just might work: A luxurious, built-to-last mattress.