To the newlywed couple, receiving a crystal vase is at first a thrill. The fragility and the luxuriousness of it all makes you feel like you're finally a grown-up and a real "married" person. No more 7/11 Big Gulp cups posing for vases for you my friend, you've got crystal in the house now. I remember clearly, receiving 35 different kinds of vases at my wedding. At first I thought, wow, how generous, and then after I opened the 10th box of yet another crystal vase, it dawned on me, what am I going to do with all this crystal? We didn't even a have a showcase or enough ledges in the apartment to hold all of these.
I put up what I could on any flat surface I could find, the window sill, the dining table, even the corner of the bathroom sink. I even remember buying a small table from The Bombay Company just to display some of the crystal vases. The rest of the vases that were unopened were gradually re-gifted to unsuspecting couples who married after us. I had no use for them, and I'm sure the new couple would realize that they had no use for them either, but I had to get rid of those vases. I felt a little guilty at first, re-gifting something so impractical, but after a couple of times, I got over the guilt. First of all, I knew that I wouldn't be the only person giving them a crystal vase, and secondly, I knew that within a few years, the couple would eventually re-gift it to someone else. Passing it around like a hot potato. That's what married people do with crystal vases.
I don't know where the tradition of gifting newlyweds crystal vases came from, but I think a more practical idea for a gift would be cookware, flatware, bedding, or honestly, a gift card to Bed Bad and Beyond. Very rarely do newlyweds buy themselves a crystal vase, they are more likely to buy a toaster oven.