Thank You For Being Here Today: Bridal Party Gifts

The title is only amusing if you picture Julie Andrews saying it ala The Princess Bride.

It is customary to give your bridal party members some sort of gift to thank them for the time and money they put in to being a part of your wedding.  There is no particular gift that is customary, so your choices are endless.  For me, endless choices means a headache, because I don’t know where to start.  Lucky for you, after spending way too much time hemming and hawing over how to go about this, I came up with a plan.  To save you some effort, I’m going to share it with you!

First and foremost: the budget.  Decide how much you can spend on gifts.  Hopefully you included this number in your original budget determinations.  After that, you need to count up how many people you need to be getting gifts for.  You should be trying to get something for the bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, junior bridesmaids, flower girl(s), and ring bearer(s).  Gifts are also usually given to the parents as a thank you for molding you into an apparently likeable adult (after all, if they hadn’t done that, you wouldn’t have snagged such an awesome spouse!).  You don’t have to spend the same amount on each category of people, but you should spend the same amount within each category.  For example, you can spend more on your parents than you do the bridesmaids, but you’d better not spend more on some bridesmaids than the others.  So, divvy up your budget to each of the categories.

Now that you know what you can spend on everyone, it’s time to start gathering ideas.  It is common practice to get something engraved or monogrammed for most of the bridal party members (parent gifts being the steadfast exception), though you don’t have to follow this.  I actually decided I wanted to avoid that route altogether, and I recommend that you avoid any last name references with any of your female gift recipients.  You don’t want to get them something branded with a name or letter that might not apply down the line (due to marriage, divorce, etc, you get the idea), because you want to get your bridal party gifts they can use and enjoy beyond just your wedding day.

It is also common to get members of each group the same thing, but this is yet another trend you are free to ignore.  Making sure gifts are equal doesn’t mean they have to be identical.  You are free to choose gifts that will be meaningful to individual people in the group.  You can also go to a sort of middle ground, and choose the same type of gift for everyone, but customize it to the individual.  I’m going this route a bit, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  Gifts don’t need to be expensive, but they should say “thank you for being my friend and going the extra mile to be a part of this with me”.

Caveat: an item doesn’t count as a thank you gift if it is intended for use with the wedding.  You are welcome to get your bridesmaids some jewelry, but if you are requiring they wear it, it is no longer a gift.  You can suggest it might go great with the dresses, but leave it up to them whether or not they wear it or their own accessories, and then it’s a gift.  Same thing goes for things like cufflinks for the groomsmen.  If you are requiring it’s use, you are responsible for buying it, and therefore you’re not allowed to call it a thank you.

You can give the gifts whenever you want before the wedding.  It is pretty common for the bride and groom to distribute these gifts at the rehearsal dinner, but they can also be handed out in a more private setting like a bridesmaid’s lunch or parental get together.  It really is up to you.  Some people are concerned with the idea of handing out the gifts at the rehearsal dinner if there are other people present who are not getting gifts, but there’s no reason to be.  Anyone at the rehearsal dinner is going to understand why your bridal party is getting gifts, so etiquette wise there is no issue.  If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea on a personal level, feel free to give your special VIPs their presents in a private setting.

For us, we have 3 bridesmaids, 3 groomsmen, and 2 sets of parents to get gifts for.  There is a local woman who sells jewelry at the summer farmers’ market, and we buy stuff from her all the time.   I’ve talked to her about making custom necklace and earring sets for the bridesmaids.  Lucky for me, blue also happens to rank among favorite colors for all 3 of my girls, so anything I get them can be worn at the wedding and used a lot later!  They’ll all be in blue tones, but each will be a little different, and I’m hoping I can get their birthstones placed on either side of the clasps.  I’ve also found some adorable clutches on Etsy, and I’m ordering one for each of them in their favorite colors (pictured below, but go here to check them out!).  Tim is getting the guys some beer glasses he also found on Etsy that have mustaches painted on them.  They’re kind of hilarious.  He wants to add something else to the mix, but he doesn’t know what yet.  He threw out the idea of cufflinks since it’s not something guys would ever get to use again.  Any suggestions?

The parents we are giving nice wedding albums after we get our pictures back, but since that won’t be for a while we’re getting them something small for now.  The original plan was to get the each one of the things we’re doing for the bridal party (so the glasses for the dads and the clutches for the moms), but it turns out Tim’s mom doesn’t much care for clutches, so there goes that idea.  We’re still trying to figure out what to do for them.  I’m also trying to think of something for my aunt.  She bought my dress for me, so I’d like to do something for her, but she’s difficult to shop for.  She’s definitely not a girly kind of person, she’s a detective for the Toledo police department, and normal conversations with her revolve around hilarious innuendo and stories that include either alcohol or stupid criminals she’s had to chase down.  Right now I’m thinking I’m better off going a slightly silly route than a sentimental one, but I’m still not sure what to do…

What are you guys doing for your bridal party?

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Posted on March 15, 2012, in Budget, Misc. Topics (Wedding), To-Do, Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow I have never heard that it doesn’t count as a thank you gift if it is to wear at the wedding. Everyone I know who has ever been in a wedding has gotten their thank you gift as jewelry to wear in the wedding. Curious….

    I have been looking at earrings for my girls. I looooove sharks but I know that other people might not be too keen on wearing shark jewelry forever so I am trying to find something tasteful for them (earrings and/or a necklace) so if it turns out to be a shark, then at least it will be really tasteful and nice and it will remind them of me forever. Ahahaha…

    Anyway, Cobalt wants to get his guys skull cufflinks. We haven’t discussed parent gifts… but we have discussed our gifts to each other…. we’re gonna get a kitty (hopefully)! Not sure if Cobalt’s mom and my mom would want the same thing. Hrm… We will have to think about it.

    • I want to see what a tasteful shark earring looks like. And then I probably want one. Because that’d have to be awesome.

      The jewelry/thank you thing hadn’t occurred to me either at first, but considering the rule with anything else at the wedding is “if you require it you pay for it” with the exception of the dress, then I guess I should have seen it coming. I got thoroughly reemed by etiquette police.

      Yay kitty! Tim promised me a puppy after we get married, but I think I’m going to point out that we could just make that the wedding gift and call it even 🙂

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