9 Unique Bridesmaid Gifts You’ll Actually Want to Give


Swag for your #squad

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

Zazzle Bridesmaids (4 of 159)

When Michael and I got married, we faced the normal barrage of pain-in-the-ass things one deals with when planning a wedding: family being family, us not being millionaires, having jobs, etc. But despite the myriad things stressing us out, our friends were like shining beacons in a storm, particularly our wedding party. Which is probably why we both became obsessed with choosing just the right gifts for them. Gifts that would say, “Thank you for calming me down while I was having that epic fight with my mom,” or “I appreciate you taking me camping for my bachelor party, even though you made me dress up like a pirate.” You know, without costing a million dollars.

But if you’ve been paying attention, you probably know that the wedding industry has some messed up expectations around wedding party gifts. Have you heard the one about how you should cut down on your wedding party to save money, so you don’t have to spend so much on all those people? Because your friends obviously won’t want to be part of your wedding unless they’re all getting tickets to see Beyoncé, or something. Right? Um, wrong.

Believe it or not, your wedding party members are not in it for the swag (le gasp! What?!) So if you’re looking for a thoughtful way to say thank you, a heartfelt note (and maybe a photo of the two of you) will always be the most appreciated gift. But if you also have your sights set on something fun to give your best people, I feel you. Today we’ve partnered with Zazzle and picked out some of our favorite personalized gifts that won’t collect dust in your friends’ closets or bankrupt your wallet:

(thoughful) #lazygirl THANK YOU BOXES

Unboxing-GIF

I normally hate any kind of premade bridesmaid gifts (2001 called and it wants its swag back). But when Meg and I saw these customizable gift boxes from Zazzle, we looked at each other and said, “SOLD.” With each box, you get to choose what message you want on the outside of the box, and which accouterments go in the inside. And since they aren’t exclusive to weddings, I plan on making them my default thank you the next time I want to show a girlfriend my gratitude.

Zazzle Bridesmaids (159 of 159)

For Your Girls Bridesmaid Box ($55): The “For Your Girls” box is the one I would buy myself if I wanted to show me some gratitude (would that be weird?). It comes with your choice of a cute travel tumbler, a clear or lavender clutch (which I fully intend on using as my new makeup bag), bougie soap that will make you feel fancy (we test drove it for you and it’s awesome), and a foil-printed notepad—aka a lot of shit that is both useful and cute.

Zazzle Bridesmaids (110 of 159)

Best Day Ever Box ($35): For a little less cash, this box comes complete with a fancy scented candle of your choosing, really good chocolate that I definitely already ate (or a drink koozie if you so choose), and a fun foil-printed matchbox. Top it off with a “Will you hold my dress while I pee?” card for $1.85 and you’ve got a decidedly non-cheesy gift.

Glasses-Tip

Non-Cliché Bridesmaid Swag

Prefer to put together your own thank you box? The nice thing about Zazzle is that they have two options for customizing gifts: you can either choose from one of their bajillion premade designs (like this Drunk in Love Tank Top that I obviously need), or create something of your own from scratch. And the latter is especially nice if you’re looking for an alternative to all the “Future Mrs.” swag. In fact, it was so easy to make custom stuff with Zazzle that we created a few APW-exclusive pieces just for you guys:

Zazzle Bridesmaids (3 of 159)

APW’s Picks (Clockwise from top left)1. You can customize this name bar necklace with your friend’s name, initials, or an inside joke. We chose “Squad Goals,” because #duh. ($53) 2. In case you’re burned out on all the “Mrs.” swag, and don’t ever plan on being one, we made you these Ms. Sunglasses. ($13) 3. Talk Feminist to Me Boyshorts. ‘Nuff said. ($16.95) 4. Because practical and pretty aren’t mutually exclusive, we included these watercolor bag tags (which were surprisingly sturdy! Will definitely survive the TSA.). ($10.75) 5. Lastly, white chocolate covered Oreos that you can customize with your own text. Because who says no to edible faux glitter? ($34.80/dozen)

Zazzle Bridesmaids (112 of 159)

Here’s the up-close on those customizable necklaces. They are super dainty in person (in a good way). Custom Name Bar Necklace ($53)

Zazzle Bridesmaids (136 of 159)

In case you don’t feel like wearing your feminism on your butt, you can also get “Talk Feminist to Me” on a tank top. Personalized Floral Tumbler ($33.43), Talk Feminist to Me Tank Top ($26.95)

Zazzle Bridesmaids (138 of 159)

Zazzle has some beautiful and affordable jewelry options. We loved this minimalist midi ring above, which Meg is currently rocking like it’s her job. But this ring was a close runner-up. It comes in a special box that says, “I couldn’t tie the knot without you.” “V” Gold-Filled Midi Ring ($8)

What do you think about wedding party gifts?

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Keri

    When I was a bridesmaid, my friend gave us some goodies including a nice little clutch that matched our dresses and shoes but could be used again and it was great. So, I did the same thing, plus matching sunglasses and scarves. I like bridesmaid’s gifts that are functional for the day! The sunglasses and clutch/wristlet definitely got used at the wedding, and the scarves were great because the house we were staying in was super chilly. I only had two bridesmaids and really shopped around (which I enjoyed), so the costs were very reasonable.

  • Elizabeth

    I mostly skim past the advertising posts with a sigh of disappointment because it means not getting real content in that time slot for the day, but I really like this post and I think I need all these things.

    I know sparkle-covered oreos are now a thing that need to come up regularly in my life. In fact I’m super tempted to get a dozen as a ‘just because’ gift for my fiancee because they would make her week…

  • Alanna Cartier

    When I asked my girls I mailed them a little gift pack with a nice card, a claire la fontaine notebook, and fancy chocolates. As a thank you before the wedding I think they’re all going to get books they like: illustrated Harry Potters for one bridesmaid, travel books for the other, and this beautiful cookbook I came across for my MOH: https://www.fivemorselsoflove.com/

    I might also get some champagne truffles for everyone :)

    • Laura C

      I did books! I probably could have done a better job if I’d thought of the idea more ahead of time, but I had fun choosing things I thought people would like.

    • Kate

      Yay for the books idea! Almost all my bridesmaids will have to fly to my wedding, so I have been trying to avoid anything bulky, fragile, or containing liquid. Plus they can read it on their flights back.

      I have other things I’ll also do, but I think a well-chosen book is always really thoughtful.

      Also – if anyone else is doing books, a pretty simple but thoughtful thing you can add is a personalized bookmark.

  • sofar

    Dang, I wish I knew this was an option. I essentially did the $55 box (make-up bags with their initials filled with goodies), but I definitely ended up spending more than $55 each because I just went into Ulta in a crazed, pre-wedding, buy-all-the-things haze.

    In all the weddings I’ve been in, I’ve gotten jewelry meant to be worn with the bridesmaids dress, but with brides being more lax about matching dresses/shoes, it’s kinda hard to pick out jewelry that works for everyone.

    • idkmybffjill

      “but with brides being more lax about matching dresses/shoes, it’s kinda hard to pick out jewelry that works for everyone.”

      THE. STRUGGLE. I got my girls bracelets to ask them to be bridesmaids. And then crafted a bunch of stuff because it was fun for me (Vintage handkerchiefs with handmade belly bands that are embossed with “LOCK IT UP”, vintage tea saucers embossed with their initial, hangers for their dresses + robes, wraps, and bags that I bought). I want to get them some extra jewelry, but they’re choosing their own dresses and one of my girls doesn’t have pierced ears and I’m like… another bracelet? A ring?

      Now that I’ve typed all that out… perhaps I should back away from the gifts.

      • sofar

        Wow you are crafty!! I wish I were imbued with your crafting powers.

        One of my bridesmaids was surprised I wasn’t gifting them jewelry because “that’s tradition” and it’s “one less thing for the bridemaids to think of when planning their outfit.” And I was like, “Um… how am I supposed to get you all jewelry when you’re all wearing different dresses, different necklines, different sleeve lengths, and different shoes??”

        Hence, the make-up bags full of goodies.

        • idkmybffjill

          Yes! Totally. I think the uniform jewelry (particularly necklaces or earings) really works best if it’s all one dress! Really hard to accessorize on behalf of someone else when you’re giving the freedom to choose what they like.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      As someone who’s super picky about jewelry, I am SOOO happy that the matching jewelry is becoming less common as a gift! Like, in theory, I love it, but in practice, I’ve seen it result in some truly horrendous “gifts”! (I’m looking at you, hot pink and yellow plastic flower necklace…)

      • sofar

        Same!! What was with those plastic flower necklaces (which I feel were super popular circa 2009)? I remember one year, a bride got us all big matching cuff bracelets. My wrists are freakishly small, and the thing kept sliding off. I had to shove it halfway up my arm during the ceremony.

  • NolaJael

    That Meg sunglasses GIF made my morning.

  • Kelly

    Primarily because I lack creativity lol, I gifted my maids their makeup application for the day. I couldn’t think of anything I could get them that they’d actually want and it ended up saving them $50-$60

    • NotMotherTheresa

      I am all about the practicality! Paying for hair/makeup/part of the dress/etc. all seem like waaay better gifts than candles!

      • emmers

        Meh, I’d prefer to do my own hair/makeup, and get a cute gift box. But to each their own!

        • NotMotherTheresa

          True! I guess the key is that if the bride expects me to have makeup professionally done, she better be the one to pay for it! But ideally? Leave that up to me and maybe make it my gift if I opt into professional hair/makeup. (Also, why is professional makeup a thing? I honestly almost never like the way it looks!)

          • emmers

            So true! The one wedding I was in where the bride encouraged us to pay to have our hair done, I.. didn’t. But I had short hair at the time, so there’s not but so much the stylist would have done that I couldn’t. I remember feeling grumpy about it at the time!

          • ” I guess the key is that if the bride expects me to have makeup professionally done, she better be the one to pay for it”
            Yup, if it’s part of the uniform, it’s not a gift. Maybe if the bride pays for the bridesmaid dresses it is, because a bridesmaid dress can be resold? lol.

    • cml

      I love this. For the first wedding I was in, the bride gave all of us money to use toward our dresses. Best gift I have received yet! :)

  • Elizabeth

    I will also say that it would have been nice to see more gender-neutral options or talk of that particularly when talking about non-cliche bridesmaid gifts, since necklaces, candles, scented soap are all things I might consider giving to a bridesmaid, but not all of the people standing up for me will be women, and there are even less advice lists for that situation.

    Like, I think this stuff is cool, but I don’t know that it does what a ‘here are potential gifts for the modern bridesmaid’ post ought to? Or maybe I really am *that* out there in having non-female-identified people as bridespeople.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      Heck, even if you are having all ladies up there, these gifts don’t really feel that unique or modern. I mean, they’re perfectly nice, but are tumblers and candles really new suggestions? Is anyone actually going to feel special about receiving the same generic tumbler as your five other bridesmaids? More importantly, does anyone even need/want another cheap plastic tumbler?!?!

      • Kalë

        No.

        To answer your last question :)

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      We actually have that post you’re looking for! https://apracticalwedding.com/2013/10/cool-wedding-party-gifts/

      That said, this is definitely more for the slightly less than but still kind of traditional wedding party members who probably don’t want a wine glass etched with the word “bridesmaid” on it (for what it’s worth, my bridesmaiding experiences have been very suburban middle america, where this stuff would be…very modern.)

      • Elizabeth

        I guess it’s less about finding the gift and more the way of the conversation… That’s a three-year-old post and I guess I consider that a ‘modern bridesmaid’ post about gifts could include having men in the bridal party because heck, that’s the case even for half of my straight friends. I know they’re not then bridesmaids, but they’re still the people I want to thank, the people who are shining beacons of sanity, and I’m still the bride to give them a gift. There could still be girly gifts, but the fact that there’s not even a mention of options that aren’t gendered seems more heteronormative/gender binary than I would hope for from this site.

        • Meg Keene

          This particular post was about gifts for women, hence bridesmaids. That doesn’t mean we’re not into gifts for men, or mixed gender/ outside the gender binary wedding parties. But not every post is going to cover every topic, it’s the mix of posts that makes the site. That particular post is three years old, and that’s not very old for a an almost nine year old site, where pretty much every topic is evergreen.

  • Ashlah

    The ” customizable gift boxes from Zazzle” link towards the beginning doesn’t work. It links to someone’s empty shop.

  • Megan

    Am I going crazy or is the seller who makes those boxes (“Sweet Whistle”) completely out of product? All the boxes are sold out and when I go to Sweet Whistle’s page, there’s no product there. At all. Is this the only seller on Zazzle that makes these premade/custom boxes?

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      That’s so strange; it was definitely stocked yesterday! It may just be temporarily sold out as of this morning. We’ll keep an eye out!

  • NotMotherTheresa

    Am I the only one who gets annoyed by the idea of getting every bridesmaid the exact same thing? I mean, I know that’s the easiest, and it guarantees that nobody will feel like they got the lesser gift, but it just always feels super impersonal to me! They’re diverse individuals, so why should I get them all the same candle and tumbler?
    With mine, I split the difference. I bought them matching pashminas for the wedding itself, since those kind of all had to be the same. Then I made tote bags for them that all coordinated, but were in each girl’s favorite colors. And finally, I filled each tote bag with a few goodies that were unique to that girl’s interests/styles. Everything was part of the same category (i.e. picture frames, wine glasses, etc.), so that there was no hint of unfairness, but at the same time, it let me tailor things a little more to each person as an individual.

    • Amy March

      Hold up. You got them all a pashima. You got them all a tote. You got them all picture frames. You got them all wine glasses.

      That’s an absolutely lovely gift, but let’s not hold it up as a paragon of individualizations that recognizes how diverse they are.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        I mean, the key thing is that I tailored the generic concepts to each person. So the girl who only uses tasteful pewter frames in her house got a tasteful pewter frame. The girl who loves bright colors and eclectic decor got a frame that was colorful and fun. And so on. Same with the sets of wine glasses–the girl who doesn’t drink got a set of cute coffee mugs. The champagne lover got a set of champagne flutes that matched her dining room. And so on.
        Was it the absolute paragon of individualization? No. But it did take into account that they aren’t all the exact same person.
        My comment wasn’t an attack on this post, so much as a general complaint about the tendency of bridesmaid gifts to all be super matchy-matchy. Maybe I’m just testy from being in too many weddings where we all got the exact same tumblers, but that kind of is a pet peeve of mine.

        • Meg Keene

          These gifts are not a suggestion to get everyone the same thing. You can order personalized oreos for your gender queer friend who likes… oreos. Party glasses for your gay guy friend. Personalized t-shirts (in men and women’s cuts) for everyone in your party. And my husband literally will not stop using this soap even though I really want him too, because it’s so nice. Don’t let anyone tell you nice soap is only for women, because THAT is gender normative.

          These gifts are ALL personalizable, which is the point of the post. Yes, we ordered them in hot pink, because that’s a brand color we use a lot… and frankly, if we didn’t want to throw away the items, we needed a color we’d use, and Maddie and I both wear pink. But you can order most of these things in ANY color of the rainbow, in men’s or women’s or gender queer styles. They can say anything you want, or have any picture you want, or any text you want. That’s what Zazzle does.

          In this particular case, we had one afternoon to shoot this, and only me in the studio to model. So we shot examples that fit my body. In posts where we have more time to shoot, we work really hard to have a diversity of bodies. BUT, the point here is that you can use Zazzle to order things that fit YOUR human’s bodies and tastes.

    • Meg Keene

      I don’t think we were even slightly suggesting that you get them all the same thing. These are just some gifts you could give humans.

      Personally, I will actually use the box with the tumbler next time I need to give an easy thank you gift, where I don’t have time to create a package by hand (pretty much all the time now), because I personally love all the items inside, and I can pick various patterns etc. I’m using the tumbler every day at dance class and the soap in the shower. You know. Not every gift needs to change the world.

      • idkmybffjill

        “Not every gift needs to change the world.”

        Literally thinking of making an inspirational print with all these bits of gold. “The perfect is the enemy of the good, Being laid back requires advanced planning, Not every gift needs to change the world.” You rule.

        • Meg Keene

          Also, I was using this black and white tumbler yesterday (I do actually use these everyday, because I drink a lot of water, so know your crowd) and the barista at Peet’s was like “THIS IS SO CUTE YOU ARE SO CUTE.” And then I got a discount on my iced tea for using it, and got to feel green. Guys. That’s a win.

          • idkmybffjill

            That tumbler IS real cute. I will never not want something free to put drinks in.

          • Meg Keene

            Girl. Yes.

          • cml

            My whole job centers around employee recognition & retention, and that includes gift-giving. Which I am so bad at, but I digress…
            One of the gifts we gave this year was a Tervis tumbler with the program logo and lots of people went NUTS for it. As a huge water drinker myself, so did I. ;) Gotta stay hydrated!

          • Amy Elizabeth

            Hey ? You re-ran my post the other day that was so cool! Question about you “feeling green” and APW’s feminist politics – are the manufacturing process or labor force conditions a part of your consideration when you decide which products to promote? These issues are part of how I live my feminism. I ? APW SO HARD for the deep and amazing things that are shared here, and I like fun fashion and glittery things as much as you do, but find the silence regarding manufacturing/labor practices of the stuff you promote to be deafening.

          • Hey– Maddie might be able to tell you more about Zazzle specifically (my impression is there’s a lot of fair labor involved, American Apparel/Bella being part of that).

            I will personally say I care a lot about fair labor, and that’s why a lot of work at APW is in support of fairy compensated /eco friendly vendors, but it’s a grey area for a lot of people. My feminism is both body positive and fair labor oriented (my grandmother worked in a factory).

            But here’s the deal when it comes to APW: some companies promote truly helpful products, some are small businesses, some are minority women run… essentially, while we appreciate and highlight fair labor practices in the brands we work with as MUCH as possible, we can’t be hardliners in this regard if we want a viable business. I’ve personally tried to run a HARD-line ethical company (in sourcing, labor, and product) and it made my price points super high. I do shell out more for my values, but not everyone has that option.

          • Amy Elizabeth

            Hi – thanks so much for your responses Najva & Maddie. Just reread my comment and realized it sounded snarky and didn’t mean it that way at all, so sorry. It can be frustrating/lonely trying to live my values… And APW had been such a beacon of light in some ways. I 100% get it Najva – we actually closed our business (selling products to Apple) because after we saw behind the scenes of manufacturing we weren’t willing to participate in it & when we tried to manufacture ethically, our price point was not market compatible. Current large scale manufacturing is really fucked up – I can’t get on board with calling it a ‘gray area’ – if it was produced in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, etc it was definitely made by slaves using highly toxic materials & creating mountains of trash. And there are always options for how to get what you need and circumvent the human exploitation & nasty environmental effects. But those options don’t have advertising campaign budgets that can fund APW’s business, and to do the good work you guys do you’ve gotta make money… So I get it, but it’s not a compermise that I can personally make.

          • OH Amy, I try to live those values and I’m at about 75% in my life. My shoes, computer, and a few other things… well. I’m working on it. I love love love vertically integrated companies that sell directly and manage to be

            BUT when I say grey area I never mean “toxic materials and poor labor practices” are a grey area. I mean that, for the sake of conversation, let’s say I shop with 7 values in mind: ethical labor, company values, eco-friendly materials/production, price, longevity/quality (I try not to buy future trash), minority run, small business. Sometimes things get 5/7. Those are my grey area. I’d like to only shop 7/7, and only feature 7/7 but that’s… really really hard. #goals

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            Just jumping on Najva’s point about Zazzle specifically, while I can’t imagine all of their products are going to pass an ethical litmus test, one of the things I was most impressed with when I toured their HQ was how much they try to operate like the family-owned business that they are. They try to keep their manufacturing jobs local to the Bay Area as much as possible, and many of their clothing brands are ethically manufactured (American Apparel, Bella). So of the big companies doing customization, I’m surprised at the efforts they make to stay above board where they can.

    • Jess

      As somebody who is not good at gift getting, being able to get the same thing for each person is a HUGE relief for me. I only have to come up with one reasonably good gift, rather than four Perfect Gifts ™.

      For people that are great at gifts, go ahead and make them unique to everybody’s special personality. Me? I’m going to find something that is good enough for everyone and just leave it there.

      • idkmybffjill

        THIS. I am honestly going to be so sad when our wedding is over because 1) I will not have themes to buy gifts around (I bought my shower hostesses, bridesmaids, and readers different bracelets with knots on them – “help us tie the knot” – basic but so helpful for narrowing down choices), and 2) I will no longer just be able to make wardrobe choices based around “something white”.

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    • cml

      IDK, I’ve never been annoyed to receive a well-intentioned gift from a friend, though.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        I mean, theoretically that’s true, but when I’ve spent $200 on a dress, $50 on hair, $300 on hotel rooms, $100 on a nice gift for the couple, AND given up my weekend to support the happy couple, it feels sort of insulting to get a mindless gift that the bride obviously spent two minutes and $20 on. Not every gift has to change to the world, but at the same time, it just makes me feel unappreciated when the bride doesn’t spend some real time on the gift! (And yes, I know brides are under a lot of pressure. Believe me, I REALLY know! But still, I always thought the least I could do was make sure that the gifts I gave my bridesmaids were obviously carefully thought out.)

        • idkmybffjill

          I guess when I’ve been a bridesmaid I was super not in it for the gift. I was always CRAZY honored that the bride wanted me there. Don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been things that made me feel like a bride didn’t care about me… there not being food, or a plan to get to the venue, etc. But the gift? Idk… maybe I’m just not generally an amazing gift giver so it doesn’t register to me.

        • Sarah

          No I totally get what you mean. No gift at all would be totally fine – I’d be delighted just to be asked and wouldn’t expect something in return, especially if the bride or groom was considerate and appreciative in other ways. But a cheap and thoughtless gift feels worse than no gift at all, because to me that says “I felt like I had to get you something…but I couldn’t be bothered putting any effort into it, so here’s some random junk to tick the box”. Even an expensive and thoughtless gift wouldn’t feel great to me – like silver Tiffany bracelets for people who only wear gold jewellery or bottles of top-shelf spirits for people who aren’t big drinkers, for instance.

          • Sarah

            P.S. To me it’s not about matching vs non-matching though. Non-matching gifts might not be super thoughtful, and matching gifts can definitely be thoughtful – finding one item that several different people will all love actually requires a lot of thought!

          • NotMotherTheresa

            That is true! Well thought out matching gifts can be wonderful! I suspect my issue with matching gifts comes from the fact that the brides who are just trying to mark bridesmaid gifts off the list usually do go with matching gifts, so my experiences with them haven’t been the best!

    • I know it’s on-trend to buy the bridesmaids all the same gift, but they’re not the same person…so…I wonder what traditional etiquette says about this. The ladies at TheKnot say it’s rude to give all bridesmaids the same gift, ‘wonder how that actually compares to etiquette reality.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        The tough part about wedding etiquette is that aside from a few universal no-no’s, it feels like literally everyone is working from a different playbook! So what the ladies think over at TheKnot is different from the ladies here think, and then a given bride will inevitably have a completely different stand yet on things!
        In terms of etiquette reality, I’ve been in four weddings, and in three, the brides gave everyone identical gifts. In the fourth, everyone got makeup bags and jewelry, but the jewelry and makeup bags were all different to suit the different bridesmaids’ tastes. Of the three where the gifts were all identical, I didn’t necessarily love any of them, but I mostly gave side-eye when the gifts were not only all identical, but also kind of crummy and cheap feeling compared to the wedding itself! For instance, in one, it was a low key affair, very little had been asked of us as bridesmaids, and we all got nice matching silver bracelets. Sure, it wasn’t my style, and I would have preferred a little more individualization, but all and all, it struck me as a very nice, thoughtful gift. On the other hand, another bride threw a massive $50k wedding, expected quite a bit of us as bridesmaids ($200 dresses, professional hair at an expensive salon, a semi-pricey bachelorette, etc.), and gave us cheap plastic tumblers in cheap matching totes as our gift. That one really rubbed me the wrong way and made me feel pretty unappreciated.
        So I don’t know, I guess the nuts and bolts etiquette reality is that (a) matching gifts are super common, (b) all else being equal, they don’t usually feel as thoughtful as unique gifts, but that (c) so much of how your bridesmaids will feel about the gifts you give is a reflection of how they felt about your general approach to wedding planning. If they already felt super loved and appreciated, they probably won’t mind identical gifts. On the other hand, if they’re already feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of, identical gifts may feel like the nail in the coffin.

        • TBH, I’m not even sure there’s universal “no no’s”. You know?

          I think there’s also a fine line between the “rules” that prevent you from looking tacky (i.e., throwing your own bridal shower, putting registry info on the invitation) versus “rules” that prevent people’s feelings from getting hurt and/or negatively impacting your guests (no B-lists, no cash bars, everyone gets a seat for the ceremony, dollar dance, no gaps, etc.). It’s nice to be aware of this slight divide, but doesn’t help all that much with making decisions.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            Heck, and even then, there’s a gray area within the Things That Impact Guests realm–for instance, what do you do about gaps when having one is the only way to give party-inclined guests the late night dance party they want and expect? What do you do if you live in an area where people expect the dollar dance? What if lots of your guests want to be able to drink at the reception, and there’s literally no money in the budget to provide alcohol for them? Sometimes what the rule book says conflicts with real life guest preferences! I know in my case, I’m following the etiquette books to a T, but I have some guests who wish I was having a dollar dance and who would much prefer to be able to buy a Crown and Coke at the bar.

          • Yeah. Wedding planning sucks.

          • quiet000001

            Gaps are also entirely normal in some places – in England it’s typical to have the wedding earlier in the day, then a wedding ‘breakfast’ (which is really more of a lunch) that is typically plated but definitely has a decent meal and seats for everyone, then an evening party which is dancing and a proper bar and cocktail-type foods only. I think one key though is that you typically do most of the traditional stuff at the wedding breakfast (cutting the cake, toasts) so people who don’t do dance parties or don’t want to stay up late can skip the later event and only really miss a few things like the first dance. (And I imagine if it’s super important to someone to see the first dance even though they can’t make it to the evening event, you could figure out some way to do it at the wedding breakfast, you just wouldn’t have a band or a DJ and a huge dance floor for everyone to boogie down all afternoon.)

            In fact, it’s entirely expected that not everyone will attend all parts of the day, and not considered rude (as I understand it) to NOT invite some guests to the wedding breakfast – people like coworkers you like might be invited to the wedding ceremony and the evening event, but not the wedding breakfast. As it was explained to me the wedding breakfast part is sort of what you do for family and extended family and very close friends – the evening party is for celebrating with a larger group of friends and other people from your community who you want to share the occasion with but maybe can’t afford to feed a full meal.

            I find this part a bit weird, since my upbringing is basically ‘you invite someone to all the parts or none of the parts’ since I was raised with the American way of doing things, but that’s how my SIL’s wedding worked and it didn’t seem to be an issue for anyone and actually was a pretty good solution for a lot of people even if they did want to go to all parts because the gap was big enough to rest, grab some dinner before the evening party, basically just recharge. Lots of people went home or back to their hotel to change, too, so you’d see church-appropriate stuff for the wedding and wedding breakfast, then the spangles and stuff you could move in came out for the evening do. (My SIL didn’t change, I don’t know if some brides do so they can be in a dress they can dance in more comfortably? I don’t think I’d want to change until after the key dances, if it were me – get the first dance photos and all of those in the wedding dress, then change for the rest of the evening of dancing and mingling and being social?)

            Obviously what makes it work is that people expect it and the structure of the day is usually clearly communicated in some way, so it’s possible to plan for the gap. No one has to be stuck milling around wondering when the heck things are going to get started again and where the bridal party vanished to.

  • Lawyer_Chef

    Gift question – how do you know if it’s “enough”? I got my ladies a wine tote with a cute saying on it (they each have a different phrase) and a nice bottle of champagne. I am also writing each one a nice letter. Is that… enough? I’m not sure.

    • anon

      I’m paying for their hair and makeup and calling it a day (though I might get some more stuff as I see things, and I did buy some notebooks that I will customize for them). If you do anything at all, and aren’t expecting them to buy dresses – and other things – outside their budgets, you’ve done enough, imo.

      • The tricky bit here is that anything that’s part of the “uniform” is not really considered a gift. So, buying them all a matching pashmina they *must* wear on the day-of, is not a thank you gift. Neither is buying them jewelry they *must* wear, or paying for their hair or makeup. If you’re requiring it, you pay for it, not as a gift.

        Lawyer_Chef, I struggle with the same thoughts as you. My bridesmaids are all traveling 5+ hours, so…how much is enough? If I just think of it as a “thank you” gift, my gifts (and your gifts, too) sound lovely, you know? But then if I think about it from the perspective of time/work/money they’re using…then I’m at the other end.

        • anon

          None of them are confident in their own hair/makeup skills and they all expressed interest in having it done. It’s not required, but the person I am using is relatively expensive because I AM good at makeup and am picky, so I decided in lieu of giving them ANOTHER robe or ANOTHER makeup bag or ANOTHER whatever, because I’m literally the next to last of us to get married, they get to experience the wonder of airbrush makeup (at least, it’s amazing to me, maybe I’m just country). I did clarify to them that I don’t expect a wedding gift, since I’ve never personally gotten a straight answer on what’s expected and was confused when I was a bridesmaid, so I just breached etiquette and talked about it. :P

          I guess I struggle with this idea that you are giving them a gift based on the magnitude of their effort. That’s basically paying them to be in your wedding (if you feel like you’re doing it out of obligation, that is – give away if you simply want to!). Like, we all go to each other’s weddings and put in the effort and at what point do you stand back and wish you’d been like those old guys who just signed the same card and sent it back and forth? Clearly this does not apply if you are not in the boat of everybody getting married/having weddings/etc. but even then… the idea that we should agonize over gifts is silly. Pinterest is the worst thing to happen to friendships.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            I feel like gift giving (or lack thereof) is so much easier when you’re in the boat you are, where those friends have already been married, and you’ve already been their bridesmaid. I didn’t get stressed at all about those friends, because there was definitely a sense of “I already did this for you, so now you’re kind of repaying the favor”. Plus, frankly, those friends have enough firsthand experience to understand that thank you cards might run a tad late and the gifts might not be quite as thoughtful as our usual Christmas gifts

            The super hard part is those friends who are still single and likely won’t be getting married anytime in the remotely near future! That’s where I feel like the risk of hurt feelings runs so much higher, because honestly, being in a wedding when you’re single can be pretty emotional to begin with. (Not saying it is for everyone, I’m just saying that from personal experience, that can make people more sensitive.) I definitely bent over backwards as far as I did in terms of gifts for the sake of those friends!

          • Robe = often part of the uniform (if you’re requiring them to wear it for photos –> does not count as a gift).

            And you don’t have to get them identical gifts, you really should be shopping for them like it’s their birthday. This would be the way to avoid giving them something they already have, like a makeup bag. These are different *individuals* that you’re thanking for being so important in your life, I’m just not sure how buying everyone the same gift they already have is really a ‘thank you’. What does a thoughtless thank you gift say about the giver?

            It’s not about magnitude of their effort or size/cost of the gift, it’s about showing gratitude & caring through thought.

          • anon

            The idea of requiring someone to wear the robe for photos is so bizarre to me that I totally forgot that even happens.
            I am showing them gratitude and caring throughout the entire rest of my planning in other ways. I don’t see why I have to do it with stuff. But then again, after all the stories of demanding brides… I can see why there is a TREND of doing it with stuff. :P

          • Also, I’m guessing your love language isn’t gifts ;)

      • quiet000001

        My SIL bought the dresses and paid for hair/makeup and then got everyone a smallish but not matchy-matchy piece of jewelry and I think everyone was happy enough with that. (I was a Jr. Bridesmaid, and she got me a pair of appropriately-sized pearl stud earrings that I could wear in the wedding if I wanted to and since they’re basically classic I’ve worn them a lot since then for various things because they’re nice but not too much.

        I vaguely recall one of the other bridesmaids, for example, got a simple pendant necklace with some kind of stone – can’t remember if it was a diamond or something else – and another one got something a little more intricate and blingy because it was more her style, but they were all things you could wear in the wedding if you wanted without it looking weird, and then get plenty of use out of later. But none of the jewelry was super-expensive – the biggest part of the monetary value of the gift was definitely buying the dresses, which she said she decided to do because it seemed ridiculous to expect people to pay for something she’d picked out and insisted they had to wear.

        (I guess someone could say the jewelry doesn’t count because everyone wore it for the wedding, but like I said she didn’t insist on people wearing the stuff she gave them, and honestly I think it’s kind of nice to be able to look at the photos and see the earrings she gave me and still have them and remember them as something I wore on the day my brother was so happy he looked like his smile was going to break his face. :D )

    • emilyg25

      That sounds lovely! Your friends stand up in your wedding because they want to be there for you. Just a heartfelt thank you is enough.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      Honestly, I know it’s not an official rule, but my rule of thumb is that gifts should somewhat reflect both the wedding and how much you expected out of your bridesmaids. If your wedding was a super low key affair on their end with $50 bridesmaid dresses and no expectations regarding showers or bachelorettes, yeah, a nice letter and a wine tote with a nice bottle of champagne is probably plenty. On the other hand, if they threw a massive shower, a massive bachelorette, rented hotel rooms for several nights, and bought $200 dresses, you might want to add a little more. On a similar note, even if you didn’t ask a ton out of them, but it’s a $100,000 wedding, you might want to up the gifts a tad.

  • emilyg25

    Whyyyyyy were those Ms. glasses not around in 2013??

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