There may be many, there may be few. But each member of the wedding party should get a meaningful gift to thank them and honor their participation in your wedding.
So far, it’s pretty much been all about you — the proposal, the engagement ring, maybe a bridal shower or two. And that’s great, because it is your wedding! But your bridal party already has or will put in a lot of time and maybe shell out some major bucks to support you and be a part of this most important event. Show them how much they mean to you with a gift that will remind them of the wedding, and later, all that you share.
Who and what?
Depending on the tone of your wedding — formal or informal, religious or secular — and whether it’s in your hometown or a vacation destination, your wedding or bridal party could be a virtual army or an intimate circle.
Some people define the bridal party as only those attendants on the bride’s side, while others think of the term as encompassing everyone from the flower girl and ring bearer to the groomsmen, ushers and parents of the bride and groom. There may also be folks who do readings or songs, as well as additions particular to your traditions.
You and your fiancé should talk about who will do what in your ceremony and then decide who will be responsible for finding and giving the gifts. But the truth is, even when it comes to his side of the equation, you’ll be involved. Just think of it as one of your first shared tasks as a married couple and divide and conquer — it’ll be fun.
For the ladies
In a big wedding, there may be a pack of bridesmaids, the maid of honor and a flower girl or two. The bridesmaids often do some heavy lifting for you during the run-up to your wedding. There are showers and parties to plan, gifts to buy and an array of dresses to try on and purchase.
A jewelry gift is ideal for all the girls and women in the party, as adornment and keepsake — just pick something they really can wear again (See: bridesmaid dresses!). Especially if you’re on the trend of picking a color and letting your attendants pick different styles that flatter them, a necklace or earrings are a beautiful way to pull them all together.
Think of the tone of your celebration or where the wedding will be held for inspiration — perhaps a small pearl pendant for a more formal wedding, sweet seashell earrings for a beach wedding, charm bracelets with charms in the wedding colors or matching necklaces. A great idea is to present a gift bag at your rehearsal dinner, with the jewelry and something fun. Flasks are a traditional gift for groomsmen, but there are a growing number of graphic or bejeweled flasks that would be a perfect spin for a partying crowd. Then, again, think about where and when your wedding is being held. Slip in some flip-flops for a beach celebration or a tiny personal fan for a hot summer wedding; a colorful scarf or wrap for chillier fall and winter weddings. For flower girls or junior bridesmaids, age-appropriate jewelry and small gifts will make them feel grown-up and included.
Your maid or matron of honor deserves something special. She’s been there for you through thick and thin and has probably done a lot of planning and running around to make not just the day special, but the whole experience. Find something over and above the bridal party gift (though she should get one of those, too). Engraving a piece will make it more precious to her — a simple “thank you” or “I love you” or a word or phrase significant to the two of you. Make it about the two of you, rather than about the wedding itself.
For the gentlemen
We addressed the idea of flasks for women, and engraved flasks — name or monogram — are a common groomsmen gift. If you’re in a group of friends or family where the weddings are coming fast and furious, it might be a time to go in a different direction so that the guys don’t end up with a collection of flasks that doesn’t get used.
An engraved pocketknife will be welcomed by outdoorsmen and indoorsmen alike — though some folks are superstitious about knives as gifts, thinking it will “cut” the friendship. To avoid that, tape a nickel or dime to the knife, and have the recipient “buy” it from the groom. But don’t ignore jewelry for the men — you can’t go wrong with a pair of monogrammed cuff links for each man in the party. Engraved money clips are a great idea. And dog tags engraved with their names or initials are both fashionable and personal.
Then there’s non-traditional
Your maid of honor might be a man of honor — your best friend, your brother (or both). The best man may not be a man. And there may be all manner of parents, stepparents and partners. But they all will appreciate a gift — jewelry or not — that expresses your thanks for being with you. Not just on this day, but all the days leading up to it and as you move forward in your married life.