With all the planning that goes into a wedding, it's nice to have your best friends by your side each step of the way. Your bridesmaids share in your excitement when they see the ring, they go dress shopping, accompany you to bridal shows, give you their opinions when you need them, host your shower and bachelorette party, and are there as you say your vows. At the rehearsal dinner, it is customary to offer a gift to show your appreciation for being part of your wedding-planning journey.
Jewelry is a common gift choice for bridesmaids. It is an item they'll be able to use for years to come and will remind them of your special bond. It's also a way to add uniformity to the wedding party if you give an identical necklace or earrings to be worn on the wedding day.
Sarah Paulson with MichaelAngelos "The Event Company" in South Bend suggests giving a bracelet that can do double duty. "We have the capability of doing corsages on jewelry," she says. The bracelet (she recommends rhinestones or pearl strands) can be given at the rehearsal dinner with a corsage attached to wear that evening. Whereas a traditional wrist corsage would attach to elastic, this one would be placed on the bracelet and the jewelry would be worn by the attendant on the wedding day.
For the men, Paulson says a "vintage-looking" boutonniere holder could serve the same purpose. It could be presented at the rehearsal dinner with a boutonniere and then placed on a suit for the wedding. "These pretty, metal, silver designer holders are like a little vase and could be passed down," she says.
For those who prefer to steer clear of jewelry and opt for something more personal, engraved items are a nice touch. "A pocket mirror can be engraved with their initial," Paulson says. "For my wedding we gave shot glasses that were engraved with the wedding date and name of the person we gave it to."
Cassandra Mortimer of Lansing says a friend who recently got married gave her bridesmaids personalized overnight bags from the Thirty-One Company with wine and glasses inside.
Stacy Senchalle of Chicago did follow tradition, giving jewelry to her wedding party, "but I have heard of giving iPod shuffles with songs that remind the bride and groom of the gift receiver already downloaded as a playlist," she says. "I thought that was kind of cute."
When standing up in a less formal outdoor wedding, Diana Maanum of Lansing received a pair of leather flip flops to wear that day. Three years later, she still wears them, and says it's been one of her favorite attendee gifts.
There's also the option of giving memories rather than mementos. A group outing to a casino or winery, a spa day or a girls' trip to Amish country or a lakeside bed and breakfast will provide wonderful memories and allow the wedding party to connect in a relaxed setting.