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Home : Bridal Party Gift Ideas and Etiquette: When and How to Shop

Bridal Party Gift Ideas and Etiquette: When and How to Shop

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1. Start Shopping 3 - 6 Months Early 5. Formal Versus Fun Gifts
2. Include These People on Your Shopping List 6. 6. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
3. How to Figure Out What to Give 7. Give Gifts at the Rehearsal Dinner
4. Thoughtful Doesn't Have to Mean Expensive 8. Make It Count

For some of us, shopping for thank you gifts is never easy. Finding that just-right item to show your appreciation can be fraught with potential gaffes: Spend too much, and you might look awkward. Spend too little, and you might look rude. You've also got to consider the recipient's expectations, and giving the wrong gift can seem thoughtless -- sometimes even worse than giving no gift at all.

And it only gets trickier when it comes to your bridal party. It's customary and expected to give gifts to your attendants as expressions of your gratitude, but now you're dealing with whole groups of people.

Should you give everybody the same gift? A set of shot glasses for your best pal from college might not be appropriate for your favorite aunt. Give everyone something different, then? The necklace you give your aunt might look too fancy next to some shot glasses. Break down and give them all gift cards? Never!

So, what to do? Step one is to take a deep breath and relax. Step two is to read our guide to Bridal Party Gift Ideas and Etiquette. We'll cover our eight favorite tips so you can shop worry-free.
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1. Start Planning and Shopping 3 - 6 Months Before Your Wedding Date

There is no set time to begin shopping for your bridal party gifts, but earlier is usually better, and we recommend you start brainstorming three to six months before the big day. If that seems like a little much, remember that personalized items or engraved gifts often require extra time to make, and you'll want to give yourself time for returns or corrections if anything goes wrong.

Also, keep in mind that if you're ordering gifts online or need to have items delivered somewhere, shipping speeds vary depending on the season. You can also save a ton on shipping costs if you give yourself the time to use standard delivery methods and avoid the specters of rush deliveries and airmail.

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2. Include These People on Your Shopping List

Many couples also wonder for whom they should shop. It sounds cut and dry at first -- the wedding party, obviously -- but things can quickly get murky. If you haven't discovered already, you'll soon find there are going to be more people helping you with your wedding than you might think.

So, a good rule of thumb is to always include, at a minimum, the following people (where applicable):
  • Maid of Honor and Best Man
  • Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
  • Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
  • Ushers
  • Parents of the Bride and Groom
  • Children of the Bride and Groom
  • VIPs or Special Guests
  • Priest or Officiant
  • Party Hosts

Could there be others? Etiquette says yes. You'll particularly want to consider anyone who volunteered their time. For example, if you have an organist or a soloist performing for free, giving them a small thank you gift is usually appropriate.
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Otherwise, adding to the list is typically a matter of circumstance. Our advice is to follow your heart (and your budget). If you feel someone involved in your wedding deserves a token of your thanks, give them one. Make a note and include them in your shopping.

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3. How to Figure Out What to Give

Going back to our original question, finding the perfect bridal party gifts can be daunting at first. Panicked trips to the mall, frantic clicks around the internet, all in a fog of well-meaning confusion -- nobody wants that. The bad news: It does take a bit of work to come up with the best gifts. The good news: With a little thought and planning, shopping for your bridal party is rewarding and can even be fun!

So, how do you come up with wedding party gift ideas, anyway? You may not be surprised to hear that every bridal party is unique, but what you may not know is there is no official set of rules or etiquette to follow. There are no Gift Police lurking in the shadows. Based on tradition, however, we can tell you that the following guidelines work well for most groups:

  • Give your bridesmaids and groomsmen identical or similar gifts within the same price range.
     
  • Give your maid of honor and best man something of higher value -- either a different gift or an additional gift.
     
  • If your ring bearer and flower girl are children, give them individual age-appropriate gifts.
     
  • If possible, get identical gifts for the fathers of the bride and groom as well as for the mothers of the bride and groom.
     
  • Give a separate gift to your priest or officiant.

While nothing is set in stone, adhering to this framework can make your shopping a little easier and prevent a lot of hurt feelings.

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4. Thoughtful Doesn't Necessarily Mean Expensive

While it's important to give your attendants something nice, it's more important to stay within your budget. Determine a set amount that you are willing or able to spend on gifts and buy nothing unless you are certain you can stay within that range.

Your attendants are going to stand with you on your wedding day because of the ties you share, not because they think they're getting a nice gift -- anyone who feels otherwise probably shouldn't be in your party. When it comes to your wedding, it really is the thought that counts.

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5. Formal Versus Fun Gifts: Make It about Friendship

The gifts you give are about the bond that exists between you and the members of your wedding party, and what those items end up being ought to reflect that.

You may want to give everyone formal gifts like fashion accessories (think jewelry, necklaces, cufflinks) to signify the importance of the occasion and to serve as a token of how seriously you value their friendship. But you could also go the practical route, giving gifts that are useful or handy (think makeup kits or tool sets) to express how you appreciate the ways they have helped you. Or you can do the relaxed approach and go with something funny or even slightly naughty (think barware and flasks). Fun, unique, and novel gifts are a great way to show you value all the good times you've shared.

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6. When All Else Fails, Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Fortunately, you know your attendants better than most people, so try to see things from their perspective and think about their personalities as best you can before you shop. The possible gift ideas are nearly endless -- you can find several hundred bridal party gifts on our website alone -- and you can use that variety to your advantage.

But if all else fails and you're truly stuck, simply ask yourself, what would you to like receive for being an usher or planning the bridal shower? It's hard to go wrong when you apply that old fashioned Golden Rule.

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7. Give Gifts at the Rehearsal Dinner or an Intimate Gathering

The most important detail here is to choose a nice, private setting where all the members of your wedding party can be together. The rehearsal dinner or luncheon is usually the most convenient time for gift giving, but you are free to choose another time or venue if possible and/or appropriate.

You can, however, give out some gifts at events prior to the rehearsal dinner. Many couples, for example, choose to give presents at special events such as stag or bachelorette parties with items like hats or t-shirts.

Remember the shot glasses versus jewelry debate from earlier? Since these parties tend to be more relaxed and informal, this is a good time for couples to give wild, fun, or whimsical gifts. You can save the more sentimental or elegant bridal party gift ideas for the rehearsal dinner.

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8. Make It Count

Gift shopping may never be easy, but caring about the people closest to you isn't hard, and your shopping only needs to be an extension of the same feelings that led you to ask each member of your wedding party to stand with you.

It may sound easier said than done, but with time and attention to the things that really matter (when you truly follow your heart), you'll find that bridal party gifts etiquette is as simple as saying "thanks!"

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