Wedding party gifts that don't suck

April 16 2008 | offbeatbride
I'm looking for wedding party gifts that don't suck.

All I see for the girls are the same old monogrammed purses and mirrored compacts and for the guys all I see is pocket watches, flasks, and pens.

How much use can you possibly get out of this stuff, besides a pen, but why spend $20–$100 on a freaking pen!

What would you suggest for gifts for the wedding party? –Katie

We've all been on the receiving end of some intriguing gifts — my favorite was an engraved monogrammed sterling-silver toothpick case. Yes, with toothpicks in it. What — are you trying to tell me I have something in my teeth? We're friends, girl, you can just *tell* me.

purse.jpgFor the Offbeat Bride, you're looking for something meaningful, not just easy to purchase in a set of 6. The gifts you list don't ring true because they have nothing to do with the relationships between you and your bridal party. You've asked these people to stand with you as your closest community; a great way to dream up authentic gifts is to think with care about how you or your affianced knows each person — a funny joke you've shared, an interest that brought you together, a memory only your siblings know — and go from there. (If we learned anything from Lloyd Dobler, you don't give someone a pen!)

Much ink has been spilled on wedding party gift-giving — they don't all have to be the same, keep the gifts equal in 'value', etc. etc. But nothing says your gift has to be an object! What about:

  • Concert/symphony/sports season tickets
  • Travel gift cards on JetBlue or Southwest (or another airline that flies where you live)
  • A cheese, wine, or coffee club for your foodie friends (first rule of cheese club: no one talks about cheese club!)
  • Or a local spa or massage package to thank them for getting you through the stresses of your big day.

(One note from personal experience: if you go the massage route, would recommend *not* having it be the same day as the wedding. Nothing was more surreal four hours before my sister and I gave my mom away than to have a tiny woman named Suzy swinging from a bar on the ceiling using her toes as crazy shiatsu tenderizers. I am not exaggerating. As we were leaving, the woman says: "you've released a lot of toxins — try to avoid stress for the next 24 hours…" great, now you tell us.)

Ahem. Where was I? The beauty of "useful" gifts is that you never have to dust them, and they work for both men and women so you might even be able to take care of all your gift-purchasing at once after all.

But what about some more just, well, FUN gifts? We've got some of those too…

As with all gifts, the risk you run is that your taste is not necessarily someone else's, and they may end up with one more item to freecycle or donate to the Cinderella Foundation (google to find your local organization that accepts dresses for underprivileged teens). If all else fails, please do encourage your ladies to share and pass on the gift of that gorgeous aqua tulle ball gown!

Finally: don't worry too much! Your friends and family in your bridal party aren't in it for a gift (or, lord knows, a new dress or suit). They're at your wedding for the love of sharing this step with you. The gift is just a little (groan: bad wedding pun) icing on the cake. The best ones have a little joy and laughter in them, and are given with love. Happy gifting!

  1. Excellent! Thanks for the post Ariel and Jennifer… I've just bought my big sister's present off the back of it! We've bought the rest of the bridal party… from the best man to the flower girl… these super lovely bicycle bells, but my older sister is the only one who doesn't ride a bike. I thought it would be mean to get her a useless gift! I've just bought from Etsy the lovely hand mirror that says 'If only you knew how beautiful you really are' which is just PERFECT for her, is within the bell budget, and is also the right size for the gift box! Awesome :o)

    xx

    2 agree
  2. I wanted to throw in a plug for an unusual bridesmaid gift I chose for my upcoming wedding, which I'm really happy with. Paloma's Nest (also on etsy- what an awesome resource!) http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=9280152
    will personalize these lovely handmade bowls and plates with whatever type you want, so that each bridesmaid can have something special to her specifically, and they've been really lovely to deal with, helping me to add gorgeous custom wooden gift boxes, somehow magically anticipating the addition of a new bridesmaid by making a spare 'just in case', and just overall giving me an amazing customer experience. 🙂

    2 agree
  3. ooh – i'm buying exactly the same bowls from Paloma's nest on Etsy! i LOVE that they can all be personalised for my BMs.

    1 agrees
  4. We went the super lazy route: we bought each of our bridesmaids gifts on our honeymoon. Basically, as we traveled (roadtrip from Key West to Savannah), we stopped and shopped for everyone. It took the hassle out of thinking about it pre-wedding, and I think made it a little more individual, if a little less wedding-y.

    1 agrees
  5. GIFT CARDS.

    Seriously. I cannot stress this enough. One BM (heheh) likes movies, so get her a Blockbuster card. One likes music, so get her a Best Buy card. One has a coffee addition, so get her a Starbucks card. One likes all three, so get her a Border's card.

    2 agree
  6. For my maid of honor (at the time 17), I bought a cloth box and small matching photo album a year before the wedding. Then I spent the year filling it up with small things I knew she'd like. When I gave it to her I explained that each item represents when I was thinking of her. Then after the wedding I filled up the matching album with pictures of her and us. It was about $100 to do, but I only had one attendant, so it was easy to personalize it.

    2 agree
  7. Those Muchacha K clutches are AMAZING! Some are reversible, and they also have jewelry rolls and other really unique, handmade gifts. GLORIOUS!

    2 agree
  8. For my wedding last September, we bought the bridesmaids their dresses and the groomsmen their suits. Sometimes that stuff can be pricey and I hate that it's "tradition" that they are supposed to buy that stuff themselves! Even better, I made sure the dresses were super cute so they would wear them again. You can never have enough little black dresses, and this one had some memories behind it 🙂

    2 agree
  9. I wish the brides in weddings I was in gave me something useful like a multi-tool, or "Leatherman." They come in great colors, like orange and pink and hot red!

    5 agree
  10. I was in a wedding where we got a cute gift bag full of all different cute little things. It included the jewelry to wear in the wedding, which I thought was really nice. Each one was a little different based on our personalities.

    But honestly the most useful thing in the gift bag was a bunch of funky cards and stationary. She had mixed and matched different styles. You wouldn't think this would be super awesome, but as like the only stationary and cards I own, whenever I have to write a thank you letter — which isn't often, but happens occasionally – I'm wicked psyched to have this little store of stuff to choose from.

    I don't remember what else was in the bag, but those were the things I found super useful and still use.

    1 agrees
  11. I got given surfing lessons once! The bride and groom knew i was a beachbaby who had never learnt to surf, so it was fabulous. The groomsman got something equally cool of a class variety.

    1 agrees
  12. I got my bridesmaids' gifts from the Sanrio online store, we're all anime nerds… I got them Kuromi compacts and make-up bags. I got the flower girl(my daughter) a My Melody wallet, comb and mirror set.

    1 agrees
  13. thanks so much for this post! i am all about giving something with meaning that won't collect dust. i've decided that each one of my girls with get a piece of jewelry. each individual and searched for. that matches their taste, style and personality. they also do not need to wear it for my wedding.

    1 agrees
  14. YAY for Etsy!! I got the bulk of my attendants' gifts, plus my wedding jewelry on Etsy! The ladies got personalized clutches filled with things like mini mineral makeup kits, goat's milk soap & a crocheted face cloth, hand lotion, perfume oil, etc. Most of the stuff was bought on Etsy. All the women said they appreciated having a little kit to take with them to freshen up before the afterparty.

    The groomsmen got the ties that we wanted them to wear. Each was black, silkscreened in silver ink, but we chose a different design for each groomsmen. They all loved that approach, and all have said they can't wait to wear their ties again. And all the vendors I've worked with have been so friendly and awesome to work with. If I hadn't been marrying my delicious husband, I would totally marry Etsy! The whole site! LOVE.

    3 agree
  15. my fave attendant gift i ever received was a fredericks of hollywood silk robe in the color of wedding. we got lotions and bubble bath and a $25 gift card to fredericks. the card included was cute and said something along the lines of "thanks for being me and helping me to feel calm and beautiful on my special day. here's some things to help you feel just as special as youve made me feel" we loved them!

    1 agrees
  16. Etsy.com has been a Godsend for my wedding. I found the most perfect invites on there and have been nothing but happy with the outcome.

    As for gifts for my bridesmaids, I just asked them to wear something black (either dress or pants, which ever they choose) so I am buying their shoes.

    I am buying them all Sparkly Chuck Taylor Converse. They come in white as well and I will be wearing them under my dress 🙂

    http://www.jildorshoes.com/images/products/ConverseCtOxBlkSeq_Front_150.jpg

    1 agrees
  17. wow. how awesome are surf lessons??? and smallthings jewelry is *gorgeous* — my gift-giving is starting to sound more like… one for you… and two for me… {{ maniacal hand-rubbing cackle }}

    just wanted to write a teensy note with a *huge* thank-you to ariel for inviting me over to play and to everyone kind enough to read and to share their ideas! you rock. thank you for making this so much fun. 🙂

    yay offbeatbride!

    2 agree
  18. I contacted a jewelry maker through Etsy and asked her to design earrings using my Scottish Thistle inspired color scheme. Each of my bridesmaids is going to get a gorgeous pair of earrings that were handcrafted special for our wedding. Much better than matching monogramed whatevers.

    2 agree
  19. Eh… I don't want to sound cheap here, but I was a little disturbed by the commercialism of this post (even if it is lovable etsy commercialism.) I love and adore my brides-folk — but if I were to get them each a present at $70 a pop, I'd add about 20% to our wedding budget. It's really hard to figure out something truly special without digging myself into debt; my heart is bigger than my pocketbook. Don't know if anyone else feels the same way, just want to share.

    11 agree
    • I want to buy our attendents and helpers something that they will like, isn't something they would get for birthday or christmas and won't break the bank. So far I have star charms and sixpence charms – for the girls our theme is sci-fi/stars and sixpences were for good luck but a bit stuck on mob and mog and the guys.

      2 agree
  20. Good Thoughts, this post — like many others on offbeatbride — won't apply to everyone.

    Heck, at my wedding I didn't even have a wedding party, let alone buy gifts for ANYONE.

    As with all posts on obb.com, the goal isn't to make anyone feel badly if they're not doing something … it's just to support those that are.

    6 agree
  21. How about having a party where all of the girls get together and make lariat necklaces and matching bracelets using an eclectic grouping of beads. Each necklace can still be different but similar. It's fun and then it makes a great gift that they can wear on the wedding day. (you buy the beads and tools). We did it for my sisters wedding 8 years ago and I still have it and wear it!

    2 agree
  22. If I'd had attendants, I would have Bought what one of my friends got for her stint in a wedding…

    A small flask.

    1 agrees
  23. i'm knitting all of my bridesmaids socks and the groomsmen hats. of course, if you don't know how to knit already – this would be totally the wrong time to learn!

    i also bought earrings and custom bags from an esty shop (piano nobile). i find that if you ask for custom items on etsy and have a reasonable amount of time, people love to be a part of special events!

    1 agrees
  24. I think a nice thing to do (this is what I plan to do at my wedding) is to give them a nice card to tell them that a small donation has been made in their name to …..[insert charity name here]. This way the recipient of the gift doesn't have to feel obligated to not lose/keep or use the cheesy-ass gift given to them and you've also donated your money to a good cause. [TWO BIRDS….ONE STONE :)]

    2 agree
  25. I bought the girls dresses, paid a friend to professionaly style hair, made them each an easy necklace. the groomsmen got, a white cool max t-shirt for under the tuxes, a toy airplane and another small individual gift. I've also seen groomsmen gift of remote control helicoppers.

    1 agrees
  26. I am thinking of creating a Tastebook (food not manners)
    of recipes from my soon to be hubby's and my family culture. Things we've grown up eating and enjoy Go to Tastebook.com for better info. ( I have a small wedding party so it is not cost prohibitive for me)

    1 agrees
  27. I was a bridesmaid for this first time in my cousin's wedding this fall. Her gift to us was to spend the afternoon before the wedding getting manicures & pedicures together (3 bridesmaids & the bride). It was great: a chance to relax during a stressful time, some time to catch up my cousins that I don't see often (and to meet the groom's sister for the first time)… plus, we looked good for the ceremony! I may end up stealing this idea for my own wedding…

    2 agree
  28. We're trying to have a wedding with a conscience so I like the idea of individual gifts that are useful or loved. Organic wine, locally made soap, massage… I do agree that this can all run up the budget. I will likely be having the girls over and making a nice brunch the weekend prior and having well thought out cards for them. You don't become a bridesmaid for the shwag.

    1 agrees
  29. Do you think you could feature some budget items? I love these, and I love love love my gals but I can't afford to spend $100 on custom jewlery for each of them.

    1 agrees
  30. I don't know what I'm doing for my maid of honor yet. she's my cousin and we've been best friends all our lives, so it has to be something special!

    For general gifts, though, my favorite tool on Etsy is "shop local." I searched my home state for local vintage and handmade items that wouldn't break the bank. Here's some of the best stuff I found:
    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23420495

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=17544018

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=21796317

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=21553524

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=22650546

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18646450

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=20194792

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23279247

    1 agrees
  31. Love all the gret ideas here. For our groomsmen we are getting them each a personal cooler then filling them with differt things. Beer and steak for one, movie tickets and a new game for another. Each one is personal and we won't be breaking the bank.

    1 agrees
  32. A friend of mine was a bridesmaid at a wedding a while back, and the bride gave them all brass knuckles, engraved with their name and the date. It was kind of awesome.

    1 agrees
  33. For my wedding, I had necklaces made for my BMs with a twist – it was a Scottish wedding, so each pendant was made with a celtic knot that depicted them; Balance for my Libra mathematician BM, and Strength for my badass world traveller BM. (artist: http://www.wrapturewirejewellery.on.ca/ )

    For the groomsmen, one got a set of Scottish crystal Scotch glasses, and the other Scottish Crystal beer mugs. They've gotten plenty of use!

    1 agrees
  34. My mom left me a vintage Stratton compact, with a gorgeous floral pattern on the lid. I carry it among the rest of my purse paraphernalia, even though I've never refilled the powder compartment. I found similar compacts on ebay and a vintage site or two for my attendants. It's a gift that they'll likely use that day and afterward. My mom isn't going to be able to be there, but in a real way, the women who will stand with me are part of her memory.
    Plus, the darn things are GORGEOUS. -grin- Look!
    http://www.shopcurious.com/content/images/product

    2 agree
  35. One of my friends, at her cousin's wedding, got an amigurumi octopus in their wedding colors. It was made by the bride.

    She showed it to me and it was the most rad thing I'd ever seen.

    2 agree
  36. I bought the jewelry, shoes, and handbag for my girls. They helped me pick them out tho because i wanted them to like them and use them again. they just had to be the right color.

    1 agrees
  37. I got my bridesmaids engraved necklaces from Things Remembered. If you're okay with spending $50 dollars on each gift.

    2 agree
  38. I'm pretty excited about the gifts we're giving our attendants for our upcoming wedding…we're having a rainbow wedding and each of us has a full spectrum of attendants, I have six bridesmaids and a man of honor, my fiance has five groomsmen, a best woman and a groomsdog. For the ladies, I picked out two sets of different shaped buttons in all seven rainbow colors. One set is the closure down the back of my wedding dress, the other I had made into rings for the girls. I'm also giving them handmade wristlet clutch purses. I picked out the beads and the fabrics (all the different rainbow colors in different prints) and beads for the wristlet and my stepmom made the purses.

    For the gents, I got my man of honor a cool belt buckle on etsy. My fiance found a bunch of cool Megaman action figures and is hand painting each of them in each of the colors…then he's going to personalize the packaging with the guys' pictures and a list of their super powers.

    Our groomsdog is getting a new leash and collar and a yellow puppy tux from etsy.

  39. For my bridesmaids, I did three different little things. First, I made them a ring that contained the swarovski crystal that we based our wedding colors off of (it's called volcano and I got it all on etsy). I made one for myself and we wore them to the wedding. Secondly, I got each of them a Lush bath bomb in their favorite scent, which I asked for a few weeks before and confused them lol. Thirdly, I gave them all a tiny bottle of Baileys vanilla cinnamon for a toast. It was not expensive at all, probably $15 per girl but very meaningful. They loved them.

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