Your bridesmaids have been there for you 24/7—trooping from store to store to look at wedding dresses, writing out invitation envelopes until their hands got cramps, patiently listening to you complain about your sister, the diva MOH. They're truly the best! Thank them for their friendship and support with a fabulous gift they'll love and want to use. Here's the lowdown on bridesmaids' presents, from how much to spend, to what to give, and when.
How much should you spend?
When you started the whole crazy-wonderful adventure called wedding planning, you hopefully accounted for bridal party gifts in your budget. (Your groom should give something nice to his guys as well.) Your gift doesn't have to be expensive—there are tons of great choices as low as $20—but the gift should be thoughtful and appropriate, and should say, "You're special to me." How much you spend depends not only on your budget but the number of girls in your party. Don't wait until the last minute to order online, especially if you're looking to avoid express shipping charges.
When should you distribute the presents?
Most brides give out their gifts during an intimate get-together, such as the rehearsal dinner or while getting ready on the wedding day, if there's time. (Don't distribute at the bachelorette party when they'll be too many people, most of whom won't be receiving gifts.) It also depends on what the gift is: If it's something bulky, it's best to distribute when everyone has their car, which may not be the case on your wedding day. Wrap the gift or put it in a pretty bag with a handwritten note of thanks. Make a heartfelt toast to the girls about what they mean to you then hand out their gifts.
What are some gift ideas?
Getting the same present for each bridesmaid is the norm. It acknowledges each girl belongs to an exclusive group—your bridal party! To make the gift even more special, you could personalize each item with the bridesmaid's monogram; depending on what it is, use either her first name initial or her first and last name initials. (A gift that says "bridesmaid" has a limited shelf life.) A couple of classic gifts that can be personalized: compact mirrors, overnight or cosmetics bags, initial jewelry, and robes. Not into monogrammed gifts? Consider leather cell phone cases, crystal earrings, cashmere wraps, sunglasses, portable speakers, coffee-table books in a subject each is passionate about like Art-Deco furniture or musical theater.
Where can you find the perfect gift?
You can find appropriate gifts just about anywhere, from local boutiques to home-furnishings stores. Also take a look at a few of our online favorites: Etsy.com is known for handmade and vintage items, from clothing to crafts; momastore.org has innovative, well-designed products like totes, champagne flutes, and objets d'art, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art; anthropologie.com is the place to go for fun, affordable jewelry and home items; and katespade.com, which has a "gifts for the bridesmaid" category, such as cute jewelry boxes, glitter sneakers, and flasks.