Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I suppose you could call it the 'Bridget Jones' Diary' (for the wedding industry); I've created it really as a way for me to vent about my upcoming nuptials without boring my nearest and dearest about things that, well, just aren't that important to them but are all I seem to think about now I'm a fully fledged member of the Engagement Club.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bridal Party Gifts....Traditional or Unconventional?

Photography by James Green Studio

I've a way off my big day, just over 18 months to be honest. But my thoughts turned to my bridesmaids. Well, not just my bridesmaids but bridesmaids in general.

When I was a bridesmaid, I received a beautiful topaz and diamond necklace and I know people who have received flowers, champagne and jewellery as a token of appreciation but are they still an acceptable gift nowadays or are your right-hand girls (or boys) expecting something a little more unique?

Even though I am a bride on a budget, I still want to thank everyone who is helping me now, and will have helped come April 2013, make our day extra special.

Christmases, birthdays and in general, I am an easy person to buy a gift for. I'm grateful, appreciative and love to receive chocolate (not least because I'm a raving chocoholic), flowers, yes, even the £2 a bunch kind from the local supermarket, a gift voucher or cash. I know some people are of the opinion that a gift voucher is a bit of a cop out as it doesn't show any thought, as is the cash giving option, but I shall bore you with an example.

For our engagement, we received cash - not that we actually expected anything so it did come as a lovely surprise! Some people apologised, actually apologised for "just giving money". I don't understand why. With the money we received, we clubbed it together to buy a clay chimenea for our back garden and a large plant pot to rehouse our Devil's Ivy (which is currently taking over our hallway now it has more room to grow. Come see for yourself, seriously, it's like walking through a jungle before heading upstairs to bed). We'd wanted a chimenea for ages but it's one of those items that you sometimes don't have the spare cash to go out and buy for yourself. We also have a gift voucher for one of my favourite shops - Swags & Tails in Waltham, near Grimsby, Lincolnshire. They get new deliveries of different items every 3-4 weeks and we've yet to choose something to spend it on but I can't wait! Finally, me and Mr S have been saying for about a year now that we'd like a wood-burning fire but we've never gotten round to it for various reasons; time and lack of funds being just two but very main reasons. As a belated engagement gift, and when we get round to actually looking, we're having a contribution to our wood-burner.

So there you go, our loved ones who "just gave money" or a gift voucher have indeed made us very happy as we have things we couldn't have afforded to go and get ourselves and we're more than grateful for that.

Photography by James Green Studio
The point of that little ramble is to make brides think; do we buy our bridal party's 'thank you' gifts with something traditional, that maybe we would be happy receiving ourselves? Something like a bouquet of flowers, or a nice piece of jewellery that can maybe be worn on the day of the wedding? How about a gift voucher for them to book themselves in to receive a long needed relaxing massage, facial or pedicure. After all, they don't have a luxurious honeymoon planned to de-stress after the months of planning like us!

Or, do we try and tailor make their gifts to suit their personalities? You can even get things engraved with names and dates. Maybe one of your girls is like me and is a chocolate fiend. You could buy a basket or box, line it with tissue paper (colour to match your colour scheme to tie it in with the wedding day) and fill it with chocolatey goodness.

Same applies to wine lovers, cheese lovers, makeup or beauty babes, health freaks - you could use fruit, a voucher for a personal trainer session etc.

If one of your bridesmaids is usually a little bit short of cash, why not treat them to something you know they'd love but would never splash out on themselves. Maybe a lush pair of shoes, or a designer handbag, obviously depending on your budget.

How about a Pandora (or other charm bracelet manufacturer) bead or charm? It combines being traditional - the gift of a piece of jewellery - but also being able to personalise your gift with the type of charm or bead you choose for her.

Depending on when you hold your wedding, bridesmaids standing around all day in the summer months may appreciate a pretty fan, or for those bridesmaids you have wearing maybe strapless or spaghetti-strap dresses in the winter or cooler months, a wrap or bolero may be a nice and appreciated touch.

In all fairness, I do think that being asked to be a bridesmaid is supposed to be an honour and although I may be sounding a bit Bridezilla here, I'm actually just turning the tables and thinking about if it was me being a bridesmaid for someone else. I'd not expect a gift. Especially if the bride hasn't asked for the maids to pay for anything themselves. But to be perfectly honest, I think the idea of 'thank you' gifts can spiral out of control. If your bridesmaids are the type that expect you to spend an arm and a leg and aren't quite accustomed to the concept of a 'token of appreciation', especially if she knows you're on a budget, then maybe you should re-think whether that person is the right person for the job; the one who really knows you and will be there to support you through those smiles, memories and laughter and again through the tears, tantrums and late DIY nights!

If you have any other ideas or have been a bridesmaid who received an amazing (or not so amazing) gift, leave a comment to let me know! Same applies to all brides out there; what did you, or what are you going to be giving your girls?

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