SHOWING them appreciation FOR STANDING BY YOUR SIDE
Bridesmaids are an integral part of any modern wedding. Their duties require time, commitment, and a long list of things to handle before the big day. It can be difficult to navigate those expectations without first knowing what they are. After agreeing to take up the duties, a little research might help prepare you for what’s coming in the next months.
For the bride, finding the perfect bridesmaid gifts can be just as difficult as picking the perfect bridesmaids. The options are overwhelming and it’s hard to tell what’s going make the best impression without proving to be just another item to stash on the shelf.
Take a deep breath, remember that weddings are supposed to be fun, and then dive into our ultimate guide to bridesmaids. We’ll tackle the history, duties, and expectations for each bridesmaid in the wedding party before giving you the most unique, unforgettable gift ideas sure to please everyone in your crowd.
THE UNLIKELY HISTORY of bridesmaids
Odds are, if you’ve ever been to a wedding or in a wedding, you are familiar with the idea of bridesmaids. It’s one of the most popular bridal traditions in the western world and it plays an important part in many eastern wedding traditions as well.
Today, bridesmaids are synonymous with bridal showers, matching gowns, and taking care of any last-minute issues or problems the bride might face on her big day. This hasn’t always been the case, however.
The role they’ve played in weddings throughout history hasn’t always been as glamorous or as altruistic as it is now. The truth is, we don’t entirely know the full origins of this tradition. However, historians have managed to pinpoint a few points in history that can be used to track early traces of the traditions we know today.
Many of our modern traditions have roots in ancient Rome. However, the origins might surprise you. Today, we invite our closest friends and families to the wedding to share our day. Originally, ten witnesses were required for the Roman ritual ‘confarreatio' when the couple recited sacred vows. While not a traditional bridal party we see today, this certainly may be the proto version of the tradition.
In this era, brides were expected to travel great distances to meet their husband for the wedding, bringing their dowry - property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage - with them.
Because carrying this much money on the open road was dangerous, it was customary for the bridesmaids accompanying the bride to dress identical to her, thus confusing any would-be robbers or kidnappers along the roads. Sounds like today’s tradition of matching dresses, doesn’t it?
Another early account that may be the origin of the bridesmaid practices comes from the book of Genesis in the Judeo-Christian Bible. When Jacob – Patriarch of the Israelites – married each of his two wives, both Rachel and Leah brought a female maid with them.
In this case, it was a literal servant of the bride that was bestowed to the household after the wedding ceremony.
OTHER EARLY TRADITIONS
Ever wonder why brides and bridesmaids carry bouquets? It wasn’t about styles so much as superstition. Bridesmaid carried small banquets of fragrant herbs (including garlic!) to ward off evil spirits. And, now that we think about it, perhaps to mask body odor as well.
It wasn’t until the Victorian era that bridesmaids were recognizable to those today. Queen Victoria carried a small bunch of her favorite flowers at her own wedding, sparking the trend of pretty blossoms filling those bouquets.
THE maid of honor
Much like the bridesmaids, the role of maid of honor has changed much over the years as well. While originally, the primary bridesmaid might have overseen the bride’s “dow-purse,” or dowry, today the maid of honor has the responsibility of holding her bouquet for the ceremony instead.
Looking back to the Romans, the matron of honor (a woman who was or had been married) held an entirely different purpose then; she was a moral role model, representing fidelity and deference in marriage. She also held an important role in the wedding ceremony: joining the right hands of the bride a groom.
These days, the maid of honor has a very different role than those earlier incarnations. Her modern role is the primary source of support before, during, and after the wedding. But what exactly does that mean? And what does the maid of honor do, anyway?
Assists the bride
The maid of honor helps the bride with any wedding planning she needs, offering advice on decisions like colors, catering, or anything else. She also helps with any difficult family issues that arise.
Show of support
She’s someone the bride can lean on when things feel stressful or overwhelming.
The maid of honor oversees planning the bridal shower, though usually with the help of the other bridesmaids. She’ll oversee the bachelorette party as well!
Makes a toast
At the wedding or rehearsal dinner, the maid of honor makes a customary toast or speech in honor of the bride.
Wedding day go-to girl
On the day of the wedding, she helps with bride get ready and may oversee any last-minute issues that arise during that time. (Broken zippers? Torn hems? Lost shoes? These last-minute emergencies are where the maid of honor typically excels!)
In the United States, a legal marriage certificate requires signatures from witnesses. The maid of honor is often asked to be one of those who sign the legal document.
When choosing a maid of honor, the bride considers all these factors for the best fit. In many cases, a best friend or close family member is chosen for the honor but occasionally there may be a better fit for the role. Beyond these special tasks, the maid of honor also does everything the other bridesmaids do as well.
MODERN bridesmaid DUTIES
Where does that leave the role of modern bridesmaids? They also have important duties when it comes down to the wedding. There’s more to the task than simply showing up for the wedding ceremony and making the bride look good. Expectations for modern bridesmaids can vary depending on the wedding plans of the couple but the next time you’re offered the spot, be prepared to tackle these tasks!
BUY A DRESS
This is the most overt responsibility for a bridesmaid. Each bridesmaid should expect to purchase her own dress provided it isn’t cost-prohibitive or too extravagant beyond budgetary restrictions. A bridesmaid may be asked to assist in choosing the style of dress as well.
Many brides are happy to have input on what the bridal party would be most comfortable wearing but, in the end, the choice is at their discretion.
BE PREPARED TO PICK UP THE EXTRAS
Being a bridesmaid is an extra expense in several ways. There’s more than just the dress to consider for the big day. Purchasing shoes, jewelry, and any other small items needed to accessorize the dress may be necessary to complete the desired look.
There’s also the added expense of having hair and make-up done; often the bride will schedule for the services day of the wedding but it’s generally the responsibility of the bridesmaid to pay for them.
HELP PLAN THE PARTIES
Weddings are a lot of work beyond the “big day.” Much of the planning is done behind the scenes and requires a group effort to make it all happen. Bridesmaids may not be involved in planning the actual ceremony, but they are expected to help plan events leading up to the wedding.
For example, the bachelorette party, the bridal shower, and sometimes even the rehearsal dinner may need all hands on deck, as it were, to plan.
SHOW UP FOR THE FESTIVITIES
Part of the fun of being a bridesmaid is being part of all the events. Accepting the position means showing up for everything. Yes, everything. This includes any rehearsals, bridal fittings, showers, bachelorette parties, and anything else that might be part of the pre-wedding events.
There are exceptions to this rule based on geographic proximity or major health and personal conflicts. Otherwise, a bridesmaid should be there.
DANCE AT THE WEDDING
This is a responsibility not often outlined but just as important as any other. In many cases, wedding guests may be too reserved or hesitant to be the first on the dance floor. That often falls on the bridesmaids and groomsmen to take the first step and help the other guests unwind.
Trust us, the bride and groom will thank them for their services!
GIVE A SHOWER & WEDDING GIFT
More expenses but, more importantly, something to show appreciation and well-wishes for the bride and groom. Gift giving for both occasions is the right thing to do, even if one gift is significantly smaller than the other.
If finances are a concern, there’s always the option of sharing the expenses of a gift with another person or persons that may be able to help spread costs.
Beyond being physically present at events, one of the biggest expectations of bridesmaids is that they should simply be there for the bride in whatever she needs. Planning a wedding can be incredibly stressful.
Any friend may need a little more support and a shoulder to lean on just in case anything goes wrong.
BRIDESMAID gifting GUIDE
There’s no understating the importance of your bridal party. Weddings can be big, stressful, expensive, and time-consuming for everyone involved. Thank goodness your bridal party is with you every step of the way. To long hours stressing over the perfect colors or catering menu down to the most important choice – the dress itself – they’ll be there.
What better way to thank them than with the best gift possible? But with all the available options out there, how do you narrow down that perfect gift? What are the latest gift trends to keep an eye on and with ones never go out of style? How do you pick something that represents the amazing and unique women in your life?
We’ve put in the research to answer that question and more. First, let’s tackle the most popular bridal gift trends for 2020 and beyond.
Few things say weddings like monograms. Not only does the tradition of monogrammed wedding gifts goes back centuries, but it also adds a subtle but thoughtful personalized touch to any gift you might choose.
There are no wrong items to have monogrammed, though we recommend jewelry, clothing, or other accessories.
Giving the gift of wine (or liquor) is an easy option that has mass appeal. It’s probably why it’s so popular! If not gifting alcohol directly, many wedding traditions revolve around a toast or having a drink. You’ll find many alcohol-related items for all your bachelorette party and wedding day needs.
Alcohol may not be the right gift for your bridal party. While this may cut the number of popular gift options, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an issue. We’ve included non-alcoholic beverages as part of our list just for you!
Whether it’s a gift bag, box, or even basket, a specially curated selection of items for each bridesmaid is a growing trend. These boxes can include just about everything from edible items to self-care collections.
With these, it’s easy to add a little individualism to each one, swapping out similar items that are better suited for each bridesmaid.
One of the most sought after and valuable gems through history, it’s no surprise that pearls have long been a favorite for bridal gifts. You’ll find them on gowns, veils, tiaras, rings, necklaces, and even on bags and clutches.
They aren’t only for the bride, however. Pearls make a lovely bridesmaid’s gift as well.
Bridesmaids are no longer only female. Having a multi-gendered bridal party has become a more widely accepted practice in the last decade. Choosing to have male bridesmaids or nonbinary members of your bridal party, it may push you to think outside the box a bit more on your gifts.
However, there are plenty of inclusive options that will help you make that selection!
This is one of the more fun traditions for bridesmaid gifting. It’s traditional to gift each bridesmaid with an identical or similar item so that they all match. This can come down to matching jewelry, accessories, or clothing items in the same color or complementary colors all at the bride’s discretion.
Like any tradition, this isn’t necessary. You may find that your bridesmaids have contrasting tastes and wholly personalized gifts are better suited for them.
MAID OF HONOR GIFTS
The exception to this is the maid of honor. It’s widely accepted that her gift will have something slightly more intimate or special than the rest of the bridesmaids, acknowledging her special role in the bridal party.
DON'T FORGET THE FLOWER GIRL
While she’s not likely to be involved at the bachelorette party, don’t forget to include the flower girl in your gifting! Probably too young to enjoy most of the traditional gifts, you can consider a gift basket with more age-appropriate items and perhaps slightly less expensive version of any accessories or jewelry you include for the other members of the bridal party.
REMEMBER YOUR BUDGET
When you’re considering your budget for each bridesmaid gift, think about two factors: how much your budget will allow and how much they are spending to be part of your wedding. You don’t need to worry about recouping their costs but finding a nice sweet spot that highlights that you appreciate their hard work and dedication to your wedding.
General prices for gifts can range anywhere from $75 to $150 per person.
25 UNFORGETTABLE bridesmaids gifts
Stand out with these fantastic bridesmaid gifts ideas that will delight your bridal party! Our guide blends traditional gifts with some more modern flair, allowing options that will suit just about any bride and her aesthetic. Moreover, anything we recommend in this list can be mix-and-matched together to create the perfect bridesmaid gift basket for your wedding party!
So here are our favorite gifts for your best girls!
Wedding accessories can be difficult to match perfectly, especially if you have a large group of bridesmaids to wrangle. One way to take some of the stress off your bridal party is to find gifts that serve double duty as wedding accessories as well.
Choose a color that compliments the bridal dresses or the wedding colors and add gold or silver embossing and you’re well on your way to a thoughtful, versatile present. A small, chic bag can make for a perfect purse on the wedding day and any other special occasion.
KIMONO STYLE ROBES
What better way to spend the wedding day than lounging in matching robes while getting your hair done and sipping champagne? Available in shades that are sure to match your wedding colors, kimono style satin robes are fashionable accessories to gift your entire party. Even better, you can have them customized with names across the front for a unique, reusable gift.
Trust us, these are an absolute hit for the entire bridal party. Not only do they provide a comfortable way to spend time getting ready pre-wedding, but they can also offer a cute photo opportunity for the event itself. They are stylish, inexpensive option for bridal favors that everyone will love.
Your wedding day can be busy and it’s easy to forget the basics – like hydration! Each clear acrylic tumbler comes with a clear straw, a metallic lid in the color of your choice, and is personalized with a name or word in a pretty white vinyl script font.
These are great matching gift ideas that are both durable and likely to be something your bridesmaids use regularly after the event.
Compact mirrors are a unique bridal party gift for bridesmaids, flower girls or mothers of the bride and groom! These gorgeous monogram compact mirror gifts come with a bold metallic gold monogram initial on top.
They can even be tucked inside a custom clutch to be used in a pinch during the wedding.
No matter the venue, predicting the weather can feel like an impossible task. Will it be warm? Breezy? Even in an indoor wedding, you’re always factoring in the temperature of the building for the guests. For a winter, fall, or even early spring wedding, it may help your bridesmaids to have a little extra protection from the elements.
Pashmina scarves are a fantastic gift for bridesmaids, especially when they come in complimentary wedding colors so your bridal party can wear them to the reception (or just wear them home!). What’s even better? They can be worn long after the festivities come to an end, serving as a reminder of your big day. There’s something to be said for practical gifts, after all!
And, of course, you can have then personalized with each bridesmaid’s initials for that special touch!
Practical gifts are often overlooked in the wedding process. However, you may find that those are the ones best remembered by those who receive them. A large, sturdy weekender bag with each bridesmaid’s initials makes a wonderful unisex option for your bridal party.
These provide a great way for your bridesmaids to carry all their wedding paraphernalia safely to the venue without losing anything important – we know a pair of missing shoes or even hairspray and derail the day faster than the weather.
With the popularity of monogrammed accessories, why not combine the trend with a timeless piece of jewelry for your bridesmaids? The simple design of this pendant is an elegant addition to anyone’s wardrobe while also being an excellent option for bridesmaid accessories.
Anyone whose been in a wedding can attest that finding the perfect jewelry for that bridesmaid dress is always a stressful experience. Why not take some of the guesswork out of the equation with a piece like this one? These personalized necklaces will look stunning on the bridesmaids at the wedding, whatever style you choose.
Monograms are a charming choice and a personalized gift that will stay in style long after the wedding.
You can’t go wrong with a candle! Another of the less traditional gifts on our list, scented candles appeal to just about everyone. The trick is often finding a scent that speaks to them. Take some of the guesswork out of it by choosing a candle inspired by the western zodiac! Celebrate the uniqueness of each bridesmaid with a candle that matches with her astrological sign.
These earthy scents are great to take home and they’ll be able to relieve their favorite wedding memories each time they set it to burn.
If you’re leaning away from traditional gifts, why not try something that combines useful household items like coasters with a personalized touch? These polaroid-shaped coasters allow for small photos to be tucked inside, giving them the look of classic polaroid photos. They offer little reminders of your friendship and gratitude to the friends helping you along the way.
We recommend putting photos from the bachelorette party (or even the bridal shower!) in the coasters. With this, you can customize each set for a different bridesmaid.
What goes better with an adorable set of pajamas than a coordinated sleep mask? They add a little luxury to anyone’s nighttime routine and, depending on the personalization you choose, can add a little humor
to the evening. We all know it’s important to get a good night’s sleep the night before any special occasion (especially one as important as your wedding), so adding a cute sleep mask to your gifts is a great way to add that subtle reminder to your bridal party without feeling like a bridezilla.
They’re also great for you, because who needs a good night’s sleep more than the bride herself?
If anyone from your bridal party is traveling from out of town, there is a less than zero chance that someone may be forgetting something. With all the bustle of last-minute preparation, it may be hard for anyone to slip out and pick up extra shampoo or lotion.
Why not make sure they have the basics by snagging a luxury toiletry kit like this one? If you’d like to add an even more personal touch, you can make your own collection of travel-sized goodies and put them in a small monogrammed bag for each bridesmaid!
They also offer sets designed for men, making sure you’ll have something for anyone in your bridal party.
Perfect for the bridal shower and bachelorette night out, these custom hand-painted denim jackets are a fashionable alternative to the traditional pink sash and tiara. If you’re looking to buck traditional wedding attire, they can be worn to the reception with dresses. Your wedding party will stand out in these!
Given the custom nature of these jackets, you can have your bridesmaids’ names or anything else relevant added to the back of each. With a little creativity, you can create something your bridesmaids will incorporate in their daily wardrobe!
We love personalized gifts. They have personality and add something unique to the wedding experience. If monograms aren’t your style but you like the idea of customized jewelry, a personalized name necklace is an excellent alternative.
These are perfect to unveil before the rehearsal dinner, adding a little bit of uniformity among the entire bridal party for the night. You can find them in gold, silver, or even rose gold.
As we mentioned, pearls are always appropriate for wedding gifts. Whether in the form of bracelets, necklaces, pendants, or a pair of earrings like this gorgeous pair, the gift of jewelry keeps on giving.
If you’d like to blend traditional with a modern touch, you can experiment with the shape or style of the accessories you choose. Pearl earrings are a unique way to accessorize any bridesmaid dress!
Between rehearsal dinners, wedding photos, the reception, and the ceremony itself, you and bridesmaids will be spending a lot of time on your feet. Tucking a pair of these foldable flats into your bridesmaids’ gifts is a great way to show your appreciation – and your sympathy – for spending long hours in heels without getting a good chance to rest.
They come in an assortment of colors to match those dresses and they’re tiny enough to be stashed just about anywhere! They’ll be a great pair of rescue flats for everyone by the time the music starts and the dance floor gets a little crowded at the reception. Your bridesmaids will certainly appreciate you thinking of them and their comfort even at a time like this.
Monogrammed (or personalized) stemless wine glasses are a staple of bachelorette gifts. With these on your shelf, no one is going to lose track of their drinks even if the night gets a little exciting. Even nondrinkers can enjoy using them at home for any beverage of their choice.
If you’d prefer, you can also get a plastic tumbler version that comes with a lid and straw if you have any accident-prone members of your party.
LUSH BATH BOMBS
We love Lush. It’s a cruelty-free, all-natural cosmetic brand that uses 100% vegetarian and ethically sourced ingredients. Each item is handmade and hand packed to ensure the highest quality, making this Hello Gorgeous Set smell delicious and make your skin feel glorious.
The whole set comes in a colorful, reusable box that’s perfect for gifting!
If you aren’t sure what to get the girls who have everything, gift cards offer an excellent alternative to a physical gift. These can come in handy if you have members of the bridal party traveling long distances without a lot of luggage space or you’re hosting a destination wedding and don’t have much spare room yourself.
While it may seem like these aren’t as personal as some of the other presents, gift cards are incredibly versatile because they allow the receiver to choose something for themselves. They’re also a nice gesture to tuck inside a thank you card once the wedding planning is done.
DIY SPA DAY GIFT BASKET
Everyone likes to feel pampered. However, sometimes a full day at the spa just isn’t an option. Thankfully there are plenty of stay-at-home substitutes that are just as refreshing (and a little more affordable) for a larger group.
A gift basket can come with a variety of goodies that make a soothing, luxurious afternoon at home. Packed with spa products like bath salts, cozy slippers, lotions, soaps, and other scented items. Paired with a bottle of wine or even a nice thank you card, you’ve given your bridesmaids a wonderful way to unwind after the excitement of a busy wedding weekend!
BOTTLE OF WINE
Alcohol is one of the most ubiquitous gifts in our modern culture. It can be the perfect gift for any occasion, including as part of your bridesmaid gifts. A popular trend in recent times involves using a bottle of wine to ask your bridesmaids to be in your wedding. With the use of custom wine labels, you have a sweet, incredibly thoughtful way to ask your favorite people to be part of your most important day.
While the most expensive wine isn’t always the best option for the occasion, you may find that choosing wine based on each bridesmaid’s taste will add a little variation to your selection. Another option? Packaging up a nice bottle of Prosecco for the occasion. A little bubbly makes everything more exciting, doesn’t it?
This option may not be for everyone, but they certainly make a delicious little treat for your bridesmaids discover later! And yes, they absolutely are made with real liquor (and have an alcohol content of 40%!). We think these are such an unusual choice they are sure to make an impression on the recipient, especially those who enjoy the occasional fancy cocktail!
If you’re stepping away from traditional wedding practices but want to offer a more playful gift, these alcoholic gummies are a unique way to say thank you to the women who stood with you on the biggest day of your life.
They also offer non-alcoholic options!
Looking for more nontraditional ideas? For more unique jewelry, why not look at something that combines a piece of each bridesmaid into a gorgeous pendant? With a personalized birthstone necklace, you choose the gems correlating to the birthdates of your bridesmaids and have them set in a pendant.
Best suited for a small bridal party, you can select up to five birthstones to represent your bridal party. This is also a very subtle and unique piece of jewelry that’s both meaningful and stylish for everyone.
For bridesmaids who have been part of your life for as long as you can remember (or even when you’re including family members in your bridal party), you may want to consider choosing a more intimate gift.
Why not put together a celebration of your favorite adventures and memories shared through your favorite photos?
COFFEE OR TEA BASKET
There are gift baskets for just about everything, including options for a caffeine addict. These thoughtful arrangements of various blends of coffee, tea, and chocolate are a charming gift for those looking for an alternative to alcoholic options or a bridal party composed largely of introverts. Coffee and tea are such inherently cozy beverages for a cold day, a coffee or tea basket is the perfect selection to gift for a wedding in the winter or late fall.
When choosing a gift, you may find that there is no one-size-fits-all for the bridesmaids in your party. That’s okay. You can always mix-and-match based on their tastes and interests. It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure that each is approximately the same value. Otherwise, do not feel constrained by picking a single gift to represent them all.
COZY PAJAMA SET
Getting a good night’s sleep becomes a responsibility on the night before the wedding. Why not sleep in absolute comfort with a pair of silky pajamas that look as comfortable as they feel! With matching pajamas, the entire bridal party can enjoy a little luxury before the busy day ahead. As sleepover style festivities become more popular, these can also do double-duty for the bachelorette party.
If your bridal party isn’t composed of just women, you can check out these unisex flannel options that will work for everyone in your group! These flannel pajamas are a good choice for cold-weather weddings as well.
WHEN to gift THE BRIDESMAIDS
Once you’ve made selections for each bridesmaid, you may be wondering when (in all the delightful chaos leading up to the wedding) the best time to present these gifts might be. This is another of those nebulous traditions that don’t have a single correct answer.
The most obvious choice is to present the gifts on the day of the wedding, whether at brunch or lunch before the ceremony or while you’re all getting ready together. The rehearsal dinner is another good time, especially if you are gifting to other members of your family as well.
You can also host a separate meal for the bridesmaids in the days or weeks leading up to the wedding. It might be a more intimate occasion for gift-giving if you’d like to avoid the crowd.
The gifts themselves may dictate when the best time is. If you’re giving them something you expect to be worn at the wedding – cufflinks, jewelry, any accessories – be sure to do that so that they have enough time to plan their wardrobe around those items.
Some brides may choose to split the gift-giving between multiple events. For example, if you have a sleepover-style bachelorette party it may be the best time to present any sleepwear or items relevant to those festivities. Then you can wait to closer to the date to give any other items.
CELEBRATE your bridesmaids IN STYLE
Planning a wedding is no easy task. It takes time, money, and a host of responsibilities. Moreover, it’s not an endeavor that can be done alone. To adapt a popular saying: no bride is an island. That’s what the bridesmaids and the maid of honor are there to do: help the bride make it through.
Still, it can be an incredibly stressful time. It’s all too easy to get caught up into what you should do as part of your wedding or feel trapped in traditional expectations. Remember, this is your day. Whatever else, you do your wedding your way. The day is meant to be fun and a time of celebration. With the right planning and the perfect bridal party at your back, you’re well on your way to the perfect wedding.
March 25, 2020 by Conor Daniels