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Bridesmaid Gifts
Yes, you do need to get your bridesmaids a little something. A little something to say thank you for flying across the country, buying dresses and shoes they otherwise have no need for, being really nice to your socially awkward cousins etc. Of course, your bridesmaids are happy to fulfill their duties but it is still nice to reward them for their support. So, what is the perfect gift? First, try to avoid gifts that are actually duties in disguise. By this I mean jewelry, purses, and other matching accessories they are now expected to wear with their dresses on the big day. You might think you are thoughtfully completing their looks but in their minds it is just another addition to the list of things they may get yelled at for forgetting. Also, keep in mind that many of your bridesmaids may have traveled for your wedding so bulky gifts (like the very fluffy and thus giant bathrobe I once received) can become a packing burden as can fragile items like frames or candles.

Alright, so what CAN you give? Google bridesmaid gifts and you’ll find pages full of monogrammed makeup bags and engraved compact mirrors. Not terrible things to receive but not very original either. You don’t want your maids to come across your gift a year later and remember they got it at a wedding; you want them to remember they got it at your wedding. Go for something personal, something that will remind your girls of you - a copy of your favorite book, a few of your favorite movies, a mix CD of songs you rocked out to during your bachelorette party. Magazine subscriptions are also a great idea. Who doesn’t love magazines? This way they will think of you every month and the only thing extra they will have to pack on the way home is some reading material for the flight.

Your gifts do not have to be expensive but you should take into account how much your bridesmaids have shelled out for the event. If they have had to buy plane tickets and an expensive dress then they probably deserve more than a key chain. I received a gorgeous cashmere wrap as a bridesmaid gift and could not have been happier. We were not forced to wear them which excludes them from the duties in disguise gifts mentioned above, but when a huge thunder storm broke out mid reception I was quite happy to have it. A far superior option to throwing on my date’s tux jacket, I have been able to wear it many times since and each time reminds me of what a blast I had at the reception.

And when should you present your bridesmaids with their carefully selected extremely thoughtful gifts? Most say you should give them at the rehearsal dinner, but you don’t have to. I think this can be a bit awkward, perhaps because I personally hate opening gifts in front of rooms full of people. My enthusiasm just always seem fake. But there are other more universal reasons to avoid the rehearsal dinner presentation. Your dinner is sure to be full of tons touching, hilarious toasts about you and your beau. Naturally all your friends and relatives love you and want to relay charmingly embarrassing stories about your past. Well, you may have quite and embarrassing past and consequently these toasts tend to go on for a while. No need to add a formal presentation of gifts to the schedule. Everyone needs their beauty sleep for the big event the next day and tearful bridesmaids will no doubt prolong the evening. And anyway, you love your bridesmaids but it is your wedding. Go ahead and keep the spotlight on yourself.

Many people do a bridesmaid lunch the day before the wedding. Or maybe you are all getting your nails done. These are great opportunities to give your gifts in an intimate setting. You can all cry and tell each other you really are the best best friends a girl could want with only the waiters and manicurists around to roll their eyes. Perfect! And if weepy presentations aren’t you’re thing even in private, don’t worry. You don’t have to make one at all. You can also leave the gifts in the girls’ rooms with a note. Or, if you have just a few bridesmaids you can give them individually. This allows you to say something special to each one. As we all know from quests for last minute birthday gifts or day of the party dresses, when you desperately need that one perfect item, it is impossibly hard to find. Try not to wait until the last minute when bridesmaid gifts will be sent to the bottom of the list as you try to find a polite way to tell your fiancé’s aunt that it is really not necessary for her to perform an original song at the reception. So try to keep an eye out along the way so you don’t miss that perfect gift.

- Glynn Connolly

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