For my second installment of "Ask Annie", I received a question from reader Rebecca:
"I must say, I love your blog. I am not engaged, but I love looking at all the gorgeous pictures you post. Pretty much all my best friends are getting married this year, and I could use some advice. I have no idea what a good gift idea for a bride is. I am in three weddings, one as maid of honor and two as bridesmaid, and am at a loss as to what to get. Any ideas? Would love to hear if you have any sugestions as you seem to be an expert at weddings."
As a recent bride myself, and a current bridesmaid, I can appreciate this gift dilemma from both sides. As far as thewedding gift goes, I say stick to the registry, since the couple has taken the time (sometimes lots of time) selecting items that they want to make a home. Maybe you can suss her out and see which gifts she really loves or wants that haven't already been purchased. Some of the items I wanted most were ignored on our registry.
Now on to your question of what to gift a bride when you are a maid of honor or a bridesmaid. The bride has chosen you to stand next to her on one of the biggest days of her life, and it is a huge honor as well responsibility. You will most likely be spending money on your bridesmaids dress, shoes, an engagement gift, a bridal shower gift, a wedding gift, travel to and from the wedding, and possibly accommodations. I think when it comes to your personal gift to the bride, keeping it simple, memorable and personal is the best bet. So beyond the ever popular framed photo of the two of you (a classic never goes out of syle!), Here's some ideas that won't break the bank but still say "I love you as a friend and am so happy to be a part of your special day and your life."
Teacup Tradition: I love this. If you ask your mother or grandmother about this I'm sure they will have some teacups they received when they were engaged! The first present I received after arriving home from our San Francisco trip where we got engaged was a Tiffany teacup and saucer from my best friend and future maid of honor. She explained that it was an old tradition to give your friend a teacup when she gets engaged. According to Kristina Seleshanko, author of Carry Me Over the Threshold: A Christian Guide to Wedding Traditions, "The story accompanying this tradition involves a sailor who departed for an extended trip; before leaving he gave his bride-to-be a china teacup and asked her to drink from it daily, saying "If I am unfaithful, the cup will fill to overflowing, and the tea pouring over the sides will crack the china." This story is almost certainly mythical." This would make an excellent present for a more traditional bride, a tea lover, or a lover of all things vintage.The Tiffany & Co. Summer teacup, $60 (this is the adorable one I got)
A Wedding Scrapbook: Not just any scapbook, but Our Wedding Scrapbook by Darcy Miller, Editor of Martha Stewart Weddings. This would be such a thoughtful gift - I know I cherish mine and can't wait to actually fill it out. Different than a photo album or labor intensive scrapbook album, Our Wedding Scrapbook has adorable fill-in pages with pages for engagement details, the planning process, pictures of your bouquet, your cake, your honeymoon snaps, front page of the paper from your wedding day and lots more. Any bride would love it, especially those who wish they were crafty but don't have the time or energy to put into a huge wedding scrapbook. Pages from a filled in "Our Wedding Scrapbook", $20
A Massage Gift Certificate: The ultimate, can't-go-wrong, perfect gift for any bride after months of stressful wedding planning and crouching over DIY projects. She'll love you forever! Even better would be massages for you and her - a good way to bond together and have some girl time once she returns from her honeymoon! Check out SpaFinder for spas and specials in your area.
A Honeymoon Basket: A bride used to go off on her honeymoon with a whole new "trousseau" - basically a wardrobe for her new life, and this included her honeymoon clothes. Nowadays this tradition is non-existent. A great gift idea could be items for her honeymoon - just married flip flops, a favorite beach book of yours, an underwater disposable camera for the pool/ocean (because digital camera just don't do water), cute large beach blanket, a nice SPF sunscreen, some after sun lotion. You could even throw in some cheap fun sunglasses since everyone seems to lose these on vacation. These are the little things that every bride is running around at the last minute trying to find or to purchase, so she'll find it super helpful! Make your own to save money, or splurge on a pre-assembled gift basket like these from Navy and Lavender. This also makes a great Bridal Shower gift.Beach Bum basket from Navy and Lavender, $75 Jet Setter basket from Navy and Lavender, $95
Stationery With Her New Name: This is a super thoughtful (and inexpensive) gift for the Bride. Personalize stationery at sites like The Stationery Studio or Scribe Time where you can choose from hundreds of designs and customize to fit the bride to a "T". Be sure and find out how she plans to change (or not change) her name after the wedding though!Choose your own font, motif, and monogram on sets of embossed notes by Classic Impressions at Scribe Time, $34 for 50. (They did mine and I love them!)
A Fun Bath Set:The Bridal Party by Philosophy is a cute little gift for the bath loving bride to unwind with. With three different shower/bath gels in scents all inspired by wedding traditions like wedding cake, bubbly, and bridal bouquet. And they come in a cute box with that adorable "kids getting married" picture.The Bridal Party by Philosophy, $30