Wedding Wednesday: The Gifts (and a rant on why you should give)

Weddings are expensive.

Not just for the bride, groom and their parents, but for everyone. Whether it’s a wedding gift, or an outfit, or bridesmaids duties, or transportation and lodging for the weekend, everything involves money. When I createdΒ  The Wedding Budget, I wanted to be sure to include a portion to give gifts to those who are volunteering their time and putting so much effort into our day. (The budget has since changed. I will make sure to update it after the wedding with the total costs).

Gifts for Hostesses
I have had three wedding showers since getting engaged: one with my in-laws, one with my friends and family, and one that my mom’s coworkers hosted. I also will have a bridesmaids luncheon hosted by my aunts the Friday before the wedding. Speaking from one who has hosted showers before, I know how expensive they can get.

So a few months ago, my mom and I decided to make an apron for each lady who helps host an event. My mom sews pretty well so we bought pre-made standard aprons and my mom bought cute fabric to match my wedding colors and then embroidered their names or initials at the top. After buying the aprons, the fabric, the wrapping paper, and the thank you cards, this project cost us about $200 for 15 aprons. Here’s a picture of us at my shower:

Gifts for Bridesmaids
My bridesmaids have been so amazing during my engagement and supportive as I plan for the wedding. In an effort to say thank you, I am giving them a little something at the bridesmaids luncheon. I plan to give them a little clutch from Anthropologie with dangling pearl earrings inside and a sweet note. I am also looking for cheap tea-towels that I can wrap them in. Anyone know where to find inexpensive tea-towels? See this fabulous example from Chewing the Cud.

Gifts for Out of Town Guests
This past weekend I bought items for the out of town guest gift. I budgeted $100 for this project, which will go in 22 hotel rooms to 45 guests. The gift would include water, granola bars, mints, chocolates, city visitor guides, and an NC postcard to mail home or take as a souvenir. As I was calculating the costs, I realized it would be very hard to stay under $100 when I consider what to put the gift in… every basket and bag I found really inflated the budget.

Then I decided to ask J’s aunt! A while back my mother-in-law told me her sister loved to sew and would love to help make something since she’s retired and lives in New Mexico, far away from the rest of the family. So, I told her if she was serious about helping, I need something to put the out-of-town gift in. She was thrilled to volunteer, bought three different types of fabric, and here is a sample of one of the bags she made:

How cute is that? It’s a little girly, but I think will go great with the wedding colors and will be a wonderful gift.

Gift to Vendors/Helpers
A few of our family friends are helping us out throughout the wedding: the two musicians who will play during the ceremony, the jazz band at our reception, the officiant, the dessert baker, my sister who photographed my bridal portraits and engagement photos, and the wedding coordinator. These are all people who have volunteered their skills/talents for free. These friends are saving us hundreds of dollars, so we plan to give each person a small gift. To some we are paying for their hotel room (ceremony musicians), to others we are going to give a small donation (jazz band), and the others we are giving giftcards or a gift basket to offer our thanks (the rest).

My advice to brides:
If people ask to help, take them up on their talents and skills. Delegating tasks and projects will make your life so much easier, especially if you’re on a DIY budget. People like to feel included and want to be apart of your special day. If someone volunteers to help, think of something that would be easy to pass along–a specific task with a deadline in mind. Like giving someone the task of decorating the reception. Or coming over to fold favors over a glass of wine. Or showing people options of dresses and getting their opinions. People enjoy weddings more when they’ve been apart of the planning process and involved in some of the decisions. So let people help you!

But make sure to thank them.

While you may think your wedding is all about you–it’s really not. It’s a lot about you, but there are so many other people who put so much time, energy and money into the day beyond yourself. And these are the people who most likely are your closest friends and family. Don’t let them feel unappreciated and ignored.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money, sometimes a simple thoughtful thank you note sometimes is enough. Sometimes it’s just structuring the wedding so your guests feel welcome and their presence appreciated. Make sure to thank each person genuinely for their hard work.

There’s nothing worse than an ungrateful bride.

Okay, okay. I’m off my soap-box. There are just two more Wednesdays before the wedding. If you are curious about part of the planning process or would like to hear something specific about the big day, please let me know! Whatever topic I don’t discuss before, I certainly can cover after the wedding, complete with pictures and all. :)

  • Amen! I haven’t been part of the wedding process, but I just recently attended a baby shower, so I understand all the planning that goes into something like that. A small gift of thanks for those that supported you or even helped out really does go a long way. I know that all those mentioned above will definitely feel appreciated.

    I’d love to hear about thoughts running through your mind. You sound unbelievably calm, but maybe its the wordpress theme? Are you excited, nervous, happy, relieved?

  • Thank you for this thoughtful post. I’ve never been a bride, but I’ve thrown several bridal showers and it always means a lot when the bride does a little something to show her appreciation.

    It’s really shocking how many brides don’t even send a thank you note, so I’m sure that your friends and family will really appreciate the thought that went into these gifts.

  • I love how thoughtful you’re being with these gifts! The guest bags are such a sweet touch, and I’m sure they’ll be remembered for a very long time. Kudos to you!