Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Solution #1: Pay for the bridesmaid dress in lieu of an impractical bridesmaid gift

First, I want to thank everyone for (a) reading this (please keep coming back and tell your friends!!) and (b) sending your thoughts. I love hearing about your experiences, and I can certainly understand these choices are NOT easy ones to make. Keep the thoughts coming, because they're great ones (whether you agree or completely disagree with my own).

And now, tip #1..........

My sister (BigSis) fell in love with a duponi silk bridesmaid dress that was not only elegant and tasteful, but seemingly practical and could be worn again to another event.

Nevertheless, BigSis played it smart. Instead of having her bridesmaids pay for the dress, she paid for them herself--and the dress, in turn, became the bridesmaid gift.

I think part of the reason it was such a nice gift was that BigSis took her bridesmaids with her to look at them and to try them on to see which color looked best. It became an excursion, in which the bride included everyone and took their opinions to heart. BigSis noted that if the dresses looked terrible, she would have started all over again.

By acting in an inclusive manner and having her bridesmaids help pick out the dresses, BigSis made sure that the dress became something that was meaningful to them (AND to her too!). PLUS, the dress could be easily cut down to a sundress after the wedding, or worn again to a different event. I chose to cut mine down, and it was a PERFECT outfit for an evening with TallGuy that summer.

Oftentimes, brides-to-be will choose a thank-you gift for their bridesmaids that doesn't prove to be useful or something to their taste. The two weddings that I’ve been in so far have not proven to be exceptions to this rule. Although it was certainly a nice gesture, I can't tell you where in my apartment these gifts are (one a beaded bracelet, one a rhinestone necklace - both pretty, but not me). “I knew this girl who made her bridesmaids wear fake rhinestone tattoos on their back shoulders (the sticker kind)—that was their thank-you gift for being bridesmaids, too,” my friend Rachel told me (seriously).

Although most of the time, the gifts are thoughtful and heartfelt--i.e. not a rhinestone tatoo!--(and we are very grateful to receive them), these gifts are oftentimes not the most practical. Therefore, it unfortunately becomes a waste of your own money, too.

As bridesmaids are going to be wearing a dress of your choosing to the ceremony and reception, why not make that process a little less painful for them (if you can)? If you are able to do it (and I acknowledge that with wedding expenses, it may be difficult), buy them the dress as either part of the bridesmaid gift, or make that the entire present to them. If they get to wear the dress to another soiree, so much the better! If not? I think they’d MUCH rather have you pay for something they wouldn’t have been caught dead in otherwise. That way, YOU get to choose what you want (without feeling guilty), and they walk away with one less cost.

Obviously, I know that the counterargument is that this is an extreme expense - I suggest this only if it's a feasible alternative, and if it can be done by cutting out other expenditures from the budget. Although the price of a bridesmaid's gift may be way less than the dress itself, if you can do it--and know that your bridesmaids will be eternally grateful to you for it--then it may be worth it in the end.

To sum it up, not only will you be happy with the bridesmaid's dress you've chosen, but they'll be as well. And that means one less worry for the big day!

Stay tuned.....


Anonymous said...

That is a lovely gesture, and, I agree, all bridesmaids would probably prefer to have their dress paid for rather than an actual "thank you" gift. But cost can definitey be a factor. I have chosen to pay for each girl to have their hair done, and I bought them jewelry to wear the day of the wedding. (I might add that the jewelry and dress are both very practical an can be worn again- it's a black strapless tea length dress) As for the groomsmen...we are paying for each of their tuxedo rentals as a gift. Just another thought for those who can't think of a "good" thank you gift. Trust me...those guys will love it! Anyway, just thought I'd add my two cents...

Anonymous said...

I agree with you... up to a point.

If there are a number of bridesmaids, this seems like a good idea. In the first wedding I was in (one of three BMs), I would much rather have had my dress paid for than whatever lame present I got; I don't even remember what it was now.

If there are one or two, I have a strong bias against utilitarian gifts that are known to the recipient. The second time I was in a wedding (one of one BMs), I got as a gift something whimisical and subtly tailored to an inside joke between the bride/groom and me. I was really touched, and the bride was really pleased to see my reaction. I would much rather have had that gift than have had my dress paid for, even though the dress was somewhat more expensive. (I got to choose the dress, so it was my fault if it was expensive anyway!)

That is what an ideal gift should be. Don't even get me started on registries. I understand the point of them-- otherwise you'd be getting a lot of ugly crystal vases-- but the whole point is that they are set up in such a fashion as to disguise in a polite way the fact that you're asking for stuff and people are giving you that stuff. Although I'd love it if people paid for my honeymoon, I think it would be tacky to actually have a give-us-money-for-our-honeymoon "registry," and the paypal-us-so-we-can-buy-a-camera "registry" I saw recently was even worse.

Although one of my good friends (who is not married) *loved* that last registry, as it allowed her to very easily give them a present without any fuss at all. So maybe I'm in the minority :)

Anonymous said...

Commenting on registry: I'm split. Part of me likes registries because I don't have to think and another part of me HATES them because I can't be creative. Or I'm relegated to buy 1 slotted spoon, 1 spatula and 1 set of tongs 'cause that's all I can afford or what's left to buy. How impersonal is that?