Wedding Party Gifts

I have a huge family and I am a wedding planner.  I have attended quite literally hundreds of weddings.  As a little girl I was the go to flower girl, and served that lauded function no less than five times.  Oddly enough, though, I’ve only ever been a bridesmaid twice.  (The two experiences were very different, but both helped to shape my vision of what a wedding planner would be.) 

The thing is, being in a wedding, as a flower girl, a bridesmaid, groomsmen, whatever, it requires a large investment.  Generally travel is required.  Bachelor(ette) parties and showers to attend and buy gifts/drinks for.  You have to buy or rent clothing and shoes and sometimes pay to get your hair done.  You’re looking at several hundred to several thousand dollars, all for the honor of being in someone else’s wedding.  That is why it is traditional for the bride and groom to give those people gifts, a little thank you for going to all the trouble of being in someone else’s wedding.  

So we all know that this is tradition.  We also all know that this is a good idea.  What we all are unsure of, is what that gift should be.  I’m not going to lie.  This isn’t an easy thing to know.  First, the bride and groom are also spending an awful lot of money and it’s hard to come up with several hundred more for gifts.  Second, once that money is allocated, what should you buy with it?  You don’t want to buy something that is meaningless, or will end up in a drawer.  Below I’m going to share with you a list of the top five best wedding attendant gifts for the guys and the girls.  Hope this helps!

From the Groom-

Dress socks - More than likely you're going to wear dress socks. Even if you're having a casual wedding, dress socks go with khaki pants and even denim. You know what else? Fun socks make a fun photography group shot. If you want your guys to wear a certain dress sock, why not supply them with it? 

Featured dress socks: Happy Socks Diamond Dress Socks by DSW

Magazine Subscription- Different I know, but hear me out.  Got a buddy that loves fly fishing?  One who’s a civil war buff?  And of course Phil who only cares about craft beer.  It’s hard to give them all a single gift that shows them you love and appreciate them.  With a subscription, each month they will get a reminder in terms of something they care about, of how much you care about them.  (Note- mag subscriptions are usually only like $10, so maybe spring for a cool pair of socks to wear at the wedding too!)

Personalized Toiletry Bag or Dopp Kit- This is one of those items that not every man has, but every man should have.  You’re giving them something that they will use every time they travel, and bonus, it will remind them of you and your wedding.

Featured dopp bag: 'Chapter' Travel Kit by Nordstrom

An Experience- Instead of buying a trinket schedule a time for you and the guys to go play golf, or darts or whatever it is you do, together.  Buy a round.  Make a speech.   Tell them why you chose them to stand up with you on one of the biggest days of your life.  

Custom Ties or Bow Ties- Now, I do know that not everyone wears ties, but that’s precisely why this makes a great wedding gift.  Instead of asking your dudes to buy a $30 tie that they’ll never wear again, gift them that part of the attire for the night.  It’s a weight off their shoulders and they’ll look sharp.  

Featured bowtie: Basketweave Mint Bowtie by Knottytie

From the Bride…

Shoes- if you want your girls to wear something specific, and since you’ve already asked them to purchase a dress, having the accessories be your gift to them is a nice way to ensure what you want while still giving them a nice gift.

Featured shoes: Franco Sarto Anthem Pump by DSW

Jewelry - to compliment the option of shoes above, if you're requiring a specific piece of jewelry that you'd like your bridesmaids to wear, gifting them the necklace and/or earrings is always a nice way to go.

Featured necklace: Riviera Delicate Pendant by Banana Republic

A Clutch- OK, so this is only a good gift if it is cool enough for the girls to take on a night out later, and if you fill it with sweet day of essentials- tissues, lip balm, floss, etc.  It looks great with the overall bridesmaid ensemble and is a great thing to have on hand.

Featured clutch: 'Gamble' Grommet Faux Leather Flap Clutch by Nordstrom

An experience.  Yep.  Same thing as the guys.  What will mean more long run, a thing or that time you guys all went to play frisbee golf and Susan dated the instructor and Jamie joined a league?

Robes.  I know it's kind of a trend right now, but a robe is one of those things that I will wear into the ground, until there are big holes and I lose the belt.  Giving robes is 1. A great photo opportunity, 2. A nice gift that they’ll have for years to come that will remind them of your big day.
Featured Robe: Blue Watercolor Floral Silky Kimono Robe by the Knot Shop

Why Photography is So Important

People ask me all the time, what the most important part of a wedding.  The first answer is that the most important thing is slightly different for each couple.  For some couples, it’s having the perfect band.  For some, it’s a meaningful and personal ceremony.  Some couples can’t stop thinking about a rockin' party!  

    They’re all right, and prioritizing is really important, so that your wedding is exactly what you want it to be.  

    But there is one thing that no matter what your budget, or priorities, you really need to make sure you devote time and budget to.  And that thing is Photography.  

    A good photographer can take a wedding where everything is going wrong and turn it into a bonanza of amazing one of a kind photographs.  She can take a cookie cutter inside the box wedding and make the photos look like it was a completely one of a kind event.  A really great photographer can make the wedding seem like it sprang directly from the soul of the bride and groom.  

    You want the best quality you can get for your budget.  That’s obvious.  What is maybe not so obvious, is that it’s really important to devote a significant portion of your overall budget to photography, and actually, the smaller the wedding and budget, the larger the percentage should be!  Photographers don’t charge by the person.  Their packages are based on their talent and their time, so you could have 50 guests or 300 and they’re doing nearly the exact same job.

Photography will probably seem expensive, but realize that a person holding a camera does not a photographer make.  I’ve heard so many times phrases like, “My cousin has this really nice camera and takes the best pictures of his kids!”  This IS NOT the same thing as a wedding photographer.  Even other kinds of photographers (commercial, for example) aren’t necessarily the right choice.  There is an art to catching just the right moments.  

There is another component to wedding photography that is incredibly important.  You are going to spend at least eight hours on one of the biggest days of your life with this person.  You absolutely have to like and feel comfortable with them.  It’s even better if you like them.  Take engagement photos.  Meet with them at least once.  Make sure being around them makes you smile.  Trust me on this one, you can physically see it in the photos when photographer and subject aren’t clicking.

How, you may be thinking, am I supposed to find a person like this when I google wedding photography and find ten thousand names?  Well, here is where I can help.  Recommendations from friends are a great way to find someone you’re comfortable with.  Also, if you like the people in the pictures, it can be easier to see if you like the style.  

You can also talk to your other wedding professionals.  If you have a planner, then of course, your planner is the first person to ask.  Generally planners have relationships with all kinds of wedding professionals and certainly will know great photographers in your budget.   If you don’t have a planner (which you should!) then ask your venue, or your caterer.  We all end up working together on weddings and everyone knows someone.  

There are also great online tools like The Knot.  The knot will list tons of great photographers in your area and before you even click on their website, you’ll get a preview of where their prices are ($, $$, or $$$).  It’s not finite numbers, but it’s something!

The point is, your wedding is one day.  It’ll be over before you know it and the only thing left will will be fifteen vases (that you wish now you had rented because what the hell are you going to do with 15 matching vases), and your photos.  Make sure they’re worth it.

Celebrate Love

One year ago—Amanda wrote In Defense of Valentine’s Day. Now it’s my turn. If you haven’t read that blog from February 2015, go do it.

Okay, now that we’re on the same page, I’ll go on.  

Close your eyes and reminisce on your loved ones. Just do it, for 15 seconds.  Who was the first person to come to mind?  The second and third?  Now tell me that Valentine’s Day is a stupid day created by money-mongers, too girly for your taste.  

But you just thought of your loved ones, those that you wish to create a life with or spend the rest of yours with! Let Valentine’s Day be the one day that you can drop the monotonous tasks and obligations you feel committed to. Commit yourself to your honey and celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Make a day that you want it to be, don’t worry about the cliche of chocolates and teddy bears. If that’s not you, don’t do it.

We’re constantly saying that we are your advocates and though specifically, we’re talking about your wedding, in a broader sense, we’re talking about your love. Trust me, it’s worth investing in your love, and we don’t mean money. Use this holiday to celebrate in your own unique style.  

Get yourself a Valentine or be someone’s Valentine.  We dare you!

Engagement Season... Are You Ready?

Engagement Season: Are you ready?


It's here.  Engagement season.  It can be really intimidating, coming up with 'the perfect' way to ask so we've come up with a few ideas to help get the juices flowing!

Tree Decorating    

If you love tradition, this is the proposal for you.  Imagine you and your guy are putting up the Christmas tree together. You turn on some delightful tunes, a cozy fire and drink some hot chocolate, maybe with a dash of Bailey’s (it can't hurt your chances!). You casually reach into your ornament storage and pull out a special little box.  “Oh what about this one, this one is my favorite,” you say as if it's NBD.  As he turns around, there you have it open and sparkling. And VOILA, the tears start flowing.

Finish Line Lovin’

I ran in the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon a month ago.  I cannot describe the wealth of emotions you feel while conquering such an accomplishment. If the one you love loves this kind of competition, you have a special opportunity to make an accomplishment a life changing memory.  This one takes a little help and definitely some planning.  You can go simple and surprising by using the 'race tracker' that most races have to locate your runner.  When she is starting to approach the finish line, find her through the flood of people and put yourself in a safe but noticeable area and be ready with that box.  Or you could go over the top and work out with the announcer your plan.  Get him to have the whole finish line participate in your proposal!



Latte of Love

We won’t deny we LOVE Starbucks. Some call it an addiction.  We prefer to think of it as wedding planning fuel.  Take your mister to your favorite coffee spot and ask him to find a seat while you order the coffee.  Instead of leaving a name for them to call when the drinks are ready, ask them to call out, “Will you marry me, Bill (insert your future fiance's actual name)?"  If you do this, call us.  First, we're always up for coffee, and second this would make us cry!

Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

You can’t deny it, photo booths are just plain fun and there is certainly no shortage of them right now.  There's bound to be one at at least ONE of your holiday parties.  Grab your girlfriend and tell her to get some fun faces ready.  Don't forget your prop (the ring box!) and have it on hand to pop in to the frame mid funny face.  You’ve then hit two birds with one stone, a proposal and it’s been photographed. Genius.


New Year, Same Love

New Years Eve is a popular night for proposing; A new year, new beginnings, the start of a journey.  This could be a quiet evening in with champagne and Ryan Seacrest or you could be packed in with the crowd watching the fireworks on 16th Street Mall.   As the crowd counts down, take the box from your pocket and start the new year with a new fiance!

These are just ideas.  Your proposal, what ever it is, will be great because it will be meaningful to you.  There's no right or wrong way, as long as it feels right.  ☺

We love to hear proposal stories! Share yours with us below.