Giving Back

Your friends and loved ones will lavish you and your groom with gifts throughout your wedding festivities. But on the Big Day, it’s your turn to give thanks to those who have helped you get there—so spoil them.

Your friends and loved ones will lavish you and your groom with gifts throughout your wedding festivities: engagement tokens, shower presents, registry items. But on the Big Day, it’s your turn to give thanks to those who have helped you get there. So spoil them. Tell them how much you value their help, love and support by giving them a heartfelt thank-you gift.

These days, traditional gifts are only one option for brides and grooms to hand out to their wedding party, parents, child attendants and each other. Many couples want their gifts tailored to the individual or the wedding’s theme, and local shops are more than happy to cater to your needs.

Gifts are traditionally given on the day of or a few days before the wedding. Many brides hand out bridesmaid gifts at a luncheon the day before the wedding. Grooms typically give their gifts at the bachelor party or during the rehearsal dinner.

Save a little room in the budget so you can splurge on those you love. For spending guidelines, it’s appropriate to consider your overall budget, but gifts can range in price. For attendants and parents, plan to spend $50 and up, and for children, under $25 is fine. Whatever you choose to spend—and give—as a way of saying thanks, your friends and family will truly appreciate the gesture.

Shopping for bridesmaids’ gifts is as much fun—and as easy—as shopping for yourself; it’s just a matter of narrowing down the choices. Traditionally, the bride gives a piece of jewelry, such as earrings or a necklace, which can be worn with the bridesmaid dresses on the wedding day. At Barmakian Jewelers in Framingham, one of the managers, Nancy Pope, recommends a classic pearl necklace that the bridesmaid can wear again. Another, more contemporary option is wrist bangles. “One bride just ordered tons of silver and gold bracelets,” she says.

For a classic gift with a slight twist, give your bridesmaids pearls in the form of a colorful bracelet. “We just made bracelets for one wedding using all white pearls with one pink pearl near the clasp accented to match the bridesmaid dresses,” says Michael Finn, manager of E.B. Horn in Boston. Colored pearls range from deep champagne to light pinks.

With so many destination weddings, gifts for bridesmaids are being tailored to the location. “A lot of my brides get married in Maine, so they’re creating these L.L. Bean-style travel bags that are personalized with quintessential Maine items,” says Kate Parker, a wedding planner based in Dover, New Hampshire. The bags are packed with travel accessories, maps, beach towels and other destination goodies. If your wedding is on the Cape, Finn suggests adding a reminder of the location by dropping a classic sterling-silver Cape Cod bracelet or necklace into the bag.

At the Flat of the Hill in Boston, brides are picking up Swarovski crystal flower pins to accessorize simple dresses. “They come in myriad colors, so if someone wants the right color combination, we have it,” says longtime employee Pat Baitler. And now that metallics are the new black, the boutique stocks chic Lauren Merkin clutch bags, which make for flashy wedding-night carriers, as well as the ultimate girlie take-away gift.

Lauren Franz, manager of the home and market floor at Louis Boston, has seen a big trend in brides wrapping up cosmetic cases as gifts. Louis Boston carries khaki and black microfiber cases with leather or metallic trim by Give, a company that donates 10 percent of its profits to charities like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Yes, cuff links are traditional gifts for groomsmen. But they also are a handy idea, especially if your attendants are wearing tuxes. Grooms can personalize this gift for their buddies by having each set engraved. “They are very appropriate,” says Pope. “We have some great mother-of-pearl and silver sets for around $225.” Other traditional gifts from Barmakian are sterling-silver key rings and Chelsea clocks.

The pocketknife is another classic, says Franz, who recommends a wooden-handled style. Also rising in popularity is the wine key. Louis Boston has a variety of intricately designed openers, like the ones from French cutlery-maker Laguiole, which range from a traditional horn shell to a stunning Lucite in fluorescent red or green that pair well with a stainless-steel corkscrew. A cigar ashtray from Italian manufacturer Arca made with water-buffalo horn and stainless steel, available by special order at Louis Boston, is another option for discerning gentlemen.

At E.B. Horn, grooms are picking up Cross and Montblanc pens for gifts and engraving them with the initials of their groomsmen. “It’s not politically correct to give cigarette lighters these days,” says Finn, “so pens are a nice, usable gift.”

Perhaps the biggest thank-you of the day goes to the bride and groom’s parents. Whether they’ve supported you financially, emotionally or both, they deserve to be recognized for holding it all together. Many couples choose to give sterling-silver picture frames engraved with the wedding date so parents have a place to display portraits, says Pope. As an ornamental keepsake, she also recommends Lladró statues, which are whimsical, delicately designed porcelain figurines emanating touching personal moments.

For a nontraditional gift for parents, Louis Boston offers the Mathias Paris line of candlesticks, candelabras and vases made of handblown glass. For something less extravagantly priced, the brand’s bath line has soap in handblown containers. Traditional? Not quite. But these handpicked tokens of gratitude can be left on a mantel or on display in any room to last as a constant reminder of the joys collected on your wedding day.

Let’s not forget the wedding-day darlings: flower girls and ring bearers. Gifts for children can be as simple as a T-shirt that says “flower girl” in rhinestone letters by Classy Bride, or as ornate as engraved jewelry by HeartStrings, both available at The Flat of the Hill. Another well-received favorite for boys and girls is children’s books, especially when handed out on the Big Day to restless wedding helpers. “It’s a lovely thing to do at the last minute when you have that extra half-hour and all the family is around,” says Carol Chittenden, owner of Eight Cousins in Falmouth. “It’s a great little idea to hand a book to the child and read with them.” Remind them of their specific Big Day duties with a book like The Little Flower Girl (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1997), an early-age reader by Linda Trace Brandon. Or help explain the emotional process of a marriage with The Wedding Planner’s Daughter (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2005), for readers ages 9-12, by Coleen Murtagh Paratore.

Children can find clarity on more difficult concepts like love and friendship with That’s What Friends Do (Hyperion Books for Children, 2004) for boys and girls by Kathryn Cave and illustrator Nick Maland. Another smart buy for the younger set is The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (Random House, 1963), written by Massachusetts resident Norton Juster, who is best known for writing The Phantom Tollbooth (Yearling, 1988).

Traditionally, the bride and groom give one another small tokens as a way of celebrating what’s to come. Engraved jewelry for the bride, says Baitler, “is a beautiful and reasonably priced gift.” Whether choosing a sterling-silver, heart-shaped charm or a beaded gold and silver bracelet, this gift commemorates the day for both husband and wife. The Flat of the Hill carries the HeartStrings collection of necklaces with snake-like chains and oval-shaped slides that can be monogrammed.

For her groom, a bride usually picks out a watch with the engagement or wedding date, a short message, or the couple’s initials engraved on the back. Louis Boston carries a contemporary stainless-steel and black-resin watch by Parisian designer Dinh Van. A more traditional gift from Louis Boston is a black-and-white-checkered inlaid wooden box lined in leather by Italian company Ercolano. Boxes like these sit on a dresser and, Franz says, “are perfect for holding a man’s watch.”