Do’s and Don’ts: Bridal Party Thank You Gifts

Your girls are there for you for all the excitement, stress and planning leading up to your wedding, and you might have gone a little Bridezilla on them a time or two.

A thoughtful gift can is a nice way to communicate your gratitude for their participation in the wedding, so consider these Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to shopping for your bridal party Thank You gifts!

Do's and Don't for Bridesmaids Gifts[DIY beauty box]

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Do’s and Don’ts: Bridal Party Thank You Gifts

DON’T gift your bridal party anything that is emblazoned with your wedding details. No one wants to carry around a tote with your wedding monogram, and no one needs a beer koozie with your wedding date.

DON’T gift something they will only use for the wedding day. That robe embroidered with “Bridesmaid” will look really cute in your getting-ready photos, but it’s not very meaningful as a gift if they can’t get any use of it after.

Along those same lines, if you choose to pay for your bridesmaid’s dresses, nails, hair or makeup, that is lovely but that is not a gift. If you want them to look a particular way for your wedding, that is for you, not them.

I did include the jewelry for my bridesmaids in their gifts, but I also added in a piece that wasn’t for the wedding day, and I hope the jewelry is something that they like and will wear after the wedding, too.

I couldn't tie the knot without you bridesmaid gift[Bridesmaid earrings]

DON’T go overboard. Elaborate gifts aren’t necessary. Your bridal party might have shelled out a ton of cash related to your wedding, included expenses associated with showers, bachelorette parties, clothing, transportation and hotels, and that’s something to be mindful of. But your gift is not meant to pay them back for their involvement. Your gift is meant to say Thank You and to communicate your genuine gratitude.

DO consider your budget. When planning your wedding budget, make sure to include a budget line for bridal party Thank You gifts. Set a budget that makes sense within your overall wedding budget, and stick to it. Gifts valued at $50 to $150 will generally be appropriate. (On a tight budget? These gifts are under $40!)

DO consider your circle. If your friend recently gifted beach towels, your gift of Tiffany bangles might make them feel bad, and that’s the last thing you want to do with a Thank You gift.

bridesmaid gifts name bracelets[Personalized name bracelets]

DO consider what will mean most to your bridesmaids. I wrote above that paying for your girls’ dresses isn’t a gift, since it’s for your wedding. But for a cash-strapped bridesmaid, covering that expense might be more meaningful than whatever little tchotchke you’d give them. The last thing you want is your girl to open her personalized, leather-bound day planner, and think, “ok, that’s nice, but I would rather have cash back in my pocket!” If you decide to go that route, I think it’s totally fine to then give a small gift like a bottle of wine and a sincere Thank You card.

DO consider individualized gifts. One idea is to buy Thank You gifts as if you were buying birthday gifts, and tailor the gifts to suit each persons likes. While no one wants a tote with your name on it, gifts with their monograms are super cute. Initial necklaces are one of my fav gift go-to’s (like this in yellow gold).

DO consider the gift wrap. Even if you didn’t come up with the world’s greatest bridal party Thank You gift, you can still make it look super fun by packaging it creatively. Not very creative? Just write their names on simple paper bags using a metallic sharpie!

diy bridesmaids gift bags

DO include a Thank You card. Thank your bridesmaids and be specific. Did one of your girls go above and beyond in helping to plan your bachelorette party? Was she up all night addressing envelopes? Put it in a card.

Wedding Paper Divas - Thank You Cards

Wedding Paper Divas is giving away 10 FREE Thank You cards for their Anniversary Sale, so this is a great opportunity to stock up on those Thank You cards! Click here to get yours and enter the Promo Code: 10Years to get 10 FREE cards.

Have you given or received any great bridesmaid gifts? Share your ideas in the comments!

Tips for Creating a Wedding Dessert Table

As we started the planning process for our New Year’s Eve wedding, there was one thing we definitely knew we wanted. Both of us love sweets (for better or for worse) and we knew we wanted to have an insane wedding dessert table.

Mike’s mom lovingly baked most of the treats for our table. (Thank you!) We kept an eye on prices over the months leading up to the wedding, and knew where to shop for the best deals. We used dishes we already owned and scoured thrift stores for candy jars, cake plates and serving platters. By shopping sales we were able to keep the cost of our dessert table to less than the per person dessert price offered by our caterer even though we stocked our dessert table with enough to feed twice as many guests.

Sweets table - tips for setting up an insane treat table for your wedding
sweet & salty popcorn for a late night wedding dessert snack

Create levels:

A variety of heights is the key to making your wedding dessert table really stand out.

  • Use cake stands and jars of different heights and sizes.
  • Create platforms. Place several boxes underneath a table cloth, or wrap them in gift wrap that matches your theme.
  • Accessorize your table with props such as tall candle holders or vases to add visual interest.

tips for setting up a wedding dessert bar

Stick to a theme:

Give your wedding dessert table a cohesive look by tying it in with the rest of your wedding decor. There are a variety of ways to do this without resorting to only including candy in your wedding colours.

  • Match the table linens to your decor, and then tie coordinating ribbons around candy jars and cake stands.
  • Create a backdrop. Hang coordinating streamers or banners to make your dessert table a real focal point.
  • Be consistent with the styles and colours of your serving platters. Stick to only white or clear glass. We kept to our metallic New Year’s Eve theme and used foil doilies to pull the look together.
  • Use flags on toothpicks or skewers to decorate desserts and tie in your wedding colours and theme.

mini oreo wedding cake - tips for a wedding dessert table

tiny donuts for a wedding dessert table

Easy-to-serve:

If your guests are going to be serving themselves at your dessert buffet, make sure that treats are easy to reach and eat.

  • Provide the right utensils. Make sure to have tongs, scoops, and knives for each dessert.
  • If you’re serving up gooey fudge bars or fresh-cut fruit, make sure to have dessert plates and not just napkins for your guests.
  • If your table is too wide, you might have your guests leaning over it to get to the treats at the back. Desserts shouldn’t be placed more that 2 or 3 deep.
  • If you’re placing candles or flowers on the table, make sure your guests won’t be reaching over them to get to that brownie to avoid burns or spills.
  • Rather than slicing into a full-sized pie, individual pies or tarts are easier for your guests to select. Cake pops instead of cake slices are cute and easy to handle.
  • Keep things pretty, but accessible. Guests might be hesitant to pick desserts out of an intricate arrangement. You don’t want your guests wondering if that beautiful chocolate tower is just for decoration, so a little bit of purposeful disorganization can welcome your guests to dig in.
  • Use candy jars with wide openings to make the candy easier to scoop.

fererro rocher tower for wedding dessert table

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Snap a #selfie: A plugged in wedding (& a printable to share your Instagram wedding hashtag!)

Plugged in wedding! Share your wedding #hashtagPlugged in wedding! Share your wedding #hashtag

I love sharing moments on instagram (follow me!), so an unplugged wedding definitely wasn’t my style. In fact, I wanted to encourage our wedding guests to snap and share as much as possible! Even with our two photographers running around, I knew our guests would capture some special moments.

Our venue had several TV monitors, so we livestreamed our Instagram wedding hashtag all night. Any pictures uploaded to social media with our #hashtag would appear up on the TVs moments later.

printable instagram signs to get your wedding guests hashtagging your #wedding

We used a livestreaming platform called ii.do. A couple weeks before the wedding, we pre-loaded a whole bunch of photos and tagged them with our Instagram wedding hashtag, so that it served as a slideshow at the same time. We had a mix of childhood photos, photos of the two of us, and photos with our friends and family. Then as our guests uploaded their photos with out wedding #hashtag, those photos were added to the livestream.

Our guests used our Instagram wedding hashtag to shareselfies, photos of us, little details from food to decor and even a video of our first dance! After the wedding, the ii.do website made it easy to download everything that had been shared with our Instagram wedding hashtag. It was really fun to look back on all the photos our guests shared, and to see how much fun they had at our wedding.

Make sure to snap a wedding selfie

encourage wedding guests to share their photos on instagram with a wedding hashtag!

encourage wedding guests to share their photos on instagram with a wedding hashtag!

Get plugged in

  • Choose a unique Instagram wedding hashtag, so that you don’t find other people’s photos in the mix. Make sure to do a search before your share!
  • Keep your hashtag simple and avoid easily misspelled words.
  • Make sure your hashtag doesn’t contain any spaces or symbols or it won’t work.
  • If you’re pre-loading your Instagram wedding hashtag like we did, create a separate Instagram account so that you don’t flood your followers’ feeds with your childhood photos.
  • #Hashtag those special moments leading up to the wedding, too, including getting ready that morning (but don’t give too much away!)
  • Have a designated Instagrammer. As the bride, I didn’t want to be on my phone all night, so I asked my sister to snap away.

encourage wedding guests to share their photos on instagram with a wedding hashtag!

Share your #hashtag

To encourage our guests to share their photos on social media, I created little signs for each guest table.

I’d love to share them with you, too! You’ll just have to fill in your own wedding #hashtag, print on card stock, cut, and fold! Print as many as you like and place them on seats for the ceremony, up on the bar, or on each guest table at the reception, like I did.

Click here to download: Wedding Instagram Signs

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Saying ‘I do’: Braving the cold for a winter wedding

Faux furs for the bridesmaids for a winter wedding

We’re having unseasonably mild temperatures currently in Toronto (and I am loving it!), but unfortunately we weren’t so lucky back on December 31st when we braved the frigid temps for our ‘first look’ and wedding party portraits. Brrr!

staying warm in a winter wedding

Once all the details were planned for our wedding day, the only thing stressing me out was the weather. Was it going to be unbearably cold? Was slush and salt going to ruin my dress? Was a snowstorm going to prevent guests from making it?

I was watching the forecast obsessively. While a snow storm hit earlier in the week, a couple days of rain washed away the snow and our wedding day was clear, but bitterly cold. We were just thankful that the roads were good for all our guests making the trip.

When we decided to have a winter wedding, I had absolutely no intention of taking any outdoor photos. I’m a huge wimp when it comes to the cold, and was sure that we could take perfectly lovely photos inside. Our photographers, however, insisted that we take wedding party photos outside for the natural light. I was easily persuaded, since we were meeting in the summer and I’d temporarily forgotten how much I hate the cold.

People kept saying how some snow would look so nice in pictures, and I was like, “NO THANKS!” Since we took our photos before the ceremony, I just imagined trudging down the aisle afterwards in a soggy, dirty gown. When the sidewalks were clear that morning, I definitely sighed with relief.

staying warm in a winter wedding

A friend gave me the white shawl that I wore, and my sister and I found the other (faux) furs at thrift stores over the span of a few months. We kept our eyes out for little fur jackets that were shorter in length which gave a more modern look than the many longer coats that were on the racks and didn’t worry about matching colours. We ended up with a nice mix though, I think. At $20-30 each, they were so much less expensive than the shawls I was seeing in stores, and they kept us all a bit warmer, too.

winter wedding fur jackets

I felt awful for my girls in their short dresses (which they wanted, btw, so I didn’t feel entirely responsible), but I didn’t hear a whimper of complaint from any of them. The boys were a bit better off in their tuxes, but fingers didn’t stay out of pockets for long and because us girls ran a bit late, they were already freezing by the time we arrived. Thermoses of hot chocolate and coffee were a big help.

staying warm in a winter wedding

To be perfectly honest, in hindsight, I do wish I’d gone with my initial instinct and just found a good indoor photo site instead. It was cold, and a little bit miserable, and I feel that because of that, we didn’t even really get the variety of shots we would have liked. While we did get some lovely photos, there are many with strained smiles and pink noses that betray just how cold we were.

Were you a winter bride? How did you keep warm?

Photography: Joseph and Jaime Weddings // Location: University of Toronto // Hair: Monica Le // Makeup: Fiona Man