This past weekend, I took a break from wedding planning to attend a bridal shower and bachelorette party for a childhood friend who is also about to walk down the aisle.
The term "bridal shower" comes from the idea of "showering" a bride to be with gifts for her new household. There may have been a time when the gifts could fit inside a parasol to be showered over the bride when the parasol was opened, but those days are long gone.
When there's an avalanche of presents to open, you want things to move along quickly and efficiently, and that's where the bridal attendants come in.
Any seasoned bridesmaid knows the drill. One person hands the gifts to the bride and gets her started opening them. One gathers the ribbons to be fashioned into the all-important ribbon bouquet for the bride to carry at the rehearsal. One is responsible for throwing away all of the wrapping paper. And of course, someone has to keep a list of the gifts so the bride can write thank-you notes.
The bridesmaids at my friend's shower put on a clinic, and like my own bridesmaids, were also lovely and charming hostesses at both the shower and bachelorette party. So how do you say thank-you to the attendants in your wedding? You buy them gifts, of course.
But how much should you spend, and what are the best gifts to buy? And what about the groomsmen, and the flower girl and ring bearer?
Celebrity wedding planner and author of "The Wedding Book" Mindy Weiss says it is important to give your attendants gifts to show your gratitude for their help.
For bridesmaids and groomsmen, "$75 to $100 is standard," she said. "Sometimes the bride buys or puts money toward the bridesmaid dresses, and that is their gift."
For the flower girl and ring bearer Weiss advises spending $40 to $50.
Mindy's Tips: Bridesmaid Gift Ideas
1. Monogrammed robes to wear while getting ready on the wedding day.
2. Cute, framed picture of all the girls together.
3. Jewelry. "You can find great inexpensive things on the Web," she said. "Even pearls!"
4. A matching wrap or shawl to go with the bridesmaid's dress, with their initial inside.
5. A makeup bag filled with a lip gloss and nail polish all the girls can wear.
Mindy's Tips: Groomsman Gift Ideas
1. Dopp Kit stamped with initials and filled with shaver, shaving cream and traveling goodies.
2. Personalized Converse sneakers.
3. Flip Cam.
4. iPod (this can be monogrammed).
Mindy's Tips: Flower Girl Gift Ideas
1. Little pearl necklace.
2. Bridal Barbie Doll.
3. A sweet purse filled with goodies.
4. American Girl doll.
Mindy's Tips: Ring Bearer Gift Ideas
"It's always good to ask the parents what they are into," Weiss said. "Toys, video games, etc."
She also suggested a kids' digital camera.
For any little ones involved in the ceremony, "I always put treats on their chairs at the ceremony to lure them down the aisle," she said.
CLICK HERE for Day 25, advice on planning out the seating chart for your reception.
Day 30: What's the proper invitation response etiquette? CLICK HERE to find out.
Day 29: What are Mindy's top 10 tips for the final month before your wedding? CLICK HERE for more.
CLICK HERE to visit Mindy's Web site.