Bridesmaids invest a lot during their call to duty as the bride's right-hand women. According to The Wedding Report, the average amount spent by each bridesmaid during a single wedding tops $1,000, and that's just cash outlay. Add in the investment of time spent shopping for gowns, planning a bridal shower and bachelorette party, supporting the bride in all wedding preparations, traveling to and from the wedding -- which often requires time taken off from work -- and it's no wonder that brides are giving their bridesmaids wonderful thank-you gifts to show their appreciation.
Here are the top trends in thank-you gifts for bridesmaids and the maid of honor:
*Jewelry and Fashion Items
The popular wedding planning website Weddingbee recently asked brides what they were planning to give their bridesmaids as thank-you gifts, and the largest number of respondents replied with an array of jewelry and fashion items. The most common bridesmaid gift is jewelry to be worn on the wedding day. Because silver jewelry is always in style, many brides choose simple silver dangle earrings and necklaces if they can't find anything that matches the bridesmaid dresses exactly. Bridesmaids tend to be appreciative of the jewelry because it is wonderfully re-wearable. According to The Wedding Report, most bridesmaids wear their wedding day dresses only once, sometimes twice, but the jewelry is worn for years to come.
Handbags are also tops on brides' lists for bridesmaid gifts. These range from $15 colorful clutches to Coach handbags and Coach coin purses.
*Spa and Pampering Items
Brides who want to pamper their bridesmaids are taking advantage of superb coupons and online coupon codes found on RetailMeNot to buy their bridesmaids collections of pampering products, such as lotions and bath gels from Bath & Body Works.
A popular idea on Weddingbee is the monogrammed spa robe. These can be found in organic cotton or bamboo or in upscale Egyptian cotton. "I found a Nicole Miller monogrammed bathrobe at Bed Bath & Beyond that was well within my budget, and I used a Christmas gift card and coupons to get all of my bridesmaids spa robes for less than $100," says recent bride Allison Garvey.
A top trend in bridesmaid gifts, according to the editors of The Knot, is travel-themed items. Brides are giving stylish brand-name travel cases, such as cosmetics bags and toiletry organizers, as well as colorful faux-leather passport covers and island- or international-themed travel journals. Also, cute luggage tags in oversize designs and bright colors make great gifts for bridesmaids who travel often.
A perennial best-seller in bridesmaid gifts, according to The Knot's list of top ideas, is the monogrammed tote bag from Lands' End, which many brides say they order with coupon discounts for discounted personalization and free shipping. These bags may be chosen in the bridesmaid's favorite color and pattern and used for casual trips to the beach, shopping, farmers market visits and errands.
*Entertaining and Celebration Items
The top celebration item given to bridesmaids, according to a survey on Weddingbee, is a bottle of fine wine with a note encouraging the bridesmaid to enjoy this vintage on a romantic date or for a personal achievement. Also on the list is a vase, particularly a bud vase.
*Covering Wedding Expenses
Brides also like to give the gift of covering wedding expenses. They may pay for the bridesmaids' gowns or pay for their wedding day manicures and shoes.
"I like the idea of giving bridesmaids massages in the cabanas," says Julie Shamrock, publicity director for Caneel Bay resort. Shamrock says brides often give resort gift cards that can be used for accommodations, dining, spa treatments or product purchases, an option that gives bridesmaids some guilt-free spending money during the wedding weekend.
Bridesmaid gifts often are customized to the bridesmaid's own style, in her favorite color, embroidered with her name, tailored to her, etc., which lets her know that thought was put into the gift. And the "swag bag" -- a collection of small gifts, such as flip-flops, travel-sized lotions and especially personalized stationery -- is a new top trend, too.
Sharon Naylor has written more than three dozen wedding books.