Many swoon-worthy wedding pictures on Pinterest are of the getting ready process. The bride and her maids look stunning in matching garb as they are being beautified by hair and make up artists, with the group shot being taken at the end. The look varies, from pretty printed floral robes to matching sweats, but these envy-inspiring pictures have a few things in common. First, they are must have pictures on every bride’s list. Second, they are often really expensive to achieve with a set of robes easily costing in the hundreds of dollars.

This adorable bracelet makes a lovely gift.

You can get the same cohesive look in your photos without blowing your budget. Many people use these items— like matching monogrammed embroidered shirts— as the Maid of Honor and bridesmaid gifts. This can be very helpful because the girls are not being asked to buy another potentially expensive item on their own; after all, they have probably footed the bill for dresses and shoes already. Some might feel like this isn’t an appropriate thank you because it is more like a required uniform for the wedding day, but when you are spending hundreds of dollars on it, brides might not be able to afford something additional. The same exact debate can be had for the jewelry that the bridal party wears. With some smart planning, it is possible to have your wedding cake and eat it too—giving heartfelt gifts that are practical for the day of and even after the wedding. These bridesmaid bracelets from the LondonGem shop on Etsy are beautiful and can be worn long after the wedding day has passed.

When determining how to give back to your girls, you should create a list of your own personal criteria for the gift before doing any research. Without this, you might be easily swayed by trendy pictures and lose sight of the message you are trying to send or the look you had originally had in mind. For my wedding, I knew I wanted to give my bridesmaids items that were sensible, sentimental, and budget-friendly. That meant that items should be functional after the wedding and that I took into account the taste and needs of my bridesmaids. I also wanted them to have something that could serve as a constant reminder of this special day that they were such a large part of.

gifts1Taking my inspiration first from the getting ready photos, I wanted to get my bridesmaids classic chambray button down shirts. I opted not to have them monogrammed based on the bridesmaids’ opinions that they wouldn’t get use post-wedding if they were monogrammed. giftsBefore purchasing, I asked my bridesmaids what they thought because I wanted everyone to feel comfortable the day of and I wanted to find out if they thought that it was something they could actually use later on. I also wanted to keep them in the loop so that way they didn’t buy something to get ready in only to have it not get used. Button downs are also incredibly practical for keeping your hair and make up perfect. Ultimately, I bought each of them a button down for about $12 a piece. While at, I decided to also give everyone a brand new pair of flip flops. It was inexpensive, an item that certainly would be useful after the wedding, and would come in handy, especially if the out-of-town bridesmaids forgot to pack their own. I used Groupon to find jewelry that I thought fit all of my criteria as well, and paid about $15 a person for a bracelet and necklace set worth $250 each.

Bridesmaid GiftsWith the more practical items taken care of well within budget, I moved on to the more personal touches. The personalized hangers seen all over Pinterest are stunning, but I felt like I could re-create them at a much lower cost. I made my own using wooden hangers from Ikea (an 8 pack of hangers cost just $4.99) and stickers from Michaels. I chose to use stickers (like ones you might use for scrapbooking) because I didn’t want to worry about wet paint next to fancy dresses and I wanted to ensure that the work looked neat and professional, even though it was homemade. The stickers were, therefore, a perfect solution. Because the materials were inexpensive, I also put one together for my mom, my now mother-in-law, and our close friend and ceremony soloist.

Writing letters to each of the girls was the last step. I then punched holes in the paper I had written the letters on and strung them with ribbon. We stayed in a hotel together the night before the wedding, so I arranged everything in the closet early that morning while everyone was sleeping. I staged all the pieces together— the letter on the ribbon positioned on the hanger as the inside layer, the button-down over it, the pouch containing the jewelry over that, with just a little space so you could see the personalized hanger peaking out. The flip flops were placed immediately below. Ultimately, the bridesmaids were really pleased and one of my bridesmaids told me she uses the personalized hanger all the time to display any new purchase in her closet because “it makes my new things feel that much more special.” The getting ready pictures looked amazing, and I didn’t have to ask my bridesmaids to make additional purchases. After the wedding, be sure to look out for free deals on prints from Snapfish and Shutterfly. Just sign up for their emails, so you know when they are running these promotions. Get yourself a print of you and each bridesmaid, either getting ready or in full wedding attire, and write a personalized message on the back about your experiences together that day. Cost effective, from the heart, and a great keepsake.

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