The Who, What, When & How Guide to Groomsmen’s Gifts
While your groomsmen might not be called upon to physically defend you, your bride, or the wedding loot (dowry in ancient and medieval days), they are a very important part of your wedding. They invest their time, energy, and sometimes significant financial resources towards making the day special. The groomsmen’s gift is a way to say thank you, I appreciate you, and you are a valued part of the day.
The hard part is figuring out what to get these special people: how much should I spend, when should I give the gift, what are appropriate gifts, etc. There are no hard and fast rules that you have to follow. That’s good and bad news. On the one hand, you probably aren’t going to make a fatal faux pas, on the other, there aren’t any easy rules to follow. Instead, there are some guidelines…suggestions…that will help you figure out what works best for you.
How much should I spend & Who should receive gifts?
First things first; you have to know how much you want, and can afford, to spend before you figure out what gifts fall within that budget. Usually, grooms have 7 people to purchase gifts for: ushers, groomsmen, and the best man, with a total budget of $250. On average, groomsmen gifts go for $30-100 per person. There may also be gifts for the ring bearer, your father, and the father of the bride.
There are some factors that may skew that amount. If you are expecting participants to travel a long distance, purchase their own clothing, or if it is a particularly lavish wedding, you should spend more on gifts. Remember, the gift is a reflection of your appreciation. There are some “experts” who say that your gift value should be 10% of what these friends and relatives will be spending.
Where you live and when you hold your wedding also changes how much the average groom spends. If the wedding is held during the peak times of July and August, grooms spend an average of $260. For weddings in December or January an average of $196 is spent. Granted the total cost of the wedding may also be less during the non-peak months. The average spent per state has a similar disparity. (Find your state here)
Even if you have a tight wedding budget there are still gifts that will let participants know that you value their friendship. There are some great, inexpensive gifts that fall into this category such as: pocket knives, multi-use tools, money clip, bottle of alcohol, B-B-Q sets, card holder/wallet, socks, or travel mugs.
It really is the thought you put into finding something unique, that they’ll like, is useful, and that will remind them of you, the day, and their part in making it special that counts.
What makes a good gift?
Should everyone get the same gift or should they be individualized? Remember that this is more about the receiver, and not the gift giver, so there is no one size fits all answer.
Custom leather wrapped decanter & whiskey glasses at EllaBing.com
Arguments for the same gift
If your wedding party is a close group of friends that all have a similar interest, you might find that a single item would be a great gift for everyone. For instance, if you all enjoy whiskey, you might want to gift glasses and/or decanters.
If you’re all avid golfers, you might want to give a golf themed gift like customized golf balls and tees. Even companies like Titleist will let you personalize their balls. Of course, if you aren’t sure which ball is perfect for each person, you can always give a Titleist gift card.
Another good gift source is Yeti. Their drink bottles are available in a number of sizes, styles, and colors that are customizable with text, monograms, gallery drawings, or even your own design. This is the type of gift that can be used regardless of age or occupation. You can picture an outdoorsman as easily as a businessman using it. These are reasonably priced, beloved by all, practical, yet also customized for each person.
If you choose to give a single item to everyone, nice is elevated to special by having it engraved with their name or initials. Keep in mind, when you do this, it means that that item can never be regifted. (I don’t know…is this a good or bad thing?) While you want the gift to remind the recipient of your special day and that they were a part of it, putting your and your bride’s name on it makes the gift more about you, and less about them. It’s probably nicer to keep the recipient’s name or initials the focal point with possibly only the wedding date included.
Clothing items can also be a nice groomsman’s gift. This is a way to give the same item, yet each person’s gift can be something that would fit their personality and personal style by giving different colors or patterns. Socks, ties, and bow ties are probably the best – they are one size fits all and can be whimsical or serious. If you want to add something to the tie gift you can get travel tie holders. Between a tie and the holder, you’ve picked out something they can use, that fits their style, and have personalized it even more with their name on the travel case.
Another good choice is cufflinks or a tie tack or clip. These may even be part of the wedding attire. You could choose different sets for each person; or you could choose the same links, but put their initials on them.
One of the advantages of giving everyone the same gift is that no one will think you played favorites. You also don’t have to think of numerous ideas. Remember, only gift this way if you know that everyone will like what you chose.
There are a lot of arguments for choosing a different item for each person. It implies that you really know this person, thought about what they like, and have chosen something memorable especially for them. Different gifts can make it easier if you have a diverse group of people involved in your wedding party. Finding a single gift that would be appropriate for your younger underage brother, work buddies, and an older relative may not be easy.
If you choose to go this route, make sure that all the items are of equal value. You don’t want anyone to feel slighted. Again, an added touch would be to have it personalized with their name or initials.
If you are still stumped, there are a couple options that are a hybrid of individual and group gifts. You can choose some kind of subscription such as a magazine or wine or food club.
You can also give an “experience” gift. These can be a membership to the National Parks system, tickets to a sports/music/theater/movie event, membership to a museum or club, etc. This is a way to give a different, but equal gift to very diverse people.
One final thought…it would be easy to get a generic gift card, such as Amazon, and let everyone spend it how they choose. Yes, it’s practical, but it doesn’t show a lot of thought or originality. If you need to find something portable because of the wedding destination and you want to give gift cards, make them for individualized experiences that show you gave this serious consideration.
Another option is to create gift boxes. They could be a mix of some items that are the same, but everyone gets something added that is unique to them. Add beard grooming products for one person, fishing tackle for another, or a favored food/drink item.
If your groomsmen are expected to purchase parts of their wedding attire, it’s not unreasonable to make their bow ties/cummerbunds/vests/socks/suspenders, etc. part of their gift. It helps you get a unified look for your wedding and alleviates some of their financial burden. Remember, if you do this, you need to give the gift well ahead of the wedding – before they purchase items themselves.
When do you give your gifts?
There isn’t any prescribed time to give your groomsmen gifts. You should definitely present them nicely wrapped, though! If you can’t do it yourself, have it done for you (no, a brown paper bag is not appropriate).
You probably don’t want to distribute them during the bachelor’s party. It’s more likely that they’ll get left behind. Most people choose the rehearsal dinner. It’s a quieter affair. “Proper etiquette” would be to place them at each groomsmen’s place. If you are having a destination wedding or some of your groomsmen have traveled to your wedding, make sure that the gifts aren’t too big to comfortably fit into luggage.
Interspersed throughout this article are suggestions for gifts. Some cost as little as $20, some could cost hundreds. Cost is not the most important factor in groomsmen gifts – it’s the thought that you put into giving the gift. Is it a remembrance, unique, appropriate to the person, thoughtful, practical, and just something these special people will like? Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed because there are a lot of choices that fit every budget. Whether you choose to give basically the same gift to everyone (perhaps just personalized), or different gifts for each person, try to make the giving and receiving of these gifts another memorable part of your wedding.
When did you give out groomsmen’s gifts and what was the experience like? If you’ve either received or given a wonderful groomsmen’s gift, please share it with others in our comments section. Good luck with your wedding, and we’re wishing you a wonderful day and marriage!