Gift Ideas for Your Wedding Party

Traditionally the bride and groom give a gift to each of their bridesmaids and groomsmen as a gesture of thanks for standing up with them and investing the time and money to be included in the wedding party. As a wedding photographer, I have seen all kinds of gifts, and I definitely have some favorites!

Some of the gifts I see the most for bridesmaids are:

1) Matching robes/shirts/PJs. Robes can come in floral, solid or textured patterns and fabrics, and sometimes they are a touch more luxurious with a monogram or wording on the back or left chest. But no matter the style, they always make for a great photo with the bride once all the hair and makeup is done!

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2) Jewelry. This is a popular one because it means all the ladies will be wearing matching jewelry the whole day, which is also nice for photos.

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3) Tote bags. I’ve seen super cute canvas tote bags (sometimes customized) that are handy for toting around all the wedding day essentials. Bonus if you put their name or initial on it — they’ll always know whose is whose!

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For the fellas, here’s what I see trending:

1) Cufflinks. Again, it’s nice to have everyone matching, or to give them something that’s maybe not as noticeable but re-usable and meaningful to each guy. It’s cool when they are favorite sports teams!

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2) Flasks. These are practical and personal! Flasks can also be customized with each groomsman’s name or initials. And it’s something he can re-use also!

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3) Favorite liquor/beer. In our own wedding, we gave each of the groomsmen a handle of their favorite alcohol — this one is always a hit, though not super long lasting. ;)

4) Hotel night stays. Especially if being in the wedding could be considered a hardship for any of your crew, you could gift them with a night or two in the hotel block to help offset some of their costs with attending and standing up in the wedding.

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Maybe you’re looking for something a bit different or that will make more of a statement with your wedding party? Make a lasting impact on your wedding party with a pair of sunglasses or a gift card from Warby Parker (who has one of my favorite Instagram feeds, by the way!). ;)

Warby Parker has a new bulk ordering process that lets you order multiple products at one time, and all pairs come with a case, a microfiber lens cloth, and colorful packaging. If you were to happen to need more than 50 pairs, they even include a custom lens cloth with each pair!

I also love personal gifts that are meaningful to the couple. If you’re into Legos, maybe you give a special Lego set to each of your party. If you’re into movies, maybe you gift a copy of your favorite flick or a gift card to Redbox or Netflix. If you’re an adventurer, maybe you gift your favorite water bottle. The possibilities are endless! Whatever you decide to give, be sure to include a thank you note expressing your gratitude and appreciation for each person. Your kind words with the thoughtful gift will leave a lasting impression.

What unique gifts have you seen at weddings you’ve been in?

Lana + Ross | Champaign Country Club wedding

Lana is the woman of many faces — some of them made it into this blog post, but many more of them will make it into their full gallery. She is so exuberant, full of life, and her energy is contagious!! And then Ross is a talented gift-giver. He showered Lana with gifts all day long, including the pièce de résistance, a box listing “the first day”, “the yes day,” and “the best day.” The box contained photos of all 3 of those days INCLUDING the wedding day! He had someone snap a photo while we were out at Guido’s and had them run and pick it up at Walgreen’s. She was floored! We also made a quick visit to Fat City, the site of the couple’s first meeting, which we re-created.

Those of you who know I love color, will quickly see how much I loved this wedding! There were colorful details galore, with hot pink and navy as the recurring themes. Loads of personal touches were included throughout as well, including Lego table numbers that Ross + Lana built themselves (I wonder how much time that took!), and the elaborate and detailed Harry Potter cake. They even traveled out of state to get a keg and some cases of Yuengling after securing a special liquor license to serve it.

The ceremony was very warm, but lovely, and as the couple walked back down the aisle as husband and wife, some guests shot off wedding cannons. I had never seen these before, but they looked super cool in photos!! Highly recommend for outdoor weddings! Following the ceremony it was time for cocktail hour and then into the ballroom, which was bathed in purple/hot pink uplights. The couple had hired the Green Fourteen band from Chicago to keep the dance floor going. They had hype dancers, the singers sometimes went out into the crowd, and they played for a solid 3 hours with no breaks. And they sounded phenomenal! The dance floor was definitely jumping.

I loved spending the day with Lana + Ross, and wish them congratulations on their new life together. It was an epic day, and I was honored to be a part of it! #runningawayfromholm

To book your own wedding or photo session, email Holly.

Vendors

Venue: Champaign Country Club

Cake: Cakes by Lori

Florist: Rick Orr

Band: Green Fourteen Band of Chicago, IL

Officiant: Peter Bannon

Bride's Dress: Elite Bridal - Martina Liana

Tuxes: Jos. Banks

Transportation: Starr Limousine

Linens: BBJ Linens

Invitations + Programs: Fabulous Affairs of Bloomington IL

Jeweler: Reed Diamonds of Champaign IL

Mirror Me photo booth: Epic Entertainment

Videographer: Tori Beach

Hair: Kane & Co. - Lauren Kesler

Makeup: Mallory Herges of Chicago IL

Stage Setup and Lighting: Brian Knox

Camp Climb | Summer Camp for Creative Entrepreneurs

In August, I spent an amazing, unplugged weekend in New Liberty, Iowa at a Girl Scout Campgrounds for the inaugural Camp Climb retreat. It was exactly what my mind and soul needed after a busy summer wedding season, before heading into an even busier fall season. I went into the camp only knowing a couple of people attending, including speaker Dannie Fountain (aka my Google/Squarespace/marketing guru) and fellow Champaign-area resident Leah Longueville who I met with for coffee before the camp once we both realized we were from the same place. People travelled from all over the country to attend this camp, and I met a ton of new, awesome & inspiring women.

The campers were split into 3 groups - base, tent, and peak campers. As an established business, I chose the peak camp group and I was so inspired by the women in my group!

Friday evening started out with a meet-and-greet and social activities — sangria, leather luggage tag stamping, and flower crown designing. We then had dinner and the evening speaker, Carrie Anton from Wonder: An Idea Studio who talked about brainstorming. We then enjoyed s’mores by the fire outside before turning in for the night into our super uncomfortable camp beds! LOL A short thunderstorm

Saturday morning was up early for yoga in the fog (my first time ever doing yoga!), breakfast, canoeing in the lake, casual chats lakeside with Jenna Kutcher, and chair massages! After some great conversations, time for relaxing and lunch, it was time for the afternoon speaker series.

First up, Dannie Fountain who talked about 20% projects — essentially saying that you should commit a certain amount of time each week to work on a personal or passion project. At the time of camp, my new podcast was just a solid idea in my head with no real guidelines and one interview lined up. Camp was kind of the catapult that made me push to make it my passion project. I have been loving doing the interviews, editing, and getting the episodes ready to roll… stay tuned for my projected Oct. 1 launch!!

Then Amber Krzys encouraged us to stop pleasing people and start serving them instead. “You cannot give from your depletion,” she said. “Serve yourself first.”

Camp Climb founder Emma Hicks then did a panel discussion with Michelle Calloway who was one of my fellow peak campers. They talked about business and family, being from the midwest, and took questions from the audience.

The final afternoon speaker was Jenna Kutcher, host of the Goal Digger podcast, photographer, educator, and blogger. Jenna also did a Q&A from the audience and was truly an open book which was so nice to hear. She was super down-to-earth and personable. She gave me 3 great takeaways that I have been implementing into my business and hope to keep using.

Saturday evening was the pool party and food truck pizza — so fun and so delicious! There was also wine and Summer Shandy! Some people went down to the lake again then to release paper lanterns after dark, but many of the peak campers chose to go back to our cabin and organize our own mastermind session. It was a super time of bonding, inspiration, snacks, and camaraderie. It was great getting to know a fantastic group of boss babes on a slightly deeper level. A few of them also have podcasts or have been on each other’s podcasts, so I’ve been enjoying listening to them since camp!

Sunday morning was time for breakfast, a long walk, a cold shower, meditation/reflection time, and then closing ceremonies. Then it was back to Illinois and home!

I already have the dates for the 2019 Camp Climb on my calendar (Aug. 16-18), and am anxious to hear who the speakers will be when they are announced soon (edit: one was announced just after I wrote this post!)

Photos in this post by me (cell phone shots), Iron & Lace Photography, and Sweet Little You Photography. Part of the unplugged weekend was letting other people take the photos, and let me tell you — it was SO nice!