When the friendships you have with your wedding party are priceless, how do you decide what’s appropriate to spend on their thank-you gifts?

There’s actually no clear-cut answer, says Elise Mac Adam, author of “Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone In Between” (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008). “The key is to come up with a total amount that’s comfortable for you to spend and then go from there.” So, if your event is a mostly DIY affair for 40 people, no one is expecting you to dole out $2,000 Givenchy totes.

In addition to budget, the number of attendants and how much they are shelling out on you (i.e. if your ’maids are spending $500 on attire, getting their hair and makeup done, and traveling across country, a $15 plastic bangle may be a little unbalanced) can play a part in the items you select. But wedding planner Susan Cordogan of Chicago-based Big City Bride say they typically see couples spend around $50 to $200 per person. Also, keep in mind that the maid of honor and best man often receive an extra special gift, and no matter what you give, don’t forget a sincere note of thanks Mac Adam adds.

Aim to have gifts purchased at least a month in advance, but feel free to pass them out at any time. If you want a more intimate setting to say thank you to your ladies, Cordogan suggests doing it during a bridesmaid luncheon (or a hot towel shave outing for the guys). It’s also quite common to do it combined with a toast during the rehearsal dinner, when all your closest friends and family are assembled, says Mac Adam, especially if it’s a gift that could be used during the wedding itself.

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