A Holiday Gift Guide for the Almost-Bride


You know who is probably not being showered with enough gifts and attention just for making the huge relationship decision she and her significant other made recently? The bride-to-be in your life. Hear me out.

Do not, do not, let the glimmer-glamour, everyone’s-special-right-now glow of the holiday season outshine your beautiful bride. She only has one wedding; that Joy to the World Bullshit happens every year. Restore her status posthaste by gifting her something that makes her feel premium, excessively bridal, frenzied even—something to remind her, and everyone you both know, that she is urgently, brilliantly, impeccably, sparklingly on her way to. Something. Big.

I—I mean she—she deserves it.

1. This Indispensable Planner to Keep Everything in One Place, Barneys, $75

The first adult wedding I attended (as in, I wasn’t the flower girl and it wasn’t 1993) was one between a coworker and friend at my first job out of college in NYC. She was in event planning at our company, so she was supremely organized and proactive when she started planning her own wedding, devoting to it an entire binder-notebook combo for all of her vendor contacts, site visit notes, quotes, ripped-out magazine pages, etc. Now, every time a friend gets engaged, I buy her a pretty notebook to help her start organizing her wedding plans.

This one from Smythson is luxurious, like mink, almost too pretty for this world, and includes all the right tabs (so she won’t have zillions of post-it tabs sticking out of it everywhere, looking like a half-plucked chicken). It has a leather cover so it’ll stand up to all the banging around in her tote bag it may encounter. I’m not sure how the tab “Going Away” differs from the tab “Honeymoon”—the former sounds quite morbid and as though the bride is being sentenced to 20 years of hard time, if you ask me—but otherwise, this is a perfect planner. When it’s all filled and the wedding’s passed, how lovely would it look on a shelf?

Budget-friendly option: This printable template is instantly downloadable, hole-punchable, pop-into-a-binder-able and highly personalizable.

2. A Calligraphy Class so She Can Do that Shit Herself, Laura Hooper Calligraphy, $225

It costs like, 20 oil trucks’ worth of virgin blood to hire someone to calligraph one’s entire wedding: Invites, menus, table settings, nice letter to bigot uncle explaining why he’s not invited, stupid signs that point which way is dinner and which way is dancing and which way is happily ever after, and so on. And your bride-friend is soooo much more enterprising than that. So give her the gift of

  1. Learning a sick new skill;
  2. something she can actually use to make her wedding all the more special; and
  3. an opportunity to watch her engagement ring sparkle from all sorts of new angles and hand-flicks.

You could even go with her to the class, so you two can spend more quality time together, aw! (But don’t get drunk beforehand for once, if you can stand that.) Laura Hooper hosts workshops all over the country, and the price includes all the supplies your bride will need (plus snacks!).

Budget-friendly option: This rubber stamp can be customized with her and her fiancé’s initials so they can monogram every last inch of their wedding, without having to pay his mom’s coworker’s hoity-toity graphic designer daughter.

3. Some Macarons on Top of Which She Can Put her Engagement Ring, Bottega Louie, $37.50

Wedding authorities nationwide (see: here, and all of these) recommend brides store their engagement rings on top of French macarons approximately six to eight hours daily to ensure maximum upcharge of hotness, love, and sexiness. If this ritual is ignored, divorce. Just lots of divorce.

Budget-friendly option: Pop-Tarts? I don’t know.

4. A Custom Scent-Making Session, Cities Nationwide, Price Varies

Everyone knows our sense of smell is most closely linked to memory, so picking a perfume to wear on your wedding day is no throwaway decision. One doesn’t exactly want to have to resort to her last few pungent drops of Designer Imposter Tommy Girl (what? it’s not like I have that…) to herald her back to the happiest day of her life. So give her the gift of a scent that’s purely her, by treating her to a one-on-one session with a perfumer. She’ll layer bottom, middle and top notes using individual fragrance oils, with plenty of guidance and lots of sniffing along the way. At the end of the session, she’ll have the most unique scent in the world—l’air du her. And if she saves it for the wedding day, every day thereafter, she and her groom will be guaranteed hits of warm fuzzies every time they catch a whiff. And you’ll be remembered as the mad scientist who helped her bottle that romance.

Budget-friendly option: This kit of pure fragrance oils, with rollerball bottles designed specifically for blending without impacting the integrity of the oils within, comes with yummy scents like amber vanilla and clean musk.

5. A One-Two Punch Facial Peel to Help Her Get Rid of that Lame Old Face, Sephora, $72

She may not know it yet, but this is a luxurious way to break it to her gently: The truth about being a bride is you need to sort of have a whole new, much nicer face on your wedding day. With this “resurfacing microdelivery dual-phase peel” kit, she can scrape her old face off with the Vitamin C and peptide resurfacing crystals, like she’s my dad and her face is a piece of free furniture she found on the side of the road, and then peel layers of it off with the lactic/salicylic acid activating gel. Wow, what an exciting time in a young woman’s life!

Budget-friendly option: This ergonomic dish-scrubbing wand won’t know whether it’s scrubbing a face or a dish, and won’t care.

6. A Pretty Piece of Jewelry to Keep Her Engagement Ring Company, Catbird, $56

If she’s anything like me (which, god help you all), she’ll be dying to dress up her new ring in the months before the wedding band arrives. Gift her this “kitten mitten” (still can’t decide how I feel about the name but I’m leaning toward revulsion) and she’ll have a groovy piece to accent her rock (without overshadowing it) for pre-wedding parties and events, or just any ol’ day when she wants a little extra sparkle for her sparkle. Because she just wouldn’t be her if she didn’t style every last inch of herself—and that ring finger should be no different.

Budget-friendly option: These delicate gold stacking rings will give her that cool-girl cluttery-ring effect without stealing the show. Extra points if they contrast with a white gold, silver or platinum engagement ring,

Big thanks to my impeccably tasteful, expert-gift-giver friend Anya, who was the brains behind most of the actually good ideas in this list.

Top photo via Getty. Other photos via Barneys, Shutterstock, screengrab, Catbird.

Watch this space weekly as Lauren Rodrigue shares the victories and freakouts of planning her 2016 wedding and the marriage that’ll follow. Tweet her at @laurenzalita.

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