Bridesmaid gifts

Receiving wedding day presents is fun and easy for brides and grooms. Also fun, but not as easy for a bride, is giving the perfect present to her bridesmaids — that unflappable group of ladies forming her support system throughout the big day.

Two woman-owned businesses in Temple, neighbors in Pecan Plaza, help brides choose trendy gifts for their attendants, and also for groomsmen. One big trend is monogrammed bags filled with goodies.

“You can’t say thank you enough to the bridesmaids,” said Amy Thomas, owner of Zooty’s. The store offers a variety of gifts with monogramming being a popular addition among customers. “We have bags that can be used for the bridesmaids, mother of the bride and grandmothers, who are sometimes left out,” Thomas said.

Top sellers are robes and oversized men’s T-shirts for while the bride and her bridal party get ready for the ceremony. “They make for cute pictures,” she said.

Other popular choices are handkerchiefs, silver mint julep cups, pajamas and picture frames. For the groomsmen there are items such as toiletry bags, ties, socks, koozies and fountain pens.

Thomas said Pinterest, Etsy and social media have played a role in gifting trends.

“It’s good and bad at the same time. Some people think it has to look just like the picture, but most say just to take the ball and run with it,” she said.

The uniqueness of every wedding is reflected in the variety of items chosen.

One bride wanted to keep her grandfather close so Thomas cut a heart out of his overalls and had it sewn into her dress.

In business eight years, the store is named for one of the unique words in her mom’s vocabulary. “She always wanted to make sure we had something zooty, or special,” Thomas explained.

A short walk down the sidewalk is Paperdoodles, which sells custom paper products like invitations and gifts for men and women such as leather belts, jewelry and ceramic items. Always getting attention are the necklaces with sentiments including “I love you” and “friend” beaded in Morse code.

The owner, Susie Winkler, works closely with brides, even providing a checklist to help in planning. She can work within any budget.

Often included in the boxes or bags are items “that are special to the couple, depending on the vibe of the wedding,” Winkler said. “Your wedding is what you want it to be.”

Originally named the Paper Corner, Paperdoodles has been in town at least 20 years, she said.

Winkler bought the store in 2013 after working for the previous owner for years. “She taught me a lot,” Winkler said. “I like to make people happy and I’ve met a lot of people. I have formed friends with people of all ages.”

Zooty’s and Paperdoodles are community fixtures. “I’m a big proponent of shopping locally, and small, and keeping tax dollars within the community,” Thomas said. As for ordering from the Internet Thomas said, “it’s best to touch and feel an item before buying it, especially with something as emotional as a wedding.”

Emily Hilley-Sierzchula is a contributor to Tex Appeal Magazine.