I've already taken care of my side of the bridal party and I'm just about done with one of our flower girls - my 2 1/2 year old niece.
My niece collects these dolls called Madame Alexander dolls, carrying on a tradition started by her grandmother and mother. Each Madame A is about 8" tall and has cute little hand-painted face, blinky eyes, and outfits to represent countries, holidays, or storybooks. They range in price from $50 all the way up and over $200. Between her mother, her grandmother, and myself (I worked at FAO Schwarz in college and passed on my small collection to her because I lost interest in it), my niece has about seven dolls already. Since the dolls are so expensive and special, I decided to add to her collection for our bridal party gift to her!
The problem with giving her something like a Madame A, though, is of course that she's certainly not old enough to enjoy or understand the value of something like a Madame A. And rightfully so. How much fun is it to receive something that is this pretty:
... that you can only look at??? I remember what it feels like to have that happen. And I will not do something so cruel and unfair like that to my sweet little niecey.
SO... I needed to come up with something to make a gift like that a little more fun.
I KNOW. What am I talking about?
It just so happens that in the years 2002 and 2003, McDonalds teamed up with Madame Alexander and put play dolls in their happy meals for girls! After some extentsive searching on Ebay, I actually found a bride and a groom (Memories of a Lifetime Bride/Groom) originally released by McD's and still new in their packages!!! I bid on them, one them, and bought them for about $12 with shipping and handling. The plan is to give them (along with two others I found and couldn't resist also getting) to my niece along with the collectible Madame A that can only be looked at. Here are the ones that are play-worthy (picture can be clicked on to see a nice big picture of them in detail):
I'm really excited about this idea. I don't know if my niece will pay any mind to the fact that the collectible version is going to packaged so much nicer than the play dolls - though I'm going to do my very best to package them as closely as possible to how real Madame A's are packaged (tiffany blue boxes with pink tissue paper and white grosgrain ribbon holding the doll in place - I used to be in charge of the doll collection at the store *wink*).
I HIGHLY recommend these McDonald Madame A's instead of the Bride Barbies that they currently have out. Find them on ebay under search terms "McDonald Madame Alexander" or for the bride and groom "Memories of a Lifetime Bride" (or groom).