Wedding Favors

When it comes to gifts, there is a special option for every event


Few days in life are as significant as a wedding day, and the details associated with it are numerous. Most revolve around the bride and groom’s celebration of their union, but there is one element of the day that specifically nods to the guests.

The wedding favor is a token gift shared with those who attend a couple’s important event, and it is an opportunity for the bride and groom to demonstrate style, spunk, creativity and gratitude.

Since the sixteenth century, wedding favors have been “in favor.” Aristocracy in France and Italy gave bejeweled boxes that contained confectionary treasures. Sugar was a rare luxury and complimented such a sweet moment.

Couples of lesser means gave “love knots” of lace and ribbon that extended the bride and groom’s good luck to their guests. In the Middle East, the tradition included wrapping five almonds in beautiful fabric to represent love, fertility, prosperity, health and happiness. Over time, a candy coating was added to the almonds to represent the bitter-sweetness of marriage. These colorful “confetti” remain a common and traditional wedding favor around the globe.

Angela Cocker, owner and founder of Divine Details Event Planning in Columbia, S.C., suggested that the wedding and reception plans should be well underway before a couple selects a favor. That way, an item can be chosen that better enhances the event.

“For example,” said Cocker, “if the couple decides on an evening affair that will run late into the night, providing guests with some yummy breakfast items on their way out the door is a great way to say good night.”

Also, by choosing a favor after the guest list has been secured, it is easier to gauge who will attend and what kind of small gift is suitable for them. A raucous bash for close friends calls for an entirely different item than an elegant affair for guests chosen by the couple’s parents.

Budget is important, and there are ways to be elegant and personal without breaking the bank. A special flower tucked into each guest’s napkin adds a dreamy touch to the tables. A chocolate truffle, perhaps one in a thematic shape, draws upon the sweet history of wedding favors and is delightfully consumable for guests who prefer to enjoy the celebration without having to keep track of a crafty keepsake.

“The world is shifting and thinking right now,” advises Rebecca Gaffney, event coordinator and partner in Red Letter Days Events in San Diego, Calif., “so anything that is not wasteful is appreciated.”

With that in mind, “green” favors are becoming more popular. A lucky bamboo plant in a vase enhances an Asian-themed wedding table while a baby blue spruce bundled in burlap compliments a reception at a rustic inn in the mountains. A tulip bulb wrapped in color-coordinated cloth and tied with a ribbon bearing the couple’s name and wedding date inspires the continued growth of love. Plantable herb seed place cards make tasteful mementos that can be savored later on.

Incorporate useful local items that are thematic or seasonal. An autumn reception in the North Woods calls for a maple leaf shaped bottle of syrup, but in Napa Valley a corkscrew is most fitting. At a winter reception in New York, a sparkly ornament is appropriate, while in New Orleans, beignets and chicory-laced coffee are always a treat.

A personal way to favor guests is by sharing things that are hand crafted. Homemade soaps or candles tied with recycled paper or ribbon make a colorful arrangement near the guest book. Add inexpensive monogrammed boxes of matches for extra flair. Music-loving couples might share a CD of special songs and couples who delight in culinary activities might assemble a small collection of favorite recipes.

“One couple we worked gave cookies as their favor,” Gaffney said. “Each pouch came with recipes from the couple’s grandmothers — and a carton of milk.”

One of the newest and most popular favors that couples are sharing is the gift of giving. A civic-minded couple can donate to a favorite charity or foundation in each guest’s name or on behalf of the entire group. A note at each place setting or a sign at the guest book can explain the meaning behind the conscientious and contemporary gift.