Wedding favors are an optional expense. Just because many weddings used to have them doesn't mean you're obligated to continue that tradition! But if you do decide to invest in wedding favors for your guests, pick something they'll want to take home with them.
When you invest a portion of your budget to buy wedding favors for each and every one of your guests, it can feel like a frustrating waste when they are left behind on the table or clustered together by the bin at the end of the night.
While some may choose not to do favors at all (and I'm fully in favor of that!) there are many options for things that can add value for your guests, beauty to your wedding table and design aesthetic, or even serve a dual purpose.
Here are some tips to help you select favors that are less likely to be wasted, and more likely to enhance your event!
Skip the Branding
You may spend a lot of time designing a little logo or creating, essentially, branded swag for your event. It's easy to fall into the branding trap. There seems to be a lot of pressure out there to plaster your names, wedding date, or event logo on items for your guests. But how many initialed shot glasses, branded luggage tags, or planters do you use from events you've attended as a guest?
Save the branding for things that will be used and enjoyed during the event, like customized napkins during cocktail hour, or for something that can be used, like a beautifully wrapped bar of soap.
If you want to give your guests something to tie into a destination wedding theme, for example, luggage tags, consider branding only the removable insert (these can double as escort cards...more on that below). Your guests will still think fondly of you and the amazing memories from their trip whenever they use it, even without your initials. Less is more!
Give Your Favors a Dual-Purpose
Favors that double as escort cards can add a fun, interactive element to your event. They can even help supplement the decor!
I'm predicting we'll see a lot more of escort-card bud vases in the next year. These are sweet, charming, and enhance your tablescape (rather than cluttering it).
Your guests can take the bud vase home, and will think back to their experience every time they add a fresh flower.
Other examples of interactive, favor-based escort displays could mini bottles of something wonderful (Topo Chico in Austin or Mexico, limoncello in Italy, you get the idea), or even something more playful like sunglasses. For those, instead of custom branded, add a removable sticker over one lens with the guest name and table number. (Personally, though, I'd skip the plastic waste, and pick a more consumable favor.)
Remember: Consumable Wedding Favors Are Always a Hit
Whether sweet, savory, or something to use, consumable wedding favors are the most likely to delight your guests and be taken home, not left behind at the end of the night.
There are so many wonderful options here. For something sweet, consider treats like chocolates, speciality candies, or French macaron. For savory-lovers, local spice mixes, little jars of chutney, jams, or miniature bottles of liqueur are popular choices. If you want to share something that your guests can use to brighten their day, small decorative soaps, hand cream, candles, or potted succulent plants make nice options.
Pro Tip: Thoughtfulness is key here. If you have a guest with a specific allergy, or someone who does not consume alcohol, but you have your heart set on a specific chocolate or miniature limoncello, it's imperative to select an attractive alternative for those guests. Your planner will help make sure the right favor ends up in the right spot to ensure that every guest gets a treat they can enjoy.
Select Something to Celebrate Your Surroundings
As we've covered, a consumable treat is always well-received, and can also be an opportunity to add a personal connection to your wedding venue or location.
For example, there's a villa in Florence that makes their own honey with bees that pollinate the very same gardens in which you'll say your vows. What could be sweeter than that?
For weddings in Italy, Greece, Portugal, or Spain, miniature olive oils are a popular choice. In France, small bottles of wine or splits of champagne are nice options.
These types of can give your guests a literal taste of your venue, and give you an opportunity to use any custom venue or monogram illustrations, too.
Pro Tip: When evaluating these options, consider something small – within TSA's approved 3.4 oz/100 ml – to ensure all guests could transport it back in their carry-on if they aren't checking bags. For travel ease, make sure these items have secure lids (a screw top is preferable to a stopper, unless it's reinforced with a good seal)!
Make Your Wedding Favors Personal
You can still give your favors an extra-personal touch without relying on branding.
For example, a short, handwritten note or vintage postcard on each plate can double as a place card, and shows appreciation for your guests. These personal notes – which can be short and sweet – are extra thoughtful and personal. Or for the artistically inclined, mini watercolors or sketches can be charming.
You can also choose something that's personal to you and your partner to share with your guests. A QR-code that links to a playlist of your favorite songs, something from your favorite distillery or chocolate shop, or a little booklet of all your favorite things to do in the area can add an extra thoughtful touch.
Let Guests Participate
I've said it before and I'll say it again: favors are optional. And as with anything optional, there are no rules. You can get creative!
For example, you can also put what you've allocated in your budget for favors towards an interactive experience for guests that includes a built-in takeaway.
With photo booths, guests get an activity, and they get to keep the prints. Hire an artist to do quick sketches or watercolors of your guests, or a writer to craft custom, on-the-spot poems inspired by each guest. Or, set up a temporary-tattoo station, complete with cloths and water for your guests to apply on the spot. (This is one instance where there's more flexibility with branding too, since it's right in the name: they're temporary.)
Another option is to set up a station where guests can create their own goodie bags. For example, a table with your favorite candies and little bags for guests can celebrate your sweet tooth, or movie-loving couples may choose a popcorn machine and little popcorn containers for a fun to-go snack. This is also an opportunity to lean in to local ideas, like a confetti table (the sugared almonds are a must-have at traditional Italian weddings), or a station where guests can fill their own lavender sachet for a South-of-France fête.
Your guests can take home these little mementos, and more importantly, fun memories.