We’ve received our fair share of wedding favors over the 10+ years we’ve been photographing weddings. From candles to gin to chocolates and soaps (maybe they were trying to tell us something!) But are wedding favors necessary?
With so much to do when planning a wedding have you got time to think about favors? Do you want to forego this tradition? Or are you just looking for some inspiration on what to hand out to your guests?
Well, in this article we’re covering all things wedding favors. We’ll take you through who’s responsible for organizing the favors, discuss their pros and cons and hit you up with our list of the best wedding favor ideas.
At the same time, we’ll also consider your options should you wish to forego favors altogether and assess whether this is acceptable for modern weddings.
What are Wedding Favors?
No, they’re not asking your BFF if you can borrow their Porsche for the wedding! Although it’s not a bad idea! Instead, they’re a small gift that the happy couple gives out to all of their guests.
The tradition is believed to have started over the pond at aristocratic weddings in England and France in the early 16th century . At that time a simple sugar cube or other confectionery was given to guests as a sign of the wealth of the wedding host. Hard to believe now isn’t it?! They’d be presented in small boxes that were made of materials such as gold, crystal, or porcelain. It all sounds very posh, doesn’t it?!
Today they can be anything you want them to be, within reason of course. Some popular choices are things like candles, chocolates, and alcohol. Or, if you’re feeling particularly lavish you could choose some expensive hand moisturizers or personalized wine glasses. It really is up to you.
You can also give out different favors for different age ranges. For the young kiddos, a coloring book with crayons will serve as a wedding favor whilst keeping them occupied during the speeches.
Wedding favors will differ from couple to couple and mainly be decided by how much importance they place on them. At the same time, the budget will also play a role which is something we’ll discuss further in this article.
Are Wedding Favors Necessary for Modern Weddings?
The short answer is no. You shouldn’t feel pressured to supply your guests with wedding favors. We understand that they can cost a lot of money so it’s perfectly understandable to forego this aspect of the wedding.
That being said, we do like the tradition of offering your guests a small token of your appreciation. It shows them that you value them as a guest at your wedding. At the same time if you create handmade wedding favors it could be really rewarding for you and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Whether or not you find them necessary will really come down to you as an individual. As with a lot of wedding traditions, there are no official rules. This is just what most people do. If you want to break with tradition, that’s totally fine by us!
Who is Responsible for Wedding Favors?
It’s probably not the answer you want to hear but wedding favors are the responsibility of the couple.
Of course, you can dish out jobs to other people to make this a little easier. Say for example you want handwritten name tags for each of your favors. Well, you could call upon one of your bridesmaids who have particularly nice handwriting, so long as she’s up for the job.
Similarly, the cost will fall on your shoulders unless your parents are helping with the cost of the whole wedding. These costs can soon add up which is why it’s important to think long and hard about the type of favors you give out.
Simply put, you and your partner must sit down and discuss wedding favors.
First, decide whether or not you’re having them. If you are, you need to think about how much to budget per guest. You then need to purchase, label and hand out these favors to your attendees.
Related Reading: When Should Parents Stop Paying for Wedding
This is Why Couples Give Wedding Favors to Guests
It’s simple really when you think about it. The etiquette of giving out favors to your guests is a tangible item that thanks them for attending your wedding.
Yes, we know you’re likely to send out thank you cards as part of your wedding stationery checklist. However, this is something you can give to them on the day of the wedding.
It might be a sweet treat that they can enjoy there and then. Or, it may be something they can use for years to come as a nice reminder of what a lovely day they had.
Your guests will really appreciate this token of thanks and it will make them feel like a valuable member of your wedding party.
Is it Okay not to Give Wedding Favors?
As we’ve already touched on there are no rules when it comes to many of the traditions of a modern wedding.
In our opinion, if you choose to forego wedding favors altogether that is perfectly acceptable.
Whether your parents who might want to honor tradition feel the same is another matter. If that were the case you could tell them that you won’t be doing wedding favors but are more than happy to allow them to do them on your behalf.
We believe that they’re a great addition to the wedding table setup. They allow you to tie in elements of your other stationery and are also a way of showing your appreciation.
What we’re saying is yes it’s okay. But there are a lot of positives to consider. It’s really down to your personal preference.
How Much You Should Spend on Wedding Favors
It’s a tricky question to answer and will vary from wedding to wedding. One of the key determining factors in our opinion is how many guests you’re inviting to your wedding.
Let’s say for example you budget $8 per favor and invite 150 guests. Well yeah, you don’t need to be a mathematician to know that’s a big chunk of cheddar. It’s $1200 to save you getting your calculator out.
There’s no specific amount you should spend and you can even create handmade favors.
If you’re on a budget you could look to spend somewhere between $1-3 per guest or if you’re feeling lavish it could be $10 per guest. Alternatively, another option if you’re on a budget you could give out wedding favors to just the members of your bridal party. Or, just your parents.
How much you spend will ultimately come down to two things. 1. Your budget and 2. The number of guests you invite.
What Point at the Wedding Do You Give Out Favors?
We’ve been to over 1000s weddings so we’re pretty clued up on how to answer this. The wedding favors usually form part of the place setting for the wedding breakfast.
They’re something interesting for your guests to look at when they sit down with the rest of your guests.
Another popular option is to have a designated wedding favors table. This way your guests can pick up their gift at any point during the evening reception.
However, we find that the last method is not as successful as the first. Many guests won’t feel confident taking items themselves. We think it’s best to add a personal touch with a label clearly indicating that the favor is for that particular guest.
Pros of Giving Out Wedding Favors
A Way of Showing Your Gratitude
One of the main reasons to have wedding favors is so that you can show your appreciation.
Not only for your guests attending your wedding but for all the support they’ve offered you throughout your life.
A Chance to Share Some of Your Favorite Products
Who doesn’t love telling their friends and family about their favorite products?
Perhaps you’ve found the perfect chocolate chip cookies at your local bakery. Or, maybe you’ve stumbled upon the best smelling soap your nose has ever known. Well, this is your opportunity to share these finds with your nearest and dearest.
You’re honoring tradition
By giving out wedding favors you’ll be honoring those classic white wedding traditions that have been passed down through the centuries. If it’s good enough for the people of the past, surely it’s good enough for you today.
Cons of giving out wedding favors
They can be time-consuming
Planning a wedding can take up a lot of your time as it is. Adding another thing to the long to-do list will inevitably take up much of your time.
Say for example you aim to make homemade gingerbread men for everyone. Well, that’s definitely going to take you a long time. Then you’ve got to package each one. Finally, you’ve got to write out a name tag or thank you note.
Have you really got that much time to spare? How much of your time it takes up will of course depend on the type of favors you provide to your guest.
Equally, as we’ve already touched on. The more guests you invite to your wedding the more favors you’ll have to have.
The costs can soon add up
Simply put, weddings are expensive enough. Providing each guest with a wedding favor only serves to increase the total spend on your wedding.
If you feel they are a requirement you can look at DIY options but as we’ve already said this can result in using up a lot of your time. As they say “time is money” or in this case time you could be spending on other more important aspects of your big day.
They may not be fully appreciated
You might have spent hours and hours deliberating over the wedding favors. However, your guests may overlook them, forget to take them home with them, or straight up just not like them. That’s the gamble, particularly if you give everyone the same thing.
Those gingerbread men we mentioned earlier. Well, newsflash, not everyone likeS ginger. Some of your favors are going straight into the bin. Sorry!
Wedding favor ideas
If after reading everything so far you still want to give wedding favors to your guests, what should you actually give them?
Here are some of the most popular options we see at the weddings we attend:
DIY wedding favors
Making something for your guests is perfect for those DIY crafty types out there. We’ve seen people knit little keepsakes or bake delicious treats for their guests. We’ve also seen couples make soap and candles.
We even shot a wedding where the groom was a carpenter and had handcrafted wooden pens for all the guests!
Granted it was a small wedding of just 20 people but still awesome in our opinion.
Gifting your guests something that is truly personal will go down a treat. It will also hopefully stop that dreaded thought of them not appreciating your favors from entering your head.
You could engrave your names and wedding date on some wine glasses along with theirs. For example, “Mark, thanks so much for attending the wedding of Mr. & Mrs. Paul”. You could buy these in bulk with the only thing needing to be changed being the name of the guest.
The charity option
This is a popular choice we’ve seen at many weddings we’ve photographed. Rather than a physical object you leave a note at the table telling your guest you’ve donated money to charity.
An alternative method that we also like is to purchase lapel pins for your chosen charity. For example, you can buy 100 red dress lapel pins for $59.95 from the American Heart Association.
This way you’re not only supporting the charity but raising awareness for their great work if your guests wear them. This can be particularly poignant if someone in your family has suffered a particular disease.
Seasonal wedding favors
Getting married in December? then a Christmas tree bauble might be the perfect wedding favor. Having a summer soiree? Some cider might be just the ticket!
Essentially base your wedding favor off of the time of year and your guests will love you for it.
Functional wedding favors
Remember we said earlier about the possibility of your guests leaving your favor behind?
Well, to prevent that make sure that your favors actually have a function. A bottle opener engraved with your name and the date of the wedding is the perfect option. Other great options include things like soap, mini hand sanitizer dispensers, fold-up bags, and candles.
Edible wedding favors
There’s always room for dessert, right? Edible favors usually go down a storm with guests. Of course, make sure that no one is allergic to any of the ingredients. You can either make these yourself or buy them from a professional.
Whichever option you choose, make sure to wrap them up so that your guests can take them home if they’re too stuffed from the wedding breakfast. You could also print some cute little name labels to stick on the outside of the packet.
Plant one on us
We’ve seen this last option more and more recently, especially with eco-conscious couples.
It’s a grow-your-own starter kit. Whether it’s a tree or some fruit and veg it’s a great way to encourage guests to grow their own plants.
Provide your guests with a terracotta pot, some soil, and the seeds. That’s all they should need to get started. Hopefully, they catch the gardening bug and grow even more plants at home.
We’ve also seen couples use potted cactus plants as a favor. This provides great table decoration as well as gives your guests something beautiful to take home and look after.
What to do instead of wedding favors
What if you still don’t like the idea of wedding favors? Maybe they sound like too much hassle, but you still want to thank your guests for attending your wedding?
Here are some of our ideas for some alternatives to the traditional wedding favor:
Hire a photo booth
A photo booth is a great alternative. It gives your guest something to take home and also provides you with a photo of your guests.
The printout from the photo booth will often include the name of the couple and the wedding date as well. Your guests can take these home with them and display them however they wish.
You’ll be able to create a wedding album of all your guests acting daft in the photo booth. Try to encourage your guests to use the photo booth with wedding signs or regular announcements from your DJ.
This way you’ll guarantee you have photos of almost all your attendees.
Perhaps you’ve already served dessert but people will be hungry for more later on in the night.
You could think about hiring a popcorn maker (mmmm popcorn) or having a help yourself sweet cart. Once again you should make it obvious and encourage everyone to make use of it.
Free drink at the bar
A very very very popular option is to simply issue your guests with a token as a favor. They hand this in at the bar and are entitled to one free drink of their choice.
Very simple. Very effective. Happy guests.
Well, that’s that, hopefully, you’re now a little more informed as to whether wedding favors are necessary.
It’s ultimately something that will come down to the individual preferences of each couple.
Important factors to consider are your budget, tradition, and display of gratitude. You could ask yourselves whether you can afford to spend $5 on all 150 of your guests? Do you want to honor tradition? and, are your words and thank you cards enough to show your appreciation?
If you’re happy with your answers to those questions and they lead you to not having wedding favors then that’s absolutely fine.
However, if in doubt we think it’s best to uphold tradition even if your wedding favor is a small packet of sweets with a thank you note. It adds the finishing touches to the table settings and lets your guests know you appreciate their attendance.