When planning a wedding Sarah Lugg recommends that favors “should not stand out on their own but be part of the overall wedding story. She actually recommends in her book, Sarah Lugg’s The Handcrafted Wedding, to create a mood board, much like an inspiration board if you were decorating a room. Lugg says, “I create these mood boards to give a visual representation to the overall essence, or feeling of each story.” So step one is to figure out what your story is and how you want to express it. Is your day going to be formal or relaxed? What colors are you going to use? Will you have a large crowd or a few intimate friends? What feeling are you trying to covey? In many cases, favors are placed out on the tables when guest sit down; therefore, it is vital that they integrate with the overall scheme. You can certainly put them over by the exit door, if the gifts don’t enhance the overall ambience, but you will still want them to be part of the overall mood. Since you often need many of these favors, cost is also a consideration. While at the same time you do not want them to look cheap. Martha Stewart states in her book, The Best of Martha Stewart Living Weddings, that “almost anything can be made into a favor as long as it is pleasing, portable, and available in multiples.” When you are making them yourself, you also have to consider repeatability. How easily can you reproduce what you are making and how long will each one take to make? 20 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you multiply that times 200 guests, you will be working on your favors for 4,000 minutes or 67 hours. Simplicity is best.
Personalization is a big trend in all areas of design. The more personal that you can make your favors, the more your guest will enjoy them. Think of things that you and your future spouse have done. What do you enjoy doing? Where do you enjoy going? What do you enjoy eating? These are possible inspirations for your favors. In my case I love to read, so a hand cross stitched bookmark may be appropriate or a simple beaded bookmark. We also love the beach so perhaps, we could have given simple beach smoothed rocks with word of “love”, “beauty”, or “peace” on them. My husband sells fire trucks, so we could have made sugar cookies and decorated them to be fire trucks to set at each place setting. Look to your past to inspire you.
Another big trend this year is green / environmental. This concept can be expanded on in many ways. One simple and ongoing gift might be a gift of flower seeds. Depending on how DIY you would like to get, you can harvest seeds from your favorite flowers, dry them, and then preserve them in your own seed packets. If harvesting your own is a bit overwhelming, you can certainly buy them commercially or check with a local nursery. If you do have a green thumb and a little extra time, planting herbs in small terra cotta planters is a beautiful and appreciated favor. If you are better in the kitchen, consider making your own flavored vinegar, oil, or sugar in decorative glass containers. All of these require a few weeks to set, but would be much appreciated and most likely used by guests.
If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, certainly there are always the old standbys like covered almonds, candy, bubble bottles, but in this coming year if you are going to go with an old standby, you will need to step it up. You won’t just use any candy, but your favorite candy from when you and your sweetie visited Vienna or you will surprise your guests with M&M’s that have your face on them. You may want to consider giving your guests a favorite bottle of wine with a custom label on itor your favorite scented candle with a personalized label . Guests expect and appreciate when favors are thought out and not just an after thought plopped on the table.
Perhaps the easiest and best gift to give to your guests is to give nothing, but to make a donation to a cause dear to you instead. Philanthropy and helping others is more in fashioned than ever before. You can use a place card template on the computer and a little creativity to make a plaque that explains that a donation has been made in their honor to XYZ charity. Although wedding favors are very popular there is no hard and fast rule that says guests must leave with tangible gifts. Frankly, how many favors do you have stuffed here, there, and everywhere? Or worse, how many have you thrown in the garbage? Save your guests the guilt, and donate to a worthy cause.
No matter what you choose, I beg you to stay focused on the most important part of the day: your actual vows and love for each other. Everything else, including the favors, is extra. The clarity of your love for each other will be more evident and remembered by the guests than anything you put on the table.