In Lieu of Favors
Leave a lasting impression on your wedding guests
As you’re planning your wedding, you’ll be faced with countless decisions, both big and small. One of the smaller, but still important, decisions is whether or not to give wedding favors to your guests and, if you do, what those favors should be.
It’s estimated that couples spend an average of $450—roughly $3 or $5 per person—on wedding favors. Even if you have a more intimate wedding with 50 or fewer guests, the costs of favors could still add up to a few hundred dollars. Of course, today’s couples are more inclined to spend their wedding budget on gifts or favors that are more meaningful versus monogrammed candies or trinkets that may end up being tossed at the end of the night. So, what should that meaningful gift be? We have corralled a list of ideas that will leave a lasting impression on your wedding guests.
Weddings a few decades ago were much more simple affairs. Family members would gather in a church or reception hall, enjoy cake and punch, and then leave to go about their everyday lives. Today, with so many guests traveling in from out of town, weddings are much more of an event—they’re even seen as an excuse for a reunion of friends or family. Because of that, a couple may find themselves hosting a handful of gatherings in the week leading up to their wedding—from brunch to parties that last well into the night.
If you have a lot of guests traveling in from out of town, consider focusing your budget on hosting these less formal gatherings ahead of your wedding. They’ll be gifted with fun, food, and times with their oldest pals, and you’ll be gifted with wedding week memories that’ll stand the test of time.
Similarly, with guests traveling in from out of town, or even if you’re hosting a destination wedding, consider a gift-filled welcome bag rather than a traditional wedding favor. If you’ve secured a block of rooms through a hotel, coordinate with them to have welcome bags ready and waiting for your guests once they check in.
Fill the bag with a welcome note, a bottle of local wine, and a box of bagels or donuts from a local bakery. It may also be helpful to include a map or reference guide of nearby restaurants, activities, and attractions for guests to enjoy while you’re off prepping for the big day. If you have families traveling in from out of town with little ones, intentionally include daytime activity ideas that even your youngest wedding guests will enjoy.
Rather than a personalized koozie with your wedding details—though those are fun too!—consider giving your guests something that is a bit more temporary but still as enjoyable. If your caterer or wedding cake baker is known for a particular food or treat, talk with them about whipping up bite sized or transportable versions of that food that your guests can take home with them at the end of the night. Or bottle up some delicious local honey or a tea blend that guests can use with their breakfast the following morning. A takeaway table filled with bags of popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, or salty pretzels will be a welcome treat after a night of dancing or imbibing.
Make It Personal
If you and your new spouse are plant lovers, wine enthusiasts, or avid board gamers, consider giving your guests a gift that aligns with your hobbies and interests. Gift them a succulent for their home, wine for their table, or a unique deck of playing cards. Who knows? Maybe you’ll teach them a thing or two and will have some new friends join in on your hobby!
For a no-waste gift that’s both thoughtful and personal, consider skipping a tangible gift altogether and make a donation to a charity or local non-profit that is important to both of you as a couple.
If your wedding takes place in an art gallery, for example, set up a donation to a local non-profit art center. If you both are animal lovers, consider making your donation to a local rescue center or rehabilitation farm. Talk about the causes that you’re passionate about and choose one that particularly aligns with your values. You could also talk with a local food bank to see if they could use any of your untouched leftover food or ingredients at the end of the night.
Include the donation information on your wedding website, day-of program, or at the bottom of your dinner menu.
What to Remember
As you’re pouring over every last detail ahead of your wedding day, it’s important to remember that your guests are attending your wedding because they love you both and are eager to support this next chapter in your relationship. Of course, if they’re going through the effort and expense of attending your wedding and giving you gifts, they should feel equally as appreciated by you as a couple. However, that appreciation will be more meaningful if they’re given a gift that is personal and intentional.