Cheap. It’s such a drab-sounding word … until you realize you’re about to put on a ten, even twenty-thousand-dollar party. Suddenly, the word “cheap” takes on a whole new shine. So, you want to follow the time-honored tradition of thanking your guests for coming — wedding favors — but you don’t have a lot left over after the photographers, videographers and calligraphers? No problem. Happily enough, the cheapest wedding favor is often the best-loved: candy.
Guests love candy, because it doesn’t require them to dig a hole, water anything, or find a place for another mismatched keepsake. You’ll love candy, because it makes for a not-only-cheap, but interesting wedding favor. You can expand on the theme with exotic herbs (bought in bulk, of course) and still come in under budget. If you’re really a guerilla shopper, the world’s your oyster, but let’s start with the candy.
For cost-conscious brides, the hunt for a cheap wedding favor begins with:
- Buying spices and candy in bulk.
- Buying favor boxes, bags, jars or tins online from wholesalers, or possibly Ebay.
- Buying at online or bricks & mortar clearance sales.
Cheap Bulk Spices and Candy
An insane number of cheap favors can be made from candy and spices. Not only are they inexpensive, they’re also appreciated by all alike: restive children, snack-loving male guests, clutter-conscious marrieds.
Cute, Chic Candy Choices
- White “conversation” hearts with personalized sayings
- Jordan almonds in fresh, new colors and foil coatings
- Glamorous, glittering rock candy on a stick chocolate foiled coins
- Jelly Bellies in your wedding colors
- Salt water taffy (especially for beach weddings)
- Candy corn, in traditional or offbeat shapes
- Gummies in novel shapes and flavors (white and milk-chocolate covered gummy bears, gummy Peach O’s, hearts and cola bottles, strawberries & cream
or watermelon, gummy mice for Cinderella brides …)
- Chocolate kiss “rose” bouquets
- “Concession counter” candy: Runts, Jawbreakers, french ‘burnt’ peanuts, razy Bananas
- M&Ms in your wedding’s custom colors
- Retro candy from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s
Great Sources for Candy
- Your local large discounter grocery store, bulk section
- Oriental Trading Company: eclectic selection, great prices
- Candy Warehouse: cool bulk candy helpfully organized by color
- Candy You Ate as a Kid: retro favorites organized by decade
Don’t forget that you can get dramatic by combining your candy with elegant cookies (try pearl-sugared shortbread in interesting shapes), and hand-molded chocolates. You can also make your own gourmet popcorn balls in fascinating flavors for a cheap wedding favor. Try gourmet popcorn recipes, like Macadamia Nut, Cinnamon Red Hots, and Popcorn Caramel Apple! “Our love just keeps on poppin’…”
But what if wedding sweets just aren’t your thing? Then try a sachet of spices with an accompanying poem or recipe. This is aromatic, elegant and totally romantic. Another cute possibility? Custom tea packets. Design a tea packet featuring your names and a soft wedding image, and cover one pre-packaged bag of tea per guest.
Buying Cheap Boxes, Bags, Jars or Tins
Now that you have the cheap favor fillers, it’s time to think about packaging. Honestly, packaging can be more fun than the favors, what with those brushed-aluminum watch tins and octagonal glass jars you see in magazines. But the costs can climb.
Often you can find some of the lowest prices for packaging on eBay, although the selection isn’t always perfect. Personally, I love eBay, but I have also had a problem here or there, so I caution you: try to avoid buying key items for a high-stress event like a wedding, unless you have plenty of lead time. I’ve
learned the hard way that if a seller doesn’t stand behind their product or just kind of wanders away, you don’t have much recourse and soon you’re out of time.
Fortunately, there are ‘regular’ online stores that have super-cheap pricing plus a solid reputation. Here are a few you can buy from with confidence:
- Papermart: This plain-looking site has cheap packaging, plus a great reputation for quality and service
- USBox: Another tried & tested site with great, cheap products.
- If you can’t find what you want above, try Specialty Bottle.
- Oriental Trading Company also sells wedding favor boxes cheaply.\
Okay, good! Now you’ve got your packing out of the way. That means it’s time for the wacky, crazy world of …
Bricks & Mortar or Online Clearance Sales
All bets are off now. Who knows what you’ll find? Not me, because this step requires you to haunt the deepest reaches of your local bricks & mortar offerings (think Michaels, Joanna’s, Pier One Imports, Ikea), or the tiniest niches of not-very-large websites.
Sweet tchotchkes have been found at craft stores for almost nothing, like those little glass swans and slippers you fill with candy and wrap up in tulle. Michael’s tends to put grotesquely generous coupons in the newspaper every few weeks (ask your friends and family to collect them). Ikea has been known to cast out lovely glassware for a quarter apiece. Do your shopping!