Wedding Favor FAQ

Have a burning question about wedding favors? Hopefully the simple FAQ below will fix you right up. If not, though, leave your own question below … and we’ll get to it as soon as we can! Update: the freshest, most complete Guide to Wedding Favors can be found here. Go to it!

I’m low on cash and out of budget. Will I look bad if I don’t buy wedding favors? Almost definitely not. Wedding favors are only common in certain parts of the country — mainly the coasts. In others, they’re a rarity, not the rule.

Even if all your friends give favors at their weddings, that doesn’t mean you have to. Frequent wedding attendees say they “don’t really miss” the favors at a well-planned wedding. And even if you do have the money, you might want to consider treating your guests to an open bar instead (or a cappuccino bar!), or give a donation in lieu of a wedding favor.

Giving wedding favors should be at least as fun for you as it is for your guests. If it isn’t fun, and it stresses you out, pass on them.

What’s the story behind wedding favors? Wedding favors played different roles in different cultures. For the landed gentry of of England and France, wedding favors sometimes served as “largesse” to butter up the important guests and impress the poorer ones.

Further east — in the Middle East and Italy for example — favors were a way for the bride and groom to “bless” their guests. The five traditional wishes for health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity were conveyed with five Jordan almonds in a bag.

With today’s bride enjoying so much freedom, no matter how traditional her ceremony may be, wedding favors are expressive … a way to express yourself, and extend your wedding theme. Share yourself in a personal way — your sense of style, your profession or sense of humor! — while letting your guests know how much you appreciate their making the drive/flight/journey to be with you on “your big day.”

Why Jordan almonds, anyway? You’ll often read that these candied almonds are meant to signify the “sweet” in marriage, but the truth is, they symbolize
the bitter and the sweet.

Five Jordan almonds for each guest to eat
reminds us that life is both bitter and sweet.
Five wishes for the new husband and wife:
health, wealth and happiness; children, long life.

How much should I spend on wedding favors? A rule of thumb calls for 3% of your wedding budget. So if your wedding totals $10K, you may want to budget about $300 for favors.

How many wedding favors should I buy (one per couple/party or one per attendee/guest)? Small consumables, such as chocolates, almonds, or bubbles in small “champagne” bottles, probably call for one per guest. You can usually get away with one per couple for keepsake-style favors, which are fancier
and pricier.

I don’t have $300/$500/etc. to spend. How can I economize on favors? You can make many kinds of favors cheaply by shopping smart (small gift items at Ikea, for example, can be dirt cheap, as can pretty bags or boxes at Ebay). Attractive ‘filler’ items can be bought in bulk (candy, potpourri, fortune cookies, cinnamon sticks). See the articles on this site for many more homemade wedding favor ideas.

I get the gist, but sometimes favors get left behind, and I’d like to spend that money meaningfully. Can I donate to a charity instead? Of course. You can print out scrolls describing the charity and the donation, tie them with ribbons, and place them at each seat. Some charities will even provide these announcements for you! For a small wedding, you might be able to make a modest personal donation in each attendee’s name. This type of “favor” is growing more popular. Read more about donating to charities.

I’ve thought about making compilation wedding CDs for my guests. Is that legal? This is a gray area. The answer is probably ‘not really.’ There are passionate feelings on all sides of this issue. Sure, it ‘s unlikely a Sony SWAT team will descend on your wedding party, but there are pros and cons to the wedding favor CD.

I’ve chosen my favors, but where do I place them at the reception? “Double-duty” favors are the easiest to figure out; these are favors that double
as placecards, such as small silver frames. Other decorative favors (such as small votives) can be grouped around your centerpieces with a personalized tag, or even placed on the center of each plate.

If your favors aren’t personalized, you can place them in an attractive container near the door with a “please take one” sign. Or if they’re stackable, create a beautiful “favor tower,” possibly modeled after the cake table. Alternately, have ushers hand your favors to guests as they enter. At a very informal wedding, the deejay can remind guests to each take a favor from wherever you’ve stacked them when your guests start to leave.

If I’m doing a wedding “theme,” do my favors have to match? Absolutely not. Do whatever strikes your fancy, even if it means giving out fortune cookies at your Cinderella-theme wedding. The idea is to have fun with your favors.

What else should I keep in mind? When picking out your favors, size up your attendees. Are they going to treasure that pewter frame, or inwardly grown at the thought of more “clutter”? If you hand out seeds or seedlings, will they molder on a porch or will your guests really plant them? Is there a place to store favors while guests hit the dance floor or grab drinks? Finally, will you have a use for the favors left behind?

Final note: Don’t let wedding favors push you over the edge. If you still have room for whimsy at this advanced stage of wedding planning, by all means express it, and have fun. But if you feel overwhelmed, skip them. They’re only favors!