The Definitive Guide to Wedding Favors
We’ve written extensively about what to get your best man and groomsmen (see here if you need some ideas), and our site is full of gift ideas for those members of your wedding party. But what about wedding favors?
Should you give gifts to everyone who’s attending your wedding but doesn’t have a specific role as best man, groomsman, or usher?
They’ve probably traveled some distance to attend your wedding and likely bought you a gift from your wedding registry, so (in addition to feeding them and providing them with an open bar) it’s only fair to have some small wedding souvenirs as a sign of thanks for their attendance and support.
If you’re shopping for wedding party favors, this checklist will give you some gift ideas and make sure you don’t overlook anything when selecting the perfect ones.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING WEDDING FAVORS
You’re in luck here, because no one expects you to spend as much on your wedding favors as you did on gifts for your groomsmen. It’s very possible to get gifts with a personal touch without breaking the bank, rather than resorting to mass-produced generic products which will likely get thrown away.
With most wedding favors, all will look the same rather than featuring personalization with individuals’ names. Depending on how your vendor factors in setup and per-unit customization fees, you should save some money by getting 50 or 100 identical products rather than the same quantity of products that are different for each guest.
When contacting a vendor, you’ll need to confirm much more than just the unit price — be sure to ask if they charge any setup or artwork fees in addition to any per-unit customization charges, and ensure that you get a solid shipping quote.
Keep in mind that your vendor probably has dozens of other weddings around the same date as yours, and personalized gifts take time to process and ship.
If you’ve procrastinated, make darn sure that the vendor can guarantee delivery in time for your wedding. Otherwise, you could have to eat the cost of a shipment that arrives two days after your wedding. Or you may have to mail things out to each individual guest.
Most good vendors (like us) will have some sort of procedures in place for rush processing and/or expedited shipping. But expect to pay a bit more if you’ll need head-of-the-line privileges for your order or if you’ll need FedEx Next Day Air freight.
When/How Will You Give Them Out?
Do you plan to get favors that will be useful during the ceremony itself? If you’ve got an afternoon beach wedding and have ordered personalized sunglasses for your wedding, it wouldn’t make much sense to wait until the reception to make them available to your guest. Task your ushers or groomsmen with handing them out pre-wedding to anyone who wants them.
You could also opt to have your wedding favors laid out in a free-for-all for your guests at the cocktail hour or reception — this distribution method will save you some time since you won’t have to arrange things precisely or worry about placement. You can simply have a basket full of koozies or table stacked with coasters in that situation.
Or you could choose to get dual use out of your wedding favors by personalizing them and using them to indicate assigned seating for each guest at the reception dinner.
If that approach sounds good to you, this blog post has some ideas that may be what you’re looking for. The downside with personalization vs. all-the-same stuff is that you have to pay attention and ensure that the right name ends up on the right spot, rather than just handing them out en masse.
Another option to help save a little bit of money would be to give them out at the rehearsal dinner or at the morning-after brunch. Presumably, those events will be attended by a smaller (and closer) group of people than will attend the wedding itself.
Will Guests Like It?
I can’t count the number of weddings I’ve attended where the newlyweds gave out wedding favors that I dumped in the trash the next day. In several cases I didn’t take them home with me in the first place.
On the other extreme of the spectrum, I can think of two or three weddings in which I received unique wedding favors that have survived several moves and that still use on a regular basis.
You want to be in that second group…otherwise, you’re just wasting your money.
Is It Appropriate For Everyone?
A flask or bottle opener might be a great choice for your groomsmen, but may not be the best option for 80-year-old grandparents and 6-year-old flower girls who are in attendance.
An airplane bottle of liquor with a customized label might not be a bad option for a grownups-only wedding. Maybe not a good choice if you’re marrying into a Mormon family or have in-laws who have struggled with alcoholism.
Also, if a large chunk of your guests had to fly rather than drive they’ll either have to ditch the bottle or put it in a checked bag and hope it doesn’t break.
Before you buy anything do some thinking about the demographics of your guest list and make sure your favors are audience-appropriate.
Like standard party favors or those for a bridal shower, how you package your unique wedding favors matters almost as much as the gifts. There is an advertising adage that people buy the sizzle not the steak.
That goes for wedding favors as well. Gift bags are the usual go-to for packaging your personalized wedding favors but there are also handy DIY projects that may get your creative juices flowing including fancy gift bags to hand out at the wedding reception.
For inspiration take a look at Etsy. If you decided against the DIY route or ordering something personalized for your unique wedding favors, a nice photo of the happy couple with the wedding date is always a nice touch.
You can use gift tags that match your wedding theme to customize and leave personal messages to each guest if you are having a smaller wedding. A personal message is a nice way to show your guests how much you appreciate them attending your wedding.
Depending on your bride and how invested she is in the color scheme of the wedding, you may want to pick gift bags that match the colors of your wedding. This brings the entire wedding together. Fancy favors and gift bags that match your decorations make for memorable gifts.
Seasonal or Weather Appropriate
The weather on your wedding day or your wedding venue can make for some creative gifts. If it’s a hot summer day and your wedding is outside, include little spritz fans or something to help your wedding guests cool off.
Something Meaningful or Personal
Do you and your bride share a special interest in common? Something that means something to the both of you?
Maybe the two of you enjoy attending concerts together — then make your wedding favors music oriented.
If most of your wedding guests are obsessed with your alma mater or hometown NFL team, give out favors with your team’s theme.
Are Your Guests Traveling?
If you are having an out of state wedding or most of your guests have to travel a significant distance to your wedding, make sure your wedding favors can fit in a suitcase and are approved for air travel.
Always Purchase Extra Favors
It’s in your best interest to purchase more wedding favors than the number of people who sent an RSVP. Someone may bring a date and forgot to add a plus-one. Maybe someone said they couldn’t make it but were able to get time off work to attend your wedding.
Better to have more than enough than not enough when it comes to wedding favors. And if you end up with a few extra coasters or fans, you’ll be able to use them in the future anyway.
More and more couples are asking for donations in exchange for wedding favors. There may be a cause that means something to you, from cancer to helping the homeless. Don’t be afraid to ask for donations from your guests.
Instead of wedding favors, maybe hold a raffle for a few big prizes. All the money received from the sale of raffle tickets can go to your charity of choice.
OUR TOP WEDDING FAVOR IDEAS
You can go fancy or cheap with these — anything from laser-engraved or screen-printed cork or leatherette (or cardboard if you don’t care about durability) all the way up to marble, leather, tile, or slate.
You can view all of our options for custom coasters here, and get steep discounts when you order large batches with identical engraving.
Since they’re thin and lightweight you shouldn’t have to pay too much for shipping. They’ll be easy to lay out on the bar at cocktail hour or on tables at the reception.
If you end up with a bunch of leftovers, you shouldn’t have too much trouble making use of them over the coming years.
You could also personalize coasters for each guest and use them to mark each table setting for the reception.
Can or Bottle Koozies
These are usually available for reasonable prices, and you should be able to choose from a handful of options for material, engraving/printing, color, and so forth.
If you’re looking for a large number of them with the same design, then your best bet will likely be screen-printed, UV printed, or sublimated print on a foam or neoprene koozie.
Sites like Discount Mugs offer dozens of options that are affordable, particularly if you’re ordering 50-100 or more.
Or you can see a few styles that we offer right here, and get free shipping as well as significant discounts as you increase the size of your order.
Be sure that the size you choose matches the type of beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) that you’ll be serving at the wedding. While some koozies fit both cans and bottles, most are the right size for one or the other.
If you plan to have buckets of beer scattered around at your reception and don’t want to have to hire a bunch of bartenders, your guest will appreciate having access to a bottle opener since they may not already have one on their keychain.
Once again, sites like Discount Mugs have plenty of options for cheap bottle openers that can turn out to be reasonably priced if you want them all to have identical customization.
Or you can see some of our bottle opener options by clicking on the photos above or on this link to see what we’ve got available, all of which are eligible for steep discounts if you’re ordering in large numbers.
Glassware and Drinkware
You can go with all kinds of options here — wine glasses, pint glasses, rocks glasses, or mason jars. Get them customized with your wedding date or monogrammed with your initials and either distribute them at the cocktail hour or have them placed at each table setting at the reception.
Like we discussed with coasters, if you end up with a bunch of leftover glasses you’ll no doubt be able to find a use for them in years to come — although you’ll have a bit harder time hauling a few dozen glasses home than you would with coasters.
If you’re worried about durability for guests who have a flight to catch after the wedding, you could always go with something like engraved stainless steel or aluminum drinkware.
If you’re like me, at any given time you probably have one pair of nice sunglasses and several “beater” pairs that you don’t care about scratching or losing. If I’m headed to a friend’s wedding where I know I’ll be drinking and dancing for 6+ hours, I’m not going to bring anything valuable with me.
For an outdoor wedding during the daytime, your guests might appreciate a cheap pair of glasses that they can wear for a few hours and not care too much if they lose them or break them over the rest of the night.
On sites like DiscountMugs.com you can get customized sunglasses for very reasonable prices. Choose to have them personalized with your initials, wedding date, or location. They’re not fancy by any means, but they’ll suffice for a few hours of wear.
Or you could go a little bit nicer for your immediate wedding party and choose something like Knockarounds with a custom color scheme on each part of the frames and the lenses.
Food is a staple of weddings, from the rehearsal dinner to the wedding cake to the food at the reception. So some type of edible treat makes for a great wedding favor.
Candies are always great and chocolate is usually a safe bet. Who doesn’t like chocolate? Jams and jellies are an option as well.
If most of your wedding guests are over 21, maybe small bottles of wine will put a smile on their faces. For those under the legal drinking age, bottles of sparkling grape soda make for a great treat.
People expect to indulge in sweets at a wedding. Hershey’s offers “Wedding I Do” chocolates that every guest will love.
Fudge is a great gift for all wedding guests to snack on before or during the reception. Hall’s two-piece set even comes with a cute gift box and is available with bulk discounts.
Consider sugar-free chocolate and other diabetic-friendly candy as an option.
If you do go with food as a wedding favor, non-perishable food is your best bet. You don’t want to hand out food that needs to requires refrigeration or that will melt if left outside for a few hours prior to or during the reception.
Picture frames are always a great wedding favor. They’re perfect for close family members who want the best photo moments of your special day for everyone to see.
If you use a photo booth for your wedding, these photo booth magnetic picture frames are a great wedding favor. Your guests can get in the booth for serious and silly photos, with the added bonus of a picture frame that will show these photos off on their fridge.
Candles are a favorite among wedding goers. You can customize the jars of candles with your wedding date or a special message for each of your guests.
These Silver Dollar Candles offer awesome candles with a jar that you can leave a customized message on, as well as on the lid. They are eight ounces of handmade and hand poured wax.
Since these candles are soy-based, they burn cleanly and don’t release any toxins into the air. You even get to choose whether you want unscented candles or there’s a variety of scents to choose from.
Candles always come in handy so they’ll be extremely useful in the future for your wedding guests. Not to mention, candles last for ages.
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Those should be enough options to get you started — leave a comment to let us know if we forgot anything.
If we like your suggestion we may include it in future updates of this post.