Favors are the little gifts that show your gratitude for your guests’ presence at your wedding.
We know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t that what all the expensive food and booze is for?” Well, yes, but this is like the gift bag at the Oscars: the event wouldn’t feel complete without it.
Wedding favors are not generally expensive–the thing is, you need to buy one for every guest, so they add up.
You can’t economize too much here, because the appearance of cheapness is deadly. A trip to Costco ain’t going to cut it. If your guests’ goodie bags consist of a small bottle of Poland Spring and some “fun size” Snickers bars, your quests will remember, and not in a good way.
On the other hand, don’t go overboard. If everyone leaves the ceremony with a new Rolex, they’re going to assume you are are either a high level drug dealer or a Russian oligarch in disguise. They’ll wonder why you haven’t yet invited them to ride on your G5 private jet.
Three things to keep in mind when picking a wedding favor:
1) It should be tasteful and appropriate;
2) It should be something they’ll want to keep for years, or (in the case of booze or food), something they’ll want to consume immediately;
3) It should not be the straw that breaks your bank account’s back.
Here’s some wedding favor ideas that are cheap without being “cheap.”
The great thing about alcohol is that it comes in many sizes. Pick any fancy liquor and you’ll probably be able to buy tiny bottles of it somewhere. Airplane bottles allow you to benefit from the high class vibe of a really good scotch or brandy without paying the equivalent of small mortgage. These little booze bombs can serve as a way for your guests to prolong the party after you’ve gone off to enjoy your wedding night, or as “hair of the donkey” for when they stagger out of bed next morning.
This one is a little tougher, as it requires some footwork during the ceremony itself. We’ve heard of one couple who hired a caricature artist to draw guests during the reception, and there is always the option of hiring a photo booth (though that kinda defeats the money-saving point of this whole exercise).
As an alternative, buy an instant film camera (like the Fuji Instax Mini 8), rent or borrow some basic lighting equipment, and set up your own DIY photo booth. Put your photography hobbyist groomsman or bridesmaid in charge, and they can insure that people leave with nice photographic momentoes of the best day of your life.
Remember we said a trip to Costco wouldn’t cut it? Well, you can actually go to Costco if you’re willing to put in the work of disguising your thrift.
Buy a bunch of treats in bulk, then take them out of their packaging, mix them together, and put them in a nice looking bag–maybe with you and your fiancée’s initials printed on the front-and tie it with a bow. People can snarf them on the way home from the reception, the next morning in their hotel rooms (or the rooms of whoever they ended up with) or while they’re waiting for their flight home.
Giving your guests Lotto tickets might seem crass, but a surprising number of people do it. Our advice is to stay away from really bright, cartoonish scratch-off cards (which, we know, eliminates about 90% of your options). Or, if you want to go with scratch-offs, buy some nice looking envelopes to put them in. That way you’ll maintain the appearance of class, even though everyone will know you bought their gift at the local corner deli.
(Special note: keep in mind that, with this option, one of your guests might become a millionaire. You are not entitled to any of that money. Do some soul searching and make sure you’re prepared for this eventuality. If you don’t think you’ll be able to handle it when Frank the Tank cashes in his ticket and starts vacationing in St. Barts, stick to custom chocolates or handmade soaps.)
A Themed Gift
Try to get something that captures the feel and atmosphere of the place you got married.
If you had a beach marriage, maybe something related to summer (i.e., cool sunglasses engraved with the couple’s names). If your wedding had an adventure theme, something referencing travel (i.e. airplane-shaped bottle openers).
For destination weddings, the theme should be something that evokes the location. Be careful to avoid cheap tourist crap: if your guests traveled to New York City to attend your ceremony, give something nicer than one of those little metal Empire State Building models or a “New York F*****n’ City” t-shirt.
Always remember: the art of the wedding favor is in maintaining the appearance of class while spending as little as possible. Your guests will know this, and that’s fine. As long as they think you put in the effort, they’ll appreciate the gesture.