The Case for No Wedding Favors

A place setting at a wedding reception with a favor on the plates.

Wedding favors have taken over a drawer in my kitchen. As I rummage through the drawer, I come across Koozies, wine openers, bubbles, and all sorts of little random things with couple’s names strewn across them. Wedding favors often become something we just stash away. Are they really necessary?

The History of Wedding Favors

Historically, the etiquette of wedding favors began as a way to express gratitude to guests for their time and effort honoring the couple’s union. Centuries ago, wedding favors were a box made of crystal or porcelain and filled with expensive treats. Today, not everyone is as wealthy as these European aristocrats. Today, the run the gamut from framed pictures of the couple to personalized candy. Are you really going to display a framed photo of your husband’s boss and his wife in your home? Are you excited to ruin your diet with those personalized jelly beans?

Consider How Favors Factor into Your Wedding Budget

A plastic cake topper of a bride and groom on top of a pile of cash.

Wedding favors probably aren’t going to break a wedding budget, especially if you go for little ones in bulk. But a budget that’s already tight doesn’t need a few hundred dollars tacked on just to give people small gifts. Keep in mind that anything personalized is going to increase in cost. Even if you gave every guest a special piece of chocolate at their place setting, remember that you’re paying per guest. If you have a big wedding with over 200 guests, even a $1 piece of chocolate is going to add up. You’re already paying for your guests to eat, drink, and be merry. Is the absence of a small wedding favor going to ruin the experience for them? Probably not.

Know that Some Wedding Favors Will Be Left Behind

Chances are that at the end of the wedding day, there will be some favors left behind as the guests head home. Perhaps your guests will simply forget to grab their favor on their way out the door—or perhaps they left it behind intentionally. And then you’re stuck with stacks and stacks of candles with your name on them. (We had boxes of bubbles leftover from my dad’s wedding that just sat there. And unless you have toddlers who love to play with bubbles, you probably aren’t going to bust open those bubbles any time soon.) Favors are a fun idea that can add to a place setting, but they can get lost in the fray and can ultimately be wasted money.

Go Edible With Sweets or a Famous Local Food Item

A rustic table setting at a wedding reception with an orange on each place setting as a wedding favor.

If you do feel compelled to have wedding favors, going edible may be your best bet. Decades ago, guests took home pieces of wedding cake as their favor, but nowadays that usually gets inhaled at the reception with few leftovers. Instead, send guests home with cookies, candy, or even a Bloody Mary kit for their morning hangover. Perhaps the wedding is held in a region known for a certain culinary item you can gift, such as local citrus. We decided to do a candy “bar” for our wedding. Guests filled up little baggies full of all sorts of candy to take home. The best person to be when it comes to edible wedding favors is the last person at the wedding who notices any leftover goodies and gets to take home more than their intended share!

In Lieu of Favors, Make a Donation to a Meaningful Charity

A warm, fuzzy feeling is one of the best gifts you can give a person. Instead of a physical wedding favor, make a donation to your favorite charity in your guests’ honor. Maybe you and your fiancé have a soft spot for animals and want to give to a local animal shelter. Or perhaps you have a close friend or family member with a disease you want to find a cure for. Whatever charity you decide upon, make sure to inform your guests of this in their program or at their dinner table so they know that in celebration of the new marriage, a donation has been made on their behalf. This helps the newlyweds know their money is going towards a good cause instead of directly in the trash, and the guests leave feeling happy they’ve helped change the world just a little bit. Instead of a magnet covered up on their refrigerator with all sorts of paperwork, their favor is helping a charity grow and change. Everyone wins!

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