Giving a favor is a joyful gesture, expressive of your gratitude and happiness for your guests' presence on this special occasion. The best wedding favors are exercises in elegant simplicity, beautiful things that are not too taxing to plan, make, or fit into the budget. They are among the wedding's most appealing elements and one of the easiest to personalize. Although influenced by tradition, favors are not beholden to it. In fact, almost anything can be a favor, as long as it is pleasing, portable, and available in multiples.
What To GiveIf you have chosen a motif for your wedding, you can carry it through to your favors as well. You might give seashell-shaped chocolates for a beachside wedding or small bottles of maple syrup if you get married in New England. For a daisy theme, you could pass out daisy-seed packets to your guests. Your favors can also reflect your wedding color. Bright-yellow lemon drops or jelly beans in a single color look festive in simple clear boxes or bags. Wedding favors can also be symbolic. Consider the meanings of various items when looking for ideas. For example, the piquant contrast of a dragee - a bitter almond sugar coating - has been said to represent an important part of the wedding vow: for better or for worse. Rosemary is another favorite ingredient to use in favors because of its fitting history. Shakespeare once wrote, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember." Your guests will recall your wedding day fondly whenever they use little jars of sea salt flavored with the fragrant herb and sealed with a sticker bearing your monogram and the wedding date, or small bottles of rosemary-infused olive oil. Instead of tangible favors, some couples chose to make donation in honor of their guests to a favorite charity. An elegantly printed card or scroll can convey your gift to your guests. Children's FavorsKids will love their own favors selected with their interests in mind: At each child's seat, for example, leave a small pouch filled with paper dominoes or playing cards, fancy paper to doodle on, and colored pencils to keep them entertained while the grown-ups dance. If you've invited only a few children, you can personalize canvas tote bags to hold their goodies by cutting out felt letters and hand-sewing them to the bags. Perfect PackagingFavors that include candy or other perishables should be prepared shortly before your wedding so they stay fresh, but all other favors can be assembled and wrapped well in advance. If you use an assembly-line approach (and enlist the help of your bridesmaids), favors are easy to prepare in large quantities. Bags are a great way to package small favors, and they provide a convenient way for guests to carry their goods home. Little bags are available at craft stores in translucent glassine and in just about any color you can imagine. Fill them both with candy or cookies, fold the tops over, and punch two holes in the cuffs. Then thread ribbon through from the back and tie in bows in the front. When tied with a decorative ribbon, store bough burlap bags make handsome pouches for small apples or pears. Handmade bags of wool, felt, or velvet will take a bit more time and effort on your part but can be made in advance and are bound to be reused. Plain white paper boxes can be done up in countless different ways. Wrap them with colorful paper, tie them with ribbon, or seal them with personalized stickers. Functional FavorsWith a little creativity, your favors and seating cards can work as one. Try this idea: Place small favors, such as tiny soaps or hard candies, in boxes, and wrap them in decorative papers. Print guests' names and table assignments onto white adhesive-backed paper, cut out, and affix to the top of each box. Arrange the favors on a table in alphabetical order, so that guests can easily find their names, along with their charming little gift. As an alternative, you can incorporate the favors into your table settings. A diminutive favor in a pretty box or bag can greet guests as they sit down to dinner. Place the packages on or just above the plates. If you have a lot of elements in your place settings, attach name tags (printed on a computer or created by your calligrapher) to the favors, and you won't need place cards. Favor DisplaysAttractively grouped favors - such as small potted herbs or cookies in white boxes - make clever and economical centerpieces. Or you can arrange favors on a table of their own. The ideal location for such display is by the door so that guests will see the favors as they leave. However you choose to display them, be sure to add a sign reminding guests to take one. For do-it-yourself favors that encourage mingling, place glassine bags around a table filled with large containers of candy in coordinating colors and invite guests to fill their own. Or you can forgo favor display altogether and have a bridesmaid or other helper distribute the favors after the meal. This is a great job for children and works best for weddings with a small number of guests.