Your guests have given you the gift of celebrating your special day, why not make them feel special by sending them home with a gift of their own?
Wedding favors may be small tokens, but they send a big message. Not only do they express gratitude and appreciation for your guests' participation in your wedding, they also serve as souvenirs from your magical day. Favors need not be expensive or grand. In fact, the current craze in wedding party favors is a return to the simple and homemade.
So what's hot in the world of wedding favors? Here are a few of our favor-ite things:
Something Old. Candied almonds hardly seem trendy -- the pastel ovals have been around at weddings for years. What's new is the packaging. Wrap a handful creatively in a small sheer drawstring sack or fill small round tins. Because they are so traditional and symbolic, evoking the bitter and the sweet sides of marriage, colored almonds are timeless as favors.
For Chocoholics. Chocolates, too, are old wedding favor standbys, but according to a representative from Godiva Chocolatier, the world-renowned chocolate shops, they are as popular as ever. "Heart-shaped chocolates are the most popular," says Godiva's Grace Yu, who recommends two or four hearts in boxes tied with ribbons printed with the couple's name. When it comes to re-inventing an old favorite like chocolates, think presentation. One San Francisco couple delighted their guests with cellophane bags filled with oversized white-chocolate hearts with the couple's names written in dark chocolate. When the hearts were broken, several truffles tumbled out. Another couple used chunks of gold foil wrapped dark chocolates with calligraphied labels as placecards.
Other Sweets and Savories. A favor passes the test if your guests don't toss it on the way to the car. With a food favor, there's a good chance guests will indulge right when they receive it. Who can resist nibbling on delicate homemade sugar cookies cut into wedding-related shapes (bells, rings, flowers, hearts), even after a full meal? The cookies can be wrapped in small glassine bags, put into small tins or beribboned white boxes. Fruit is another good choice and can evoke the season in which your wedding takes place. Small white flesh peaches from your local farmers' market wrapped in natural fiber mesh bags and tied with raffia are great for a July wedding; special gourmet pears and apples are a perfect choice for a fall event. Nuts, like pistachios or hazelnuts, can be put into small decorative pouches. Loose tea can be similarly packaged with labels denoting the flavor. Homemade jam can be presented in Mason jars. Since the cost of favors can add up quickly when you are giving them to 200 or so guests, food favors offer a nice way to stay within your budget. High Spirits. Think drink when offering gifts to your guests. Bill Brown, owner of the tony Los Angeles stationer and gift store to the stars, William Ernest Brown, says that personalized wine bottles are among the favorite wedding party favors he offers his clients. Beer from a microbrewery labeled with the couple's name and date of wedding is another trendy favor idea.
Things That Grow. Little plants in antiqued pots at every place setting not only lend a natural feeling to your party, the plants will live on after the reception as a reminder of your wedding day. Potted herbs can be accompanied by a favorite herbal recipe. Flowers in small vases can also enhance the beauty of the reception. If your wedding features a certain flower, like roses or gardenias, send guests home with some of their own, or a sack of potpourri made from the blossom. Another floral favorite: a flower bulb -- perhaps paperwhites or tulips -- so they can grow their own. Or consider presenting lucky bamboo shoots with personalized labels.
Illuminate. Nina Sciaronne of the trendy L.A. gift store Room with a View, which has a large celebrity following, says that candles are chic favor choices. She describes plates with candle collections of various sizes used to adorn the reception room or a candle at each place setting.
Suds. Chunky bars of handmade soap in pretty colors can be packaged in small textured fabric bags. Have your bridesmaids help make and stuff the bags.
Picture This. Picture frames still reign as one of the most popular wedding party favors. Many couples use 2-inch metallic picture frame favors as placecard holders. Others put them at the tables with a message of thanks to their guests inside. Room with a View's Sciaronne says that frames decorated with little cherubs are among her favorites.
Express Yourself. West Coast wedding coordinator Frankie Berger says that she likes couples to offer party favors that say something about themselves and their interests. A musical groom gave each guest a CD of special music he composed in honor of his wedding. A literary couple handed out small booklets of love poetry to their guests. A bride who is known for her homemade desserts presented each guest with her famous gooey cinnamon rolls attractively wrapped and accompanied by the recipe. Another packaged her homemade granola in jelly jars covered with gingham fabric. A couple who loves to scour flea markets presented guests at their small wedding with either an antique picture frame, vase or lace napkin. If you're having a large wedding and want to offer unusual favors but are wary of the cost involved, think of presenting favors to each couple rather than each person.
Theme Time. Favors that help express the theme of the wedding are also popular, says party planner Berger. A couple who had their wedding at the Central Park Zoo in New York City gave boxes of animal crackers to their guests. Another bride and groom gave guests attending their English manor wedding dainty bags of tea, so they could spend an afternoon sipping tea and enjoying memories of the event.
Funny Favors. Some favors can add a note of levity to a wedding reception, but if you opt for a humorous favor make sure that it's in good taste. One couple offered each guest a snow globe with their engagement photo inside. Another favorite couple of ours presented each guest with a charming little box covered with seashells. When guests took the lids off, they found TUMS inside.
Presentation Is Everything. The key to making a simple favor elegant and memorable lies in the presentation, so be creative. If you plan to box or bag your favors, consider an unconventional version -- perhaps miniature Chinese take out boxes, or little brown paper lunch sacks tied with raffia and adorned with real daisies. Planning to wrap the favors? Whether you use paper or fabric, go for interesting textures and colors. Tulle is fine (and easy to manipulate), but your favors will be more distinct bundled in an earthy burlap and tied with a creamy ivory ribbon. Forget the expensive paper; wrap your favors in butcher paper, leftover maps or even foreign newsprint for a unique feel. Tie with raffia, twine, yarn or usual cording instead of ribbon. Labels on favors can add a finished feel. Use labels with your names, a special message to your guests, or your monogram done by a calligrapher or on the computer with fancy fonts. Consider how to most strategically use your favors at the reception. If not used to present placecards, favors can be beautifully arranged on sidetables at your reception. Guests can take one as they leave, or have waiters distribute the favors as the event draws to a close.