The Art of Favors
Updated: Feb 24, 2022
Here at Kaleidoscope Events, we have been to a lot of weddings, and have worked even more of them! We have the incredible opportunity to participate in these very special, emotionally-charged celebrations. So emotional, in fact, that we have witnessed over and over again couples, wedding parties, bank rollers, and families get caught up in the glitz and the glamour of wedding planning. No matter how many weddings a couple has attended in the past, they tend to lose some sense of perspective for their own big day. When we are the ones going to the alter, we not only tend to lose sight of what we really want, but also of what wedding guests want.
Wedding guests are simple creatures. They want delicious food, an open bar, and good music - everything else is just icing. Regardless of this common knowledge, it is an entirely different story once we become the host. All of the things we claimed we would do, or never do, go out the window. Getting caught up in the excitement is how this process gets us - we almost instantly forget the foundations that matter to us and our guests. But, if you can find a way to maintain an authentic “wedding guest” mentality, you will be able to save a lot of money on the frivolous stuff.
One of the biggest ways to save is to reconsider what’s going into your gift bags and favors.
Party favors and gift bags are cute and fun, there’s no doubt about that. I would even go as far to say they are a nice gesture for guests. It is hard to resist cute and kind gestures when you’re planning your wedding, especially if, like me, your love language is gift giving. I get it. The problem with these cute, kind gestures is that the prices really add up on a grander scale. Even tiny, $1 gifts can add up to a $150+ expense depending on your guest count, and there aren’t many good favors for $1 each. Generally, we tell couples that a good price point for a decent favor is $3-5 per guest! So, realistically, you are budgeting hundreds of dollars, or even more, on favors.
Not only can these gifts get expensive, but they aren’t always worth the effort! Gift bags for overnight/out-of-town guests are sweet, yes; but these people are grown ass adults. They can pack their own water bottles, late night snack pretzels, COVID masks, and hand sanitizer. A favor table (or favors at each dining spot) can be fun too! The issue is, and brace yourself here, most guests won’t want your personalized favor. What are people, in actuality, going to do with the beer koozie engraved with your name and wedding date? Have you ever used the personalized koozie you received from that wedding 4 years ago? My guess is no, unless it was Ryan Reynolds's wedding and you want to name drop. But if you aren’t Blake Lively herself, the list of people who will use your koozie and keychain are as follows: your mom. Maybe your grandparents. Perhaps your more-sentimental-than-most father. A sibling, maybe? A friend that is scared of you? I don’t know.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend any money in the favor department. In fact, contrary to everything we have been saying, favors are kind of expected! So, you can, and should, acknowledge favors while also spending your time and money wisely.
Below are some great ideas that, although a little unorthodox, do fall under the category of gift giving to guests.
The Lovely “In Lieu Of” Message
Some signage or note that states you are doing something else “in lieu of” gift bags or favors shows guests that you made a calculated decision. It shows that you didn’t forget their favor, but you actually did something better for them instead! Here are some ideas: In lieu of favors, we have decided to...
Make a donation to _______ in your honor
Pay for a percentage of hotel’s room rate
Provide an open-bar
Extend our open bar by half an hour
Update to top-shelf liquor
Provide an espresso bar.
Provide a dessert table
Provide a late night food truck (or some other late night snack from your vendor)
Provide a make-your-own-keepsake photo booth
Snacks and treats are a yummy way to thank your guests for coming. Placing individually wrapped cookies, candies, popcorn, cake pops, or other goodies at each seat can be a favor and a late night snack. You can even purchase your goodies from a local shop! Win-win. Lottery tickets
Put a $1 lottery ticket in a cute personalized envelope, and boom! You have personalized something, and given your guests a chance to win some cash! If they don’t win any money, it will still be about as useful to them as your personalized shot glass. Plus, it is fun to scratch off the ticket.
Depending on your style, you can give each guest mini bottles of your favorite liquor, champagne, wine, or even a full size can of your favorite beer. Alternatively, you can give little bags of your favorite tea or coffee grounds. Personalization optional.
Just don’t engrave it
Go ahead and do the koozies, keychains, drinkware, or bottle openers - just don’t tattoo them with your information. Instead, buy them as they are and simply add a personalized tag or sticker. This is not only cheaper for you to purchase, but more likely to be used by your guests in the future. If you can’t help yourself and you just need to engrave something, pick something generic like “You always gain by giving love”, but just know the price will go up and the possibility of use will go down.
So, there you have it. Great favor ideas that will actually be worth your money!
The KE Team
Photos Taken By: Rebecca Love Photography, Jennifer Bakos Photography, Lena Mirisola Photography, Zev Fisher Photography, New England Portrait, Lindsey Lazare Photography
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