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Weddings and Wedding Favors: a Chance for Real Frugality

The biggest key to having a wedding you love (and probably a frugal one too) is knowing what you want. When we got married last summer, there were a lot of things that are part of wedding convention that we didn’t want. So we just didn’t do them. And don’t feel too guilty, too. As a guest at many weddings, I can tell you that a lot of the stuff feels pretty extraneous. So if you don’t want it for you then don’t feel pressured to do it for your guests (for the most part, anyway. things like chairs are handy! πŸ˜‰ and food. )

Pinyo has asked us for our best wedding tips and stories, so I’ll share one now (and save more for later!).

This one is about wedding favors. When planning the wedding, I ran across hundreds of ideas for favors. They ranged from little doo-dads to some really nice stuff. And the prices were…yeah. With about a hundred guests and not planning to spend much on the wedding, I started thinking about the very nature of favors and whether they were worth it.

As I said above, I’ve been at a lot of weddings. I can tell you one thing they all have in common: I didn’t keep the favor. Well, there was a scented candle I stuck in my suitcase once but I don’t know what happened to it. And a bottle topper which I just got and which we’ll likely never use since we don’t drink (but it’s pretty).

However, I’ve been to a few weddings where instead of or in addition to favors, the couple put out snacks on the table. I decided to do that instead. We went with a mix of Hershey kisses and a friend made pretty boxes for them all.

The idea was that the guests could eat them before, during, or after the lunch (though the sandwiches were ready as soon as they arrived…I appreciate blood sugar issues and didn’t want people getting famished).

They could take some along when they left or just leave them there to be consumed by my chocolate-happy family later.

Best of all, Hershey kisses aren’t really a budget breaker.

If you’re looking for unnecessary parts of a wedding to eliminate, I’d start with the favors. Yes, you want to create a happy and friendly atmosphere for your guests. But you do that best by talking to them yourself and by setting things up in a way that makes them comfortable (access to food, places to sit, things to do if you’re going to be doing 3 hours of photos).

Favors aren’t necessary for any of that. So if you don’t particularly want them, direct your attention and money elsewhere. I doubt a wedding favor will ever make a big impression on me.

No need for matchbooks or candies with your initials. No need for candles or birdseed (unless you want me to throw it at you) or anything else. If you really want them, they’re not bad things to have but they’re not part of the wedding/reception’s core.

By all means, save money there.

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The Best Wedding Tips and Stories Giveaway | Moolanomy
May 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm


K. May 21, 2008 at 11:09 am

There is no better favor than chocolate! The past couple of weddings I’ve been to offered chocolate as favors. One offered a more upscale selection, while the other gave out M&M’s. The guests at both weddings loved them.

Becky@FamilyandFinances May 21, 2008 at 12:02 pm

I’m totally with you on this, of course! I skipped the favors altogether at my 35-person wedding. If I had done them, I would probably have gone with Kisses. Nummy!

anne May 21, 2008 at 12:06 pm

we did the kisses thing as well. i especially enjoyed having extras at home to eat for the next year!

Pinyo May 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm

Mrs. Micah. Thank you for joining in on this giveaway. I like chocolate favors too. I find that most favors are useless…except for one nice bottle stopper that we got. πŸ˜‰

Aryn May 21, 2008 at 12:56 pm

We decided to make hand-rolled beeswax candle pairs. They were about 4 inches tall and our guests loved them because they could use them. They were exactly the right width to fit in a regular candleholder.

They were also cheap, because we made them ourselves.

castocreations May 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm

I didn’t do any major big favors. I bought some tulle at Michaels and some candy covered almonds and tied them up in the tulle with ribbon. Then scattered them on tables. It looked pretty and wasn’t very expensive. And they’re edible of course. πŸ™‚

People spend too much on weddings anyway.

Heidi May 21, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Since we’re going with an Oktoberfest theme, we’re giving a “functional” favor – we’re having 12oz beer steins printed with our logo (I think they’re about $1.60 a piece). People can use them at the wedding, and then take them home to use later.

Anitra May 21, 2008 at 4:31 pm

We made little hollow origami figures and stuffed them with kisses or nice teabags. Although we spent way too much time on the origami (120 boxes, each with 12 pieces, meant hours and hours and HOURS of folding) – even so, our guests loved opening them up (or ripping them apart) and finding the goodies inside – and then figuring out how to put them back together again πŸ™‚

We got lots of compliments for these favors that cost us about 10c/each (not counting the labor, of course).

Re: knowing what you want – exactly! Hubby and I didn’t care about fresh flowers or an elaborate wedding cake – we saved lots of money there (fake flowers and a sheet cake); I did really want a choir for the ceremony music, but I had connections through my alma mater, so I got a student choir for the price of the sheet music (and an accompanist at a reasonable price).

My Daily Dollars May 21, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Good advice! I can’t really remember one favor I got at a wedding. We’ll be sure that the favor is inexpensive and functional for our wedding this summer.

Looby May 21, 2008 at 5:15 pm

I so agree as a far too frequent wedding guest these days I suggest something edible or that can be used up at the reception (like bubbles) if you have to have anything. Most guests really don’t want to have to take away anything. Recently I was at a wedding which had candles with the name of the couple and the date on them, the bride saw me leave and made sure I had one, so I took it home and used it. A couple of months later the bride was visiting and asked about it, when I told her I had burned it, she was really upset!

Hilda May 21, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Hey, that’s a cool idea. I’m still figuring out what I want for my wedding so all these frugal tips are very helpful to me.

Christine May 21, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Of course, when you have a cousin whose favour boxes you can steal, that helps too!

mrsmicah May 21, 2008 at 9:47 pm

No prob, Christine. I’m hoping not to be needing those again anyway. πŸ˜‰ Maybe we can find a third party who’ll use them too.

Linda May 21, 2008 at 10:09 pm

When I got married almost 5 years ago, I had a mini candy favor bar. I set up 3 large jars of candy (M&Ms, bite-size Snickers, and Hershey’s Kisses). Each jar had a scoop, and there were small white lunch-style bags to hold the candy. People could take what they wanted. It was fun and inexpensive. I didn’t have to order or assemble anything.

Caro May 22, 2008 at 12:10 am

We hosted our own wedding in our backyard and came up with a great and relatively inexpensive favor. We bought champaign glasses at Ikea (6 for 3.95, I think) and had ribbons printed with our names. We tied the ribbons on the glasses and we were good to go. This favor had two benefits…it was *much* cheaper than buying glasswear (and I just didn’t want to do plastic) AND because the glasses were not personalized (ribbons just untied) the guests who wanted a set could take a pair or two home. We ended up with a bunch left over that never went home with anyone and they serve nicely New Years parties and the like.

Oh, we also got a selection of wine glasses and adorned them in the same way. (Same price at Ikea) We didn’t have formal place settings, so people just picked the glasses they wanted from the beverage table.

The other thing I did was I had a “bridal shower” that involved all my girl friends coming over and hanging out chatting while putting the ribbons on the glasses or doing various other last minute wedding tasks. Having stuff to do helped smooth the interaction between lots of people who didn’t know each other and shared work is always more fun.

Meg May 22, 2008 at 12:14 am

I’m not a big fan for most wedding favors. Really, I try to avoid taking most unless they are food or somehow useful to me (which they rarely, if ever, are). I’d rather that people save their money than buy plastic doves or mini scrolls or some other dust collector with their names and wedding date on it. I’ll just toss those things at first chance. If they want to spend money, then it’s better spent on good food and drinks, or nicer gifts for those people closest to them.

As for my husband and I, we were going to have purple Hershey’s kisses, but totally forgot the two bags we had bought πŸ˜›

However, we did announce to our guests that they could take home the decorations, lots of tea lights in glass votive holders as well as some floating candles in punch bowls of water. We got them for cheap at a craft store — much less than we would have spent for custom floral arrangements. Anyhow, you should have seen the rush for the candles!!! I was worried that I’d have to pry people from the candles (which they were quickly dousing) in order to get them to come out and throw rice. It is nice, though, to see people still using the votive holders in their homes almost seven years later.

Greener Pastures May 22, 2008 at 6:52 am

My fav part of our wedding was asking my spouses two musical daughters (19 and 24 yrs old), and 4 of our musical friends, to sing “Going to the Chapel” a capella. We sent them the music before -hand, and they arrived early so they could get a rehearsal in. They were just great. Other than the kiss, it’s my fondest – of which there are many -memory of the day-
Fun post, Mrs Micah!
Best to you, Pinyo!

Laura May 22, 2008 at 9:45 am

My mother in law made choclate lollipops. They were a hit at the wedding reception.

Kristen May 22, 2008 at 10:12 am

I’m getting married in August. We are not having favors for the very reason that most times they get thrown away or shoved in the back of a drawer. Our wedding is already bigger (285 people!) and more expensive than I would have liked, so we’re trying to keep costs down where we can.

deepali May 22, 2008 at 10:19 am

I have found wedding favors to be one of the more useless expenses in wedding planning – a lot of people don’t seem to take the item with them, so the married couple ends up with lots of leftover stuff (especially if they did something inedible).

When my brother got married, he had some 500+ people at the wedding – that’s a lot of candles/picture frames/chocolate!
So instead of a favor, he made a donation to an awesome charity, and we printed little cards and placed them on all the seats. πŸ™‚

Clean Simple May 22, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Great ideas here! The best wedding “favour” I got was being offered a couple of hydrangeas that were part of the decoration. A wedding should be about the joining of two people with their friends and families witnessing, not about the stuff.

plonkee May 22, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Favours have only recently come into fashion in the UK and I hate them (bloomin’ Americans getting into everything πŸ˜‰ ). I don’t want anything embossed with the name of the bride or groom or floating candles or…

Having said that, when a couple that I know got married recently, they had chocolate truffles which absolutely rocked. Plus Xmas crackers (it was a Xmas/Dec wedding) and we wore the silly hats and told the not funny jokes so that was pretty good.

Ewokgirl May 27, 2008 at 11:22 am

Personally, I find wedding favors to be a colossal waste of money. It’s a wedding, not a kid’s birthday party, so why have favors anyway? I’ve never kept any of them.

Reading the comment about a bride being upset about a candle favor actually being used made me laugh. Unfortunately, most couples are so caught up in their wedding that they forget or don’t realize that it’s not the most important day/event to anyone else. Of course, it’s their most important day, but other people have their own special days/events. I find it sheer hubris for couples to actually think that their guests are wanting to hang Christmas ornaments with their wedding date on their trees. Or display candles or other knick-knacks with their names and wedding date.

If you must have wedding favors, go with something edible or useful, like seeds for a garden. It’s not a waste of money if it is actually used. Anything else is typically tossed in the trash.

Bettsi May 28, 2008 at 7:47 pm

One of my favorite favors for just about any occasion is to remove the outer wrapper from a Hershey’s bar and put on a cute one that commemorates the occasion or just matches the decor. Who doesn’t enjoy a chocolate bar? But you are right, who needs a favor anyway? I love these wedding posts!

Sara May 28, 2008 at 10:57 pm

We didn’t have any favors; since I’ve never kept a favor, it was a no-brainer fo rme. I don’t think anyone even noticed. They were too busy having a good time. πŸ™‚ I totally agree that if you want favors, go with something edible. Only a small portion of your guests really want to take a token home.

Sarah @ WeddingCandleHolder June 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

You’ve given the best piece of wedding budgeting advice … don’t buy useless things.

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