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It’s a universal truth you’ve known since you were 5: Parties are more fun with favors. But do you need them at your wedding? The answer: nope. “There are so many other items to prioritize when planning a memorable evening with friends and family,” says Sara Fried, celebrity wedding planner and owner of Fête Nashville Luxury Weddings. “I would recommend splurging on an amazing band, a custom menu, or a spectacular photographer — or even adding on drone footage if your wedding is outside — before I would spend money on favors.”
But favors can have a practical purpose: They can help welcome out-of-town guests and they can also be useful during the ceremony. Fried has noticed many clients turning away from traditional favors, like personalized keepsakes handed out at the end of the evening, and toward items that can be used during the wedding, such as flip-flops, fans, or shawls.
At the end of the day, favors are your call, and no major etiquette rules are breached if you decide I don’t. But if you do choose to have favors, here’s how to plan them with minimal hassle and maximum impact.
When Should You Actually Start Planning Your Favors?
Let’s cut to the chase: Monogrammed or handmade favors will take time. DIY favors will take even more time. This is one of those “it may take longer than you think” tasks, so it’s a good idea to decide whether or not you’re doing favors at least eight weeks in advance to give you enough options, says Fried. But if you’re looking for monogrammed items or are hoping to DIY, then it’s a good idea to get started as early as possible.
How It Worked IRL
“Favors” don’t necessarily need to mean “stuff.” You can earmark the money you set aside for favors and donate to a meaningful charity. That’s what Brigette, who got married last year, did. “We met working at a school and had run a few food drives together, so we [made] a donation to a food bank and shared that information on the tables,” says the 35-year-old from Madison, New Jersey.
Foodie gifts can also be a sweet treat: If you have a favorite vendor, inquire three months out if they would do a custom order. “We had this jam we loved at our local Brooklyn farmer’s market, so we asked if they could do a custom order with personalized labels,” says Ashley, 34, from Brooklyn, New York.
Also, you don’t need to give out favors on your actual wedding day. Joe and his wife had the brilliant idea of sending favors after their reception. “We did a reading of Edward Monkton’s A Lovely Love Story at the ceremony. Then we mailed the book (it’s tiny) with our thank you notes, inscribed with your wedding date,” says the 38-year-old from Boston.
The Best Hacks To Cut The Hassle
If you choose to hand out favors, Fried says there’s no right or wrong answer to what you pick. “Just think about what would make the most memorable experience for your guests in the present moment,” she says. Which favors have you loved from weddings or parties you’ve been to? Feel free to steal the concept if anything sparks your imagination.
Also, pro tip: Favors can be excellent to outsource, especially if someone is always asking how they can help. Have an aunt asking about favors? Congrats, they’re on the favor committee. “My mother-in-law really wanted them, so she made spiced nuts and jarred them for everyone,” adds Joe. “Not to be outdone, my own mother decided to get flowering tea balls to give out to the guests.”
A favor is pretty much anything you put in your purse and bring home, so a photo booth can double as entertainment and end-of-night favors as well. Finally, seek inspo from 5-year-old you: Candy is always a universal hit.
Sara Fried, celebrity wedding planner and owner of Fête Nashville Luxury Weddings