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Should You Give Your Guests Wedding Favors?

Consider these reasons both for and against distributing gifts to your guests.

When it comes to wedding favors, it seems there are two teams: those who love the tradition, and those who hate it. Discover the pros and cons of wedding favors!

Favors & Gifts
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Photo: Renee Sprink Photography

When it comes to wedding favors, it seems there are two teams: those who love the tradition, and those who hate it. Some brides delight in creating the perfect take-home bags of cookies or designing monogrammed flasks, while others loathe the idea of spending money on such small, disposable items. Both sides make good arguments: favors are a fun tradition, yet they are an optional expense. There's no etiquette requirement that guests are given favors, so the choice is entirely up to you.

To help you make that decision, check out the following pros and cons of wedding favors:

Pros

It's a fun way to thank your guests for attending.
Your guests will likely drive or fly a considerable distance to be there on your big day, and they'll also give you (at least one) thoughtfully selected gift as well as purchase new outfits or find babysitters. Of course you'll send them thank-you notes, but favors are a quicker, more fun way to express your appreciation for the effort they made to help you celebrate. 

You can share your favorite treats and trinkets. If you're always telling your friends about the amazing cookies at your local bakery, or you and your new spouse have a special playlist of treasured songs, here's your chance to introduce them to your guests. The wedding is a reflection of you two as a couple and the favors are the last impression they'll get, so this is an opportunity to share your favorites.

It's tradition. For centuries, couples have gifted small candies, almonds, and gifts to their guests. There's no shame in wanting to participate in such a time-honored tradition. And sure, favors may have fallen out of fashion a bit in recent years, but at the end of the night, many guests will (secretly) hope for that special parting gift. 

It's an opportunity to give back. Candy and picture frames not your thing? Print out cards letting guests know that in lieu of traditional favors, you've made a donation to a deserving charity. It'll be a welcome reminder that weddings are about more than just gifts.

You can provide practical items guests will appreciate throughout the weekend. Welcome bags are becoming more and more popular, with couples stuffing tote bags with essentials like water bottles, ibuprofen, sunscreen, sunglasses, scarves, and snacks and providing one bag to each guest upon arrival (of course, this trend is most common for destination weddings). Guests will be charmed at your thoughtfulness, and you can be confident that the favors will actually help guests have an even better time at your celebration.

Cons

It's yet another expense. If you're trying to trim your budget, favors are the easiest element to cut. It's a small luxury that can add up quickly, so before trimming the guest list or finding less expensive vendors, eliminate extras like wedding favors.

Guests may not keep them. Unless your favors are food, there's a good chance those monogrammed wine glasses, candles, or magnets are going in a drawer, never to be seen again. No need to stress over gifts that guests won't use.

Or, they might not even see them! If you opt to place the favors on a table for guests to grab on the way out, in the midst of all the partying, they might not even realize they're available. Placing one at each place setting or having servers hand them out as guests are leaving provides a little more assurance that they'll be received. Still, there is a strong possibility that they'll be forgotten, since guests move around often throughout the night. Again, there's no need to worry about favors if you're not entirely sure they'll end up in guests' hands.

Favors take time to plan. Well-intentioned couples often decide to DIY their favors; for example, they'll plan to stuff bags with personalized M&Ms or spend an evening burning 200 copies of their own mixed CD. But when the wedding planning stress begins to build, projects that sounded like fun at first can start to feel more like homework. Even if you're outsourcing your favors, it's still another item on your to-do list. Simplify your life and skip it.

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