The Do's and Don'ts of Wedding Favors

wedding cracker favors

Dorling Kindersley / Charlotte Tolhurst / Getty Images

If you're planning a wedding, you've probably read plenty of articles that share must-haves and must do's when it comes to planning your big day. One thing that isn't an absolute essential? Wedding favors. To be frank, they aren't necessary or required by any means, so if you're on a tight budget don't feel compelled to spend money you may not have on a decorative tchotchke that will likely end up in the trash. If you're choosing between something that will truly enhance your guests' experience and a wedding favor, we recommend choosing the former. 

However, if you're set on sharing a small token of your appreciation with your guests who traveled from near and far to celebrate with you, these are the do's and don'ts you should know. Here are some suggestions from wedding vendors who have been there, seen it all, and lived to tell the tale of wedding favors done wrong and those done right.

What Is a Wedding Favor?

A wedding favor is generally a small gift given as a gesture of gratitude to wedding guests. It's often something that fits with the wedding theme or has personal meaning to the couple.

  • 01 of 08

    DON'T: Have Favors out of Obligation

    If you are only seeking out a wedding favor idea because you feel like you have to, then you're better off skipping them completely. You're already treating your guests to an evening of fun, dinner, drinks, and dancing, so a parting gift isn't required. 

    "Don't feel bad if you find yourself short on time (or budget) to put together the perfect favor. Is it a fun addition to the wedding? Absolutely. Will the world come to an end if people don't leave with a favor? Definitely not." -- Paula Ramirez, Historic Mankin Mansion

    That being said, if you definitely want to give your wedding guests a favor, there are many inexpensive wedding favor ideas to consider. You could give them something small and edible, like some candy or a cookie. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just a small token of your love and appreciation!

  • 02 of 08

    DO: Choose Something Meaningful

    "Only do favors if they have some meaning to you! Gone are the days when your guests HAVE to leave with something in hand. A favor is something to be an item to remember the wedding by and a gift to the guests. I vote that experiences are a way better favor than something without meaning." -- Alex Chalk, Taylor'd Events

    Chalk also suggests using a litmus test for your wedding favor ideas. If you don’t have a wedding favor idea that really represents who you are as a couple or expresses a unique part of your personality, then consider moving your favor funds to another part of your budget. "What can you do for the guests to make them feel more comfortable or add another element of fun? Shift the funds to an activity such as a Photo Booth, caricature artist, poem artist, or paying the band to learn your college fight song."

  • 03 of 08

    DO: Consider a Donation to Charity

    If you're feeling anti-favor because of the waste aspect, consider a donation in honor of a favorite charity or cause. A charitable gift is a meaningful gift, so that ticks that checkbox, especially if you choose a charity that means something to you, personally. 

    Take a page out of this couple's book. Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services shared a story of a couple he worked with who decided to skip wedding favors and instead donate that portion of their budget to charity:

    "The bride and groom didn’t like the idea of giving a favor that their guests wouldn’t really utilize and would probably throw away…so what they did was the bride and groom each picked their favorite charity, and they donated the budgeted amount of money between the two charities. There was a twist though- the guests actually got to pick what percentage of the budgeted amount went to which charity. There was a table by the sweetheart table that had two receptacles on it to represent each charity, and the guests voted for the charity of their choice."

  • 04 of 08

    DO: Choose Something Useful

    If you're in the pro-favor camp, consider choosing a wedding favor that is useful to your guests post-wedding day. 

    "Candles make great favors for wedding guests, as they are easily personalized and make for a nice addition (post-wedding!) to the home. Rather than providing guests with something that they’ll look at once and forget about, sending them home with candles means they’ll remember your wedding every time they light it." -- Audrey Isaac of 100 Candles 

    Isaac suggests sticking to candles with lighter, more subtle fragrances if you plan on gifting candles to your wedding guests. "Everyone has different scent preferences and some may even have allergies. You may also want to consider getting soy or beeswax candles, which are trendy in eco-friendly circles.”

    For an extra special touch, pair your candle favors with a personalized matchbook to complete the set. You can tie it all up with twine or a cute ribbon that matches your wedding colors -- your guests will love the thoughtful addition!

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    DON'T: Make Your Own Edible Favors

    If you're planning on giving an edible wedding favor, Paula Ramirez cautions you not to make them yourselves. "Couples always underestimate how busy they are the week of their wedding." Unfortunately, you need to keep freshness in mind when it comes to something you are giving your guests to eat, so you can't take care of this time-consuming project far ahead of time. Depending on what the item is, most edible favors typically need to be made and packaged the day before or even on the day of the wedding. 

    Ramirez says you likely will find yourself without time to prep and package favors yourself the day before your wedding. It may also be a challenge to enlist your friends and family, as they are also likely to be busy with other pre-wedding tasks. If you've got your hearts set on edible wedding favors, consider outsourcing that project for the sake of your own sanity and the sanity of those closest to you. 

    That being said, if you hire a day-of-coordinator or full-service planner, this is a task you could pass along to them, while still saving a little money by purchasing the supplies yourself. We would suggest sticking to something very simple if you plan to go this route, like a candy buffet

  • 06 of 08

    DO: Consider Presentation and Distribution of Your Favors

    Keep in mind how and when the favors will be distributed to your guests. Placing them at guest tables is your most efficient way of ensuring there is plenty for everyone. Remember to purchase 20 percent above your guest count if you are having general seating, so there is one at every seat.

    Perhaps you plan to present your wedding favors in a unique and interesting display -- depending on what your favors are this can create a really beautiful focal point and detail for your wedding. It's important to make sure your photographer gets some photos of your favor display before your guests descend upon it.

    Should you choose to offer favors as your guests leave, you may consider either having someone monitor that each guest only takes one or buy plenty for the guests who grab more than their share.

  • 07 of 08

    DO: Think About the Environment

    Many couples are turned off from wedding favors because of the waste factor, so think outside the box and consider some eco-friendly wedding favor options. Consider a small plant like a succulent, or some plantable papers (like from Botanical Paperworks) on which you can write a simple note. Your guests can then plant your favor in a pot and watch wildflowers grow after your big day!

    In the same vein, make sure to avoid products that create extra waste or won't break down easily. We also suggest avoiding glitter on wedding favors because it tends to get everywhere, causing a big, sparkly mess that your guests may be happier without. 

    When we talk about the environment, we're not only talking about being eco-friendly; we also mean the setting in which you are displaying or distributing your wedding favors. If your reception is outdoors, be mindful that your favors are not heat-sensitive. This is especially important for anything edible, as you don't want your guests' gifts to melt! 

  • 08 of 08

    DO: Include a Sweet Note

    No matter what you choose as a favor, or even if you decide to skip them, you should definitely find a way to share a sweet note with your guests. Use it as a way to thank them for celebrating with you and express your gratitude for their love and support. A little bit of sweet sentiment can really go a long way. 

    Feeling stumped on what to write on your wedding favors? If you're looking for inspiration, check out these creative wording ideas for wedding favors. Your wedding favor note or word of thanks doesn't have to be an epically long novel, so feel free to keep it short, sweet, and to-the-point. Your guests will appreciate the effort and the acknowledgment.