And the five you should probably skip.
bessie john wedding favors
Credit: Jose Villa

Wedding favors are a lovely thought, but they're often hit or miss. How many monogrammed bubbles have you seen abandoned on reception tables—or worse, tossed in the trash? If you're going to spend time and money on gifts for your guests, make sure they'll be well received. Wedding planners have seen it all, which makes them the perfect pros to ask about the types of presents people actually want to take home at the end of the night. After all, they're typically the ones tasked with placing the favors—and then clearing away those that are forgotten when the reception comes to an end. Here are their best suggestions, along with some common offerings they suggest skipping entirely.

Give: Personal Picks

"My best advice is that thoughtful favors are a win every time," says Deanna Nash, owner and creative director of Deanna Nash Events. "Something that speaks to who you are as a couple or that highlights a cultural tradition can be easily translated into a long-remembered and much-appreciated wedding favor."

Skip: Personalized Presents

On the other hand, people probably don't want a cheap wine glass or koozie customized with the couple's initials. Personalizing the packaging is fine, but anything beyond that is just asking to get thrown out. "Say no to adding your date or names or monogram," says Misty Damico, the owner and creative producer of Luxe Event Productions. "And above all, if you wouldn't want to buy it to keep for yourself, just forgo getting it for your guests and save your money!"

Give: Edible Favors

Food is foolproof because it can be consumed on the spot. A late-night bite is always appreciated—even better if the flavor or the recipe holds significance. "For a local wedding, I always suggest edible favors such as a personalized candy that reflects something about you as a couple," Nash suggests. "Years ago, a friend who hails from Ohio spent months perfecting the recipe, then making buckeye candy for her guests. Eleven years later, the thought and care that went into her favors is still so touching and memorable."

Skip: Bulky Items

Planning a destination wedding or expecting a lot of out-of-town guests? You'll want to consider the size of the wedding favors. Will your loved ones be able to fit the item inside their carry-on luggage—and will it make it through security at the airport? "With regards to packability, if you have a large contingent of guests who traveled to attend your wedding, a bulky wedding favor may be the thing that has to be left behind when overstuffed luggage has to be re-packed post-wedding," Nash explains.

Give: Local Treasures

Instead, send your celebrants home with small souvenirs that are special to the area. "For a destination wedding, I love to source items from the local shops and place them in a personalized bag for each guest to receive when they arrive for the festivities," Nash says. "Think local wines or other spirits, a fun, tasty treat, or small handmade items from artisans in the area."

Skip: Superfluous Somethings

"A good rule of thumb is if you do not want half a dozen of the item to keep for yourself, then your guests most likely won't even want one," Damico advises. "If you yourself want to keep the item and have many of them, then they are probably worth the money!"

Give: Charitable Donations

Why not put the money you would spend on favors toward a good cause? "In today's 'less is more' climate, I adore the idea of a charitable donation made in guests' names as opposed to giving a 'thing' at your wedding," Nash notes. "It's safe to say that everyone appreciates this gesture, and when you've put so much time, energy, and, let's face it, money into your wedding, this moment of giving to others feels like the perfect tone to kick off married life." She suggests printing a thank-you note explaining the gesture and tucking it into the napkins for everybody to read at their seats.

Skip: Random Décor

Would you want your cousin Amber picking out your throw pillows or coasters? Generally, avoid things intended for the home, as they are unlikely to match various styles. "If the favor is something guests need to take home, such as a single votive candle holder, I most often end up packing the bulk of them back up at the end of the reception because guests left them behind," Nash explains.

Give: Nothing at All

Yes, you read that right. If it doesn't make sense to send something home with everyone, don't! For most guests, the opportunity to celebrate with the happy couple is gift enough. "Wedding favors are nice to have but not a requirement to a great wedding reception by any means," Damico says. "Guests typically are not expecting one, and it's good to know your money can be better spent in areas of greater focus like the bar, floral, décor, and guest entertainment."

Skip: Singles of a Set

Think toasting flutes, shot glasses, and votive candleholders. "I always suggest avoiding a single item that would normally be a part of a set," Nash says. "People want those sorts of things together, and while the gesture is really thoughtful, at the end of the day it's not at all practical."


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