Hold off on your bulk order of Jordan almonds. We asked four top event planners for their best tips on creating thoughtful wedding favors your guests will love.
1. Make it personal
Look at your own story and what's special to you. For one formerly Belgian couple that relocated to San Diego, Aleah and Nick Valley, SoCal-based planners, sourced authentic Belgian chocolates and paired them with sweets purchased from the candy shop the coupled visited on their first date.
2. Spotlight your guests
Use favors as a way to get laughs and make the conversation flow over dinner. NYC-based Jennifer Brisman's brides have dug up old photos of each guest to frame and use as escort card-favors.
3. Match your wedding theme
The Valleys did one San Diego destination wedding for an Arizona couple where favors (above) were air plants, specially packaged so guests were able to fly home with them.
4. Do them yourself
San Diego-based event planner Heather Balliet encourages her clients to "pull on their talents" and crafting skills to create gifts from scratch. Everything from cookies to soap can be made at home, which can be turned into a fun activity with friends, family or your wedding party. One of Balliet's brides prepared homemade granola (featured at top) for each guest's place setting—easy as pie.
5. Don't stop at one
A multipart favor package is the biggest crowd pleaser. For one whiskey-loving couple NYC-based event planner Xochitl Gonzalez wrapped up whiskey stones, a Maker's mark nip and a whiskey-flavored caramel.
6. Spend more, buy less
Choose a favor that guests can enjoy together, suggests Valley. It means you can allot one slightly more expensive favor ($10-$15) to each couple.
7. It's all about the packaging
Dress up simple favors, recommends Balliet, who once paired ripe avocados with beautifully designed-and-printed guacamole recipes. Wrap your favors with pretty fabrics, tie with unique ribbons, and finish with graphic gift tags printed by your stationer or designed on a site like My Own Labels.
8. Slip them in out-of-town guest bags
If you're making welcome bags for guests' hotel rooms, allocate your favor budget to the bags' fun accessories instead. For one New Year's wedding, Gonzalez created beach bags (above) stuffed with personalized towels for guests to use during a polar bear plunge the next day.
9. Do a charitable donation instead
Balliet suggests asking your stationer to make a card that explains that a donation has been made on their behalf. Popular choices are the National Arbor Day Foundation, the World Wildlife Foundation and the Red Cross, and the American Cancer society. Some companies like Bella Figura will print charitable donation favor cards for free with a $500 minimum order.
10. Make them visible
Gifting favors successfully goes beyond thoughtful purchases and pretty packaging. According to the Valleys, how favors are presented is half the battle. They recommend having servers pass out favors on silver trays (above) towards the end of dinner to lend extra importance to the gifts themselves. Another solution is to arrange them artfully on a table near guests' exit, or to ask servers to leave a favor at each guest's place setting during the evening—right around cake-cutting. This way, favors won't be inadvertently left unnoticed, or left behind.