Looking for a way to make guests feel connected when they can’t attend your wedding IRL? Let us introduce you to our new favorite trend: wedding celebration boxes!
As the name suggests, these petite packages are a way to get virtual guests excited about your wedding while letting them know how much their attendance is appreciated—even from afar! “The goal is to distinguish your virtual event from the run-of-the-mill Zoom calls that now fill our days,” says Lindsay Landman, creative director at Lindsay Landman Events.
What is a Celebration Box?
Made popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, this gifting idea—literally, a party in a box—is a way to include guests in a virtual wedding by mailing them props to enjoy as you exchange vows via Zoom.
The boxes should reflect who you are as a couple and can include elements you’d find at an actual wedding including cocktails, cake bites, custom cocktail napkins, and matchboxes. “Consider useful everyday items that promote green living or ones that benefit charities,” suggests Letitia Gibson, founder of Studio Luxe.
Whatever the theme or contents, the purpose is to promote a sense of inclusion and excitement that will always be remembered.“Thoughtful inclusion is the goal of virtual gifting—although guests are not able to physically attend, they still want to join the celebration and feel part of the special day,” Gibson adds.
Below, our experts offer up their tips and advice—along with eight unique boxes at various price points—to give you an idea of what can be created.
Who to Include in the Mailing
The goal here is really to extend the party beyond the screen so it works best if everyone receives the same mailing. “It’s fun having everyone ‘in attendance’ drinking the same cocktail and nibbling on the same treats,” explains Beth Helmstetter, a wedding planner who recently launched her own gifting shop.
Of course, sending individual boxes can start to add up. “Budget often drives who receives a box, but if money is not an issue, consider sending boxes to everyone invited to the virtual wedding ceremony,” Landman adds.
If budget, or even last-minute execution, is a concern, know that it is possible to recreate this idea on a smaller scale. “You can certainly make it an experience for all your guests but if you want to limit gift boxes to immediate family or your bridal parties to keep within your budget, you can do that as well,” says Alexandra Puccini of Lavender and Pine Gifting.
How to Determine Your Budget
As for pricing, wedding experts see couples spending between $35 to $250 per box, keeping in mind there are additional costs for the box, packing materials, and shipping.
To crunch your own numbers, Puccini suggests following this method: “Determine your overall budget first and from there, divide that total number by the number of people you want to gift to determine your cost per gift, then add shipping,” she says. “This will help steer you in a direction of what’s possible when it comes to content and help you determine who you can gift.”
Another way to put a dollar amount on how much to spend on each guest? “Budget what you would have for the price of each plate if the guest were physically attending the reception,” suggests Gibson.
Lastly, don’t forget to budget for shipping costs, which Helmstetter estimates as an additional $15 to $45 per mailing.
How to Curate a Unique Box
“When deciding what to include, I suggest writing out how you want your recipient to experience your celebration and what your theme and desired aesthetic will be,” Puccini explains. Gibson agrees, adding that “whatever a couple includes should be dictated by their personality and the type of wedding they’re throwing—whether that’s a brunch, destination, or formal black-tie wedding.”
From there, Puccini says you should think of elements that guests typically enjoy: the cocktails, specialty foods from your hometown, seasonal desserts, music. When choosing items, Landman strives to hit three notes—fun, personal, and useful—in particular. “Something fun could be a set of props to use with a virtual photo booth or Zoom call,” she explains. “Something personal could be an item from the intended wedding, such as a ceremony program or signed note; and something useful is really about a keepsake worth keeping, which generally translates to something that does not have the couple’s name on it.”
Never put a wedding date on any of your enclosed items! "If we’ve learned anything in these past few months, it’s that dates are constantly in flux," Landman acknowledges with a laugh.
In general, the products should complement each other or, as Puccini warns, the purpose of the gift can fall short of what you’re looking to accomplish.
“For example, if you want your guests to get a feel for what your in-person reception would have been like, add all the fix-ins of a perfectly crafted cocktail along with a wedding playlist made up of your handpicked songs with a link they can stream,” she says. “Or add something sweet like macarons or chocolates from your favorite local bakery. Whatever items you choose, it’s important they are thoughtful, practical, and fun!”
For a genius-yet-surprising theme, consider these crowd-favorites:
- Highlight a Decade: “I’ve worked with a bride to create custom 80’s dance attire for her bridesmaids so they could take part in a virtual Beyoncé dance class in lieu of a bachelorette party, created cooking class kits, perfume-making gifts, and meditation kits in lieu of a bridal shower,” says Helmstetter.
- Be Cheesy: “I’ve sent cheeky cutouts of the couple with an Instax camera and a playful backdrop so guests can dress up and take pictures with the couple in their wedding attire,” Helmstetter adds.
- Include an Element of Discovery: “One of the most interesting celebratory boxes I was asked to make included a DNA test kit,” Gibson says. “A client was having a heritage-themed celebration and wanted guests to learn of their ancestry!”
What to Know About Packaging & Shipping
Of course, presentation is key—this is a wedding, after all—so be sure to keep this in mind as you research packaging materials and mailing costs. Helmstetter says there are plenty of pretty boxes that may hold up in the mail without protection; however, she encourages the use of a mailer such as a padded envelope or an outer box, which will “offer more protection so your gift shows up intact.”
Gibson also recommends a green option: “I always suggest a green box option—a wooden box, for example, is a great choice as it’s a gift that keeps on giving—it can be repurposed as a catchall or be refilled and re-gifted,” she says.
Whatever you choose, complete your packaging by asking yourself the following questions, courtesy of Puccini: What, if any, are the gift tag options? Is there a ribbon? How is the ribbon tied? Is there a note card included? Is that notecard handwritten or typed?
Keep reading for eight expert-curated gift boxes that include ready-to-shop products and ideas to match various themes and price points. Please note that these estimates do not include the cost of packaging and mailing as that's subject to whatever you choose!
Love + Libations
“This gift box is a sweet and engaging way to share a signature cocktail with your guests for a virtual cheer before, during, and after the celebration," says Puccini. Her advice? Add a gift tag and notecard for an extra personalized touch.
- Ginger Citrus Cocktail Mixer, $16
- Belmont Gold Makoto Jigger by Viski, $10
- Hand Calligraphy Gift Tag and Note Card, $10
Total Cost: $36
When Life Hands You Lemons
“The name of this gift box is a nod to 2020, and a way to lighten up the mood for those unable to celebrate in person," says Puccini. "Brunch is a way couples connect with family and friends the day after the wedding, and this brunch box is full of delicious and thoughtful staples so virtual guests can enjoy a cup of tea and scones while sending love from afar!”
- Iveta Lemon Scone Mix, $8.75
- Wildly Delicious Lemon Curd, $8
- The Spice House Vanilla Sugar, $8
- Harney & Sons Wedding Tea, $13
- Gold Leaf Tea Spoon, $3
- Hand Calligraphy Gift Tag and Note Card, $10
Total Cost: $50.75
One Sweet Day
“With a bubbly sweet drink, cake bites, and lots of confetti, this playful box will put guests in the wedding mood and inspire joy as they watch your ceremony from their homes," says Helmstetter.
- Belvoir Elderflower Lemonade, $29 for four, or $7.50 each
- B’Day Truffle Dozen Box, $24 for 12
- Tom Smith Metallic Party Crackers, $10 for 8, or $3.75 for three
Total Cost: $35.25
The Black-Tie Celebration
“Mini bottles of Champagne, caviar in a non-perishable tin, and long stem glasses to toast the happy couple—this box is meant to give people a taste of a more formal and fancier affair," says Helmstetter.
For music lovers, consider adding an additional surprise like this: a nostalgic custom record of the couple’s recessional song on one side and their first dance song on the other, complete with a personally designed sleeve that’s reflective of their style.
- Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial Mini Bottle, $36
- Camille Long Stem Champagne Coupe Glass, $24
- Royal Ossetra Caviar, $69
- Mini Toast Points, $2.50
- 12” Custom Vinyl Record, $60
- Custom Record Sleeve, $18
Total Cost: $209.50
Color Us Married
“I wanted to create a lively rainbow-themed box comprised of items that contribute to a party atmosphere!" explains Landman. "The streamers are a fun way to celebrate that first kiss, filling the whole Zoom screen with ribbons of color. Cake truffles make a great stand-in for the cake. And the fragrant candle becomes a beautiful keepsake.”
- Rainbow Cake Balls, $9 for three
- Streamer Wands with Bells, $40 for 50, or $2.40 for three
- Volcano Rainbow Watercolor Petite Jar, $24
- Ceremony Program, $6
Total Cost: $41.40
For a wedding that was intended to be black-tie, Landman suggests sending this gifting. "Inspired by a lavender Champagne cocktail, it includes lavender simple syrup, sprigs of lavender garnish, and stemless flutes," she explains. "Guests complete this festive cocktail by adding their own sparkling wine at home. The truffles can be ordered in almost any color or flavor. To coordinate with the gold and lavender palette, the 24K-dusted marshmallows are a decadent addition—and, of course, the lavender mist hand sanitizer spray is the ultimate sign of the times.”
Since this package involves a custom cocktail, she recommends adding a personalized note (like the above!) to ensure that your guests/bartenders get the measurements just right. Bonus points: They can add it to a recipe book for future use!
- Wonder Made Gold Champagne Marshmallows, $24
- Mini Melanie 2-Piece Truffles, $8
- Sonoma Syrup Co. No. 3 Lavender Simple Syrup, $16
- Touchland Power Mist Lavender Hand Sanitizer, $12
- Trinkware Goldosa Stemless Champagne Flute Glasses, $26.99 for a set of four, or $13.50 for two
- Recipe Card, $7.50
- Jamali Garden Super Blue French Lavender Bunch, $10
Total Cost: $91
Gibson says this box is “perfect for the couple who wants to maximize the pomp and circumstance of their day. "It is filled with items to put guests in the mood for a formal affair, including scotch-flavored caramels, bourbon-laced toothpicks, and fancy playing cards," she adds.
- Daneson Single Malt No. 16 & Bourbon No. 22 Toothpicks, $18 for two
- McCrea’s Single Malt Scotch Caramels, $25
- Glenfiddich Miniature Single Malt Scotch Whisky, $5
- Ridley's 2000s Pop Music Trivia Deck Quiz, $20
- Monarch Playing Cards, $10
Total Cost: $80
“After a year like 2020, everyone could use a little self-care," admits Gibson. "This box represents the couple looking to celebrate their guests through self-love, providing them with a calming lemon-and-lime scented candle, a skin-softening coconut-based milk bath, and a handmade de-stressing pillow filled with flax seeds and lavender buds. A great way to detox after the wedding!”
- Herbivore Coconut Milk Bath Soak, $18
- Silver Needle White Loose Leaf Tea, $32
- Anthropologie Mini Capri Blue Volcano Jar Candle, $14
- Crate & Barrel Bree Teapot, $30
- Skeem Design Poetry Mini Match Bottle, $14
- Lavender Stress Pillow, $48
Total Cost: $156