You mean an $50 dinner isn't enough?
April 24, 2006 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Apparently we're supposed to give a gift to the guests that attend our wedding. What to do?

There will be 100 guests. Do we give a gift to each guest or one to each couple. How much is appropriate? I think anything more than $5 per guest is too buch but what can you get for $5 that doesn't scream el cheapo? I'm willing to do a bit of manual work for this but I'm far from crafty. I'd be happy to elaborate more details if necessary.
posted by furtive to Shopping (49 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Donating to a charity is always classy. You can leave a card at each persons place setting that says something like "A donation has been made in your name to" (insert your favorite charity).

I also have been to plenty of weddings and got nothing, nothing I tell ya, for my troubles so I don't think gifts are necessarily needed nor expected.
posted by Staggering Jack at 4:44 PM on April 24, 2006

Yeah, I've never gotten one. What about a "Hits from the wedding" CD that includes a sample (like oh, say, 5 songs at $.99 each?) of songs from you had played during the reception?
posted by ChasFile at 4:47 PM on April 24, 2006

It should be one per guest, and you don't have to spend anywhere near $5 per person.

Just do a google search for "wedding favors" and it should give you an idea of the kinds of things people give out.

I've gotten a lot of candles as favors. The only favors that I've actually ever used are a mix cd compiled by the bride and groom, and a stained glass votive holder that was made by the mother of the bride.
posted by amarynth at 4:51 PM on April 24, 2006

Best answer: I also have been to my share of weddings. I think the best "gifts" are the ones that show the personality of the couple. My best friend gave Kit Kat bars that they had decorated with their names and the wedding date and quirky little things about each other - e.g. "Andrea curls her toes when she's cold; Mike bites his lip right before he cries, etc. I'm positive this is super cheap and easy to do. I still have the wrapper. It's a cute idea and it totally sums up their personalities. I know that they didn't pay more than $2 for each bar (since they had the wrapper done it cost more than the normal price). I don't know if you can do that anymore since Hershey has gone to the plastic wrapped bars, but it may be worth a try.

I think whatever you give should be either consumable or readily used by a cross-section of the population. For instance, a CD with your favorite songs, candy from your hometown, a photo frame with your engagement picture in it, etc. If whatever you give requires explanation (like a box of two candies from your local chocolatier), make sure you explain it with a little card or a short announcement.
posted by MeetMegan at 4:52 PM on April 24, 2006

Standard gift, in my experience, is a very inexpensive "keepsake", that nobody actually cares about.

The donation idea is way cooler than the crappy useless gifts I've received at most weddings. $20 for 100 business cards, and then a couple hundred bucks to a non-divisive charity.
posted by I Love Tacos at 4:53 PM on April 24, 2006

I ditto I Love Tacos about how the standard gift is usually something crappy people just throw away. If you're throwing a fun party, that's gift enough. Save your money.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:56 PM on April 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've had prettily wrapped chocolates - one small package, wrapped in silver paper or ribbon, on each plate. Much better than a silly ornament or something which'll never be used.
If you do the wrapping yourself, shouldn't cost much
posted by darsh at 4:57 PM on April 24, 2006

I attended an early fall wedding where each guest got a tulip bulb in a cute mini chinese-takeout-y box. The flowers-to-be were in the wedding colors, and there was a sentimental note about love blooming. Probably no more than a couple bucks each, depending on where they got the boxes, and the tulip still blooms in my yard, even though the marriage went swiftly south.
posted by donnagirl at 5:00 PM on April 24, 2006

I've gotten lovely candies, pewter cups with a flower in it (purchased in bulk at about $2 each), seeds, tree seedlings ($1 each from some site if they're in season), a donation to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a comic book about the couple, a shot glass (it was a Western themed wedding), an inflatable monkey, a poker chip with the bride & groom's name on it attached to a scratch-off Lotto ticket (a reception after the couple got married in Vegas and won enough money to have a reception).

What I keep and like depends as much on the couple as what I get. It's a keepsake from their wedding more than anything I'd want to use. I still have the matches from my friend Kerri's wedding. I threw out the lovely candleholder from when a friend married an ice shrew.

However, I always seem to kill the plants or the seeds don't grow and then I feel guilty, like I've somehow killed their love.
posted by Gucky at 5:00 PM on April 24, 2006

Donate. At my wedding, we gave out nice bookmarks that explained that a donation had been made to a charity that was especially meaningful to us in lieu of favors. We got crazy compliments on them and my sister totally copied us when she got married a year later.
You can do a lot more with a $1-$3/guest donation to a charity than you can with $1-$5 trinkets that they will not give a shit about.
posted by willpie at 5:05 PM on April 24, 2006

At the wedding I went to last summer in Colombia, the wedding favors were multi-colored Eggz shakers as a way to include all of the guests in the music at the reception. At another wedding a few months later in Vermont, the wedding favors were commemorative matchboxes.

At both wedding receptions, there was a disposable camera at each table.
posted by emelenjr at 5:08 PM on April 24, 2006

We got married in Vegas and gave out packs of playing cards with our names and the wedding date on them. They were super cheap--way less than $5 a pop. Does your wedding have a theme you can get ideas from? What about the wedding city? If there will be a lot of guests traveling to your wedding, how about a souvenir?
posted by gokart4xmas at 5:08 PM on April 24, 2006

Flower seeds are nice ( makes special 'wedding packets' of seeds: ; one wedding where the bride was into making soaps/candles we got little gift soaps and lip balms. A photo of the happy couple is also nice.
posted by Rubber Soul at 5:09 PM on April 24, 2006

candles & pencils are frowned upon by chinese superstition if you buy into that at all. things that diminish with use somehow being representative of either the lifespan of the marriage or the lifespans of those getting married.
posted by juv3nal at 5:12 PM on April 24, 2006

I've also gotten chocolates and donations in my name (Amnesty International seems to be a popular choice amongst my crowd!). I certainly don't think it's mandatory, though.
posted by scody at 5:26 PM on April 24, 2006

I personally don't get the favors thing (in principle, and practically -- I too have never gotten anything that I even remember, so what's the point?). I'd save your money, or put it towards something better than favors.
posted by evening at 5:29 PM on April 24, 2006

IThe only favor I kept from a wedding was a string of bells that were somehow incorporated into the ceremony. They now hang on my front door.
posted by Gungho at 5:55 PM on April 24, 2006

Best answer: At one wedding, they gave out little photo-frames (for wallet-sized photos) - instead of a photo inside the frames, it had the guest's name.

It made a nice way to tell people where to sit.

At other weddings, they just gave out little packages of quality candy (like, real truffle chocolates, "designer" jellybeans) in fancy little cardboard mini-baskets.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 6:01 PM on April 24, 2006

I had individually-wrapped chocolates with a bow with the date of the wedding on it. I've also seen oversize cookies that match the theme of the wedding - sea shells, flowers, whatever.
Seeds and candles are cute too.

Some couples can come up with something more personal; my sister is canning jam for all her guests (ambitious!), and at one wedding I went to, every guest received a matted photo of the couple and some also had a photo of themselves with the couple.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 6:06 PM on April 24, 2006

My fiance and I are figuring this out too. We're probably going with a mix CD of songs that are significant to us and our courtship plus most likely something edible. Although I like the bookmark and donation thing now. Arg.
posted by krix at 6:10 PM on April 24, 2006

I think a small box (like 2 or 3) of candies or chocolates would be fine. I agree that most gifts are usually things I end up throwing away.
My favorite, though was a small picture frame (that told us where to sit). They had hired a photographer who took polaroids that you could then put in the frame! Very cute.
posted by j at 6:13 PM on April 24, 2006

My wedding reception was in my hometown, which is known for its apples. Our wedding favors were candy apples (it was a fall wedding.)
posted by nekton at 6:18 PM on April 24, 2006

We did the charity route for our wedding and donated the money to the organization that ran the event where we had met. We didn't do placards at the table but rather had a nice 8x10 professionally printed sign in a really nice picture frame sitting next to the guest book. The nice part is that we got to use the frame for something else after the wedding was over.
posted by mmascolino at 6:24 PM on April 24, 2006

I received small bamboo plants as a keepsake from a friends anniversary. The plants come in what basically amounts to a double sized shot glass filled with rocks (not soil). The only care that they need is filling with a bit of tap water every couple of weeks.

Great little gift.
posted by oddman at 6:28 PM on April 24, 2006

I am one of the 5 people in America that likes Jordan almonds. they are pretty traditional for weddings. Just a few in a little net bag.

I have hated the CDs I have gotten.

I have always used the matches, however. Especially the wooden ones.
posted by oflinkey at 6:35 PM on April 24, 2006

My husband and I do a lot of rock climbing, so we got these carabiner keychains with our first names on them, and I tied them to boxes of chocolate from Trader Joes (decent chocolate for not too expensive...) They're not too useful, but they're fun and have character and were in keeping with our beach wedding.

The other most common favor is some type of chocolate. You can buy nice chocolate covered almonds or cranberries or whatever strikes your fancy in bulk, then cut squares of tulle and wrap a handful of chocolate in a couple layers and tie with pretty ribbon.

But if it stresses you out to have to worry about it, I like the donation idea...but if it were me I'd either skip the favors or get some kind of fun friend handed out glow-sticks, they were a blast.
posted by sLevi at 6:39 PM on April 24, 2006

Donating to a charity is always classy.

Opinions differ. To me, this would be worse than simply not a favor, which I wouldn't notice. It would say "I didn't really want to give you a favor but felt obligated to, so I took a contribution I was going to make anyway and called it a gift to you."

Any manner of small thing that someone could conceivably retain as a keepsake is fine. The ones I remember from other people's wedding are jordan almonds (which I also like) and wee tiny bottles of bubbles that could not have cost more than $.50/each.

Was it here where someone wanted to buy like 500 Nunzillas as wedding favors?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:11 PM on April 24, 2006

ROU_Xenophobe, it was here, it was wind-up godzillas, and she did it.

(One of those pictures is on my Flickr favorites list, so it was easy to find.)
posted by amarynth at 7:44 PM on April 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

hmmm, I really like the small plant idea...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:48 PM on April 24, 2006

We didn't give out nuttin'. You're getting a party, a band, an open bar and a nice meal, and you want favors too?!

Things I've seen: nothing, Jordan almonds, bottles of bubbles with wedding date on them, CDs with wedding songs, chopsticks, chocolates, probably a few other things. I've still got the chopsticks.
posted by jellicle at 7:50 PM on April 24, 2006

A friend of mine bought every single secondhand paperback copy of "My Antonia" that she could find and gave them as gifts at her wedding-- this was the book that she and the groom had bonded over during their first few dates, and they wanted to share it with everyone.

The sight of all those mismatched copies of the same book was really very moving.
posted by hermitosis at 8:39 PM on April 24, 2006 [2 favorites]

We gave prettily wrapped marzipan apples, because we had an apple theme and the apples were also on our cake. I know others who turned Hershey's Kisses into roses. Some people give sugared almonds. But the best "gift" I ever got was a handmade clay magnet that had a Celtic love knot on it. I still have it on my fridge and it comes in handy. So I recommend something useful (but small and inexpensive) or something people can eat after saying, "Aw, cute."
posted by acoutu at 8:43 PM on April 24, 2006

Oh, and my brother and his wife, who own a nursery, gave away pots of drought-resistant grass.
posted by acoutu at 8:44 PM on April 24, 2006

I remember getting a small pink plastic mesh bag tied shut with some plastic flowers.

It contained something like 7 or 8 almonds that had been coated in chocolate and then dipped in a hard candy shell in white, pink or red. These almonds were unusually delicious.

This was a good wedding favor. You don't need to do anything more elaborate than this.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:18 PM on April 24, 2006

These things, full of these things.

I like those little watchmaker cases just for their own sweet small roundness, but with personalized M&Ms inside? How could you go wrong?

Cheap! Yummy! Fun! Yet strangely elegant.
posted by Sallyfur at 10:39 PM on April 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've gotten a few such at weddings that I enjoyed, not because they were $5, but as keepsakes.

We went to Chinatown and haggled (!) when buying 100 sandalwood fans. (Our wedding was in Southern California in the summer.) We still see our fans sitting on shelves when we visit friends who came to the wedding, which is rather touching.
posted by Aknaton at 10:54 PM on April 24, 2006

I think what you're looking for is bonbonniere/bonbonieri. I was actually at a cousin's wedding just this Saturday and they left little takeaway cartons containing some fake chinese money ("ten thousand dollar" and what looked like mandarin - I don't know my chinese dialects), one of those good-luck beckoning cats (chocolate inside), a couple of fresia bulbs and a funny photocopied note from the bride & groom. Total cost maybe AUD3.

But then, the wedding previous to that (different cousin, paid for by rich italian parents of the bride), everyone got little porcelain espresso cups and they didn't look cheap. That was the wedding reception with the (no shit) 10-course silver-service meal for 350 guests.

Why yes, I do have a surfeit of cousins.
posted by polyglot at 10:55 PM on April 24, 2006

The suggared almonds are definately a traditional choice here in Australia. My fiancee and I liked the idea, but were concerned that not everyone likes nuts, so for our wedding (which is in two weeks!) we got white and pink "jelly belly" jelly beans and wrapped them in organza. I think the whole think cost us about $80-$90, which is only about $1 or so a guest.

At the wedding, they will place the jelly beans in the wine glasses for people to take home. We're also cutting our cake and sending it home, in the hope that people might be able to eat it with a cup of coffee/tea when they get home and discuss how lovely our wedding was! :)
posted by ranglin at 11:27 PM on April 24, 2006

We did the same as Sprout the Vulgarian - foil-wrapped chocolate hearts, with a fake-floral decoration, and a label with details of the wedding - specially picked to match the colours of the wedding. They were *very* tasty, and everyone seemed pretty pleased/impressed - although they may have just been being polite!
(There's a pic here on our Flickr 'stream)

Other weddings I've been to have provided things like sugar- or chocolate-coated almonds, or little selection packs of sweeties.
posted by Chunder at 1:46 AM on April 25, 2006

Best wedding favour I ever got was a mug full of Jelly Belly jellybeans. The mug was just a plain old purple mug, with purle jelly beans, and the couple's names/date written on the bottom in silver letters. I use the mug for my hot chocolate, and the jellybeans were yummy. You really don't need to go crazy on this.
posted by antifuse at 3:39 AM on April 25, 2006

Mr. Lucinda and I went the "two pieces of chocolate in a silver box" route.

My sister bought a bunch of cheap Matchbox-esque cars, painted them and decorated them with heart-shaped confetti.
posted by Lucinda at 5:53 AM on April 25, 2006

Eesh, skip it! Like you don't have enough to stress out about?!

I've been to many weddings that skipped the "favors" (including my own) and been to many that didn't. Frankly, I didn't notice when I wasn't given a cheap trinket, but I noticed the stale candy, the 30 cent tea light, and the CDs that I would have enjoyed more had there be, oh, track listings (or even ID3 tags). The book idea above is very nice, though, and I'm glad I didn't think of it, because finding that many copies of Ulysses would have been a drag.

ROU_Xenophobe, I agree with you about the charity thing. I am now the proud sponsor of two goats somewhere in the world. W00+.
posted by mimi at 6:02 AM on April 25, 2006

I skipped the favors at my own wedding, but at a wedding I attended last year, the couple had small round metal boxes with clear lids, filled with personalized m&m's in three colors. It was really very cute.
posted by pinky at 6:13 AM on April 25, 2006

Hmm. I can think of twice I've received favors at weddings and they were both nice (and cheap) (I think). One was a box of Wilhemina mints (I have no idea if you have these specific ones, I think they're a Dutch thing -- but they sell in a nifty little pull out box for a few bucks each) and the other was a box of Japanese Green Tea (the bride was half-Japanese, goes to Japan, and had relatives coming from Japan).
posted by dagnyscott at 6:31 AM on April 25, 2006

Be warned that those personalized M&M's are super expensive - an 8 ounce bag is $11.25.
posted by MeetMegan at 9:21 AM on April 25, 2006

I had a friend who had her reception at the zoo (fun!), and she gave out cookie cutters in animal shapes, which was very cute charming (and I still have). I've also gotten lots of the same things as everyone else (and personally, I like the charity thing, I'd rather you spend your money on a good cause than on something I'll eat or throw away). What I've liked most in the past have been things that either went along with the theme of the wedding or let the personality of the couple shine through.
posted by echo0720 at 9:30 AM on April 25, 2006

As mentioned, you'd also be okay with not giving anything; I don't go to weddings in the hopes that I'll get a cool trinket. I go because I love and/or want to support the people that are getting married, and that is worth the plane ticket and hotel room (sadly for my bank account, I have not yet had any local weddings). Some give favors, which are nice, but I have never judged those that didn't, especially if I knew they were paying for the wedding themselves. I'd rather my friends have the extra $500 than me have some jordan almonds, even though I do love those jordan almonds.

On the side of the charity thing, I'm supportive of it in the event that it is a charity that is important to you two as a couple. For example, my SO and I met through a student group at university, and were we to get married, a large donation to them might be an option for us, since it has such a personal meaning and we would probably not make a large donation otherwise. Donating for the sake of donating appears to be frowned upon above, but if for example you both were gaga over pets, I would think something with the local shelter would be sweet. You could even explain the meaning in the donation card if you wanted (so it would seem less random to people), and it is a better token of your love and marriage than candy.
posted by ml98tu at 10:33 AM on April 25, 2006

A followup to my previous comment:

I like the idea of favors as a way of sharing something personal with all your guests. If you can't come up with anything, it's OK to skip it. In fact, I think it's better to skip it than to do something that you don't like. I certainly would have been unhappy with spending money on a cheap, useless tchochke. Much less 85 of them.

Coincidentally, I spoke with my sister last night, and she was asking me the whole gift-for-individuals-versus-couples thing. She's the one making jam (!), and she's thinking about making two different size containers, one for couples and one for singles, but she doesn't know if that's OK. I suggested that she have enough jars on the table, but not in particular seats, so folks at the table have to divvy the jam themselves. Maybe a couple takes a small jar instead of a big one, or a single takes no jam at all.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 12:19 PM on April 26, 2006

We had rocket ship shaped bubble blowers ($70 USD for 150). They were very cool, but unfortunately, they didn't blow very good bubbles. Most people left them behind - I don't think they realised this was their favour. Oh well, we gathered up the extras and now are set for a cool pool party. But frankly, I'm pretty serious about bubbles, so I think I will just go out and get some really good blowers.
posted by jb at 5:38 AM on July 10, 2006

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