While thoughtful and sweet, the tradition of giving guests a special item to take home can come with some challenges, and deserves more thought and attention than one might think.
When I am a wedding guest, of course I am appreciative when I spy a favors table stacked with goodies at the end of a great reception. However, I can’t tell you how many times the given item is too bulky to fit in my clutch, too heavy to stick in a jacket pocket, or too fragile to carry on to the after party. Once, I couldn’t stop myself from grabbing a handful of tantalizing Sucre Macarons from the display on my way out of my friend’s wedding at the Roosevelt. I had already eaten tons of sweet cake, and was walking out with a cocktail, so planned to save the macarons “for later”. Yes, I saved them alright, smashed to the inside of my jacket pocket, which sadly my dry cleaner was also not able to save for later.
Considering where the night will take your guests can be a good place to begin when thinking about whether or not to provide favors. In New Orleans, the majority of guests will go out after a wedding. There is certainly no shortage of late night venues begging for after-parties, and guests will likely take their last drink “to-go” which is customary here. If everyone has a drink in hand already, and nobody is headed home anytime soon, they aren’t likely going to be snatching up scented candles or cookies along their merry way.
Sometimes guests miss the favor table, no matter how prominently it is displayed. Other times, the gifts are put out too early and decimated before the reception ends, each guest taking two or three when they’re only meant to take one. Trying to imagine how your group will take to the gift can help you decide whether or not it’s the right thing to offer, or if there should be anything given at all. Considering how inconvenient or wasteful it would be to have leftovers should also factor into your equation.
If you want to thank your guests for traveling, especially for a destination wedding, it can be a nice gesture to provide a gift before the wedding. Couple’s can ask or pay hotels to deliver custom gift bags of their creation which will be waiting in the rooms of guests as they arrive. Another option is to hand out something special to the nearest and dearest at the rehearsal dinner. Providing delicious local treats, luxurious body items, or personal favorites, gives guests an immediate sense of inclusiveness. It’s also a great opportunity to provide ideas to guests about what to do with their non-wedding hours.
Now some real talk: no-one is taking your centerpieces or decor, and if you are giving something that belongs in a set (coasters, salt and pepper shakers, highball glasses, napkins, you get it) you MUST give a full set. If you want to share decor items after the wedding, send them with a thank you note acknowledging attendance. Giving someone a centerpiece as they leave seems like an afterthought, even if it was premeditated.
Whether or not you decide to give gifts to your guests at your wedding, remembering that ultimately you and your partner are meant to be the recipients of LOVE and attention over any material gain should help you hone in on the best and most special moments of the day. If you are driven to provide a special something to punctuate the evening, take some time to meditate on the best fit for you, your party and your guests.