Even if your wedding budget is ample enough to allow for them, do you need to provide wedding favors to your guests?

Traditionally, favors were made of sugar, precious metals or stones; items too expensive for most people. These were used not only as a thank you to the guests, but as a outward symbol of the couples fortune and happiness. However, candy is no longer the elusive commodity it used to be, and most people do not feel the need to flaunt their wealth, but we do still want our guests to know that we appreciate their attendance, love and support. So what should a modern couple to do?

First, look at your guest list: is it mostly family or friends? Most family members, especially close ones, are probably attending your wedding because you are family, and they love you. Family will not care if you give them a gift because they are there to support you and have a shared memory of your special day. If your guest list is mostly family, put favors at the bottom of your list, or leave them off altogether.

But wait, your guest list is made up of a lot of your friends. Are these close friends? Do you consider them your best friends? Again, I am hard-pressed to insist you include favors for the people who are closest to you. They already know how much you appreciate them.  However, if your guest list is mostly acquaintances or distant relatives, maybe because of family obligations, then favors may be in order.

And lastly, if giving favors is part of your heritage or culture, then absolutely include them.

So if you have decided to give favors, for whatever reason, what type of favors will you give? If you are giving favors because it is a cultural tradition, then you probably already have an idea of what is expected, otherwise you may need to do some research.

If you want to embrace the history of the wedding favor, confections are always in style because they do represent the traditional meaning of the gesture. They also carry the message of thanks by giving your guests a little something extra besides a meal. One caveat to giving sweets is that you are probably also serving cake, and more sweets may not be as appreciated by some sensitive to sugar. Another drawback to edibles is they only last a brief time. After they are consumed, no evidence of your day remains except for in memory (and Facebook and Instagram).

So maybe you want your gift to be a lasting memory?  This opens you up a whole other list of choices.

What style of wedding are you having? I think a favor should fit in to the overall theme of your wedding. If you are having a beach wedding, then you should look for something nautical. Maybe bottle openers shaped like anchors. Or beach related candles with scents like “ocean breeze” or something tropical, like “mai tai.” If your wedding is rustic or country, then perhaps you can consider customized mason jars filled with candy (that can be refilled by the owner) or burlap picture frames might work.  Two websites with great ideas are Kate Aspen and My Wedding Favors.

You may also want to consider making your favors for a more personalized touch. While you know I embrace and encourage diy projects, please approach this with care. This will probably be a time consuming project, especially if your guest list is large. Also, many diy ideas will end up in the consumable category, unless you have access to some major equipment. Being said, if you have a special talent or skill that you want to use, go for it. One diy idea I love is to create your own spice blends and putting them in jars that you can self-label. Also, if you are great at making soaps, they always make a great gift. Just be sure to include scents for the guys! For those with a green thumb, you can get little pots that you can also label yourself (or buy chalkboard paint and write on), and plant a cactus or other succulent that will grow and last for years to come.

Also, don’t forget to think about what is right outside your door. Do you have a bee-keeping community where you can get local honey? Is your area known for something special? Think about what is around you that you can incorporate. Not only will your guests have a reminder of your big day, but a conversation piece about the area where you were married.

Whatever you choose to do for favors, one last thing consider is if a significant portion of your guests have flown to your event. If they have come for a short time or from a short distance, they may have carried their bags on to the airplane instead of checking them. Giving out liquids or any other TSA suspect item, may lead to many favors being left behind or confiscated. Also, you may want to reconsider anything delicate or breakable.

Depending on your guest list and budget, in most cases, favors can be left off of the must-have list. But if you are going to go down that road, I think you should do your best to make the gift a meaningful and memorable one. Start with your wedding style and theme, do your research, and don’t forget to look around your local community for ideas. Sometimes the best answer is right in your backyard.