Do yourself a wedding favor

Portrait of a Couple by unknown French artist, 1610.

Portrait of a Couple by unknown French artist, 1610.

In planning and executing a wedding, the big things are important. But so are the small ones. One small touch that can delight if done properly: the wedding favor. If done cheaply or not at all, it can dull the whole experience.

In most cases, the wedding favor is a small gift each guest or pair of guests gets to take home with them when the merriment is done and all that’s left is the ride home.

Like weddings themselves, the choice of favors depends on taste and budget. At the weddings I’ve attended, they’ve mostly been candy-oriented, with the occasional small bottle of wine with special labels, matchbooks, and one time a flower pot, seeds, gloves and a garden towel (all of which I used, though none for its intended purpose; that’s a story for the Lawn & Garden issue.)


I confess a strange attraction to Jordan almonds; their pleasingly pastel-colored orbishness — coated by a rigid candy shell that’s surprisingly hard to get through — always struck me as a ready-made metaphor for the reality of love colliding with fantasy. Apt as that metaphor may or may not be, the almonds didn’t make it in our own recent final favors. Before I reveal what we did, though, let’s check in with a couple of local wedding planners for their perspectives.

JoAnn Provenzano is based in Kingston. Her planning business is called What Dreams are Made Of. (She also does floral work under the name Cherry Brandy Designs.) “Most brides give favors — they feel it’s very important. They feel it’s their thank-you to their guests and for coming to their wedding. Is it as important as the food, the flowers or the DJ? No, but they want it.”

Provenzano observed that things to eat are more common than things not to eat. But candy is just one way to go. “Last weekend’s wedding had Hudson Valley-made honey — it was very nice. A wedding we’re having in two weeks at Tantillo’s out in Gardiner, they’re making peach preserves and filling the bride’s custom-labeled bottles. We’ve done cookies. We’ve done chocolates.”

For some brides, of course, candy is indeed just dandy — and the more the better. “Candy buffets are big now,” Provenzano said. “At the end of the night there’ll be a big table with tons of different candy and goodie bags, so guests can pack the candies and take them home. We love doing them, too.”

If there’s enough of a budget, favors can be special, indeed. To save you a Google search, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian gave as favors at their multimillion-dollar wedding a $125,000-per-head swag bag, including “$500 bottles of Bollinger champagne, $200 Crème de la Mer products, handmade souvenir trinkets with Kim and Kanye’s initials etched in Swarovski crystals, bottles of scents from local perfumeries, and $250 vouchers for treatments at the hotel’s spa.” Nice.

A similarly famous couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton, gave, according to the absolutely unimpeachable source that is, custom-made, limited-edition Centrex scarves. Oh, you weren’t invited to that one, either?

Locally not so much, but Provenzano’s seen favors that go above and beyond the bag of sweets.

“We’ve seen wine glasses and champagne flutes, engraved with monograms. We had a wedding last year and her mom went to Italy to get rosary beads blessed by the pope.”

Eve Schnell and her business partner Lavonne Cooper plan weddings, parties and support services for both under the aegis of Beacon-based La E’ve Wedding Services. Schnell agreed that edible items are the most popular for favors.

Self-made favors are in as well, says Schnell, suggesting an interesting and cheap way to get the job done is to make up large batches of dry cookie mix or cake mix and put them into Mason jars — “homemade lovin’ from our oven.” Other couples, she said, have made mix CDs of their favorite tunes, candles, cookie or candy buffets and scratch-off lottery tickets, along with a penny to do the scratching. “They wrote, ‘We hope you’re as lucky as we are,’” she recalled.

Both Schnell and Provenzano urged restraint and reason. Schnell said about $5 per person is a good amount to spend. She and Cooper will be happy to put the favors together.

“My advice would be, don’t go crazy,” Provenzano said. “There are better ways to spend your money. And don’t buy things that will make people say, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ and then throw it in a drawer.”

“Guests like consumables — they don’t like stuff that’s going to clutter up their house,” Schnell advised.

So what’d my wife and I end up doing? We made up little bags of sweets — Dove chocolates and peppermints, sealed with paperclips and felt hearts from the craft store. (Guests ended up wearing the clips as lapel pins as the party went on.) We also included little matchbook-sized personalized notepads. Attached to the bags were tags that thanked everybody for coming, and added that donations in our guests’ name would be made to a local food bank and a Kingston food pantry — so others who don’t have enough to eat could share in the bounty.

The idea was to leave a good taste in our guests’ mouths as they departed into the night, and a feeling that some good had been done, too.


Certified wedding planner JoAnn Provenzano of What Dreams Are Made Of, exclusive wedding planner for events at Downtown Kingston’s Celebration Wedding Chapel, can be reached at 389-5147. Eve Schnell of La E’ve Planning Services can be reached at 914-527-0652; Cooper’s at 826-5034.