No money, mo’ problems: Fortune Favors the Bold

The cheapest gift of all is probably not appropriate for your grandma.

Favors & Gifts — 3%: welcome gifts for out-of-town guests, bridal-party gifts and misc.

Welcome gifts for out-of-town guests. Welcome gifts for out-of-town guests?! You’re planning a wedding, not the gift suite backstage at some lame awards show.

Look, people will come to your wedding if they can. Everybody will want to make it, not everybody will make it, but you don’t have to award prizes to the people who can. And nobody wants your monogrammed tote bags, or whatever. Anyone that had to travel a long distance to your wedding, doesn’t need a bunch of extra crap to take back home with them. The entire concept of this is so ridiculous to me, I don’t even have anything else to say about it. I don’t have a budget friendly idea. If you’re on a very limited budget for your wedding, don’t do this. Nobody expects it, nobody really wants it, and you don’t need the extra stress.

Gifts for your bridal party are an entirely different matter. These are friend and family members who have spent time and money just for the honor of participating in your wedding. Dresses, suits, hair appointments, nails, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, bachelor parties, errands, evenings spent helping you stuff envelopes. It’s important to show your appreciation to them and send them home with something to remember your wedding day by besides an ugly dress and uncomfortable shoes. Again though, nobody wants your monogrammed key chains or picture frames with your wedding date on it. It’ll just go into a box, and your friends will eventually have to feel guilty about throwing it away.

A really good gift for your bridesmaids is jewelry to match their dresses. Interesting, beautiful, classic pieces that can (truly) be worn again are always welcome. For my bridesmaids, I scoured the Renegade Craft Fair here in Los Angeles looking for their gifts. I bought sexy, dangly earrings for two of my girls, and then found a booth that sold necklaces made out of vintage dress clips, shoe clips, and clip-on earrings. I stood there forever pawing through everything they had, trying to decide which piece best suited each remaining bridesmaid. The couple that ran the booth were more than willing to do everything the could to help me find gifts, and even gave me a discounted price since I was buying about 8 pieces from them. Dealing directly with the person who made the jewelry is a great way to get unique gifts at a good price. My friends loved their gifts, and hopefully, they’ll wear them over and over again. These friends have done more for you than anybody else has. Buy them something nice.

I’m not sure if this category counts favors for your wedding guests, but I’m going to talk about it here anyways. The same basic rules apply: nothing dated, nothing monogrammed. The only dated and monogrammed wedding favor I’ve ever received, that gets used regularly, was a pint glass. And that’s because cold beers, in cold pint glasses are awesome and deliciously refreshing. My friends that gave those away at their wedding, definitely knew their audience. Otherwise, these favors go home for a while, they float around various junk drawers for a while, and then they go into the garbage when I move. The best favors, if they’re not delivery methods for booze, will always be edible.

We stressed and stressed over our wedding favors. Nothing sounded good, and the things that did sound good, were way out of our price range. We finally decided on something edible, and started narrowing things down. No hard-ass Jordan almonds or pillow mints. Maybe M&M’s? We went around and around trying to figure something out. The sticking point for me was this: every wedding I’ve ever been to, I’ve seen tables full of left behind favors. People don’t want them, or they forget them, and they just end up in the trash faster. I kept imaging putting dollar bills directly into the garbage. Basically, that’s what it amount to. Your guests will eat edible favors. They’ll snack on them before dinner, they’ll eat them before cake, they’ll find them when they’re taking a break from dancing. Candy buffets are played, cupcakes are way over, but cookies are forever. Don’t get me wrong, candies and cupcakes will always be yummy. But, it’s like, I get it, you like cupcakes…you must be so different!! Not really. It just means you couldn’t think of anything better. ZING! The only ways I can condone candy buffets or cupcakes, is if you’re throwing an Alice in Wonderland or Marie Antoinette styled wedding. That’s it. If you’re going to have candy, make it something seriously yummy. Fancy caramels or truffles, something that you won’t mind eating if it gets left behind. That should really apply to anything you decided to go with. If they get left behind, you’re going to end up eating them.

We had our caterer make shortbread cookies with homemade jam thumbprints in the middle. They were sooooo good! And since she just tacked them onto our dinner quote, she made them for about 79 cents a person. They even bagged them and tied them up with ribbon. We had very few left over, and they were all gone the next day. I considered them to be a very successful favor, and our guests did too. Ask your caterer for ideas, you’ll probably end up with a better price than if you had bought from a bakery or boutique store.

Of course, the other option is to not have favors at all. I’ve been to several weddings where this was the case, and I didn’t notice until long after the fact. People probably won’t even realize there aren’t favors, and if they do, it’s not likely they’ll care.

The ultimate things to remember about wedding favors are that you don’t want to saddle your guests with junk, and you’re trying to save money, so it’s best not to buy things that are tantamount to throwing your cash directly into the garbage.

The favors for your wedding and the gifts for your bridal party should be gifts of appreciation. Buy appropriately, spend reasonably and try to think of your guests and friends when you do. You’ll end up with gifts they’ll love and favors that aren’t a huge waste.

Next up: I have no clever way to say “ceremony fees.”