Are Wedding Favors a Waste of Money

table and white table cloth with a jar filled with candy and tag that says "groom"

So many things have become a part of American wedding traditions, and new additions make the list as time goes by. This, of course, means more expenses, leading several couples to assess what part of tradition should have a place in their budget. 

I did a poll on Facebook recently of over 100 couples to see if people still plan on giving out wedding favors. The results surprised me!

Wedding favors have been an essential feature of weddings since the 16th century. While more and more couples are ditching favors to save money, 73% of couples still give out wedding favors.

It may be hard for you to picture your wedding without expressing your appreciation for your guests through gifts and tokens. But this article will help you understand why wedding favors are an unnecessary expense if you want to skip them.

Are Wedding Favors a Waste of Money?

Wedding favors have been a default to include for many generations. Envisioning a wedding without them may seem a bit odd at first. But some couples planning weddings nowadays consider them a waste of money and have opted out of giving away the traditional wedding favor.

Wedding favors may be a waste of money if you don’t have an average or more than average wedding budget because your guests don’t often keep them and they add an extra few hundred dollars to your budget. Only 20% of couples said they always keep wedding favors after the big day.

I did another poll on Facebook to see just how many guests keep wedding favors. 60% said they only keep them if they are practical. For example a wine opener with the couple’s initials and wedding date. While 20% said they almost never keep them.

But additional research shows that wedding favors are also the top ten things that couples regret spending money on.

They Can Cost Quite a Lot

The average wedding favor cost $2 per person, according to the Knot. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of money at first, multiplied by 100 guests it can add up to a few hundred dollars. And if you’re trying to go some something more meaningful like honey from your hometown that could cost more.

Most couples think about favors towards the end of the planning. And by that point, trust me, you’ve signed so many checks $200 sounds cheap.

But if you want to stay on a budget, cutting a few hundred dollars here and there can quickly be the difference between staying or breaking your budget.

You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.

They’re No Longer Practical

Wedding favors can be traced back to as early as the 16th century when newlyweds sent their guests home with love knots of ribbon and lace. 

European aristocrats later followed this up by bestowing their wedding guests with small gift boxes of either metal, porcelain, or crystal. The even wealthier ones touched these up with precious stones.

These intricate boxes contained sweet delicacies, and there’s no argument there. What’s edible is practical. More importantly, the little gift boxes themselves were quite valuable.

But that picture has changed in recent years. Of course, no guest would object to taking home wedding favors that are practical or sentimental. 

However, the value–and usefulness–of the average wedding favors has decreased. Now, with more and more features appended to wedding tradition, funds are allocated elsewhere.

I mean do guests really need another koozie with another person’s wedding date on it? More and more couples think that edible favors are a way to enhance how practical they are.

I did hot chocolate bombs as my wedding favors and people loved them. I had 8 different flavors guests could choose from and I put them on a side table so you would only take one if you wanted one. I got a bunch of complements and a bunch of people texted me pictures of them or their kids enjoying them. I think edible favors are the only way to go though. No one needs random junk with your name / wedding date on it

kappaklassy on reddit

The Argument for Wedding Favors

Wedding favors have always been a way for the bride and groom to show their appreciation to their guests for their presence at the ceremony and much more. Not only is it traditional, but it’s also fun! Branding your wedding with a monogram and celebrating your marriage in the form of a personalized token can be such a delightful thing to plan.

So if you have some extra money and love the idea of favors, go for it! Even though they are not a necessary expense, the majority of couples still plan on giving out favors to their guests.

But if you’re looking to cut back, keep reading.

minature plant pot wedding favors that say "our day would have succ-ed without you"

Is It OK Not To Give Wedding Favors?

For ages, it has been customary for the bride and groom to send their guests home with gifts to express their appreciation. Some still view it as a fundamental part of weddings, while others feel it is OK not to give wedding favors and choose to break away from this tradition.

I polled over 100 brides and grooms on Facebook and most said that they wouldn’t mind going to a wedding that didn’t give out favors. Especially since a good chunk of weddings are opting for things like photobooths or donations instead.

It is OK not to give wedding favors. How you choose to plan your wedding is entirely up to you, and your guests won’t make a fuss about not receiving wedding favors. 

Unless all your guests are overly sentimental folk, it’s doubtful they will make space on their shelves at home to display your wedding favors or put them away in keepsake boxes. Your little gifts may just wind up in the kitchen trash can. Some don’t even make it home. 

This bride may have said it best…

Honestly every wedding favor I have received I have thrown out or donated.

lochnessrunner on reddit

People have recounted seeing wedding favors left on the tables when the ceremony and reception are over. 

I would say whatever favors you get, make sure it’s something you’re okay with being stuck with about half of after the wedding. I used to work weddings and half of them would be left. I ended up with a few random wedding shot glasses that way lol.

-Konstantine- on reddit

If you carefully consider this, you’ll agree that leaving out wedding favors is actually OK. But should you go on without them, expect that the older generations on your guest list might have a question or two about it. 

Do All Weddings Have Wedding Favors?

Not many ceremonies are as deeply steeped in tradition as weddings are. While people have made modifications and put their spin on things over the years, the core elements have stood fast.

However, the centuries-old practice of giving wedding favors is one of the traditions that some people think their weddings can’t do without. Like I mentioned earlier, 70% of couples still plan on giving out wedding favors.

However what those favors are is increasingly diverse. Here are some popular alternatives to the traditional wedding favor:

  • Edible favors (less likely to go to waste if guests can eat or drink the favor before returning home)
  • Donations to a local charity
  • Photobooth with printouts to take home
  • Live caricatures or mini-portraits (more on how much a live painter costs here)

These favors, while practical, are usually more expensive than the average throwaway variety. Some couples may see it as impractical and choose to redirect the budget elsewhere.

Do the Bride and Groom Give Gifts To Guests?

In a way, a wedding favor is a gift to your guests.

The married couple traditionally gives wedding favors to show attendees that their presence at their wedding is appreciated. Members of the wedding party also receive a gift.

Some cultures may put more of an emphasis on the need to give guests a gift of appreciation than others. So it’s important to evaluate your cultural values and traditions when making this decision.

It is also customary to give larger, more personalized gifts to members of your wedding party. For example, your best man, maid of honor, parents, flower girls, ring bearers, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and anyone doing a reading or a speech typically gets a gift in addition to the wedding favor.

candy and dessert table with a yellow table cloth

Final Thoughts

Traditions are so deeply ingrained in people’s views of weddings that when the time finally comes for them to plan theirs, they have a hard time making omissions and try instead to fit everything into their budget.

Wedding favors are one feature many can’t imagine leaving out of their weddings. But these are often considered a waste by guests. As practicality trumps tradition, wedding favors are still prevalent in American weddings but are changing form or being left out from more and more weddings.



Jaime is the owner of Loud Bride and Coast Designs LLC. She got married in 2017 in Geneseo, NY and designed her own wedding invitations and programs for the occasion. Now, she designs bespoke wedding stationery and affordable templates for other couples. She lives in New York city with her husband and two children.

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