Personalized candies, sweet-smelling pear soaps, handmade recipe books; couples get creative when it comes to wedding favors. These token items that go home with your guests at the end of the night cost a total of about $275 on average, for those who decide to provide them. That’s about $2 per guest, since the typical couple hosts 136 people, according to a 2015 survey by The Knot. Not every couple opts to provide favors, which can often be left at the reception site or unused at home. But for those who do, here are the factors that determine the cost.
The purchase price of the favor makes up most of the financial cost for this line item in your wedding budget. Big-budget brides have given their guests gifts from Tiffany, personalized bottles of wine, fondue pots with melting chocolate; even (reportedly) iPods. But for brides on a more typical budget, retailers sell a remarkable variety of items that cost under $3 apiece, from heart-shaped bottle openers, to small candles to decorative picture frames.
These tables show some sample costs for different kinds of favors for 150 guests, not including additional costs like tax and shipping, which will vary depending on your location.
|Edible Favors||Per Piece||For 150 Guests|
|Personalized M&Ms in bags||$2.81||$423|
Arguably more useful, and often less expensive favors include consumable things like tea bags, mints and lip balm. Some companies will personalize the items for you, and you can usually save on wedding favors when you order them in larger quantities.
|Bath & Body Favors||Per Piece||For 150 Guests|
|Personalized Candle Tin||$1.64||$246|
Another approach is to DIY the favors, by ordering the components in bulk and assembling at home. However, depending on the price of the ingredients and packaging materials, you can end up spending a lot this way too, not to mention the cost of your time.
|Plant-Based Favors||Per Piece||For 150 Guests|
|Seed Paper (cut-outs)||$0.71||$107|
|DIY Lavender Sachets||$2.46||$369|
This table below shows a few random selection of trinkets that your guests might find useful, or that might fit into your wedding theme.
|Trinket Favors||Per Piece||For 150 Guests|
|Small Picture Frame||$0.69||$104|
|Key-Shaped Bottle Opener||$2.35||$353|
|Salt & Pepper Puzzle Pieces||$2.60||$390|
If you don’t want to order from another source, consult the wedding vendors you are already using. Your florist might be able to package a tiny plant (at a small incremental addition to your floral budget), or your baker could wrap up a special cookie for your guests to take home as a favor.
You will likely be responsible for state sales tax on your order, and shipping costs. Make sure you purchase the favors far enough in advance of the big day so you don’t have to pay extra for expedited shipping. For example, if you have plenty of time to spare, you will only spend about $34 to have 150 small soaps shipped, but if you need them overnight, it would cost $87. Large, or heavy items might also increase your shipping costs.
If you are ordering items from a store with a local bricks-and-mortar location, see if you can arrange to pick them up at the store—as long as it’s not so out-of-the-way you’d end up spending as much on gas and tolls as you would on shipping fees.
Hang onto the box your favors arrive in, it’ll come in handy later on.
Depending on how you ordered your favors, you may have a little work to do to divvy them up among your guests. For example, if you bought something in bulk—like spices or hot chocolate mix or candy—you will need to package it into smaller amounts. There are many ways to do this—from small jars to tiny self-fastening boxes to party bags you might tie with a ribbon. If the favors haven’t already been personalized, you might want to do it yourself, through a sticker or a tied-on tag.
Don’t forget to consider the costs of all these additional materials as part of your favors budget—down to the ink in the printer. They can be considerable. The table below will give you a typical cost of the price of packaging and personalization materials.
|DIY Packaging Costs||Per Piece||For 150 Guests|
|Tags or Stickers||$0.11||$16.50|
You should end up spending a bit less on a comparable favor for which you do some of the assembly yourself, since you’re eliminating either labor or automation costs. But make sure you consider the value of the time of the person who does the work, whether that’s you, your mother or your best friends.
When you plan the assembly process, put one favor together from start to finish and record how long it takes. Then, multiply by your number of guests. That’s the minimum amount of time needed for you or your delegates to get everything ready. Build in some extra time for the inevitable snafu, like running out of ribbon, or losing some of the chocolates to your counter-surfing Weimaraner.
Favor-assembly can be a fun group activity when you’re hanging out with your bridesmaids, or when your cousins come to visit on a pre-wedding weekend. Many hands make light work. By contrast, trying to put together 200 favors by yourself the weekend before your wedding will make you wish you had eloped.
Think about how the favors will travel to the reception site. If your florist or caterer is providing the favor, there may be a service or delivery fee on top of the price of the items.
If you plan to DIY the delivery, here’s where that shipping box may come in handy. Once you’ve assembled or tagged the favors, if necessary, you can pile them back into their box. On the big day, make sure someone is responsible for giving them a ride to the reception, and laying them out. (Again, don’t throw that box away yet!)
Some couples choose to lay a favor at each place setting. Others place them on a table near the entrance, for guests to pick up as they leave. Still others make them do double duty as a placecard holder.
If you find yourself short on favors, lay them out on a table near the exit for guests to grab as they go. Some will forget to; others may opt not to take one. (But if they’re going like hotcakes ask family and the wedding party to hold back.) When it’s time to clean up after the reception, pull the favor box back out and use it to transport home any leftovers, as well as any other odds and ends, like abandoned bouquets and unclaimed centerpieces. The people closest to the bride and groom might like to hold onto a few extras for sentimentality’s sake.