Do Your Wedding Guests a Favor

Maid of honor gift

This Maid of Honor didn’t want her favor!

Although I don’t like to admit this, I will let you in on a secret to prove the point behind this post. Back in my starving student days as an undergrad at UC Davis, I shopped at the Goodwill for plates, bowls, coffee cups and even wine glasses for when I wanted to impress guests by serving Carlo Rossi to compliment instant ramen. As I walked down the “kitchen” isle at thrift stores, I was always saddened to see rows and rows of personalized etched glass wedding favors; an expression of a couple’s love and devotion collecting dust and on sale for 10 cents. Even more heartbreaking was the endless shelf of candle holders, small heart-shaped boxes, angel figurines and picture frames all engraved with names of brides and grooms. I wondered if the happy couple ever thought for a second that their special gift to their guests would end up in a thrift store. Would “Jim and Samantha May 23, 1998” be happy to know their personalized wine glasses were being used by undergrads to drink cheap wine while dining on instant ramen?  Or even worse, could “Michael and Maria September 18, 2004” stand the thought that their custom etched shot glasses would be involved in undergrad debauchery? Even if you don’t care what happens to these gifts, please consider how your guests may feel about receiving them.

Will they actually keep it in a curio cabinet only to be thrown out during an intervention by the Hoarders TV show team? Will they be smothered by the guilt of throwing it away and pack it up in a box for a couple of years before it is delivered to the Goodwill? Will they avoid the hassle and “forget” it at the wedding? I worked as a wedding venue assistant for 3 years and can tell you that at least one guest from every table would leave behind their wedding favor. We would pile them up at the end of the night and send them home with the mother of the bride. Although a great idea, giving baby trees or seeds to plant rarely turn out great. I tried to grow 3 different trees received from eco-friendly weddings and succeeded in killing them all. I felt bad like I had somehow cursed their marriages with the death of their wedding trees!

Your parents, grandparents, bridesmaids and groomsmen may want to have a keepsake to commemorate your marriage, but they are traditionally given special thank you gifts already. With 1000 things already on your wedding to do list, why spend time picking out one-size-fits-all trinkets for the rest of your guests? There are so many more important things you could be doing for your wedding.

Of course you want to thank all of your guests for taking the time to spend your special day with you. Do them a favor and give a gift that does not have to be taken home and dealt with. Jordan almonds are always a wonderful and traditional choice, but can seem a bit cheap in the eyes of some. So instead of sending everyone home with a 1 lb bag of candy, consider one or both of the following ideas:

One of the best wedding favor ideas I have ever seen was a donation to a charity made in each guest’s honor. This is a great way to personalize your wedding by sharing with your guests what you feel is an important cause to support. From human disease, children services, hunger and poverty, education, churches, animal rights and environmental groups, there are so many organizations that need help and you can send your friends and family home with a warm, fuzzy feeling instead of a candle holder.

wedding entertainer

Belly dance wedding entertainment with live music

The other best wedding favor gift idea is entertainment. Give your guests a beautiful and fun experience. They can enjoy every second of the show and go home with wonderful memories of your wedding. Belly dance is the perfect wedding entertainment with deep roots in marriage traditions of the >Middle East. Your wedding does not have to have a Middle Eastern theme to present a belly dance performance. Show your family and friends that you have cultural flair and share your curiosity for world art. Guests can receive enjoyment from listening to the beautiful live or recorded Middle Eastern music, watching the amazing belly dancer perform, learning about another culture, anticipating what the belly dancer will do with those swords, experiencing the excitement of a belly dance performance and remembering the joy of seeing their friends and family participate in the fun. Besides the photos on their cameras and great memories in their minds, your guests will not have to carry anything home.

Let your guests know that the donations and entertainment are for them by attaching a small card to a sachet of Jordan almonds or by having the DJ make an announcement. They will appreciate your gifts as much as they appreciate not having to store them at home!

• Meet the Author • Nyla Crystal

Sacramento belly dancer

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