Wedding Favors & Details
After you've decided how you want to save money on all the major things like food and clothing you'll find yourself faced with a lot of "small stuff" that can add up to a small fortune. If you're lucky you may receive some of these things for shower gifts. If not here are some alternatives.
Unity candles, which cost between $19 and $50 in the catalogs can be replaced by a plain white pillar candle and two white tapers for the same effect at a fraction of the cost.
Guest Book (and alternatives)
Instead of a wedding guestbook ($15-$49) buy one of those blank books with ruled pages that you can buy in any bookstore or an autograph book and decorate it any way you want.
Alison tells us that instead of having a guest book, as they only had a small number of guests at their wedding, She made a signature bear in the same colours as her theme and had guests sign it with a gold paint pen.
Theresa Long suggests instead of a guest book, do a photo guest book. Buy an inexpensive frame and matting and put a picture of you (we used a digital photo) and have everyone sign that. Then after the wedding put a wedding photo in and hang it on the wall.
Here's a guest book idea from Laurie, one of our website visitors:
Laurie made her guest book out of home made paper. She went onto a kids site - learn2.com and typed in home made paper and used scraps of paper that we were going to be throw away to make the paper.She used ribbon for the binding and did her own calligraphy. The cost....water - she have everything else around the house already.
Another guest book idea from K.L. Foster: For smaller weddings, here is an idea that works well in lieu of a guest book. At my cousin's wedding reception, she and her fiance had a large black and white engagement photo mounted on an easel and framed by a tasteful light matte. Guests were encouraged to sign the matte (with a waterproof pen) with wishes forthe couple. When the photos were ready, they framed their wedding portrait withtheir new matting, which is a beautiful reminder of their family and friend's blessing on their special day. This is a lot better than having a book with only a few signatures! Plus, guests love to see their words hanging in the couple's home.
Instead of a guestbook Beth Pope printed out 200 business cards with "Give your wishes to the new Mr & Mrs."and put them in glass bowls on the tables along with pens for the guests to give their wishes. The total cost of the business cards was $8. It's something they can put in an album and cherish forever.
From Paul Thompson: I have begun planning my wedding and have found a great idea for the guestbook. I saw an ad for a painting by some artist and the guests sign in the border around it. Instead of buying the painting, my fiance and I are going to ask the artistically-inclined people in both of our families to do something together. This way, it is a nice, unique wedding present that they have given us, and instead of having a guestbook that will sit in the closet, we have something to hang in our home.
We found a silver plated cake knife and server for $3.99 (catalog price $37.50) in a discount store. It doesn't have our names and wedding date engraved on it but I don't think that's something we're likely to forget anyway! We tied some satin ribbon and flowers around the handles to "dress it up". Another advantage to this item that I didn't think of at the time is that we've used it quite frequently since the wedding to serve pie or cake.
Cake tops are tulle and lace nightmares and and frequently cost $50 or more. Decorate your cake with flowers or find figurines that suit your personalities or interests...Mickey and Minnie Mouse if you're Disney fans, a castle if you love fairy tales, a ceramic soccer ball if you just can't miss the World Cup Finals or miniature baseball batting helmets representing your favorite teams.
From Shawn Hall: My husband and I are renewing our wedding vows for our tenth anniversary. For the cake top, I found a precious heart shaped ceramic frame with two cherubs resting on top for $8.99. We plan to put a picture of us from our original wedding in it and surround it with flowers. Any couple can have a nice photo of themselves put in the frame. Another idea is to get a small double frame and place a photo of the bride and the groom as children in each side of the frame. These cost are not a one time thing since these frames can be taken home for you to remember the day.
Instead of goofy toasting glasses that say "Bride" and "Groom" on them (like you're afraid to drink out of each others glasses!) buy a couple of regular champagne glasses and tie a ribbon around the stem.
From Lilian: If someone has to have the toasting glasses with the bride and groom written on it the could buy the gold permanent markers used for glasses found at any craft store
If you want to arrive in style but don't like the cost of hiring a limousine check into renting (or better yet borrowing) a classic car. We hadn't planned on any kind of special transportation but my Matron of Honor's father-in-law volunteered to drive us in his Cadillac.
Robina Lambert saved money by borrowing 7 Harley Davidsons for the Best men and the Brides maids from friends and family which saved a total of 3 hours for 2 limos $600nz which is about $300 us. I think your site
Many guests will arrive at your wedding with cards. They could just leave them on the gift table but there's a chance that they will fall and get lost so you will probably want some sort of container for them. At our wedding we used a large hatbox. I cut a slot out of the top for the cards to slide in. Later I carefully glued the piece back in place and used the box to keep all the cards plus souvenirs from our honeymoon, one invitation, and various other wedding keepsakes.
Some people use a birdcage...a fancy wicker one, not the stainless stell kind that one keeps one's pet parakeet in. Cards fit between the bars to go in but cannot be easily removed until you are ready to take them out.
Michelle Bish found an old tortured treasure chest (like an old pirate treasure chest) on eBay. It's about 2'x 3'. She painted it navy (one of her wedding colors),lined it in navy velvet, and decorated it with ribbon. The total cost was $15.00.
The following picture of a wedding cake card holder was sent to us by a website visitor. We don't have detailed instructions for it's construction but it looks fairly simple:
Not everyone has favors but if it's traditional to give them where you live here are a few suggestions:
1. Refrigerator Magnets:
You can easily make them yourself from the kind of magnetic material that they use for the magnetic business cards that so many places give out lately. Just trace a shape on the material (we made ivy leaves but you could make whatver fits your theme or , if you have no theme, something like hearts would be appropriate). Cut out with scissors. You can either leave them white and write your names and wedding date on with an appriately colored paint pen or you can first cover them with self stick vinyl (like Contact paper). It's fun to go to people's houses and see our magnets still on their refrigerators!
Hugs & Kisses-Buy a few bags of Hershey's Hugs and Kisses. Put them in little white boxes (which you can make yourself fairly easily out of card stock) or wrap in tulle. Tie with narrow satin ribbon (44 cents a spool at most craft stores). Attach a tag that says "Hugs and Kisses from the new Mr. & Mrs.
Christina sent this variation on the Hershey Kisses idea: I have a tip for a cute and cheap wedding favor. For our wedding we bought bags of Hersey Kisses and wraped each kiss in colored plastic wrap. On each kiss we put "A kiss from the Bride and Groom" (we used our names) and put the date on it. All together it only cost us about $15 to make 300 cute little favors.
Another one from Jessica Fluke: for my wedding we wanted to give out a unique favor so I decided with some help from my mother to give out spoonfuls of kisses. We went to our local dollar store and bought plastic spoons at $2.00 for 100. At the bulk food store we bought Hersheys Kisses, put three kisses on each spoon and wrapped them in purple tulle. We bought blank business cards from Staples for $4.99 and wrote on the cards "A Spoonful of Kisses from the Mr. and Mrs."
From Linda Schulz in Bloomsburg, PA: Take label wrappers off of rolls of LifeSavers. Print your own labels from your computer and glue or tape onto rolls:"LOVESAVERS", Bride's name & Groom's name, Wedding Date
Personalized Candy Bars-You can buy candy bars with special labels that have your names and date on them but you can do it more frugally if you just buy candy bars and make your own labels on your computer. Take a label off one of the bars and measure it to be sure you make the right size. Ruth Clinton suggests printing these on paper in your wedding colors.
From Jennifer Reilly: I found a 5 oz. candy jars (the kind that tip on their sides with the round screw on lid that are commonly found in old candy shops). They cost $1.50 for 4 in Ikea. I bought 120 jars and then went to CostPlus World Market and bought 3.5 lb. bags (3 of them) of white Jordan Almonds for $9.99 each. I put roughly 15 almonds in each candy jar. I bought metal rimmed tags at an office supply store at $5 for 50 and put our last name initial on the front of the tag with a silver paint pen and wrote the word "thank you" on the back of the tag. You can emboss the tags if you have a metal embosser. I strung the tags with silver string and tied them to the candy jars. The total price per favor was 75 cents.
This idea for favors came from Candice Romaniuk (who also sent an invitation idea and a recipe which can be seen elsewhere in the website): We went to the local craft store and bought chocolate molds to match our jungle theme because we couldn't buy any favours that worked well, you can also look in the plaster mold section. We made small chocolate favours and were planning to wrap them in foil. Instead, we found small lollipop sized treat bags that fit the theme and entailed less time for wrapping them. In total we spent about 25 cents per guest.
Christine Autovino made homemade lollipops for favors: I was paging through Family Circle (2/15/00) and they featured Valentine theme desserts. One of the items was make-it-yourself lollipops that we promptly tried and LOVE. The recipe makes 24 lollipops and Family Circle claims that the unit cost is 27 cents each. Once you purchase the molds, sticks, extract and glassine pouches at the craft store I believe it is a little bit more than that, but not much. I think I spent about $14 on our first batch (candy thermometer is a must), but now we have the basics so by the time we make our wedding favors they will cost much less. The lollipops of the recipe are clear, cinnamon flavored and contain cinnamon red-hots within (Very Cute and Tasty too) but with some creativity you could create any flavor/tinting or shape you desire with or without bits of candy enclosed to match your wedding theme/color. We plan to attach a small tag or tiny scroll with our new address together and a greeting. They can be made weeks or months in advance and keep very well once wrapped. Tie a ribbon round the stick to cinch the glassine pouch.
Christine also sent us the recipe for the pops...we tried to contact Family Circle Magazine for permission to reprint it on our website but they never bothered to respond to the request. I imagine that there are lollipop recipes in candy cookbooks that would work as well.)
3. Christmas Ornaments
If you go to the post-holiday sales you may be able to get ornaments that fit your theme. Or you can get plain glass balls in an appropriate color and write your names and date on them with a paint pen.
4. Flower or Bird Seed
Make small seed envelopes with your names and dates. Buy large packages of flower seeds and divide them up into the small envelopes. Put them in a small, terra cotta flower pot and tie ribbon around it to match your wedding colors.
Linda Margaret Knutson handed out little packets of bird seed at her daughter's wedding. She put them in little ziploc baggies(2"X3")added a cute saying on the bag, using a colorful address label. Here is the poem they used:
As you toss these seeds
May this young couple know
Of your love and support
Wherever they go!
Candice Sparks let us know about seed cards. The seed cards are homemade paper with seeds in them that can be directly planted into a pot or garden to grow flowers. Most do it with wildflowers, but I'm going to try it with other flowers. You can buy paper pulp at Hobby Lobby and a packet of seeds and follow the directions on the bag of pulp and mix in some seeds and maybe some confetti in your wedding colors. A bag of pulp that I found was $8.00 and I think it would make about 20 heart shaped seed cards (you'd have to buy a mold too). Since this is something that would take a long time, I'm doing them for my wedding party instead of as favors, but if people have the free time they could make more.
If you have a green thumb and start far enough ahead of time you can grow green plants or flowers in pots for each guest to take home.
6. Votive Candles:
From Beth Pope: For our wedding I wanted a favor that doubled as a decoration. I liked the idea of personalized votives, but was short on time and money. I bought votive holders from Walmart for $0.34 each and clear labels @ 5 for $3.00. I printed out on the computer"Thank you for sharing our special day! Casey & Beth, January 24, 2004". I bought the votives from a friend who makes candles for less than a dollar each. We used these as the centerpieces for the tables and as favors.
Michelle Gonsalves, who is having a destination wedding in Jamaica, sent us this favor idea: We plan on giving our guests candles wrapped in tulle and pretty magenta/teal ribbons (our wedding colors). These candles will be small scented pillars and votive in a variety of shapes and colors. We found lots of them at flea markets that were selling from .50 - $2.00. At one market there was a four piece island candle set for $3. These pillars had scents like Mango, Passion fruit, Ocean Breeze and Jasmine. The fabric is also found at these markets. My cousin who works at a party store is giving us printed magenta ribbons with our names and dates. Via our home computer, we will make tags that say "You light up our lives" and attach them to the candles. We also had a great idea of wrapping up chocolate "kisses" in tulle and tying them with ribbons as well. Yes, we are avid chocolate lovers!
Here's a suggestion sent by Michelle Marski: Take a white votive candle, place it on a small (3'-4") glass votive plate (avail at any craft store). Then wrap the whole thing with tulle, tie at the top with thin white satin ribbon and attach a placecard (for seating) to each ribbon. Finish off with a small silk rose bud. This really saves money because you don't have to have a favor for each and every person, just one for every couple! (Your "place card" table will also look nice with all of the elegant favors). The men usually don't want a favor anyway, so why waste the time and money!!
Linda Margaret Knutson bought a roll of clear address labels with her daughter and future son-in-law's first names on first line, followed by date of wedding on second line--Attached them to votive candles and tied them in tulle with green ribbon for a December wedding--quite attractive!
From Tracy: For a party favor I bought small glass voltive candles (44 cents a peice at walmart) and ordered clear personalized stickers from a wedding inviation magazine (they are supposed to be used to seal your envelopes). I then placed the clear sticker on the glass candle holder and voila its looks as if the glass is engraved!! The stickers were only $23 dollars for 150 labels. Compared to the cost of actually engraving the candles which were $7 per candle holder.
7. Miscellaneous Favors:
This and the next two ideas come from weddings that Ron & I recently attended. If you use wedding bubbles in the plain bottles (which are the cheapest kind) wrap them in tulle and wrap a little girls' elastic hair tie around the top. This is way easier to do than tying ribbon around it (I know because I tied ribbon around them for our wedding!). The elastics come in all colors and degrees of fanciness and are not very expensive (think dollar store). The ones at the wedding we attended had little white bows but you could most likely find something to match your wedding colors if you wanted to.
Another bride and groom passed out little silver bells with a poem attached with silver cord. These were obviously ready made and ordered from a catalog at (no doubt) great expense but we imagine you could buy the bells in a craft store and print your own message on your computer for a lower price. The bell is a little over an inch tall.The message reads:
Let wedding bells sound a chorus
They ask the bride and groom before us
To share a kiss of harmony
And bring true joy to all who see.
My cousin's son and his bride gave heart shaped cookie cutters attached to a recipe card. The card read "Truly cut out for each other" and contained a recipe for sugar cookies followed by the words "Enjoy while remembering the sweetness of our wedding day".
Here is a variation on the little bell idea sent in by an anonymous website visitor: We decided to go with the little cards that have a sweet poem on them with a bell and ribbon attached. The price of these cards are approximately $.75 to $1.00 each. Too much! I thought. I have a computer, bought some business cards (approx. $5.00 box of 300), wrote a poem, printed them off, punched holes, bought bells at Wal-Mart 45 in bag for $1.78 (bought 6 bags), thin white satin ribbon (2-3 for a $1.00, needed 6 rolls total). Total price before taxes for approx 300 cards = $20.00 versus $300.00. Not bad!
Here's a unique (and useful!) favor idea from Leslie Kramer: I've finally decided to have t-shirts custom made for my guests! I work at a family owned uniform company where we offer screenprinting. I've drawn a meaningful picture for the back print of the shirt, and on the front will be a small screen print of the date. I plan to roll them up (like a scroll) and tie with a ribbon. I may opt for the printed date ribbon, but since the t-shirt has the date, I probably won't! I figure it's a "usable gift", especially for the guys!! Even though I get special pricing because I work here, for anyone else it can be as low as $3.95 per shirt (with the print) and a one time set up fee of $25.00 for the screen! I think it's a great idea for a casual wedding with a low budget.
Jamie Littlefield sent this fun favor idea: I'm allowing my guests to make their own favors. I bought do-it-yourself bookmarks from a craft store. I'm planning on stocking each table with markers, small stamps, and the 99 cent small stamp pads. The guests will have personalized favors and something to do while we're getting our pictures taken. The best part? I'm a teacher, and I'll just keep all the art supplies to use in my classroom.
This comes from Michelle Figueroa: I have a VERY good money saving idea for anyone who is crafty and doesn't mind the little extra work. I was trying to find a nice way to wrap favors without having to buy those sets of little white boxes, so I searched on this site for ideas. I liked the idea about making your own boxes out of card stock, but I wondered how I could get a diagram to follow for the box so that they come out nice. I did a search for "box diagram" and I found this site that has beautiful diagrams for Origami boxes! Here is the link:Fabric Origami The site is for making them out of fabric, but I tried it with regular white computer paper and it was just as pretty. You get a nice 4-inch box out of 8-inch square sheets.
Here's an alternative to traditional favors sent in by Oriana Nesbit: We couldn't decide on a favor that all our guests would not only appreciate, but keep. So we opted out. We decided, at our sign in table we would put in a beautiful silver frame a note to our guests saying." As a thank-you to each of you our guests for joining us on our wedding day, we Steven and Oriana Lewallen have made a donation in your names to the World War Two Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C." We chose the Veterans Memorial to honor our family members who are no longer with us, and because almost every family has been effected by that war in one way or another. You can choose any charitable organization you like, and you can set a price that is reasonable for you and your groom. Instead of making a huge sacrifice of money to hand out a bunch of little trinkets that will be thrown away in a couple days.
Spawning Skye suggests for a spring or summer reception (especially if there are a lot of kids attending), instead of throwing birdseed or rice is to print messages of love or your names and wedding date using your computer on business sized or smaller pieces of paper, roll them up and stuff them into ballons. Fill the balloons with helium. Use cheap ribbon from the craft store for balloon strings. When the bride and groom come out of the church (or wherever ceremony is held)everyone lets go of their balloons to send the messages all over. Check with local authorities to make sure there is no law against it in your area. Balloons can be bought in bulk and you can rent a helium machine and fill the balloons the day before the wedding.
Karla Pomeroy's idea for a very frugal favor is a small wishing stone glued to the name settings. You can buy them at $1.00 for 20 at the discount store. She bought them in her wedding colours and it only cost $4.00 for the whole lot.
From Linda: I discovered this idea by accident by using glass gems (those pretty colored glass shapes that many people use in vases). There are some options to the basic idea. Using a glue that will dry clear, glue the bride & grooms name & the wedding date on the flat side so that when you look from the top of the gem you can read their names. You can print this up on your own computer using the color ink that matches your wedding colors (if your colors are too light just use black ink) & using the same font from your homemade invitations. The large clear gems work great, but we also found some heart shaped ones at Walmart & online. You can also make them into refrigerator magnets by glueing magnets to them. Scatter the favors on the table w/some colored ones (or w/the snowflake or moon shapes if they go w/your theme) for decorations, but make sure you let the guests know that the gems are for them to take home.
Jodie Smith says when she got married she really liked the little bisque angels you see in gift shops. They usually have a little artificial flower attached to them and are $20 and up. She decided to make them herself for a fraction of the cost. She went to a ceramics store and bought the "greenware" for $3.00 each then had a party with her bridesmaids and some other friends. They cleaned the greenware in no time.
Kathi Frame tells us that Oriental Trading Company has an abundant selection of decorations and favors for incredibly low prices. There are some fabulous deals in their wedding section. The url is orientaltrading.com Just watch out for shipping costs!
Michelle Drummond's biggest hint is not shopping in the "Wedding Section"! Wal Mart's craft section and The Dollar Store have been wonderful for pretty little decoration ideas and for really cheap! The only thing I think needs to be mentioned is that if you plan on a Frugal Wedding start early! If you run out of time you ending up spending a lot trying to get everything done in time!
Another favour idea from an unnamed reader is to write a poem about your wedding day and thanking your guests for sharing it with you. Print your poem onto a 6x6 inch sheet of colored paper. Then roll it up like a scroll and tie it with a ribbon. This costs about 10 cents to make each one and they look fabulous!
People often suggest making CDs of favorite songs to give as favors. Caroline Gilman, a librarian says "I thought I would drop a cautionary note that burning CDs and passing them out as gifts infringes the copyright of the performer. I donít mean to be a party-pooper; I am sure that very few brides and grooms will be taken to court over the matter!
If you made or bought frugal favors for your wedding tell us about them and we'll add them to our list.