1. Play up your theme
If your wedding is rooted in music, hand out custom CDs or iPod minis loaded with both your favorite tunes. Self-serve dessert or snack stations are another way to play up your wedding style. If blue and white is your color palette, set up a candy bar loaded with all your favorite treats in those particular hues. Throwing a carnival-inspired soiree? Create a popcorn bar, complete with sweet and salty flavors they can mix and match. Leave paper bags (in pretty prints and colors that play off the décor) and scoops.
2. Incorporate some local flavor
Send guests off with a nod to your wedding setting. Consider a regional specialty such as jalapeño jelly from Texas, hot sauce or Cajun spice rubs from Louisiana, Vermont cheddar or maple syrup or Atlantic City salt water taffy. Or, choose a longer lasting reminder like a beach towel or bag for a seaside affair, or hand warmers or neck warmers in your signature colors for a mountain wedding.
3. Select a seasonal send-off
If you’re having a fall wedding, package pumpkin-flavored baked goods or candy apples in burnt orange and red boxes. For winter, offer warm blankets or hot cocoa kits, complete with powder mix, marshmallows and a spoon. Hand out sunglasses, hats or mini personalized sunscreen bottles at a summer soiree. As for spring, we love the idea of sending guests home with potted plants or flowers and growing instructions. Another option: Consider a gift they can enjoy right there, like a smoothie or frozen yogurt bar that captures the pretty pastels of spring. Set it up at the beginning of the party for cocktail hour or toward the end of the reception for a late-night snack.
4. Choose double-duty favors
Make your favors and your escort cards one in the same. From lollipops to Christmas ornaments, tag your favors with each guest's name and table number and place them on the escort table. Other escort card/favor pair-ups: apples with tags tied to the stem; luggage tags with table numbers tucked inside; and miniature wine bottles with table number and name labels.
5. Give back
Whether it's a cause that's close to your heart, such as a cancer research group, or a cause that you support, such as animal shelters, be sure to let each guest know of the donation by placing a note at each place setting or table for guests to read. To find the right organization, do your research. Find out how your chosen charity spends donations -- and make sure you receive a receipt for tax purposes. Find out more about different charities to support at ChangingThePresent.org
, or JustGive.org