Step 1: Choose Your Favors
Start by browsing bridal magazines, websites and local stores in your wedding locale, and thinking about memorable wedding favors your recently married friends have given out. Gather ideas on innovative packaging, sample flavors and find trinkets that catch your eye. A few ideas to get you started: lemon drops packaged in tiny tin containers for a yellow-infused wedding, decks of cards because he proposed in Vegas, and miniature cookbooks filled with your favorite recipes to showcase your culinary passion.
Step 2: Get Them Made
Once you've come up with a list of favor ideas, you need to decide how you'll get them made. Think about your budget, schedule and your favorite favor ideas, and decide if you're going to buy premade favors or make them yourselves. Whatever you decide, just remember that favors should account for around 1 or 2 percent of your budget. If you're going the traditional route with everyone getting one favor, you'll want to multiply the cost of any potential favors -- plus packaging -- by the total number of guests to make sure they're within your budget. For more expensive favors, like champagne or gourmet olive oil bottles, consider giving one gift per couple. In this case, you'll want to place the favor between the couple's two dinner plates, and tag it with each of their names, or attach favors to the escort cards and just give each couple a single card and favor. Singles still get their own favors.
Step 3: Package Them Up
You most certainly can judge a favor by its cover. Whether it's edible or a small take-home gift, presentation is everything. Personalized packaging and a thoughtful display can go a long way when it comes to these tiny tokens of appreciation. From colorful boxes and clear cellophane bags to tiny tin pails and slim silver canisters, your favor packaging can, and should, make as much of an impact as what's inside it. First, find the right size and type of bag, box or other container. Look for containers that coordinate with your wedding colors. Craft and stationery stores and online event- and bridal-supply retailers offer a vast array of packaging in different patterns. Some offer custom gift wrapping and will even do the assembling and wrapping for you.
Step 4: Deck Out the Display
The final piece of your favor puzzle: deciding how you want to hand them out or display them for guests to pick up. There are a lot of options for a stylish send-off, depending on the favors you choose. And though they're thought of as parting gifts, favors can be handed out anytime, from the start of the wedding to the end of the night. Pile them in baskets by the ceremony entrance or on guests' chairs (think parasols to keep them comfortable on a sunny afternoon) or by the dance floor to help guests get into the groove (with flip-flops, for example). Or have your favors ready at the start of the reception by using them as escort cards. Simply attach a tag indicating guest's name and table number to each token -- this works especially well for smaller items, like mini potted plants. For an extra-special delivery during the party, instruct the waitstaff to pass around bite-size cupcakes or homemade mini fruit tarts -- and mini bakery boxes -- on silver trays before the meal or in between courses. End the night on a generous note and hand your favors out as guests make their exit. Try a heartwarming good-night theme, like a midnight snack: Include a cookie, a mini carton of milk and a note that says "Sweet dreams.”