Favor fever: What's the right gift for wedding guests?

  • Is a custom color-changing cup the key to happy wedding guests?
Is a custom color-changing cup the key to happy wedding guests? (vendodirect.com )
May 30, 2012|By Megan Isennock, Special to The Baltimore Sun

I didn’t realize people still handed out favors at weddings until this year. Granted, I hadn’t been to (or in) many weddings before, but I was still surprised to see gifts waiting for us at the door, even after we had been fed, boozed up, photographed and danced with. Being a guest is the best role at a wedding -- you have none of the fiscal or planning responsibilities, and yet reap all of the rewards.

As mentioned, I was pretty new to weddings until this year, and really thought that I’d only walk away from them with a full belly and an exasperated liver. Turns out, newlyweds want to keep you happy until the bitter end. I’ve been given pots of honey, engraved pencils, a bag of salted caramel popcorn and photo booth pictures, and with a wedding of our own on the horizon we had to decide if we’d spend any budget leftovers on parting gifts.

I looked around the web for ideas. Some people have handed out plants or seed packets; others gifted snacks or bottles of wine with wedding puns on the labels. Some made cookies, some gave pretty bags of candy and a few couples commissioned match books with their profiles and the wedding date inked onto the cover.

Nothing really jumped out, and I was having a harder time making room for favors in the budget since I wasn’t in love with anything we’d found. Justifying anything you don’t need in a wedding budget is tough, and it felt wrong to talk myself into buying personalized trinkets in bulk just because we were supposed to.

After coming this close to ordering 300 color-changing plastic cups with our names on them, we decided to cool off on picking favors for a while. And like most good ideas, we figured out exactly what to give when we stopped stressing about it.

The money allotted for our wedding favors will instead be donated to the Human Rights Campaign. Rob and I were lucky enough to be born with completely protected marriage rights, and our small contribution will hopefully serve as a celebration that Maryland is on its way to recognizing that love is love is love.

You don't have to forgo favors, but if you are uncertain about what to buy, consider a donation. Choose something important to you and your spouse, and give on behalf of your wedding party. Donating is a great alternative to favors, and has a hidden, selfish added bonus: no one can complain about, or mock your choice of gift. 

Every bride and groom should do exactly what is right for them, and this is what felt right for us, even though we’d (seriously) be thrilled to drink out of leftover color-changing cups for the first few years of our marriage.

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