Do me a favour – Will you go classic or have a modern twist?

They’re just a token of your appreciation, but wedding favours can be fun, quirky, cool or meaningful too writes Sarah Gillespie

Personalised Coffee & Cream name badges, £1 each

Personalised Coffee & Cream name badges, £1 each, Wedding In A Teacup

Favours, the small gifts given as a gesture of appreciation or gratitude to guests by the bride and groom during a wedding reception, are part of a long and honourable tradition. But it’s no longer necessary to stick to old-fashioned favourites such as sugared almonds (chosen originally to symbolise the bittersweet nature of marriage), or, God forbid, a photo keyring of a beaming couple that will be tossed in a drawer and quickly forgotten about. These days a wealth of unique goodies, ranging from quirky to chic, will do nicely as wedding favours.

Miniature classic round decorative birdcages, from £18.99 for four, Confetti

Miniature classic round decorative birdcages, from £18.99 for four, Confetti

The choice is incredibly varied – we’ve been given gourmet chocolates, handmade soaps or even lottery tickets on one particularly lucky occasion. Gifts can be personalised but practical too – and something your guests will love, such as a miniature of vodka or whisky, or a piece homemade tablet. (An edible favour is always appreciated by hungry guests if you decide to have the speeches before the wedding breakfast.)
Amid all the extravagance and indulgence of a wedding, many couples decide to make a charitable donation instead, and most charities will provide you with cards and pin badges explaining this to your guests. These often have suggested donations of £1 to £3 per guest.
“Charity wedding favours are often chosen by those with a personal connection to the cause. It can be a way of sharing the day with a loved one who can’t be there due to illness or who has perhaps passed away,” says Alison Acosta of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (myfundraising.org.uk).

Pillow boxes with double satin ribbon, £7.50, Shinta Shop

Pillow boxes with double satin ribbon, £7.50, Shinta Shop

So when should you should start looking for your favours? Three to six months before­hand is recommended, though some suppliers can deliver orders for bespoke favours in six to eight weeks. And although we wouldn’t recommend leaving it that late, some online favours can arrive in a week.
“The best time to look for favours is once you’ve decided on a theme or colour scheme for your wedding,” says Stuart MacKenzie of JS Favours (jsfavours.co.uk). “Just don’t leave it too late – you don’t want to be rushing about a few days before the big day trying to put yours together.” We second that: many brides optimistically think they can make DIY favours – but do you really want to be spending your weekends armed with sequins and a hot glue gun as you struggle to produce 90 identical miniature boxes?

Personalised whisky miniatures, from £3.15 each based on orders of 12 or more, T. B. Watson

Personalised whisky miniatures, from £3.15 each based on orders of 12 or more, T. B. Watson

Giving yourself adequate time means you can shop around and find favours that look good without blowing the budget. Karen Gibson, director of T. B. Watson (drambusters.com), offers this money-saving tip: “Don’t get too hung up on having the right flavour for each individual guest. Buying in bulk will give you a discount. Our personalised miniatures start from £2.70 each for wines and £3.15 for spirits, based on an order of over 12 pieces of each.”
Whatever you go for, favours offer a chance to put your stamp on the day – whether you want to make people laugh, take a moment to remember someone, or stop their stomachs rumbling while the best man holds forth.