A centuries-old tradition, wedding favours play an important part to hosting a fabulous reception, but how did they come to be? We take a look at the history of a modern wedding favour…

wedding favours mark-bothwell

How did wedding favours start?

Well, a few centuries ago favours were popular among aristocrats in Italy and France and known as bonbonnieres (or bombonnieres if you’re Italian). Unlike today’s celebrations, when you expect to find a favour at your place setting, the favour would have been sent to you before the wedding and would have been parcelled up in a small porcelain, metal, jewelled or crystal box.

Weddings were seen as a blessing and by giving these gifts the couple getting married felt they were wishing good luck to their invited guests as well. Inside the boxes were five sweets or almonds that represented health, long life, fertility, wealth and happiness.

As the years passed, confectioners took their opportunity to get involved and coated the almonds in a sugar paste to make the gift more luxurious and so sugar almonds have become a traditional wedding favour today.

What are wedding favours for?

Originally they were to wish your guests health and happiness – but these days wedding favours can be put in place for all sorts of reasons.

A wedding favour can be used as ice breakers when your guests arrive at your wedding reception and take their places. Lottery tickets and scratch cards are popular wedding favours and these are certain to spark off a conversation among unfamiliar guests.

Some brides and grooms use wedding favours as a means of supporting their favourite charities. Many charities, including Cancer Research, British Lung Foundation and Help For Heroes produce name pins that can be worn on lapels. By buying these you’re giving money to a worthy cause and providing care for many people, which is what it’s all about. Even smaller charities have favour offerings nowadays. The Multiple System Atrophy Trust, for example, who support people with the rare life-limiting neurological brain disease, offer pin badges and even Bertie Bear favours for children for just £10 excluding P&P.  Find out more at msatrust.org.uk.

childrens wedding favours mikiphotography

How do people choose favours?

You might want to use your wedding favours as an extension of your wedding theme. If you’re having a wedding by the seaside with a beach theme, you could have some special rock with the bride and groom’s name running through it and put a stick of rock by each guest’s place. Or if you’re having a country garden wedding, then you could put a small potted plant with the guest’s name on it by each setting.

Some brides decide to forget about favours for the adults, and just focus on providing gifts for children in the wedding party and use the wedding favours as children’s entertainment. You could supply special children’s packs and wrap them up as parcels. For younger children this could be colouring books and crayons, or simple puzzles. Older children might like something more stimulating, such as Lego kits.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to give the wedding favours you want. Just remember what they’re meant to signify. You don’t have to spend a lot of money – just give your wedding favours a bit of thought.