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Mama Deb
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Favors at weddings

I don't remember them fifteen years ago, when I was first engaged and bought my quota of bridal magazines. They talked about all sorts of things, such as bridesmaids' gifts, but I don't recall favors. Because, if there were, I think I would have had them. I mean, we had yarmulkes and bentchers, but if people were giving out little gifties or packages of candy, I would have done it. I believe, anyway. And I'm sure that more modern Orthodox weddings would have them today, too.

I also went to a Catholic wedding a couple of years earlier and I don't recall favors there, either. But that was in 1988, so who knows?

Am I remembering wrong? Or are they a relatively recent thing?

Anyone have any ideas on this front?

Goes off to google.

Comments

I was married in a Catholic ceremony nine years ago. And I had favors. Most of the relatives on my father's side of the family also had favors for as far back as I can remember. Perhaps it's just something that was done in the area I lived? *shrugs*

Or I just don't remember. Which is entirely possible.

Every wedding I have ever been to has had favors. Usually napkins imprinted with the names and date, or a little paper scroll in a plastic wedding ring, or a little bag of jordan almonds, little bells, bottles of bubbles with the name and date on them, etc.
At our wedding, we had yarmulkes, programs with the order of the service and some other stuff about the service included, and little bags of jordan almonds with a blue rosette attached.

Maybe it's a southern thing?

Maybe. Or maybe it was just too long ago for me to be clear about. Or I thought the bentchers would be sufficient.

I'm pretty sure *I* didn't make no stinkin' wedding favors 14 years ago, but I read all about them when I was trying to plan the wedding.

Well, there certainly exists a custom of giving wedding guests candy to take home with them. It's even got a word: bonbonniere. The name would imply it may be an Italian custom (or perhaps French?).

I think Debbie's talking about the ephemeral things, like bags of candy or bottles of bubbles. Is that a Martha Stewart thing?

As for souvenirs of the wedding, e.g. bentchers (booklets with grace after meals), decorative place cards, etc. - they go way back. We have bentchers from my mother's parents' wedding, as well as several great-aunts, back to about 1911. Hardcovers they were in those days, too, not the paperbacks most use today. Lubavs give away pamphlets or booklets of teachings of their rebbes. My cousin Bruce went to a wedding 15 years ago where they gave out copies of The Little Book of Mitzvot, which was about $7 in stores.

Bar-mitzvas are much the same. I have a chumash (Pentateuch with Aramaic translation and a medieval commentary) from a bar-mitzva, which also goes for about $10 in the store.

I think little bags of candy or bottles of bubble-soap or what-have-you are fairly common at recent-ish weddings -- the last several formal weddings I've attended (all Christian) had them. I didn't care about them myself -- I figured yarmulkes and bentschers should be more than adequate -- but my mother-in-law put forward a strong plea for cute little chocolate bars engraved with our names and the date. Since she also offered to pay for them, I went with it (it was a small enough thing to make her happy), and everyone did seem to enjoy their souvenirs, plus it was nice to have a wedding memento to ship to friends and relatives who couldn't make it but didn't need/appreciate the Jewish swag.

I started planning my own wedding about 15 years ago and, yes, there were favors then. The only favor we gave out was little matchbooks with our names and the wedding date on them. They were pretty cheap, about the same price as the invitations.
I think that more expensive favors, until pretty recently, we reserved for only pretty upscale weddings. 15, 20 years ago, extravagant weddings were not the norm, as they are today. Yeah, lots of people had nice weddings, but there really was no such thing as an "average" $100,000 wedding. Today, that's more common than it should be! My thoughts there have always been, save your money on the wedding and invest in a good first home with the rest of the money.
Of course, my husband and I largely financed our wedding ourselves, which meant, as I graduated from college all of three weeks prior, we did the entire thing on a shoestring. Still, I am proud to say that my wedding was the nicest one I have ever attended. Even without expensive favors.

"average" $100,000 wedding.

The "average" wedding as of three years ago cost $17K

The literal average takes into account all of those people who go to the justice of the peace, have a vegas elopement, etc. I know a lot of people who work in the actual wedding industry who don't bat an eye when telling a bride's family that their reception will cost upwards of $30,000 dollars.

Fwiw the biggest favor I did was for studmuffin and myself--I was adamant about eloping. We did and it was the most fantastic thing we could have done.

There have been favors at all the weddings I remember attending - at least going back to the earlyish 90s. I don't really remember the weddings from when I was a small kid (and there were none inbetween there and adulthood), so I can't speak to earlier.

At my wedding, we gave out little ceramic baskets that were left over from a friends wedding (dried flowers in theirs, potpourri in ours), with little ribbons tied around the handles (that's tedious work) with the bride and groom's names and the date printed on the ribbons (the tedious part is getting the names and dates to face the same way). That was 10 years ago. A friend of mine, who had an Episcopalian wedding just before Christmas that year, gave out little icicle tree ornaments with the same sort of little ribbons.

But I can remember people getting bonbonierres when I was a kid, some 30 years ago (I didn't go to a wedding until I was 18, but I remember someone giving me one leftover from hers). Jordan Almonds, old enough to crack teeth, seemed to be the common thing.

Bubbles seem to be a recent "tradition" that came out of the fact that most sites don't want you to throw rice, so you blow bubbles in the general direction of the bride and groom. At wedding I helped coordinate (http://www.livejournal.com/users/kid_lit_fan/147730.html), there were bubbles and candles shaped like wedding cakes. They were cute, but really, what do you do with them.

The challenge is finding something people might actually want. Most brides, myself included, find it hard to remember that the only thing you have to do is have someone official say "You're married." People get caught up in the garter toss, the white dress, the napkins matching the tablecloths, etc. I knew a bride who HAD to have a horse and carriage (the "tradition" is that the bride and her father drive up to the ceremony and the bride and groom drive away). She cut 20 people off her guest list to be able to fit it into her budget, which strikes me as incredibly lacking in what weddings are about.

Oh, 25-30 years ago, my mom worked at a place that printed napkins, and sold the cancelled ones to the workers for something like a quarter a package, so I had a lot of brown-bag lunches with napkins imprinted with silver bells and "Michael and Rhonda" (XX-XX-XX last month).

I remember sometimes getting little bags of candy at weddings when I was a kid -- but I don't know if that was a bribe to keep the kids happy or if everyone got them.

We didn't do favors and the idea did not in fact even occur to us. (Non-Jewish) friends who got married a year or two later talked about favors in an "oh of course" manner, and when I asked they said they were often done. (They were doing heart-shaped cookie cutters in little bags with the candy-coated almonds.) I haven't been to all that many weddings, but I have the impression that this is a trend of the last decade or so.

I have one of those heart shaped cookie cutters from a wedding of friends of yours. Wonder if it's the same friends (ralph and lori)

Those are the folks I meant, yes.

Generally, favors at Jewish weddings are the bentchers.

When my brother got married 2 years ago, I brought with me "Chanukah gelt" chocolates that said Mazal Tov on them. We tied them into little net bags and the placecards were attached. We also had metal menorahs on the tables and draidels. I also organized bubbles after the chuppah so that folks wouldn't throw glitter confetti. My siblings returned the favor (no pun intended) regarding the bubbles when Zach and I got married :)