History of Wedding Favors

Cheryl Cirelli

If you've ever gone to a wedding, chances are you didn't walk away empty handed. From matchbooks imprinted with the couple's name to elegant crystal toasting glasses, every bride and groom sends their guests home with a memento of the joyous occasion. Have you ever wondered why wedding guests are presented with favors and where this tradition comes from? A little bit of history can help guests and couples understand this time honored tradition.

Wedding Favors History

One of the earliest accounts of a wedding favor dates back to 16th century England. It was common for couples to give love knots constructed from lace and ribbon to each of their guests as a favor and to represent their bond of love. Throughout history, favors have evolved into a tradition that can be seen around the world.

Bonbonnieres

Centuries ago, European aristocrats, most notably those in France and Italy, would send their wedding guests home with a small gift called a bonbonniere, or as it's called in Italian, a bomboniere. These weren't exclusively a wedding staple since they were also given out at birthday parties and other celebratory occasions.

A bonbonniere was actually a box made of porcelain, crystal, precious stones or metal. Inside one would find delicacies made of sugar. It was from these boxed and gift wrapped confections that today's wedding favors are derived.

Good Luck

A wedding was considered a lucky occasion way back when. By passing bonbonnieres and other treats onto wedding guests, the couple felt they were also bestowing their good luck upon their guests. In most cases, these lucky gifts consisted of five almonds or pieces of candy which represented fertility, health, wealth, happiness and longevity.

Jordan Almonds

Bonbonnieres evolved as confectioners began making candied almonds by dipping them in sugar or some other sweet coating. This tradition is kept alive today with the brightly colored Jordan almonds given out at many of these joyous occasions. In fact, if you count, you may find of these tulle wrapped treats - still represent the five wedding wishes.

Wedding Favors from Around the World

When it comes to wedding favors, anything goes. While Americans usually give favors according to their wedding's theme or the couple's lifestyle, many countries have traditional favors such as:

  • At an Italian wedding, guests can expect to receive chocolate covered or Jordan almonds.
  • At a Spanish wedding, guests receive detalles; perhaps cigars for men and a gift for the women.
  • In Russia, favors consist of tiny pictures or small candles and trinkets.
  • At Irish weddings, it is common for guests to receive small wedding bells as a favor.
  • In India, a lucky wedding favor to give guests is a hand-crafted elephant.

Giving Favors

Favors are presented in a variety of manners, how each couple does so depends on their own tradition or what they feel is best for their wedding reception.Some couples will display favors at each place setting, thereby adding to the table decorations. Others will have a favor table where the small gifts are displayed and a decorative card attached containing each guest's name and table assignment. There are still others who choose to give favors out by hand in exchange for a wedding gift. It's up to the couple to decide which scenario works best for their reception.

Honor Favor Tradition

Wedding favors are a time honored tradition. Whether you choose to give out tulle-wrapped packages of Jordan almonds, decorative candles or a silver plated bottle opener, your guests are sure to appreciate the gesture and will treasure their gifts for years to come.

History of Wedding Favors