So, recently I overheard some brides discussing wedding favors - It seemed like half of them were in favor (ha, ha, no pun intended) and the other half opposed. People really liked the idea of something they could use later, or a food gift, candies, instead of some sort of "useless trinket" (their words, not mine) with the bride and groom's names and wedding dates that might get left behind or eventually thrown away.
I had some mixed feelings regarding this conversation - I thought in my head, isn't a favor something you give your guests to thank them for attending your wedding? But are they really necessary? Will people notice if you didn't have them? Would they be upset? Because I was straddling both camps in their logic behind whether wedding favors were a necessity by today's standards, I thought I would do a little research and find out where the tradition came from to begin with:
According to weddingvendors.com
For many centuries wedding favors have been a part of traditional wedding ceremonies, across a wide range of cultures. Initially wedding favors were an extravagance at celebrations hosted by European upper classes, who had the wealth to provide elaborate gifts to guests.
The early wedding favors began as small fancy boxes, known by their French name of bonbonniere. A bonbonniere was fashioned of crystal, porcelain, or gold, and often encrusted with precious stones. The delicate boxes were meant to hold bonbons or other confectionery delicacies, at a time when sugar was quite expensive. Sugar was also highly valued by all, as it was believed to have medicinal benefits.
Interestingly enough when I did a search for "bonbonniere" lots of pictures of contemporary favor boxes popped up. This image came from ebay.
Gifts to Guests
The tradition of providing gifts to guests was adopted by individuals of modest means by selecting simple treats as gifts. Every culture across time has a approached marriage as a wonderful event, with the nuptials celebrated throughout the community.
In many societies the bride and groom are associated with good luck, a common thought was that everything they touched would be charmed. By gifting members of the community, they would then pass those same blessings onto others.
Many brides would choose to distribute this good luck by preparing a small gift of almonds, beautifully wrapped in an elegant fabric. The custom in the Middle East is for the bride to provide five almonds to represent fertility, longevity, wealth, health and happiness. For more than a millennium, almonds were commonly given as wedding gifts to the couple, signifying the good wishes on their new life together. In the thirteenth century the practice of coating almonds in sugar became popular, the new confections were called "confetti". Over time, confetti has transformed to Jordan almonds, now a staple of many wedding celebrations.
Interestingly enough in Persian weddings there is a tradition of handing out "Noghl" which is a confection of roasted almonds coated in a solution of sugar, water and rosewater. It is an ancient tradition that is still carried on today.
The combination of the almond and candy signify the bitter sweetness of marriage. Today, Jordan almonds provide one of the most common and traditional wedding favors when they are wrapped in small bundles of delicate fabric or lace and tied with ribbon. Though the most traditional of wedding favors are still appreciated, a bride is only limited to her imagination when it comes to selecting the gifts that will demonstrate esteem from the blessed couple.
In Indian weddings it is considered good luck to give hand carved elephants to the wedding guests.
Since the sixteenth century, bridegroom couples have been giving gifts to wedding guests as a gesture of gratitude for sharing in the beginning of their new life together. Today, gifts to the guests are known as wedding favors and are commonplace in ceremonies worldwide. The small gifts may vary according to the culture, wealth and the interests of the couple, or theme of the wedding.
Choosing a Favor
Frequently a bride may select wedding favors intended to complement the décor of the reception table. A common denominator among all modern brides, regardless of cultural background or budget, is for the bride to take pride in the giving and selecting the right wedding favor. The majority of wedding details are bound by tradition or cost, but the wedding favor provides the bride a chance to show her personality and really consider what will delight her guests. Edible favors can be purchased or created maintaining the European tradition of giving confectionery delights.
Another tradition, not mentioned above, is the tradition of giving the wedding guests a piece of the wedding cake in a box to take home. It was said if you put it under your pillow, you would dream of your future spouse.
So, there is a little history on the tradition of wedding favors. Please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, or your own ideas regarding this topic.
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