DIY Wedding Favors
The Budget Savvy Bride

The fiancée and I had several debates about what to give away as favors. We wanted it to be somewhat practical; something that our guests could use or enjoy either on the day of the wedding or afterward. We also wanted whatever it was to share something about us without being some random monogrammed thing. Unfortunately, as it turns out, anything times 100 (or more!) equals a lot of money—for something they may not even like or use anyway. And then it’s supposed to be something clever and elegant and explicitly “couple-y” according to every wedding site in the world, so what is a couple to do?

Jon and I ran through many different favor ideas for our wedding in an attempt to determine what we might do. I understand why couples give food gifts (chocolate, biscotti, and decorated cookies are a few I’ve seen at recent weddings we’ve attended), but most guests are pretty stuffed by the end of the wedding, and many food items are not necessarily very portable. Other ideas we ran through:

  • Bookmarks (because he writes book reviews, and we both like to read and write)
  • Playing cards or another game-related item (we often play board and card games together, and actually requested some games on our registry for this reason)
  • Seed packets (we liked the idea of growing together as a couple, planting something that could last, etc.)
  • Giving away wedding décor items of some kind (yay, dual purpose!)
  • Spices (we have a favorite spice shop that creates some wonderful custom blends)
  • Something garden-related (since our ceremony was taking place in a garden)
  • Some kind of mug-cake mix (this just seemed like a cool idea)

Would you believe that these lovely frosted-glass jars came from a science-supply store? They were inexpensive and pretty!

After much thought, we came up with our thing—white and dark chocolate (after seeing our first-ever picture together, one of our co-workers commented “Well that’s chocolate and vanilla!”) mixes. The hot chocolate idea made sense, as we both spend a lot of time in coffee shops (or our own at-home “coffee shop” room, a converted bedroom that is decorated to look like a cafe) writing, playing card games, etc. Jon doesn’t actually like coffee, ironically, but he usually orders some kind of hot chocolate. I, on the other hand, prefer drinks that are sweet and caffeine-laden, so we ended up looking for a mix that could be used in coffee or standalone, thus providing a treat to the masses. :)

One of my proudest budget-savvy purchases along this vein was a collection of glass bottles. These particular bottles came from American Science and Surplus, a local science-supply store for teachers and the homeschooled. The store carries everything from home science kits to formaldehyde frogs for dissection, so it’s not the kind of place you’d expect to find anything particularly romantic. Nonetheless, I remembered their extensive collection of test tubes, miniature vases, and—ta daaa!—glass jars. The particular ones we purchased were frosted glass, square, 4.5 ounces, and less than $1.50 each. On top of that, there had recently been a Groupon for the store, saving me an additional $10 off the purchase!

We then took a fieldtrip over to Costco, which we figured was the best place to find super-size containers of hot chocolate. We managed to find some awesome Starbucks cocoa mix (good for mochas or hot chocolate) that ended up being fairly inexpensive.

Our original plan had been to layer a milk and white chocolate together to mirror the unity sand we were planning to do for our ceremony. However, it turns out that it is extremely difficult to find white hot chocolate mix that is actually white in color. When we finally did find some, it was fairly expensive, so we didn’t want to buy both the regular and white chocolate in the same brand (plus, we figured people would appreciate the Starbucks option). So, because the two types had different instructions, we chose to instead have two options: white or milk chocolate.

Favor-making is grueling, messy work!

After purchasing the chocolate, it was on to the labeling. Oh, the labeling. I had no idea that finding labels would be so difficult. I wanted something that covered the entire side of the jar, and that was big enough to include the directions of how to make the drinks. As it turns out, all the standard-size labels were too small or too awkward-shaped to work on such a large container. After investigating some ancient labels at Jon’s work, we discovered that diskette (yes, floppy disk!) labels were actually the perfect size–but who sells those anymore? We ended up ordering them online, and the labels arrived in a few days. All of the words on the outside of the box were in Spanish (no idea why; this wasn’t the case on the site), but hey, they stuck!

I used Word to put them together; thankfully, the program did still have the proper template to make everything work properly. I included our wedding date location, etc. on one side, and directions and a brief coffee-shop-theme explanation on the other.

From there, it was just a matter of washing all the containers, making a massive mess of our kitchen as we funneled the mixes into the containers, and creating an assembly line of sticking on labels with the help of two of our bridal-party members.

Voila!

Lessons learned tips from this project?

  1. Hot chocolate is a seasonal item, so we wouldn’t have found it in Costco if we had waited. Keep this in mind with whatever items you may want to purchase—you may end up spending more overall if you have to order online and have items shipped.
  2. 4 ounces is actually pretty big for a frosted-glass jar. It was not an option for us to fill the jar with spices due to the cost and the fact that 4 oz would be a ridiculous amount of spices! Make sure that you have a clear idea of what you want to do with your jars before you purchase them so you can buy an appropriate size.
  3. It turned out that our jars required weirdly sized labels in order to look right. We actually had to special-order floppy-disk labels—because absolutely NO ONE uses these things anymore—to fit appropriately, and when they arrived, the box was in Spanish (not that it mattered). This is another interesting dimension to consider in the process. I also had to input my images and text into Microsoft Word sideways because of the way things needed to fit.
  4. Funnels should be as large as possible.

All-in-all, we were able to put together favors that were “us,” and that were not terribly costly (our total cost was less than $250 for 120 favors!). It was an interesting project to say the least, but we were satisfied with the final result. Ta-da!

All of the completed jars, pre-labels.

 

Heather is a 20-something lifelong learner who works in higher education and overanalyzes everything. Now engaged to her boyfriend of 6 years, she spends way too much time in coffee shops fueling up on espresso drinks and creatively massaging marital traditions. Follow along as she makes meaning out of the chaos and (hopefully) pulls it all together for her May 2012 Chicagoland wedding.

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