Beautiful wedding favours are a lot like having a car door opened for you if you’re a woman - it’s not exactly a must but it’s such a nice gesture that it makes everyone smile. So, if you are planning your wedding, and wondering whether favours should be on your to-do list, the short answer is no, it doesn’t have to be.
The longer answer is no it doesn’t have to be but if you feel like adding a little bit of whimsy to the day (and your budget allows for it), it could be a very cute and memorable addition to your nuptial celebrations.
The history of wedding favours
Before we get to our ultimate list of beautiful wedding favours, let’s back up a little and take a look at the history of this wedding tradition. See, much like confetti and bridal garters, wedding favours have been around for centuries.
According to popular lore, it all started with almonds, which were given as gifts at Greek weddings as early as the 15th century. This was likely due to the tale in Greek mythology that tells of King Demophon and his queen Phyllis, who got married right before he had to ship off on a crusade. By the time he got back, his bride had passed away, turning into an almond tree.
Naturally, Demophon was very sad and, as Greek martyrs are wont to do, he embraced the tree AKA his departed wife, upon which the story goes that she burst into full bloom, symbolising their ever-lasting bond. As such, almonds came to be a symbol of love and commitment among the Greeks, and they started to give honey-coated almonds as favours at weddings - the honey representing the sweetness of having a partner, while the natural bitterness stood for the tough times we all have in life.
Later on, the honey was swapped for sugar and after a few centuries, we got candy-coated Jordan almonds, which are still a wedding favour staple to this day. Traditionally, it’s given in fives, to symbolise the five wedding wishes of fertility, health, wealth, happiness and longevity. There was even a little poem!
Five sugared almonds for each guest to eat
To remind us that life is both bitter and sweet.
Five wishes for the new husband and wife
Health, wealth, happiness, children, and long life!
Wedding favours around the world
Of course, the Greeks weren’t the only nation to give little symbols of their favour at weddings.
The English were also known to give love knots of lace and ribbon to their guests. At the time, weddings were seen as a very lucky occasion and taking something home with you from these events would bring you good fortune.
16-century French and Italian aristocrats were also known to share a gift called a bonbonniere in French, Bomboniere in Italian, at celebratory occasions including weddings, birthday parties and the like. This was normally something like dainty porcelain or crystal boxes filled with fancy titbits.
Today, certain countries still have traditional wedding favours that are quite particular to their regions. Spanish bridal parties tend to give cigars to the men, and something pretty to the women; while in Russia small pictures, little candles and other trinkets are commonplace.
The Irish like to hand out little bells, which are supposed to remind the bridal couple and their guests alike of their vows in times of strive (Irish brides and grooms ring a bell at their wedding, which they take home to ring when they fight to remind them of their promises to one another. In India, on the other hand, hand-crafted elephants are very popular.
Fantastic wedding favour ideas for South African weddings
Now that you know what the rest of the world is up to, here are 10 beautiful wedding favours that are a great option for weddings in South Africa:
1. South African wine
South Africa’s wines are some of the most sought-after in the world and affordable to boot. If you choose to host your celebration at one of our many amazing Hazendal wedding venues, a gift pack of Hazendal wine is a very nice way to thank your guests for attending.
TOP TIP: If you don’t want to clutter your table with larger favours like bottles of wine, simply place it on a table near the exit, and tell your guest to take one when they leave to go home.
2. Sweet treats with local flair
Jordan almonds might be the norm, but if you want to lean into the South African theme, perhaps consider something like macarons with a melktert filling or something completely Capetonian like luxury koesisters!
3. Tickets to visit a local attraction
When people come from far afield to attend a wedding in and around Cape Town they tend to stick around for a while to enjoy the sights. Why not treat them to an experience by giving them tickets to something like the Table Mountain Cable Car or Kirstenbosch? You could even consider a Russian Tea Ceremony at Hazendal.
4. Live plants to take home
Indoor plants are very fashionable at the moment and make wonderful sustainable gifts. You can either keep it simple, such as a little piece of spekboom in a small pot, which can also serve as place settings, or you can go a little bigger with a larger plant in a macrame hanger. If you opt for the latter, your favours can also be a part of your event decoration for the duration of the reception...
5. Seeded paper gifts
Seeded paper is having a moment in the limelight and we’re loving it. This paper can be wetted, balled up and planted after it’s used to grow herbs and flowers. Gift items like these from local ethical manufacturer Growing Paper can make wonderful gifts for wedding guests. In fact, they also have seeded-paper confetti!
6. Olive oil
Olive oil is an age-old gift that fits well into the modern-day wedding space as well. You can find some exceptional extra-virgin olive oil for sale at our Babushka Deli at Hazendal. These containers are lovely enough to serve as a gift in and of itself, but you can also have a personalised thank you sticker or tag printed to add some individual flair.
7. Personalised keychains
A high-quality keychain with each guest’s name engraved on it will make beautiful wedding favours, and remind them of you and your wedding every time they start their car or turn the key to unlock their home. Winning!
8. Donations in their name to a local charity
Okay, so this one is a little contentious - some people like the idea of a physical keepsake a lot more than something that’s not quite tangible. However, it’s your big day, so if you are philanthropically inclined and would like to make a donation to a local NGO like TEARS Animal Rescue or Pebbles Project to mark your celebration feel free to do so.
9. Homeware items
Beautiful homeware items like tea towels, coasters and cookie tins make for lovely wedding favours. These items are all available for purchase at our Babushka Deli at Hazendal.
10. Vouchers for Hazendal experiences
If many of your guests will be staying near or at your wedding venue, giving them a voucher to enjoy something on-site can also be a great option. For instance, Hazendal offers great wine tastings at our Wine Lounge.
Now you know! Check back soon for interesting info and helpful advice from the Hazendal wedding and event team. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch on email@example.com or +27(0)21 903 5034 if you would like to find out more about weddings at Hazendal and how we can help you to make your dream celebration a beautiful reality.