Weddings are one of many emotions; these are happiness, excitement, stress, worry, anxiety, nervousness, ecstatic joy etc. This indeed is a day that represents the joining two people in a bid to wish them luck on their journey of being together in life. However, having been to many cultural weddings you notice something similar at the end of each ceremony and that is the number of boxed presents left for the couple to take home - is the an age-old tradition or has the idea of giving wedding gifts only been around for a small length of time?
The same question can be applied to the idea of placing wedding favours on the table. I first came across these fancy netted bags of sugared almonds over ten years ago at the mere age of fourteen, when I had visited my first western wedding. I thought that the couple were extremely generous to have given us a wonderful banquet and great entertainment, but what was the point in these bags of sweets that had a thank you note amongst the content? It wasn't until later on in the evening that I was told that they were favours - do they need a favour from us?
At least with wedding gifts, one understands that the purpose of buying them a present is a way of symbolising the joyous day and allowing the couple know that the guests appreciate the invite. Wedding gifts have been a tradition for many hundreds of years, dating back to the Royal family, where new queens or princesses were adorned with many fabulous jewellery and expensive gifts. Giving gifts is nothing new, as it represents someone's generosity towards another.
These days couples can ask for no boxed gifts to be brought to the wedding, or to pre-select their choice of wedding gifts from a major retailer or from the internet as long as the items they have reserved have all been bought. This way there are no risks of receiving something that they will not use in years to come. These are usually ordered directly from the retailer or from the internet prior to the wedding.
Wedding favours however, are an unusual yet very common added touch to a wedding. Much like giving wedding gifts, these have been a tradition for many centuries dating back to the European aristocrats of Italy and France. These were known as bonboniere in French or bomboniere in Italian and were normally sent out before the wedding day. However, these were not exclusive to weddings, as they were distributed for birthdays and anniversaries as well and were packaged in small porcelain, metal, jewel stoned or crystal boxes.
As weddings were seen as a lucky blessing or a privilege, by giving out bonbonieres to guests, the couple felt that they were bestowing good luck upon their guests as well. The boxes would contain five pieces of candy or almonds that represented health, longevity, fertility, wealth and happiness. Later in the years the confectioners jumped on the distribution of almonds, dipping them in sugar and other sweet coatings turning them into a more modern and luxurious gift.
The Italians traditionally gave out chocolates, whereas the French would give out candies and sugared almonds. The Spanish guests would traditionally receive a small vase with orange blossoms, and the Dutch would receive five pieces of candy that represented wedding wishes which were otherwise known as bridal sugar.
These days favours are presented in a number of ways, largely in a more personalised manner coordinated with the theme of the wedding itself. Many couples now opt towards the more modern idea of marking the occasion with small signs of the occasion, or providing not just sweets but small gifts such as personalised candles, bottle openers, coasters, cakes etc.
Anna Stenning usually helps people select wedding gifts for other people and knows how this correlates with weddings favours.