By Ken Hansen, Crown Trophy
Wedding Favors and custom giveaways can be the fun part of wedding planning, whether specialty can/bottle coolies with your initials, custom-printed mints for the dessert table or a host of other possibilities. These aren’t the handful of bridesmaid/groomsman gifts but, instead, the giveaway items that enhance and personalize your wedding. The challenge is trying to buy them. While known as “wedding favors,” in the industry they are called “promotional Items,” and it’s important to be aware of hidden costs, minimums, and production time considerations that can ruin your day. Before we discuss the ordering process and pitfalls to avoid, let’s talk about some popular favors. Each of the items below run less than $2 and, in some cases, just pennies each.
Can/Bottle Coolies – In the last five years, this has been the number one wedding favor, and there is no close second. Fun customizations include wreath-circled initials, hashtags (#lotsofhashtags) and even images of the brides’ two dogs. Normally these have a “fun” side and a “classier” side. Coolies come in normal and slim can sizes and stiff and collapsible designs. There are about ten color options for the coolies and almost unlimited color options for the imprints.
Chocolates – These tasty favors can be customized in a variety of forms. Foil wrappers on individual 1-oz. squares can be customized with names, dates or any design you like. Less popular, because of cost, is an imprint molded directly into the chocolate. This can be expensive but really makes an impression. Individual chocolates are good for scattering on the dinner tables. Another option for dessert tables or the exit table is a tin or cardboard container, customized on the outside with your art, and containing 5-10 small treats.
Personalized Bags – A popular new trend is providing out-of-town guests with welcome bags at hotel check in. These include some of the special couple’s favorite treats, locally made items, perhaps a list of local attractions, and a welcome note describing the contents’ significance to the couple. Bags are available in many styles, colors and sizes. Paper bags with handles, nylon string bags, and recycled cloth bags are popular, and the bag style dictates the design options (full color vs. 1-2 color, digitally printed vs. silk screened, etc.).
Stadium Cups – These popular and time-tested items are available in 12 oz., 16 oz., 20 oz. and 24 oz. sizes, can be smooth or fluted, and come in a wide variety of colors. Most have one-color imprints that can be different on each side. Plastic cups are most common, but paper and clear plastic cups are also available.
Drink Stirrers – This throw-away item is a great touch to help personalize your day. There are a few varieties, but generally they are about five inches long with personalized signs on a little rectangle or heart at the top. Bartenders then put one in each drink.
Mints – Personalized mints with the couple’s names or the shared new name are a nice touch on a dessert table, dinner tables or in the reception area. A recently popular idea is to place a basket of “forgotten” items in the bathrooms for guests, such as travel deodorant, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, and combs or brushes, and mints are a great addition.
Buying Wedding Favors
This is where wedding favors get tricky, so keep some things in mind:
- Where you buy can make a huge difference in your experience. I highly recommend finding a brick-and-mortar company in your area. With an overwhelming selection of options, art guidelines, and delivery times, having a real person you can meet with and call when necessary provides comfort and accessible answers. Local trophy shops are a great option because they carry these items and regularly handle lots of personalization.
- Art and design can be a challenge. Unless you are a graphic designer, you will probably need help creating the final art. Most vendors are willing to help, taking an idea written on a napkin and turning it into printable art. All you do is decide initially what you want and then approve the final art. There’s no need to be intimidated – the vendor is there to help.
- Production times vary depending on what vendor you choose. If you buy from a local brick-and-mortar store, most of these products will be manufactured overseas, then printed in the U.S. , and production time is usually 1-3 weeks. If you buy through a website, these items are often made and printed overseas and, between production and shipping, delivery can run from three weeks to never arriving. Supply chain and shipping issues are very real in this sector. This is another great reason to find a local vendor.
- Minimum order quantities vary, but a good rule of thumb is roughly $200 for each item. So, if you are buying $1.50 can of cookies, the minimum will likely be around $150. If you are buying $20 custom umbrellas, the minimum will probably be 10.
- There will be a set-up charge, whether for silk screens or production, and it’s usually about $30-$50. This charge isn’t from your vendor, but from the manufacturer they use. If you are buying online and it says “no set-up charge,” rest assured there is a set-up charge. They are just adding it to the price of each item.
- Some vendors may charge for shipping from the factory to the local store. Sometimes the shipping cost is broken out separately and sometimes it is included in the price of the item.
This may feel like a lot, but the vendors are there to help you decide on the right product, create a great design, and get the items in time for the big day. You get to create fun personal touches for your special day without breaking the bank and without giving the wedding financer gray hair.
Ken Hansen is the owner of Crown Trophy Richmond. He and Crown Trophy have been serving the RVA wedding community for 20 years and specialize in wedding favors and personalized gifts. Call Ken or any of the great people at Crown Trophy at 804-262-1000.