My husband and I are from different continents. If we wanted everyone at one wedding, we would have to fly one whole family and many friends to another continent. That is a lot of air travel and a lot of emissions. Instead, we had two wedding parties. Only our closest family traveled, just eight people were at both weddings. Both parties were simple and eco-friendly, and both were just lovely.
When we were looking for eco-friendly wedding favors, we definitely wanted something special that would mirror who we are. We ended up with 3 different gifts that are all on this list as well. In Chile, we gave potted plants. In Slovakia, we handed hand-made soaps that I made and traditional Slovak alcohol in mini glass bottles.
Unfortunately, many of the traditional wedding favors are things that are maybe funny or cute, but have no real purpose and end up in trash faster than expected. Eco-friendly wedding favors should have a specific purpose. The best options are something edible, that either the guests will eat, or give it to someone else if they don’t like. It can be something that the guests will definitely use, such as cosmetics like homemade soap, mini hand cream, or lip balm. Another great option is a green gift: a house plant, a little herb garden, or seeds that are easy to plant. One very valuable option is also not to give any wedding favors, and instead donate to charity or plant some trees in the name of the guests.
- No wedding favor
- Donate to charity
- Plant trees
- Homemade jam in glass containers
- Savory preserve (sauce, pesto)
- Cookies / pastries / candies / chocolate
- Your favorite blend of coffee, tea or spices
- Local specialty
- Lip balm, cream
- House plants
- Herb garden / seeds
No wedding favors
Wedding favors are more culturally embedded in some regions than in others. This might be a viable and honorable option for many couples. Some guests might expect a wedding favor, but many others would not mind not receiving anything. Most people just want to spend this special day with you and have fun. If they know your commitment to the environment they will understand.
Donate to charity
Alternatively, instead of giving a physical gift to your guests, you can donate to your favorite charity in their honor. Let them know why you chose the charity, what they do, and how are they helping. You can either announce it during the wedding, in order not to use any paper. Or if you want to give them a special card explaining the donation, print it on recycled paper. Even better, print the message on recycled paper with seeds in it, so they can plant the card and wait for the surprise to bloom.
Plant a Tree
Another option very similar to charity donation is planting a tree in honor of your guests. You can dedicate the amount you would spend on wedding favors and plant as many trees as possible with that amount. If you want to read more on this topic and on specific organizations that do this, go to this article about gifts that will save the planet.
I think you can’t go wrong with a well thought edible wedding favor. Everyone loves to snack and you could even prepare these favors yourselves and it will be so much more special. Of course with all the wedding preparations, you might not have time to prepare the favors, you can easily find these to purchase in many sizes and shapes. Always be mindful of what packaging you will choose so that you don’t create trash. Choose glass containers, recycled paper bags, natural fabric bags, or similar materials that can be reused, recycled, or composted after the guests are done with the gift.
Homemade jam in glass containers
Do you have an orchard or have extra fruit to process? You can make homemade jams or fruit preserves, put them in glass containers, and give them as eco-friendly wedding favors. If not, in season purchase a larger quantity of your favorite fruit and do the same.
If you want to label the jams and have your wedding details on it, you can print the label on recycled paper, and tie it around the neck of the jar, instead of gluing it to the jar. For more decoration, you can use eco-friendly natural fabric to cover the top and tie a dried flower or herb.
Savory preserve (sauce, pesto, etc.)
If you are more into savory flavors, how about you prepare your favorite sauce or dip and preserve it for the wedding? This could be hot chili sauce or pesto that you make and everyone loves. As with jams, make sure that you use a glass container, even better if it is recycled and decorate with natural or recycled materials.
Cookies / pastries / candies / chocolate
Everyone has their favorite cookies, pastries, or sweets. Again, you can either bake and prepare them yourself or purchase them from a local pastry shop. You can order special shapes that will represent your wedding, add icing with your initials, or have chocolate bars made especially with your names on them. There are endless options to make these treats special.
Use recycled paper bags or natural fabric bags to pack the cookies. You can print or even handwrite a personal message and add it inside the bag. This way, you can be sure your eco-friendly wedding favors will be used as intended, because who would not eat a cookie?
Your favorite blend of coffee, tea or spices
You can also give the guests something you especially like and use often. Maybe you love a specific blend of coffee or loose leaf tea, or even a spice blend that you can’t live without. Show your guests your favorites. Pack in eco-friendly packaging and you are good to go.
If your wedding is held in a location with a culinary specialty, why not use that and give it as wedding favors. This could be a special sauce, oil, alcohol, sweet treat, or anything else local.
I mention this often, but people really appreciate handmade or artisan cosmetics. It feels very special, luxurious, and natural. Chose something you have personally tried and love, pick your favorite scents and ingredients, to add a more personalized touch.
Soaps are great, because they can be molded into specific shapes, they can be engraved with your names, they can be 100% personalized with scents, colors, ingredients, and even natural decorations per your wishes. You need to start thinking of this in advance, as soaps need to cure for at least 4 weeks. So if you want soaps as eco-friendly wedding favors, you need to order at least 2 months in advance if not more.
Soaps don’t require much packaging, you can either have a recycled paper label wrapped around each bar with the wedding details, or you can place them in recycled paper or natural fabric bags that can be reused, recycled or composted later on.
For our Slovak wedding, I made the soaps myself. I made small heart-shaped soaps, gave a set of 3 to each guest. They were packed in a fabric bag and had the wedding label on them. I can tell you the guests were impressed and liked it a lot.
I admit, this is a very unusual wedding favor, but it would be a great way to educate your guests about the existence of this plant. Luffa is a plant from the cucumber family, that is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable in countries like China, India, or Vietnam. To eat the plant, you need to harvest it very young because as it grows, it gets more and more fibrous. The fully mature plant is used as a sponge. What’s great about it? It’s renewable and it’s compostable. You can even find luffa soaps, so you could combine soap and luffa.
Lip balm, cream
As an alternative to the soap, you can find vendors that make great lip balms, hand creams, or body lotions that are packaged in a tin or glass containers. Avoid plastic containers at all costs. Usually, you can also personalize the scents, and maybe even the color depending on the product of your choice.
Most people like plants. Plants are great additions to our homes, they make our homes healthier and somehow more relaxing. When choosing a plant to give, be careful to choose an eco-friendly planter as well. You can find plants in ceramic pots or purchase them in biodegradable pots made of 100% natural materials. In that case, the guests will need to plant the pot in a permanent pot at home. Very popular options are succulents, as they are pretty and easy to care for.
Herb garden / seeds
You could also choose to give herbs as a gift, in order to spice your guests’ cooking. If you have space and time, you could even prepare them yourself. You could use old glass jars you might have at home, put some soil and herb seeds, and wait for the herbs to grow. If you will do this at home, get informed of how long it will take for the herbs to sprout so you don’t show us with empty containers at the wedding.
You can also give your guests a pack of variety of seeds, so they can plant them at home at their convenience. Prepare a nice mix of herbs, so they have a variety of flavors later on.
I hope this article helped you to pick the best wedding favors for your guests. Your wedding day is very important, but the health of our planet is too. With so many eco-friendly options, you don’t need to add to the pollution.
I am not using any affiliate links, everything I recommend is because I like it and think it is useful. Feel free to search for different options in the same products category.