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Wedding Traditions: A History of Party Favors and Their Origins

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Party favors can be a lovely addition to any wedding reception. (The best part is that they come in a variety of prices that fit into most brides’ budgets!) Today, one bride wonders how this tradition came to be.

A Hudson Valley bride asks: “Party favors are a part of almost every wedding I’ve ever attended. I’m in the process of deciding what to give out at my own reception, and I realized that I have no idea of how the tradition started. Can you help to fill me in?”

(Our answer on next page)

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The Wedding Guru answers: Party favors are one of those things that people don’t really think about, but they do have an interesting origin (albeit not a very clear one). Some say that the custom started in Italy during the eighth century. At that time, only the nobility engaged in the practice. When Victor Emanuel of Savoy married Elena of Montenegro, favors of solid silver were given to their numerous guests. By the end of the 19th century, the practice trickled down to the “masses” and became popular among all social strata; for instance, the peasant class would often give out almonds in a golden cardboard box.

Other early records, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, document that bridal couples in England gave love knots made of lace and ribbons as party favors. Early Russian history notes that they, too, distributed favors.

The concept has managed to survive through the years. It’s taken on different forms in each culture; in ours, it’s evolved into a huge industry as manufacturers invent new twists on these traditions to introduce to the wedding marketplace.

» More on wedding favors
» More from The Wedding Guru
» Submit a question to the Wedding Guru
» Hudson Valley Weddings 2012

 

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