Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wedding Party Favors: Just a Northern Thing?

Matt's older brother Chris is going to be married this fall to a great girl from Providence, RI. I am sure you'll be hearing much more about this in the coming months, but in short, Robin is pretty, down-to-earth, accomplished, has a big career, is a mom, and is in the National Guard to boot. Yes, I'm thinking of having her take over my life for me.

So we've been email chatting about arrangements for their wedding, which will be in Boston at a historic building on the harbor. She writes:

Question for you. I was talking to Chris about party favors – little giveaways for the guests – and he says he thinks it is a northern thing – that he has never seen party favors at a Southern wedding. Is that true? Normally it is tradition to put something at each seat like a little candle or jordan almonds, etc. Chris thinks I am nuts.

Now, normally, my money would be on Matt or his brothers just not noticing such a detail, everytime. But in this case, I wrote back that I think he's right. We don't do that down here. Sometimes, rarely, I have seen little boxes of cake stacked on a table for guests to take home at the end of the reception. But not often, and nothing more than that.

I think this could be because actual sit-down meals at weddings are much less common in the South than in the North, and it sounds like the party favor is associated with a place setting at the table. We tend to have these afternoon weddings where people aren't expecting to be fed a full meal afterwards. My wedding was at 2:00, with what they called "heavy hors d'oevre," which is pretty standard around these parts. If your wedding is at noon in the South, it either means that it will be very formal, or that you're Catholic and it's a mass. 4:00 is also a popular time, but then you start to see more buffet food at the reception. However, I think my sister's wedding was later in the afternoon (Amy?), but her reception was still of the hors d'oevre-and-mingle kind. Possibly because there was only standing room because she has always been so freaking popular. But I digress.

Robin was thinking of having little cards next to each plate that told the guests the bride and groom had made a donation to a charity in their honor, but that her sister said people "expect stuff." So I asked Robin, "Would you still expect to see party favors at a wedding that had a cocktail or tea reception instead of a sit-down meal?" She said she didn't think so, but that she had never been to a wedding that wasn't a formal sit-down dinner or a seated buffet. This is so interesting to me! It really is like a totally different set of regional wedding traditions. Whenever I have been to a big nighttime wedding with a dinner and a full bar, it has always been up North. So what has your experience been? Are you reading this thinking, "Oh, totally party favors! It's required." Or are you, like, "What?"

On the interwebs I found this fun article about regional differences in expectations and etiquette for weddings, "A Look Behind the Veil at Southern Weddings." Some of the most interesting points are:
  • Brides in the South have a ton of bridesmaids. Duh, I knew that. I think the most I have ever personally witnessed was nine. Anybody seen more than that? Or anybody seen a non-Southern wedding like that?
  • Weddings in the South tend to do hors d'oevre or buffet because they have huge guest lists. Hmmm. I don't know, I've been to some pretty big weddings up North that had full meals. I think it might be a deeper cultural thing.
  • It gives the same reason--hundreds and hundreds of guests--that Southern brides don't do party favors. Hmmm again. I've been to medium and small weddings down here, with no favors in sight.
  • Flowers are a huge big deal for Southern weddings. True. But what bride anywhere doesn't love flowers?
  • Southerners are notorious for not RSVP'ing. I think this is probably true.
  • In the North, one or two bridal showers is standard. In the South, expect "months worth of luncheons, tea parties and get-togethers." Interesting. I had four showers or bridal events--a tea party, a luncheon, and two more conventional showers, variously hosted by friends of Matt's mom or of my mom. I didn't think that was a lot, because plenty of people have many more.
  • "Couples who get married in the South also have to prepare for kids at their wedding even if they weren't invited. Southern guests have a bad habit of bringing their children to weddings regardless of whether they were listed on the invitation." Ha! This is totally true! People just assume that their kids are meant to come, and that there will be other kids there.
  • In the North, it is not uncommon for sisters and mothers of the bride to host bridal showers, "here in the South that is taboo." Wow, I learned something. I thought the rule of no sisters and moms hosting showers was just the way it is done, I didn't know it was regional. I thought it was a universal law, like gravity.
Now, the whole subject of the West is interesting. I think they do their own thing on the west coast. What do you say, West Coasters? Maybe in weddings, like in so much else, they combine traditions from all over. I think California and the West in general has a greater influence over the national culture as the years go by, and maybe this will have a homogenizing effect on wedding culture? And the Midwest? I have no idea. What do you think? Do these regionalisms seem significant in your experience? I think they still are, to an extent.

Anyhoo, please weigh in. This topic is like catnip to me.


A Day That is Dessert said...

The bride sounds pretty amazing!

I've never, ever been to a wedding without favors. And northerners don't RSVP, either. I hate it; they just don't - for hardly anything.

I don't think sisters and mothers are supposed to host showers!

Casey said...

I'm not sure if it is a northern thing but we had favors at our wedding. I wouldn't consider FL the south though since it's mostly comprised of northerners who ended up here.

Jane said...

I think these traditions are getting a little homogenized, thanks to the influence of mags like Martha Stewart Weddings, and online portals like theKnot.com. Since it's commercial venues that are doing the homogenizing, I think the trend is generally toward more stuff--more favors, more sit-down meals--in general, more things you're required to spend money on.

We had favors and a sit-down meal, in Texas, about 6 years ago. Not sure whether that was the influence of homogenization, or if we Texans just do things a little different from the South proper.

Elizabeth said...

Wedding favors (or money donated "in honor" to a cause, which is what we did) was everywhere in Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina, in my experience that is. I think a groom's cake is a Southern thing, right? My Northern friends don't know what that is...

While I definitely agree there's a North/South divide when it comes to wedding etiquette, I think the generational divide is HUGE. For instance, every single "old" person we invited to our wedding RSVPed. Less than half of those 35 or younger did (until I emailed or called them...both male and female). All the "old" people gave wedding gifts or cards. Again, about half of those 35 or younger did. (I counted every single present. I'm kidding. Sort of. :)

Bren said...

Wow. The comments are favoring favors. I don't think I've ever been to a wedding WITH favors. Unless you count sneaking out a centerpiece.

I read about them when I was preparing for my own wedding, but I was like, "wha?" I had a secret iced tub of beer at my wedding, so what do I know? (or maybe that WAS my favor to everyone)

Was that Betsy's wedding, with the 9 bridesmaids? 18 total attendants. 19 with the flower girl. Like Amy, she was just so dang popular. Definitely a Southern wedding in the best way.

(Northwest Florida is very much still The South, not like the rest of Florida.)

Veronica said...

I don't think I've ever been to a wedding without favors (we're in California). At mine we had little bags of jordan almonds, which is standard fare in our family--"fertility almonds," as tradition holds. I've seen lots of those, or little bags of other candy--saltwater taffy, chocolate, etc. I've gotten a mini-cactus or other mini-potted plant of some sort at other ones. Beautiful painted chopsticks for my Japanese/Hawaiian friend's wedding. Sometimes either instead of or in addition to a favor, I've seen the centerpieces be up for grabs at the end of the night.

I've been to lunch weddings and dinner weddings, but ALWAYS a sit-down meal--either a buffet or a fancier passed-plate service where you have to order your meal on the reply card.

I never heard of the sisters and mothers can't host the shower. I guess it is often aunts or friends who host, but I had no idea that was a rule? But I was raised in CA, and clearly lack true etiquette.

I've seen the groom's cake on TV, but never in real life.

Christine said...

Interesting subject! I can tell you I'm a fan of no favors for large parties, however, if you're trying to defray costs at all. Frankly, I thought whatever we could afford for 250 people would have amounted to junk, so we chose the open bar and heavy appetizers. Yes, our wedding was at 2:00...yes, we're Catholic. We struggled with what to serve because of the odd time, but we stuck to the mantra that people will eat no matter what time of day you serve them food. Or mint juleps on Derby Day, like us.

Most weddings in Oklahoma don't have favors, though...

Now, for the rehearsal dinner...we did have favors. I had 100 people there because of my ginormous immediately family, but it had been years since all of us were together so I wanted to make it special.

Bren said...

Wait. Groom's cake is a Southern thing? I had no idea. Please y'all, tell me more.

Cassie said...

Michigan chiming in here...

Favors have been given at every wedding I've attended. People usually forget to take them home, though, which is why we decided to do exactly what Robin wants to do and donate to a charity in the names of our guests. If people felt slighted because they got no mints, they didn't let on. Personally I would never expect a favor, since I figure it's the bride and groom's day and they can do whatever the flip they want; I just feel lucky to be invited.

That list is fascinating... most of them are ringing true with me based on weddings I've attended here in Michigan but my parents are from south of the Mason-Dixon so my wedding was under southern influence.

Groom's cake, however, definitely a southern thing.

Becky said...

Ha ha, a wedding under the influence of the South! The jokes just write themselves. . .

So I love reading these comments. Here's a couple things I'm thinking. First, Jane, excellent point about the real homogenizing influence being The Knot.com and the general way that weddings have become big business. And as you say, with those forces at work, of course the trend is going to be in favor of more stuff and more accoutrements, not less. Don't the Knot and those wedding websites have little checklists of things to buy/do/think about that they keep sending you?

And Liz, this leads to your point. I think another generational difference could explain the reason you've seen favors all over the South. Maybe for people who are young'uns like you, and who didn't get married in the last century (!) like Bren and me (who got married in the same church three weeks apart), the general glam-ification of weddings means that the no-favors tradition is being replaced by a "fancier" wedding vibe. I really want to ask my mom and MIL about how it worked way back when in the South.

And Texas, yes, I have no idea. I think Texas is its own place. Actually, it was in TX and AR that I first heard the term "house party" used to refer to the flower girl/ringbearer/guest book attendee/all those other people.

Yeah, groom's cake, def. a Southern thing. And it has to be chocolate, right y'all? It took me a long time to figure out that was regional. I was somewhere away from the south, and people were like, "The who cake?" And I've never seen an armadillo cake like in Steel Magnolias, but I think I remember that my uncle Alan's groom's cake was shaped like a bass.

Becky said...

PS: Bren, I forgot that Betsy had so many. But then, for a long time I "remembered" that I had been in her wedding! Then I saw a wedding pic and I was like, oh. I think I was remembering yours.

I was thinking of one of the other girls from their cohort.

Veronica said...

Oh, the groom's cake isn't always an armadillo? ;-)

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

The only big sit-down formal wedding I attended, and it was at night, was in St. Louis. Which, for me, is very north of the border.

I agree with you: relations hosting (be they wedding or baby) showers, luncheons, etc. is verboten -- universally.

I have never seen "party favors" at a wedding -- not even the one in St. Louis. But "fertility" almonds would certainly be an ice-breaker (where I'm from, anyway).


Jane said...

Speaking of regional wedding traditions, Becky, have you ever heard of the money dance? People pay a small fee, a buck or so, to dance with the bride or groom.

Northern families consider it a fun way for the guests to get a few minutes alone with the bride or groom, plus start the happy couple out with some seed money. But I know my proper Southern grandmother would have rolled over in her grave if I had attempted such a thing.

Amy said...

Wow, this is really interesting to me, too! I guess we tend to take our traditions as "universal". I have been to some that had favors and some that didn't. We didn't at ours--don't think I'd ever heard of it at that point. I think you're right--they've become more widespread as everyone has started reading the same websites and wedding mags.

I think it's a nice gesture, but I certainly wouldn't think twice if there weren't any. I'd say for Robin and Chris, if she wants to give favors and thinks of something fun to do, she should. If not, no worries.

As for large wedding parties--I think I knew someone who had 11. It was like wall to wall chiffon up there. Craziness! And btw Beck, I can't help it if I am universally adored, can I? ;)

Michele said...

Though I don't live there now I'm going to chime in from the Pacific Northwest.

Grooms cake = never
Attendants = few. No more than 4
Favors = maybe/maybe not. depends on the type of wedding. Sit down affair - maybe. Outdoor afternoon thing - not.
RSVP - always
Showers/parties = given by friends

We usually went for the outdoor enthusiast wedding or at least that was the fashion when I got married. Of course that was 26 years ago. Some friends of our had the whole country club affair but the groom made all the beer.

Anonymous said...

WHEW! Great post, fun comments. Before I was two sentences into the post I was thinking "I'm gonna talk about how southerners bring their kids to weddings!"...

No favors in Virginia that I've seen to date.

And yes yes yes, I agree with the generational comment re rsvps/gifts. Not to mention THANK-YOUs... apparently a Facebook status of "Thanks all for the major giftage!!" is now considered sufficient.

missynall said...

OOoo I've got to share my wedding story. I was born and raised here in the South... to a Canadian mother. She had much different ideas about my wedding. She wanted a big wedding with a band and sit-down dinner. I wanted a daytime garden wedding... think late brunch with LOTS of flowers. We were arguing about it AGAIN in the car on the way home from some wedding errand and got caught speeding. I am crying. My mother is crying. The officer leans in and we start boo-hooing to him about how we want different kinds of weddings etc... He leans back and puts up both hands and says, "Ladies. I've married off 2 daughters. Wedding planning is a nightmare I don't wish to re-live. Can you leave here now and promise not to discuss this wedding until you get home?" "Yes sir we chimed." My mother referred to my wedding to EVERY person we encountered in the planning as the "little punch and cookie wedding". Nice! With all that said, I say NO favors. LOTS of bridesmaids. YES on RSVPing. NO on relatives throwing showers. An ABSOLUTE YES on a groom's cake.

Drama Queen Jenner said...

I went to a wedding in Colorado (though the bride was from Minnesota) and there weren't gifts on the table, but as everyone had to travel to get there, she had bags for the guests when they arrived. They'd had chocolates made in the shape of mountains and there was a water bottle to remind people to hydrate and brochures to let people know what was in the area to do. She served a choice of prime rib or salmon, but it was buffet. (Don't remember bridesmaids, I'd say 4 or less.)
As a kid (in Texas), I went to lots of weddings at the church where I grew up. There was always just cake and mints and nuts and wedding punch (ginger ale with rainbow sherbet), no alcohol.
A wedding I went to in Indiana had champagne glasses filled with wedding mints at every place. There were also hand-molded chocolates in the mix somewhere for everyone, but it was also buffet-style for dinner. (7 bridesmaids, each in a different color dress.)
The most unusual reception I ever went to was in Minnedota. Ut was held on the couple's first anniversary, as the wedding was spur-of-the-moment because of the father of the bride's failing health. They had live (sort-of) goldfish in the centerpieces, and big squares of cloth on the table in the wedding colors (red, orange and yellow) that the guests were supposed to write sentiments to the couple on. The bride would later make quilts out of the fabric. They served chili, buffet-style, of course. (1 bridesmaid)
There was another Texas wedding that was around noon, reception at the Petroleum Club (pretty swanky) that served hors d'orevres.
One of my cousins had a wedding in Indiana (that I missed as it was right after I'd started a new job) but the invitation was specific - no kids. I've never been to a no kids wedding. Ever.
Miss Manners preaches against family giving showers - it's supposed to be percieved as the family begging - but all the showers I've ever been to were thrown by family. All in Texas.
Dollar dances up north (never heard of this before 2002), and grooms' cakes are always chocolate.

The Messy Mom said...

I have to chime in as a wedding photographer that has been to over 50 weddings, mostly in South, but not always.

Grooms cake- come to think of it, I have only seen this in the south
Attendants- The most I have seen is 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen and it was in Texas
Size- The biggest I have photographed was over 500 guests, it was in Texas and it was a sit down formal meal.
Favors- Yes. Candles, Pens, Candy, etc. most commonly customized to including the name and wedding date of Bride and Groom

And lastly, YEP, Becky, it's only in Texas that I have seen many a house party, but from what I've seen they are more like reject bridesmaids and they do little odd end jobs like guest book or handing out favors ;)

Anonymous said...

I believe there has been some sort of favor at every wedding I've been to. I'm from California, via Chicago and now in Atlanta so there's the background. The few weddings I've been to here have been buffet but there were favors too. Yes, they are usually at the place setting, but I've also seen them at a table for guests to pick up on the way out.

Meghan said...

Becky, I'm one of the ever-popular Amy's college friends, and so now I read your blog too. Woohoo! Most of what I'd be inclined to say was already referenced by Jane (i.e. the monster wedding industry keeps adding interesting things people just "have" to spend money on...think save-the-date cards...people did just fine for centuries without those!) But, I think the charity idea is a nice one. First of all, because it is what Jesus would do. (Well, maybe...I'm also clergy, like your sis...so I felt inclined to use the JC trump card, even if it doesn't ultimately work.) But really...I mean, who goes to a wedding and thinks, "I can just hardly wait for those jordan almonds!" Even for "nicer" gifts...who really saves those beyond 10 minutes after the wedding? At least with a charity, a small portion of all the money usually poured into self-indulgence is directed outward. It's a witness to the fact that the day isn't all about $$$, which is perhaps the most valuable gift of all. :) Okay, yes, I'm a dork. But, seriously.

Summer said...

I've never been to a wedding without favors. They don't have to be fancy. I didn't know you could do a wedding w/o a grooms cake! But my family hails from Alabama (in FL now). How did favors start? Anyone know?

Jenni said...

I'm a northerner (semi, depending on where you are from) and my sister hosted my bridal shower, but she was also one of my two bridesmaids.

As for favors, I've had them at both northern and southern weddings. We had chocolates at my wedding in the "north" and my dad/stepmom gave away votive candles at their wedding in the south. It was a buffet style dinner, thouhg.

At my cousin's wedding a year and a half ago (NJ, evening wedding), they gave money to an autism awareness cause, and put an envelope with card at everyone's place setting explaining what they'd done, all about the charity, and also included a magnet from the charity. My sister and I though the donation was a great idea.

Kate said...

So, I was the first person in my family (or anyone I knew in the South) to have a night time wedding with a full meal. Looking back, I realize that I got all of my ideas from wedding magazines. I agree with Jane that Martha Stewart is to blame for the homogenizing of weddings - she was the one who told me what to do for my reception.

One of the main differences in the North/South weddings that I've seen is the age of the bride. All of us Southern girls get hitched young, (as in, our parents have just started paying off our college tuition) which has a lot to do with the budget, and therefore calls for a mints, punch, and jordan almonds reception. Whereas, the Northern weddings that I've been to the couple is older, and probably puts in some of their own cash, making the whole thing more of a to-do. So, I've never noticed party favors at northern weddings because I was enjoying the open bar and dancing :) But, at the southern weddings, I better get my jordan almonds!

Sara said...

Wow! I'm glad I went to the JP in jeans and flip flops. 7 years tomorrow :)

And my sister gave Hershey Bars with the customized name/wedding date wrapper. Kids invited. Sit down dinner. Bar. DJ and dancing. Inlaws do the showers and parties, right? Maaaaybe the 'money dance,' which, in my experience, involves shots of whiskey also? Kind of redneck out here though.
And how hard is it to RSVP? That's just bad manners.
And I love jordan almonds. Butter mints not so much.

Amy said...

Hi Meghan!! I agree. And I think you're the funniest girl ever. But not a dork. Seriously.

Kate--your wedding was lovely!

Anonymous said...

OMG this is riveting! I love this post and all the comments. I grew up in Michigan, lived in GA for quite a while, then got married in Michigan. My Grandma (from Virginia) and I were completely against the mother/sister shower thing, but I didn't realize that was Southern. I just thought we were right and my other relatives were not as proper.
I have gone to lots of weddings in the north and the south - and the north is almost always sit down dinner, and later in the day (which I personally don't like) but often there are several hours of nothing to do between the wedding and the reception, which seems kind of stupid to me. Everyone bitches about it, but almost everyone does it. We had an open bar and appetizers and THEN a big dinner so people didn't get bored - just very drunk.
In the north people are bad about RSVP'ing, but the brides are more aggressive about finding out because c'mon now - those are expensive plates. I've only seen favors in the north, but groom's cakes in both. And we had sippy cups at the our wedding and welcomed kids, but that's also not very common in Michigan. Fascinating, seriously!!

Becky said...

I know, Bigbinder, I am riveted to people's comments. Don't know why this is so interesting, but with the collective experience here, we could write a book! And I can well imagine that brides having a formal dinner would be more aggro about getting those reply cards. I remember talking to at least two caterers in the South who were like, "Forget about ever seeing those cards again. Let's assume 75% of those invited will come." And sippy cups?! I would have hugged you for that when I arrived with my kid.

Sara, Happy Anniversary! And whiskey shots at the money dance! Lordy me, sounds profitable! Yeah, I am for sure that the dollar dance is just up North--maybe even just a specific group, like Italians?

Kate, your wedding was divine in every way.

Welcome, Meghan! Even if you're an Amy partisan, I'm glad to have you here! :)

Messy Mom, I think you're the expert among us. I don't think I've been to 50 weddings. And 12 bridesmaids!!?! I think that's more than Princess Di had.

Jenner, I wish you had a pic of the goldfish centerpieces!

Missy, I am dying at your story. The scene with the policeman is priceless, and then I can just hear the tone of your mother's voice, talking about your "punch and cookies" wedding. Oh the disdain!!

And yes, as Fraught brings up, can we all agree that if a group thank-you email is bad, a freaking FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE is one million times worse? Sheesh.

Kelly said...

I like to think of myself as a Northerner even though I have lived in Atlanta for 19 years. When Linc and I got married we had four attendants each. It was either that or we would have had to have 8!! Our party favor was a beautiful candle that had sea shells in the bottom. It was really cool. We also had a sit down dinner for about 120 people.

Kelly said...

Also, no grooms cake. That was not a tradition I had ever heard of until my Southern friends started getting married!

Michele Renee said...

I agree that all a couple has to do now is look for ideas all over the internet to personalize their wedding. I grew up in Calif, but got married in GA. Hubs family is from upstate NY and then FL. My MIL gave me a shower with all my SILs and I later read how taboo that was (but I really needed stuff so am glad she is Northern bred). I also had an "Around the Clock" shower given by work friends. I had a sit down buffer champagne brunch on a Sunday (so that was different) at an antebellum home to "play up" my new Southern hometown. Didn't have a grooms cake, nor favors. Except for the satin roses that were filled with birdseed?? I had 5 bridesmaids including the Maid of Honor.
After that I became a wedding consultant for a few years. Many were buffet style sit-down meals. Many had a grooms cake but hardly saw favors. One bride had her dog as the ring-bearer!

Becky's future sil said...

Hi All. Wow I got blogged by Becky. I have never been blogged before. Becky is seriously one of the funniest people I have ever met and I love reading her blogs. Thanks to my future sister in law Becky for her post and to all for their comments. Very interesting. I have never heard of a groom's cake before. Chris never mentioned it. We are going for cupcakes as there will be lots of children at the wedding. Not sure if it is a northern thing or not but all the weddings I have been to - there have been no children. A flower girl or two yes but the guests were all adults. But I think it could be because most of the weddings I have been to were in my 20s and very early 30s and my friends, sisters and cousins, etc. did not have children yet. Now I have two beautiful little girls of my own. And my sisters and cousins and Chris's brother and cousins all have children so there will be lots of children. They may outnumber the adults. I am kidding but it will be close!

After much thought I am going to forgo party favors. I never eat the fertility almonds (so funny). And I have a drawer full of little candles and such that is in serious need of cleaning. No sense in adding more things to it. I really like the donation idea and am going to call Friends In Adoption (FIA - a great adoption agency with offices in VT and NY) and see if they do the little wedding scrolls or make some myself and make a donation to FIA on behalf of all the guests. In fact since Chris and I both already have a house we are telling guests no presents but if they wish to make a donation to FIA sure they would put it to good use.

On the wedding party size topic all the weddings I have seen up north have 1-3 bridesmaids. I have never seen more. 15 in one. Wow! I decided on my two sisters as Chris has two brothers. Works perfectly. Flower girls is a touchy subject. I am having my two little girls - 5& 7. The place we are getting married is small and I want the wedding to be about the 4 of us becoming a family. A few nieces on my side are upset they are not flower girls too. I love them all but if I had one I would want them all and that would equal 8 flower girls and 2 ring bearers. They would outnumber the rest of the wedding party. Not a wedding I want to go to. Especially since if it rains we are getting married indoors and the space is tight. 10 kids in the wedding party sounds wonderful to some but thinking about it upsets my stomach. I love all the kids very much but 10 kids running around is 8 too much for me.

One more thing before I go join Chris who is waiting for me to come watch American Idol. I have never been to a wedding other than a seated dinner before. All the weddings I have been to have been in the North. Chris mentioned horderves and not having a seating plan and I was like "what?" I really didn't know what he was talking about. I should have listened. It would have saved us money. But the seated dinner will be great. We are having a kids option of chicken fingers ofcourse and for the adults either pork tenderloin, steak or pumpkin ravioli (since it will be fall). We went for a taste test and I fell in love with the pumpkin ravioli! Sorry Chris - you have competition! It was yummy! Have a good night all! -Robin

Coffee with Cathy said...

Love this subject -- it's endlessly entertaining! Thanks so much, Becky, for opening up the discussion. These are all great insights here. And you know there are even local differences in traditions. Some friends and I here in northwest Alabama are planning a baby shower along with a couple other friends in Birmingham, which is two south. We up here were talking about what to use for favors and the two from B'ham said they'd never heard of favors at a baby shower. But here, if you didn't do baby-shower favors, you'd get talked about at the Chat-n-Chew. And you do not want that to happen.

Coffee with Cathy said...

It must be getting late since I can't type -- Birmingham is "two hours" from here. Sorry.

The Stiletto Mom said...

I went to a very formal wedding once in London. The party gifts were embroidered tea towels with the guests name on it...also served as a cool place marker.

I really don't get the gift thing. Also, I suck at RSVP'ing. It always goes out the very last day.

melondonkey said...

interesting topic. i now have a great smoke bomb conversation starter if i need to to distract and escape from a large group of women.

Otis resident said...

Robin, (you crazy chick)....my kids don't even know you are getting married, so how can they be upset about not being flower girls?? Don't paint me in a bad light, please. Also, I had 5 attendants (pretty sure you were one!)and 1 flower girl, just for the record. Bert

Becky said...

Michele Renee, didn't you say you carried a parasol down the aisle at your wedding? Love it. I guess it went with the whole antebellum thing.

Robin, thanks for the wedding deets! I agree that ten kids in a wedding party would be cray-zay. Not even Princess Di had that many. The menu sounds great, and I can't wait!

Cathy, I want to live my life so as to avoid being discussed at the Chat n' Chew! Oh the shame! And yes, for baby showers, always party favors. So interesting about the difference between your town and B'ham.

Michele Renee said...

Becky, wouldn't it be neat to see photos of all these weddings?
Yes, I had a parasol--can you believe ethat? It was closed and then later while visiting tables it was opened. Had a gardenia clipped to my pearl choker. it got wilted and my mom had to tell me it was past its prime and to remove it. My maids carried lace fans.

Bex said...

i am so retarded when it comes to etiquette. your blog is good for me. i learn lots of interesting things about etiquette and fashion and weird neighbors.

Juliet Grossman said...

Hilarious how this is a conversation that could go on for pages & pages. I agree it is fascinating. Ditto on the "no hosting of showers by relatives" as being a universal law like gravity. (LOL!) But yup, that is true. True, true. There are some loopholey things people do to get out of it (official and unofficial hostesses e.g.) but it is universal.

One thing I don't think that has been brought up is when cash is an acceptable gift. I am a 5th generation Californian and when I married a New Yorker I was shocked at how many people gave us cash, including our peers. That is just not as common in California, I think. And I'm pretty sure it's not something you see in the South!

Anyway....re: favors - I am used to seeing favors. I've never been to a southern wedding. I've been to weddings on both coasts and also in the PNW. I can't say it'd stand out as strange if someone didn't have favors, though.

By the way did you know why Jordan almonds are traditional? Fertility.....hmmmmmm....

Juliet Grossman said...

Oh yeah and I should add -- our favors were kinda lame. I had these mini frames and each placecard was inserted into the frame (for seating at individual tables) and they could take the frame when they left. We had a fairly large number of guests though so of course the frames weren't super expensive and they ended up looking kind of stupid. I wasn't thrilled with them. I was at a wedding where each guest got a CD of the music played at the reception. Now that is a cool favor. Often the favor will be a couple of pieces of candy in a little decorative box. I like that.

Drama Queen Jenner said...

You did NOT want to see a picture of the goldfish! They kept dying. I know they bade 3 or more trips back to the pet store with bags full of dead fish. It was really depressing the bride.

One thing I remembered, a co-worker made her wedding favors - their weddnig announcement in a clear, magnet-backed picture frame where she'd hot-glued tiles down either side. She intended the announcement to be removed and it to be used for the recipient's own picture. But many guests thought it was decoration and left them on the table. Others didn't realize the paper inside was removable and kept her announcement on their fridge.