It is thought that giving gifts to guests started in France back in the 16th Century. Beautiful small boxes made of porcelain or crystal and encrusted with precious jewels would be filled with sugar almonds or other sweet confections, which symbolised wealth and royalty. These were known as bonbonnieres and handed to guests at opulent parties and banquets. At this time, sugar was believed to have medicinal benefits, so the act of giving a sweet gift was a symbol of care towards your guests.
At this time, as sugar was incredibly expensive and available only to the very richest of society, bonbonnieres were limited to royals and aristocracy. As the price of sugar decreased through the centuries, the tradition of giving gifts of small sweet confections to guests became more popular among the general public. This tradition has seen particular longevity at weddings.
Besides the symbol of care-giving and appreciation, in many cultures weddings are seen as lucky events. The couples' luck is thought to be passed onto their guests in the form of giving wedding favours.
Favours differ from culture to culture, but a popular choice - not just in modern times but since the 16th Century - is the sugared almond. It is thought the bitterness of the almond and the sweetness of the sugar represent the bittersweet nature of marriage (nothing like being honest!). These are typically given in parcels of five to symbolise fertility, longevity, wealth, health and happiness. Personally, I haven't seen sugared almonds at a wedding for a very long time, but I love what they represent.
Nowadays, wedding favours range from small trinket gifts to CD's of the couples' wedding playlist, but sweet edible gifts are still a popular choice. Beautifully decorated cookies, a couple of macarons in a dainty box, or a selection of delicious truffles can all help demonstrate a couples' appreciation to their guests, while continuing the tradition of passing on care, good health and luck to their guests.
If you're choosing favours for your wedding, contact Caked to inquire about designing favours especially for your guests. Want to truly personalise your favours? These monogrammed decorated biscuits are a beautiful way to thank your guests and show them you care. See more on our wedding cake page.