If you’re planning a planet-friendly wedding this summer, you’re likely pondering ways to cut costs, reduce waste and shrink the footprint of your special day. The last thing you want is to send your loved ones off with a mass-produced trinket that’s destined for the landfill.
But the idea of making 100 or more favors yourself can seem expensive, time consuming and, let’s face it, pretty frustrating. Defy the odds and give your guests something sentimental and sustainable to remember your nuptials with surprisingly simple handmade favors that won’t break the bank. From mini gardens to elegant edibles, here are seven handmade favors you just have to see.
List and captions courtesy of Earth911, photos courtesy of credited photographers
1. Teacup Herb Gardens
Adorable herb seedlings find their homes in upcycled vintage teacups in these unique and memorable wedding favors dreamed up by <a href="http://www.intimateweddings.com/" target="_hplink">Intimate Weddings</a> blogger Christina Friedrichsen. These darling mini-gardens may look like a million bucks, but they're actually very friendly on your wallet and take mere minutes to make. To save some cash on your project, take a page from Friedrichsen's book and visit local thrift stores, vintage boutiques and yard sales in your area to hunt for low-priced vintage teacups. Or ask relatives for unwanted pieces from their own china cabinets for an added personal touch. And, rather than buying pricey seedlings from the garden center, <a href="http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/cepublications/pnw0170/pnw0170.pdf" target="_hplink">start herb plants from seeds</a> indoors or <a href="http://www.sustland.umn.edu/maint/propagation.html" target="_hplink">divide established herb plants</a> from friends' gardens for use in your favor project. Check out Friedrichsen's <a href="http://www.intimateweddings.com/blog/diy-herbs-in-a-teacup-eco-friendly-favors/" target="_hplink">tutorial</a> for more photos and step-by-step instructions. And if you're feeling ambitious, try adding plant markers made from stamped vintage spoons using this handy <a href="http://www.intimateweddings.com/blog/diy-stamped-spoon-plant-markers/" target="_hplink">Intimate Weddings tutorial</a>. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2012/01/13/how-to-plan-the-perfect-green-wedding/" target="_hplink">Green Your Big Day: How to Plan the Perfect Green Wedding</a>
2. Vintage-Inspired Mason Jars
Mason jars add a refined yet rustic look to any formal affair. Take these upcycling gems to the next level by mimicking the vintage look of antiqued blue glass - without the hefty price tag. Using this <a href="http://www.craftberrybush.com/2011/03/mason-blue-glass-canning-jar-diy.html" target="_hplink">tutorial</a> from <a href="http://www.craftberrybush.com/" target="_hplink">Craftberry Bush</a> blogger Lucy Akins, it's easy to create a romantic antique accent from any jar you have in the pantry. Just use one of two methods to apply a combination of food coloring and water-based glue to your jars, and voilà - upcycled elegance. To cut back on expenses, don't restrict yourself to standard Mason jars. Use jars of varying shapes and sizes (including rescues from your recycling bin with <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Easiest-least-messy-way-to-remove-labels-from-gla/" target="_hplink">the labels removed</a>) to give your favor table a little more personality. These vintage-inspired jars would make lovely favors on their own. Or you can fill them with yummy homemade treats to suit all your guests' tastes and diets, like these <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/mixed-berry-tartlets" target="_hplink">vegan berry tartlets</a> and whimsical <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/whoopie-pies-gluten-free" target="_hplink">gluten-free whoopie pies</a> from <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/" target="_hplink">The Daily Meal</a>. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2011/10/17/5-unbelievable-recycled-crafts/" target="_hplink">DIY in Style: 5 Unbelievable Recycled Crafts</a>
3. Terrarium Place Holders
Whether you're planning a rustic outdoor wedding or a traditional black-tie affair, a touch of green goes with everything. Case in point: These sweet terrarium place holders that double as low-impact favors. Don't let the classy look fool you. These chic little terrariums from <a href="http://greenweddingshoes.com/" target="_hplink">Green Wedding Shoes</a> are made almost entirely from trash: A discarded holiday ornament, a Mason jar lid, a wine cork and found sticks. To give these adorable favors a try on your special day, check out this <a href="http://greenweddingshoes.com/diy-terrarium-place-holder/" target="_hplink">step-by-step tutorial</a> - including detailed photos and tips to help you do it right. After completing your terrariums, add moss like the crafters at Green Wedding Shoes, or experiment with air plants and succulents for a look that's all your own. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2011/12/08/donate-your-wedding-dress-for-a-cause/" target="_hplink">After the Big Day: Donate Your Wedding Dress for a Cause</a>
4. Butterfly Treat Bags
The crafty ladies from <a href="http://www.poshpaperie.com/" target="_hplink">Posh Paperie</a> dreamed up these cute little butterfly bags as rice tossers. But we couldn't help thinking that they would make perfect packages for your favors, too. Transform ordinary cardstock into a lovely wedding accent using little more than scissors, a hole punch and this detailed <a href="http://www.stylemepretty.com/2010/09/17/diy-butterfly-rice-tosser-by-posh-paperie-jackie-wonders/" target="_hplink">photo tutorial</a> from <a href="http://www.stylemepretty.com/" target="_hplink">Style Me Pretty</a>. Before your big day, fill the cute paper bags with treats like candy, luxe them up with bath beads or take an all-natural approach with bird seed. The do-it-yourself favor possibilities are endless! For green brownie points, choose cardstock printed with vegetable- or soy-based inks, so the whole thing will be safe for the compost pile after your guests head home. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2010/02/22/the-best-diy-paper-projects/" target="_hplink">From the Earth911 Vault: The Best DIY Paper Projects</a>
5. Elegant Edibles
Choosing edibles in reusable packaging is a surefire way to make sure no part of your wedding favors ends up in the trash can. But handing out cookie tins can seem a bit uninspired. Minimize wedding waste and showcase your unique personality by sending guests off with spunky cupcakes in individual glass jars. A lover of both sweets and jars, <a href="http://lovelylittledetails.com/" target="_hplink">Lovely Little Details</a> blogger Jacin Fitzgerald took the "jar cupcake" concept to the next level by creating adorable s'mores cupcakes packaged in mini Mason jars. These pretty and portable treats may look hard to prepare, but Fitzgerald's <a href="http://lovelylittledetails.com/2012/05/09/lovely-little-diy-mason-jar-smores-cupcakes-wedding-favor-recipe-idea/" target="_hplink">tutorial</a> makes it look surprisngly easy. If s'mores aren't your thing - or you're simply craving a pop of color - check out these <a href="http://lovelylittledetails.com/2012/05/22/lovely-little-diy-rainbow-mason-jar-cupcakes-wedding-favor-recipe-idea/" target="_hplink">rainbow mason jar cupcakes</a> that are sure to keep guests' heads turning all night. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2012/02/22/7-tips-to-inspire-your-party-guests-to-go-green/" target="_hplink">Want More Tips?: 7 Tips to Inspire Your Party Guests to Go Green</a>
6. Whimsical 'Wedding Spoons'
The tradition of "<a href="http://www.altweddingservices.com/traditions.php" target="_hplink">wedding spoons</a>" dates back hundreds of years. As stories go, a man whittled the spoon by hand and presented it to his beloved on their wedding day as a sign of love and devotion. Blogger and handmade enthusiast <a href="http://thehousethatlarsbuilt.blogspot.com/" target="_hplink">Brittany Watson Jepsen</a> reimagined the wedding spoon tradition and created these "bride and groom" spoons as whimsical wedding favors. The best part is: Your guests can use them at home after the big day! Check out her <a href="http://bklynbrideonline.com/22202/diy-projects/diy-bridal-spoon-favors/" target="_hplink">guest-post tutorial</a> for <a href="http://bklynbrideonline.com/" target="_hplink">Brooklyn Bride</a>, and find out how to hand-paint the happy little couple in a snap with minimal frustration. Don't worry. You don't have to whittle the spoons yourself. We suggest checking out local thrift stores for wooden spoons before buying new to reduce both the cost and the environmental impact of your project. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2012/05/24/tips-for-green-travel/" target="_hplink">Sustainable Honeymooning: 7 Tips for Green Travel</a>
7. Natural Soy Candles
Candles are a common component of both weddings and wedding favors. But paraffin wax, the main ingredient in most candles, is actually a <a href="http://www.iea.org/stats/defs/sources/petrol.asp" target="_hplink">petroleum product</a> and can cause poor indoor air quality when burned regularly, <a href="http://www.scsu.edu/news_article.aspx?news_id=832" target="_hplink">some studies show</a>. So, if you're gifting guests with candles at your wedding celebration, opt for natural soy or beeswax alternatives for a clean-burning solution. To save on cash, skip purchasing loads of soy candles for your favors, and try whipping up a batch at home like<a href="http://amoderngirlslife.blogspot.com/" target="_hplink"> A Modern Girl's Life</a> blogger Mandy Rootsey. A green gal herself, Rootsey used found, repurposed and recycled objects as holders for her homemade canldes. Try teacups, teeny half-and-half pitchers and glass jars for an eclectic look that will keep guests talking. Candle-making may sound tricky, but Rootsey's <a href="http://amoderngirlslife.blogspot.com/2011/10/diy-candles.html" target="_hplink">tutorial</a> will help you achieve professional-style results fit for your big day. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2010/02/01/green-your-love-life/" target="_hplink">Related: Green Your Love Life</a>
Also On The Huffington Post...
These do-it-yourself wedding favor ideas make it easy to add personal touches to your wedding and save money too.