When my now-husband, Lucien, and I started planning our wedding we didn't initially set out to include any favors at all. They just seemed like an added expense that didn't feel totally necessary to us.
Then we stumbled upon the idea of leaving our guests with a homemade sweet treat to remember our special day. It felt so perfect and we were too excited about the idea to resist. With that, I ordered some cute treat bags on Etsy and set out to make about 200 rosemary shortbread cookies.
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There was flour, sweat, and tears, and while I'd bake my own favors again in a heartbeat, there are a few sanity-saving things I'd definitely do differently.
1. I would have started earlier. Way earlier.
Despite the many gentle suggestions from friends and family that I get an early start on this project, I insisted that the rosemary shortbread for our favors be freshly baked, which is why I started whipping up the first batch a mere 40 hours before the wedding. It ended with me crawling into bed — frazzled and dead tired — just after 2:00 a.m. two nights before the wedding. I do not recommend this approach. Turns out baking all that shortbread took a lot longer than I expected.
I chose shortbread in large part because it's super sturdy and not prone to quickly drying out. The joke is that it freezes really well and I could have made these in advance. I should have gotten a much earlier start, either by baking a few batches each night during the week leading up to the wedding, or even a month or two ahead and stashing them in the freezer until the big day.
Check out this list: The Best Cookies to Freeze and How to Do It
2. I would have made a test batch in advance.
In that vein of getting an earlier start, I wish I had made a test batch of the cookies as soon as we came up with the idea. Even though it's a recipe I had made many times before, I had never made it in our current oven and I ended up using a different baking pan. The first batched ended up in the trash, and I discovered a few adjustments would be necessary. Cue tears (and the realization it was going to be a long night).
3. I would have accepted help in the kitchen.
To be fair, people offered to help — I just turned them down. My mom said she'd come over the weekend before the wedding to help me knock out all the shortbread (thanks, Mom!) but I didn't want to start that early, so I declined. And eventually regretted it.
My husband-to-be offered to help many, many times. Because I opted to wait until the last minute, and have limited counter space and baking tools, there wasn't actually a lot he could do. He did, however, chop an excessive amount of fresh rosemary like a pro, and for that I was extremely thankful.
4. I would have borrowed an extra stand mixer bowl.
One other thing that would have been extremely helpful in my baking spree (aside from extra time and hands) would have been an extra bowl for my stand mixer. I wish I had the foresight to borrow one from a friend.
An extra stand mixer bowl would have meant whipping up one batch of dough after another, baking both at the same time, then using the downtime during baking to wash the equipment, rinse, and repeat. It would have helped to save some time.
5. I would have given them more of a spotlight at our wedding reception.
While favors are typically left at the place settings on all the tables, the logistics of our reception weren't suited to that because dinner was on one floor, with dancing and dessert on the floor below for the remainder of the night. (I didn't want people to leave their favors behind or have to bring them all downstairs!)
Instead, we placed our monogramed treat bags stuffed with herbed shortbread on a table by the door for guests to take as they left. Even though we made a decent effort to make them visible and make sure guests knew to take them, there were quite a few leftover.
In hindsight, I would have placed them around the room for guests to take and enjoy throughout the latter part of the evening, and I would have enlisted a few people to remind all of our friends and family that the cookies were there for the taking.
More About Making Your Own Wedding Favors
Are you making your own favors? What will they be?