Looking for gifts for wedding guests? Try a good book

Emily Miller has always wanted her wedding to have a storybook element. For her, that didn’t mean a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or a dress fit for a princess. That meant a book-filled party.

She and her husband Alex Seher, 31, a product manager at a lighting manufacturer, originally planned to tie the knot in the spring of 2021 at a Baltimore library and gift their guests with personalized bookmarks as favors.

But when they decided to postpone their wedding to March 26 because of the pandemic, they learned that the library would not reopen in time. They quickly booked another venue, the Engineers Club of Baltimore. The club had the “grandeur” of its original location, said Ms Miller, 30. But he was missing one key element: books.

To make it more bookish, the couple hosted what she called an “open book bar” during cocktail hour. Available to their 120 guests, copies of 22 fiction and non-fiction titles related to the city of Baltimore, where the couple has lived since 2015, or by authors with ties to it. They included John Waters’ ‘Role Models’ and the short story collection ‘Baltimore Noir’, as well as other works by Edgar Allan Poe and Zora Neale Hurston.

By the end of the evening, everything was in place.

“Nothing could have prepared me for everyone’s enthusiasm,” said Ms. Miller, who works as a manager at Greedy Reads, a bookstore with multiple locations in Baltimore. She used her employee discount to buy the books for their wedding, which cost the couple $1,200.

“I loved seeing them all talking about ‘Which book did you pick up?'” she added.

Wedding favors have fallen out of fashion, with many couples investing in food and flower expenses instead, said Reneé Patrone Rhinehart, owner of Events by Renee in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Those with the budget for favors spend it on items that feel more personal, she added, noting that a curated selection of books allows a couple to “share their passion with their guests and make it more memorable”.

Mark Pearson, 41, chief executive of Libro.fm, an audiobook platform he co-founded, and Marisa Gilmore spent a day choosing books as favors for the 34 guests who attended their black-tie wedding January 15th.

They focused on titles their attendees were unlikely to buy themselves, a process that encouraged them to “think about each person’s relationship to us and what they would like,” Ms. Gilmore said, 32 years old.

Head of data science at Meta, Ms Gilmore added that she often offers unsolicited book recommendations and doesn’t mind “pulling the bride card” by “getting everyone to read a book that I recommended to them, or at least to bring it home”.

After their ceremony at a church in Austin, Texas, the newlyweds hosted a dinner party at Justine’s Secret House, a local event space. There, attendees found their place by perusing personalized bookmarks associated with titles such as “The Secret Life of Groceries” by Benjamin Lorr and “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi at each seat.

The thoughtfulness of the pairings resonated with the guests. Jill Sinex, the groom’s aunt, said the book she received, ‘Liturgy of the Ordinary’ by Tish Harrison Warren, ‘made me feel like they really knew what was important in my life. “.

When the newlyweds and a small group took two steps to a bar after the reception, the favors also caught the eye of onlookers. At a time when more celebrities and influencers have been spotted carrying books in public, “we really stood out” by walking into the bar with titles in hand, Mr Pearson said, adding that they quickly became identifiable by the bouncer as “book people”. — an apt nickname, as their favors, which cost around $900, were purchased from an Austin store called BookPeople.

When it comes to wedding favors, Rachel Hoffberger, owner of Plan It Perfect, an event company in Baltimore, tells her clients not to bother unless the item is something the guests will want. keep.

Books can meet those criteria, according to Ms. Hoffberger, who served as wedding day coordinator for Alexis Causey, 30, and David L. Marin, 29, in November 2021, which featured a book bar filled with the the couple’s favorite tracks. .

“Everyone checked,” Ms. Hoffberger said. “It was almost like they were going to a bookstore and shopping.”

Ms. Causey, who works in human resources, and Mr. Marin, a geographic information systems planner, live in Baltimore; they also worked with Greedy Reads, spending $1,241 on books for the 100 guests who attended their nuptials at the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, Maryland.

Mr Marin said the price was worth it “to share a part of ourselves and get the reaction we did”. Mary Miles, a guest and friend of the groom, described this reaction as follows: “I have never seen so many sincere smiles at a wedding, especially for the favor.”

Ms. Causey, a self-proclaimed introvert, noted that their favors were also a welcome distraction for attendees who didn’t want to dance or socialize. Instead, they could “sit down and read a book,” she said.

She added that of all the elements of their wedding, hosting the private book bar with Mr Marin was “the most exciting thing to plan” because for “almost every other aspect we had to consider each other’s opinions.” “.

The price of wedding favors can vary; in Hoffberger’s experience, customers can spend as little as $1 per person for a generic gift and up to $10 per person for something personalized. New books are at the higher end of this cost spectrum, but there are ways to save money on such favors.

After eloping in 2020, Rachel Wilcox, 30, a supervisor at a national construction company, and David Wilcox, 30, an air traffic control student, held a second wedding celebration last October at the Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown, NH

For the event, Ms. Wilcox had first considered a “Star Wars” theme before dominating it. She and her husband, who live in Somerville, Massachusetts, had bonded through reading when they lived in separate states earlier in their relationship, so the couple opted for a literary theme instead.

This inspired her bouquet, which featured a paper flower fashioned from the page of a book; the place cards for their 106 guests, which were reminiscent of library cards; and centerpieces on each table, each of which included three to four books for attendees to take away.

The two and their parents purchased about 40 titles, thinking that would be enough for anyone who wanted one, and bought them all from used bookstores and Goodwill for less than $250.

Long before the event ended, all the centerpiece books had been taken, Ms Wilcox said. She added that a guest hid an entire table’s worth under her boyfriend’s jacket to protect them.

“People had so much fun with it,” she said, but perhaps no one more than the couple.

“We care about all the other worlds you can visit through reading,” Ms Wilcox added. “I don’t care if everyone thinks we’re corny. We are and I agree with that.

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