Ever wonder why we give guests a gift for attending a wedding?
The answer dates back to the 1600s
Ever wonder why we give guests a gift for attending a wedding? Seems a bit odd doesn’t it? I mean you’ve just forked out a small fortune to host this spectacular wedding reception to celebrate your marriage, why should you spend any more on gifts? Surely the $100 per head 3 course dinner you’ve provided for them is enough, right? Well in my research of wedding traditions, the answer lies in what people believed to help with the vitality of the party.
But first a bit of history. The origin of the tradition dates back to the 1600s when French aristocrats used to give out jewelled boxes full of sugar-coated almonds as a means to increase vitality in the party. A gift of a bonbonniere was a symbol of care extended to all guests. Sugared almonds carried additional significance at weddings, as the bitterness of the almonds and the sweetness of the sugar was thought to symbolise the bitter-sweetness of marriage. The practice spread across Europe where the Italians, Greeks and Spanish also thought the sugar on almonds gave health giving properties. As the price of sugar fell, more and more people were able to copy society’s elite much in the same way white wedding gowns became the norm in the 1800s. The shape and colour of the almonds also mimicked eggs, a symbol of fertility.
While the opulent, jewelled boxes have fallen to the wayside in favour of cheaper options, such as paper bags in modern times; those sugar-coated almonds remain. Love them or hate them, they are a staple at weddings and you’ll find them in almost every wedding. They are cheap, small and easy to give out, but these days people often opt for more substantial gifts to compliment them. From photo frames to lego minifigs right through to bottles of liquor and pieces of jewellery, modern bonbonniere can be very diverse.
The reason why we give guests a gift for attending a wedding all stems from the tradition of the French of getting a sugar high from eating too much sugar. Who knew?