Emily Miller always wanted her wedding to have a storybook element. To her, that didn’t mean a horse-drawn carriage ride or a dress fit for a princess. It meant a feast full of books.
She and her husband Alex Seher, 31, a product manager at a lighting manufacturer, originally planned to get married at a Baltimore library in the spring of 2021, giving their guests custom bookmarks as favors.
But when they decided to postpone their wedding to March 26 due to the pandemic, they learned that the library would not reopen in time. They soon booked another venue, the Engineers Club of Baltimore. The club had the “grandeur” of their original location, said Ms. Miller, 30. But one important part was missing: books.
To make it more schooly, the couple hosted what she called an “open book bar” during cocktail hour. Copies of 22 fiction and nonfiction titles related to the city of Baltimore, where the couple have lived since 2015, or authors with connections to it, were available to their 120 guests. They include “Role Models” by John Waters and the short story collection “Baltimore Noir,” along with other works by Edgar Allan Poe and Zora Neale Hurston.
By the end of the evening everything was packed.
“Nothing could have prepared me for how excited everyone was,” said Ms. Miller, who works as a manager at Greedy Reads, a multi-location bookstore 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 talk about, ‘Which book did you take?'” she added.
Wedding favors have gone out of fashion, with many couples putting money into the cost of food and flowers, says Reneé Patrone Rhinehart, the owner of Events by Renee in Wayne, Pa.
Those who do have 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, the chief executive at Libro.fm, an audiobook platform he co-founded, and Marisa Gilmore spent a day choosing books as favors for the 34 guests attending their black-tie wedding on Jan. 15 .
They focused on titles that their contestants were unlikely to buy for themselves, a process that encouraged them to “think about each person’s relationship with us and what they would like,” said Ms. Gilmore, 32.
A data science executive at Meta, Ms. Gilmore, added that she often makes unsolicited book recommendations and didn’t mind “pulling the wedding card” by “letting everyone read a book I recommended to them, or read it on their own.” least take it home.”
After their ceremony at a church in Austin, Texas, the newlyweds hosted dinner at Justine’s Secret House, a local event space. There, attendees found their place by viewing personalized bookmarks associated with titles, including Benjamin Lorr’s “The Secret Life of Groceries” and Yaa Gyasi’s “Transcendent Kingdom” at each place.
The thoughtfulness of the combinations 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 smaller group took two steps to a bar after the reception, the favors also caught the attention of onlookers. At a time when more celebrities and influencers were spotted with books in public, we “really stood out” when we walked into the bar with titles in hand, said Mr. Pearson, adding that they soon became identifiable to the bouncer as “the book people” — a fitting nickname, given that their favors, which cost about $900, were purchased from an Austin store called BookPeople.
When considering wedding favors, Rachel Hoffberger, the owner of Plan It Perfect, a Baltimore events company, tells her clients not to worry unless the item is something that guests want to keep.
Books can fit that criteria, according to Ms. Hoffberger, who co-ordinated the day of the wedding of Alexis Causey, 30 in November 2021, and David L. Marin, 29, with a book bar stocked with the couple’s favorite titles.
“Everyone checked,” said Mrs. Hoffberger. “It was almost like going to a bookstore to shop.”
Ms. Causey, who works in human resources, and Mr. Marin, a geographic information systems planner, live in Baltimore; they also teamed up with Greedy Reads, spending $1,241 on books for the 100 guests attending their wedding at the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, Maryland.
Mr Marin said the prize was worth “for sharing a part of ourselves and getting the response we’ve gotten.” Mary Miles, a guest and friend of the groom, characterized that response as follows: “I’ve never seen so many genuine smiles at a wedding, especially at the favor.”
Ms. Causey, who called herself an 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, putting together the book bar privately with Mr. Marin was the “most exciting thing to plan” because for “almost every other aspect we had to consider other people’s opinions.” .”
The price for wedding favors may vary; in Ms. Hoffberger’s experience, customers can spend as little as $1 per person on a generic gift and up to $10 per person on something more personal. New books are on the high end of that cost spectrum, but there are ways to save money on such favors.
After elopement in 2020, Rachel Wilcox, 30, a supervisor at a national construction company, and David Wilcox, 30, an air traffic control student, hosted a second wedding party at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown, NH last October.
For the event, Ms. Wilcox had considered a “Star Wars” theme before considering it over the top. She and her husband, who live in Somerville, Massachusetts, had bonded with reading when living in different states earlier in their relationship, so the couple opted for a literary theme instead.
It inspired her bouquet, featuring a paper flower made from the page of a book; the seat cards for their 106 guests, who remembered library cards; and the centerpieces on each table, each containing three to four books for attendees to take with them.
The two and their parents bought about 40 titles, assuming that would be enough for anyone who wanted one, and bought them all at thrift bookstores and Goodwill for under $250.
Well before the event ended, all of the centerpieces’ books had been taken, Ms. Wilcox said. She added that a guest hid the value of an entire table under her boyfriend’s jacket to protect them.
“People had so much fun with it,” she said, but perhaps none more than the couple.
“We care about reading all the other worlds you can visit,” Ms Wilcox added. “I don’t care if everyone thinks we’re nerdy. We are and I’m fine with it.”