Stage 1. What's a wedding favor?
Stage 2. You mean that smelly sandalwood fan I got at C's wedding was a "favor"?
Stage 3. Oh, these coasters/personalized glasses/CD favors from my friends' weddings are fun!
Stage 4. Crap, I can't think of anything good to give as a favor. I guess we'll skip it.
Stage 5. What do you mean, favors are required to "thank your guests for coming to your wedding?"
Stage 6. What do you mean, these crummy plastic thingys are $2 apiece?
Stage 7. Grrr ....
Image from www.americanbridal.com, and apologies to anyone who gave these out as their favors.
I think what has me so grumpy about favors these days is the emotional blackmail that goes along with them. The rationale behind giving favors is that it's a way to "thank your guests for attending." That's a nice sentiment, I guess, but the implied flip side is, "if you don't give favors, you are a bad hostess, you're not properly appreciating the presence of your friends and family, and your guests will feel unwelcome and unloved."
And that really rubs me the wrong way. I've been to weddings with favors and weddings without, and at the ones that didn't have favors, I never ONCE left the reception thinking, "gee, they must not be glad I came, they didn't give me a present." If you throw a great party and visit with all of your guests, they will feel welcome and appreciated even if they don't go home with a bag of color-coordinated M&Ms. Plus, the majority of wedding favors are just going to gather dust or go in the trash -- don't let the dreaded Wedding Industrial Complex guilt you into sending a pile of ugly plastic swans to the local landfill under the mistaken notion that said swans are the only way you can possibly let Great-Aunt Phyllis know how happy you were that she came.
That said, I've gotten some pretty cool favors that I've kept and still use (the aforementioned coasters, CD, and pilsner glasses), and if you run across something you love and can't resist giving to your guests, favors can definitely be a cute and festive addition to the celebration. But if inspiration fails to strike and your budget is stretched to the max, I don't think it's necessary to tear your hair out looking for the perfect geegaw to say "thank you" to your guests. Instead, why not just hug all of them and say "thank you" in person? That will never end up gathering dust in someone's drawer!