Your out-of-town guests have literally gone the extra mile to attend your wedding. They’ve doled out extra funds for travel – and probably budgeted a little more for accommodations. All because they love you that much.
Here’s how to put together a bag that says “Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here!”
Pick a Bag
…or a box, or a basket. Whatever you choose will the base for your gift – and a valuable first impression for your guests. A simple canvas bag is always a great option. It’s a cute carryall for your items, and, the best part, your guests will be able to reuse it when they get home! Customize the bag with a fun slogan or a design with the wedding location. If your location is a beach or a winery, you could get creative with a pail or a small wooden crate.
Write a Note and Itinerary
Tell guests how grateful you are for their love and support on your wedding weekend with a personal letter. (Bonus points for handwritten cards.) Play tour guide! Recommend cute local coffee shops, your favorite lunch spots, and popular tourist attractions. Be a gracious host for guests who left their invitation at home (or aren’t up-to-speed with your wedding website) by including an itinerary for the weekend. Remind them where they need to be and when they need to be there. Ask an artist friend or a graphic designer to whip up a pretty design in your wedding colors for a pop of art in your bag.
Give out-of-town guests a taste of the area with snacks from local vendors. Mix sweet and savory options – like potato chips at a Cape Cod wedding or peaches in Georgia. It’s a fun way to introduce them to the city (and keep them from spending a fortune at the mini bar)!
Hospitality usually starts with “Can I get you something to drink?” Whether they’re coming in from a long night celebrating, or a long day sightseeing, your guests will want water in their rooms. Save them from buying overpriced hotel bottles by including some in your bag.
Take your hosting game to another level by providing a location-inspired cocktail in your welcome gift. Think: a mini bottle of Jack Daniels with a Coke for a Tennessee wedding. Are you getting married on or near a vineyard? This is the perfect opportunity to include a bottle of their house wine. Your guests will toast you as they’re getting ready for your wedding or rehearsal dinner.
Add a Personal Detail
Think of something that’s so “you” and so “your fiancé.” It could be a grown-up coloring book you love with colored pencils, your favorite lip balm and plastic sunnies for the beach, or his favorite brand of golf ball and a tee for the country club. These little things will make guests feel more included and connected to you both on a personal level.
Evita, who co-owns Santorini Glam Weddings, shared one of her favorite examples. “The father of one of our brides produces his own olive oil in Greece. We arranged for him to send us a container of olive oil. Then we filled individual bottles with his olive oil and local herbs. Not only did it cost a quarter of the price, but it was also something special of the couple!”
Cure Their Hangover
Plan ahead for party animals! Add travel packets of pain relievers, so friends don’t regret that last glass of wine. This is a good time to remember items your guests might forget (and hotel rooms don’t provide) – like mints, sunscreen, or bug spray for outdoor weddings. The idea of this welcome gift is to help them feel more comfortable while away from home.
Odds are you can’t be there to hand out bags in person. But you should plan now for who can. Some hotels will work with you to hand out bags as guests check in or place them in their rooms in advance. Depending on the hotel, this could be complimentary – or cost up to $7 per bag. So it’s a good idea to ask ahead! If the service gets pricey, you might want to assign shifts to family or members of the wedding party.
A few final tips: Buying items in bulk will help cut gift costs. This will be especially helpful for destination weddings, where most guests will be traveling. Also, keep flights in mind. It’s more popular than ever to pack a carry-on bag for the weekend. So that cute, but bulky, pool float might get left behind if it won’t fit.
No doubt your wedding welcome bag will be amazing! And your guests will be beyond excited to celebrate with you. Remember, no matter where in world you get married, a personal gesture is always welcome.
Style Me Pretty Contributor – Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. You can find her in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee.
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