These days, families and friends are spread all over the country (and even the world!), so there’s a good chance that many of your wedding guests will be traveling to celebrate with you. To make out-of-town guests feel welcome and right at home, a lot of my brides and grooms create a “welcome bag” for those staying in their designated hotel block. It’s a really fun way to kick off the celebrating—and it doesn’t have to require a lot of time or money.
A welcome bag can be as simple as a letter with important information and a little treat, or it can be as extravagant as a bag full of your local favorites.
The first step is to verify the regulations for welcome bags with the hotel where your room block is located. Some hotels may charge a fee for placing the bags in your guests’ rooms versus having them passed out at the front desk as guests check in. Also, if you’re planning on including a local brew or a mini bottle of booze in the bags, make sure that they allow alcohol.
Here are a few other ideas for what to include in your welcome bags:
A little note
I encourage my couples to add a letter or card to greet and thank the traveling guests for sharing in the big weekend. Make sure to list all the important details:
Address / Time
Address / Time
Then, if you need to share any special instructions about parking or navigating to either location, this note is a perfect place to do so. Some of your guests will have forgotten their invitation or the wedding website address, so this is a great opportunity to give them a little reminder.
Local activities and restaurant recommendations
Every city has fun activities and restaurants that your wedding guests might like to check out during their visit. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those spots and ask if they’re willing to provide brochures or coupons. Many small businesses are open to giving brochures as it gets their name out there for little cost. Just remember to be super grateful, especially if they are willing to give you coupons for your guests! J One idea that is a big hit during these hot summer days is a local water park brochure or coupon.
I am a strong advocate for making sure that the couple’s personalities shine through in their wedding. So why not kick off the weekend by incorporating a few of your favorite things into your welcome bags? Here are just a couple ideas for what to include: something that captures a memory of your first date, a hometown brew, your favorite coffee shop’s coffee beans, or something related to an activity you and your fiancé enjoy doing together. Get creative! For example, if you both like to go fishing, slip a pack of Swedish fish in the bag.
With all of the different social media platforms your guests have at their fingertips, it’s a good idea to develop a unique hashtag so you can find the awesome pictures everyone posts of your special event! These photos are especially fun to look through because you won’t get all of your professional pictures back for anywhere from a week to a couple of months after the big day. Be sure to share your hashtag as a part of your welcome bag note or as a separate insert.
No matter what you decide to do, keep in mind how many guests will be staying at the hotel and how the welcome bags will fit into your overall budget. Even if you don’t have a lot of time or money to put toward this part of the celebration, a sweet and informative note goes a long way. It’s a small gesture that will make your guests feel at home, help their visit go smoothly, and get them excited for the festivities!
Christine M. Darden