As your hotel room block begins to fill up with close friends, family and out-of-town guests, you may be wondering how you should greet them upon arrival to the hotel. Though stuffing dozens (if not hundreds!) of wedding welcome bags may sound daunting, this is your chance to welcome guests with little luxuries and personalized treats they can use for your wedding weekend. Read on for our tips and suggestions to make your wedding welcome bags a smash success.
WGM Says: Welcome bags are 100% optional, so if it’s not in your budget don’t stress too much. However, if you’re deciding between wedding favors or welcome bags for out-of-town guests, I would definitely opt for the bags. These are for the guests who traveled to get to your wedding, so it’s a nice way to thank them for coming!
Don’t get us wrong, paper gift bags and tissue paper will definitely suffice here, but there are so many options to evolve from the basics. With everything from kraft bags and custom tote bags and even welcome boxes at your fingertips, it may be hard to make a decision, but we suggest choosing something that fits the personality of your big day.
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When creating our gifts, we opted for gable boxes tied with gray ribbon – which matched the colors for our wedding. The square shape made it easy to pack without items toppling over in transit. Also worth noting? Whimsical ribbon (like this xoxo ribbon) is such a cute touch and makes it a celebration!
2. Welcome Note
Within the wedding welcome bags, you should include an informal welcome note complete with a schedule of events, like this handy infographic that serves as a visual timeline. If you’re not including a map of city favorites (see tip 3), you can list them on this card as recommendations. We suggest ordering a printable version on Etsy, or creating your own, as it’s quite DIY friendly. (See our Editor Lindsay’s welcome note, along with other fun wedding welcome bag ideas.)
3. Map of Your Wedding Location
Though not a necessity, we love custom maps created with your wedding location and surrounding area. We suggest including local eats, recommended bars, boutiques, and historic attractions on a handy map, custom illustrated with your go-to locations.
Though guests will be busy (you know, attending your wedding and weekend events), they may have some quiet time that they can use to explore the local area – and your super-easy map of the area will take the guess work out of where to go!
WGM Says: Minted is actually one of our favorite places for custom wedding invitation designs (and maps!).
4. The Essentials
Consider these key ingredients when filling up your wedding goodie bags:
We say these are a must! Your wedding welcome bags should include two bottles of water (full-sized preferred) so guests are hydrated for the weekend’s festivities. Plus, that $6 mini-bar water bottle always gets on everyone’s nerves.
Though you can purchase customized water bottle labels on websites like Etsy or Zazzle, we advise either purchasing a printable template or creating these yourself. We saved $100 doing so, and all you need is a simple design (even as easy as Microsoft Word), computer paper, scissors and a glue stick. You can even get fancy with kraft paper if you really want to go the extra mile.
You can create a simple hangover kit with water bottles and individually-wrapped headache meds like Advil or Tylenol and alka-seltzer, which you can purchase through bulk retailers or on Amazon.
The Carb-Loaded Snack
The perfect addition pre or post a few wedding cocktails snack. We suggest pretzels, chips, and even popcorn. You’re looking for something that’s tasty and functional, and will generally please just about everyone.
You’ll also need to appeal to more health-conscious guests with individually wrapped granola bars or trail mix. You can also consider packaging your own mix of nuts and dried fruit from bulk retailers like Sam’s or Costco.
To make your wedding welcome bags more personal, we suggest incorporating local souvenirs and seasonal treats into your hospitality bags.
As a nod to the east coast—where I’m from—we included black and white cookies, a New York City staple. And for my husband’s Midwest heritage, we included dark chocolate sea-salt caramels from the 90-year old chocolate company, Esther Price, located in Dayton, Ohio, his hometown.
We also met in Rome, Italy –so we also included chocolate espresso beans from our favorite coffee shop in Rome, Sant’Eustachio (for purchase here).
Whatever your story, we’re sure there are some delicious goodies you’ve had along the way. Why not share them with guests? Plus, we love the idea of introducing local favorites to a new audience and touting town treats.
Your wedding welcome bags are a way to introduce guests to the wedding and city, so make it your own! Wedding in New York? Include a MetroCard to make getting around a bit easier. Napa? Include wine. Vermont? Maple syrup! Destination wedding? Sunscreen & flip flops.
We also love seasonal bites, such as mini-pies for summer, floral flavored macarons for spring (like the widely available rose or the seasonal cherry blossom version from Olivia Macaron located in Washington, DC) spiced pumpkin seeds for fall and pre-packaged s’mores for winter.
And remember it doesn’t always have to be food! Beautiful handmade soap from a local store is a great local treat.
5. The Delivery
If you’re hosting a local wedding, well, you’re in luck. You can shuffle the wedding welcome bags to the hotel sometime during the week of the wedding (just make arrangements with the hotel beforehand).
If you’re having a destination wedding, we suggest shipping these out priority mail 7 days prior to the wedding. You can pre-assemble them, though it’d be easier to ship the items separately and assemble the gifts at the hotel, if you have time once arriving. In this case, avoid anything super perishable that won’t travel well (like chocolate). Some hotels will charge to deliver the gifts to guest rooms, so we advise having the front desk hand them out at check-in to your guests.