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 all weekend long. Read along for our tips and suggestions to make your wedding welcome bags a smash success.
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 creative bags to custom canvas totes available at your fingertips, it may be hard to make a decision, but we suggest choosing something that fits your wedding’s personality. 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 xoxo’s and pineapples is such a cute touch!
2. Welcome Note
Within the gift bag, 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 wedding bag welcome note here.)
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 will take the guess work out of where to go!
4. Key Ingredients
Water Bottles: We say these are a must! Your gift bag 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.
Hangover Meds: Need we say more? Two packs, please. Purchase through bulk retailers or on Amazon.
The Carb-Loaded Snack: We suggest pretzels – they’re tasty and functional, and generally please just about everyone. The perfect addition pre or post a few wedding cocktails.
Health Snack: You’ll also need to appeal to more health-conscious guests. For them, we suggest granola bars or trail mix, like these individually wrapped snack packs from Think.Fresh. You can also consider packaging your own mix of nuts and dried fruit from bulk retailers like Sam’s or Costco.
Local Treasures: To make your gifts more personal, we suggest incorporating local favorites 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 met in Rome, Italy – and 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 treats 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.
Honorable mentions: Your wedding welcome bag is 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.
5. The Delivery
If you’re hosting a local wedding, well, you’re in luck. You can shuffle the gifts 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.