If you’re planning a destination wedding (or one that is considered a destination for most guests coming in from out of town), it’s a nice touch to have a welcome bag waiting for them in their hotel room after a long (or even short) trip. Some couples even choose to go all out on their welcome bags in lieu of wedding favors, which I think make a lot of sense if you’re stuck on what to give guests.
For my wedding I chose to do a very simple welcome bag (also known as out of town guest bags) for those staying at a local hotel. I bought colored gift bags (for less than $0.50/each) and filled them with water and snacks that I bought at Costco so I could get a bulk discount. They were nothing fancy, but they were inexpensive and allowed us to thank guests for coming without breaking the bank. We assembled the bags at home and then dropped them off at our guests hotels (we had hotel blocks at two separate hotels). Typically the front desk will allow you to leave the bags with them so they can hand to guests as they check in or place them in their rooms.
Below are a few tips and tricks for putting together the perfect welcome bag. When you’re done reading, share what you’re going to put in yours!
Step 1: Find the perfect bag
A lot of couples choose to have reuseable totes (which I love) personalized with their names/wedding date (which I don’t love). Think about what YOU would want as a guest…while we all love a good tote bag, I don’t necessarily see myself walking around town with a bag that even has my own wedding info on it, let alone another couple’s. But that’s just me! Instead, I’d rather do something cute/funny based on the destination, like this hilarious tote bag below:
There are several Etsy sellers with decent deals on custom tote bags, and start at around $4/each for one-color printed tote bags. If you have the budget you can also choose to do a Baggu instead (a nylon resuable bag that comes with it’s own folding bag), that I am obsessed with, starting at $9.
Step 2: Pick your fillers
I love when couples put a bottle of wine in a welcome bag. Shop around online (or at stores like Costco) for discounted wines at sites like Wine.com, WineLibrary.com, and Wtso.com (WinesTilSoldOut). You can find wines at a great prices, and will typically get a discount if you buy a case (12 bottles). You can also make a bottle of alcohol the main element of a welcome gift. For example, you can put a bottle of champagne or prosecco/cava in a burlap bag with your welcome letter tied to it. Or create custom wine labels like we did here.
A couple of welcome bag must-haves for me are 2 bottles of water (order via Costco or Amazon) and a healthy snack. I know everybody is a fan of candy or other treats, but sometimes you just want some nuts or fruit. Again, Costco is perfect for these, and they are something you can pick up a couple days before the wedding.
For those of you who have no time to DIY, there are companies out there who will put together welcome bags for you, such as Gracious Goodies (bags on average cost around $24/each++ depending on selections).
Other welcome bag filler options include:
- Beer/Liquor (small bottles)
- Bottle opener (to go with the beer)
- Advil (for hangovers)
- City map/guide
- Subway/local transportation card
- City t-shirt (IE: I Heart NY)
- Local treats (like this Brooklyn welcome bag, below)
Step 3. Create a welcome note and timeline
Spend time typing out a welcome letter to guests to let them know how happy you are to have them as well as to include any tourist information and a timeline of events. Some couples have this welcome letter/timeline created by their wedding stationary company, but it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on this part, it’s the thought that counts! Below is a copy of the welcome letter I included in our bag with details about the event as well as things to do in Miami.
We are so thrilled to have you join us in (hopefully) sunny Florida for our wedding! You being here means the world to us, and we are truly grateful to have each one of you in our lives.
If this is your first time to Miami, or if you’re a seasoned veteran, we hope you have an amazing time enjoying all Miami has to offer. We’ve outlined a few of our favorite activities and restaurants in this packet, as well as directions to the wedding venue.
So settle in, take your shoes off, put your maracas on, and enjoy!
Lindsay and Cory
The Main Event
Ceremony start time: [6:30]
Location: The Bath Club, located at 5937 Collins Avenue
Please note: There is a Bath Club condominium, located PAST the venue. You do not want this. The Bath Club where the wedding is located is a one-story ivy-covered building with a semi-circular driveway, pictured below. If you are coming from the South (the Eden Roc or the Marriott, or any other hotel on South Beach), it will be located on the right side of Collins immediately after the “5800” block sign. If you are coming from the North, you will have to take a U-Turn on Collins.
This is where you want to be:
Where to Eat:
You know where you’ll be eating Saturday night. But for all the other times you get hungry, these are a few of our favorite spots around town…
- Good for: Lunch
- 700 Collins Avenue
- (305) 673-1115
- No Reservation Required
- Price Range: $
For cheap and authentic Cuban food, this is your spot. Perfect for a quick media noche sandwich or Cuban coffee.
- Good for: Dinner
- 1787 Purdy Ave
- (888) 286-3792
- Reservation Recommended
- Price Range: $$ to $$$
You can get everything here…from a great martini to a juicy burger or a wonderful piece of fish. A great dinner spot that has atmosphere without being stuffy and overpriced.
- Good for: Lunch/Lite Bite/Late Night
- 229 14th Street
- (305) 532-8934
- No Reservation Required
- Price Range: $
This French-owned sandwich shop honestly makes the best sandwiches in the world. They also have great salads and fresh juices. You choose your choice of bread (French or croissant), toppings (yummy choices such as cornichons, green and hot peppers, vinaigrette) and meat (my faves include fresh turkey and prosciutto). My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Beer and Burger Joint
- Good for: Dinner
- 1766 Bay Rd.
- Miami Beach FL 33139
- 305-672-EATS (3287)
- Reservation Recommended
- Price Range: $$
Laid-back and “hip,” you can chow down on grass-fed beef, turkey, and bison burgers…or if you dare, their 10 lb. “mother burger,” (featured on Man Vs. Food). Drink some suds or wine/cocktails whilst listening to some Cure or Henry Rollins. If you’re coming for dinner, your best bet is to go early. You end up waiting even when you have reservations.
Other dining options
If you’re looking to blow a small hole in your wallet, these lavish (and delicious) spots are your best bet. Just tell them to put it on the Underhill account:
Blue Door at the Delano
1685 Collins Avenue
Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau
4441 Collins Avenue
1427 West Ave
112 Ocean Drive
*Note: This list doesn’t include my favorite Joe’s Stone Crab, which, as the name suggests, has awesome stone crabs. That’s because stone crab season doesn’t officially start until Oct. 15. With that said, Oct. 15 is bound to be pretty chaotic there since they normally have a super long wait to begin with. But, if you just can’t resist, I suggest you go EARLY. The restaurant doesn’t start their lunch schedule until October 19, but dinner hours are from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., so get your early bird on!
Joe’s Stone Crab
11 Washington Avenue
(305) 673-0365 (reservations aren’t accepted)
Things to Do
Cruisin’ Down Ocean Drive
15th and Ocean Drive
Sure, you probably won’t have a car, but that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the local past time of “cruisin’ ” the strip. Just use your feet instead.
Start at 15th and Ocean Drive and make your way down and enjoy the Deco architecture and Spanish/techno music that will surely be coming out of the shops and restaurants. Be on the lookout for Versace’s old mansion, located at 1116 Ocean Drive.
If walking those 7 blocks made you thirsty/hungry, stop into local favorite The Pelican at 826 Ocean Drive for a drink and some more people watching. If you want to do some “ironic” drinking, stop into Wet Willies (760 Ocean Drive) or The Clevelander* (1020 Ocean Drive).
*I saw Anthony Michael Hall there once.
Have a drink at The Delano
1685 Collins Ave
No visit to Miami Beach is complete without a visit to the Delano Hotel, especially if you’ve never been there. Grab an overpriced drink in the lobby’s Rose Bar, or sit outside to see the Phillipe Starck chess board and other oversized oddities.
*Bar opens at noon
Other spots to visit…
If you’re in the mood for wandering around, there are two areas worth checking out. The first is Lincoln Road Mall, which is an outdoor (you guessed it) mall with shops, sidewalk cafes, galleries, and bars. If the weather is nice it’s a perfect place to people watch and nosh.
Lincoln Road Mall is located between 16th and 17th street, and runs east/west from Washington Avenue to Alton Rd.
The second is Espanola Way, a tiny little street that has an open-air market on the weekends, and great little tapas places. Try Cafe Barcelona tucked away on the left hand side at the end of the street for great sangria, Spanish beer, and wonderful tapas. Cafe Barcelona is located at 448 Espanola Way.
Espanola Way is located in the area bounded by 14th and 15th Streets and Washington and Jefferson Streets.