The Best Wedding Welcome Bags For Your Out-of-Town Guests
Everything you need to include in your wedding welcome bag to make your guests feel extra special.
Groomsman Gear - June 18, 2020
There's no better way to welcome your wedding guests and get them excited for the weekend ahead than with a thoughtfully curated wedding welcome bag. These gifts are a fun way to set the stage for festivities, give your guests a taste of local flavor, or even ease a rough morning post-wedding. They're also an incredibly thoughtful way to say "thanks" to your friends and family for taking time out of their busy lives and participating in your special weekend. Can you possibly think of another gift that checks so many boxes?
With so many options out there for wedding welcome bags though, it's helpful to know where you should start. Below you'll find expert tips on what to consider when creating your own welcome bags as well as a few creative ideas to get the inspiration flowing.
Step 1: Start with a Bag (Or Box, Or Basket...Or Whatever You Like)
Despite being commonly referred to as a welcome bag, there's no rule saying that this welcome gift has to actually be a bag. Here are some of our favorite options to consider, with both their pros and cons:
Crates + Baskets
Planning a chic, rustic wedding? Wooden crates can bring that same rustic vibe to the weekend, creating a cohesive theme to your wedding. They make anything you put inside of it look instantly elevated, even if arranging gift contents isn't exactly your forte.
Wooden baskets can also be a great option for a variety of wedding themes, while metal baskets are perfectly on par with a vintage-inspired wedding.
While these options make your welcome gift feel more curated and high end, you can expect to pay a lot more if opting for these. It's more expensive, so if you want to go all out with your wedding welcome gifts, this option is probably best for small weddings, or if you only have a few guests staying at the hotel.
Platters and Trays
If you're not sold on the baskets but aren't feeling the idea of bags either, consider using a platter or a tray as an excellent in-between option. You can mix and match these, and you can likely score some cool vintage ones at second-hand stores. Coordinate with the hotel to set these up in your guests' rooms ahead of time, and use it as a special place to hold bottles of bubbly and glasses, as well as a few snacks to welcome your guests.
Keep in mind that the platters or trays don't have to be huge—just big enough to fit the contents. Once the bottles are emptied, guests can easily slide the platter into their luggage as keepsakes without taking up too much room in their bag.
Go green and opt for canvas totes that your guests can use again and again. And it's your day, after all, so why not personalize them with your initials, wedding date or location? Etsy has plenty of options to play around with at super affordable prices.
The paper bag option is the easiest and most economical choice if you are expecting lots of out-of-town guests. If you choose to go this route, most couples purchase bags in their wedding colors to keep a clean and cohesive theme throughout the weekend.
If you can't find bags in your wedding color, classic brown paper handled bags work perfectly, and can always be embellished with a simple ribbon that fits your wedding colors. One of the perks of these, too, is that the guests can recycle them on their way out without having to find space in their luggage.
Step 2: Decide On the Welcome Bag Theme
Once you've decided on the container, now it's time to add the contents. Here are 4 of our favorite ideas to help get those creative juices flowing.
The “Just The Basics” Wedding Welcome Bag
It's totally possible to create a welcome gift that is both welcoming for your guests and super simple (i.e., less stress) for you. A great option for making welcome gifts as stress-free as possible is to pick paper bags in your wedding color theme and just stick to the essentials.
When it comes to those essentials, it's nice to include a handwritten card welcoming your guest, a few bottles of water, and a beautiful sheet of cardstock with pertinent addresses, time frames, and perhaps even a contact number if anything comes up. For the contact number, ask one of the most reliable groomsmen or bridesmaids if they wouldn't mind being the point of contact for guests during the weekend, so you don’t have to field last-minute questions yourself.
It's also nice to pop in a few snacks for your guests, as many will likely be arriving at different times and might miss lunch or dinner times. If you anticipate a crazy party weekend, a travel pack of headache relief goes a long way when paired with those bottles of water, too.
The “Get the Party Started” Wedding Welcome Bag
It’s time to pop some bottles, you're getting married after all! Give your guests something worth sipping, like mini bottles of champagne or your favorite wine.
If you want to get really fancy, you can also play bartender and gather all the ingredients for your guests to make traditional drinks like gin and tonics. Lay them out on the vintage platter or tray, with a couple of glasses from the hotel room. If you want to do something a little extra for your groomsmen and bridesmaids, you can consider including rocks glasses with etched monograms.
The “Taste of Local Flavor” Wedding Welcome Bag
Get their taste buds singing by creating a wedding welcome bag for your guests that include local delicacies unique to your wedding location.
For example, if you're getting married in California, consider including Californian wines or olive oils. Georgia peaches or Florida oranges are delicious options, too, as are Cape Cod potato chips in Massachusetts.
No matter where you're getting married, there's bound to be a local favorite of something that you can add to your welcome bags. If you're tying the knot in a total foodie hotspot, another kind gesture is to create a map for your guests highlighting your favorite local food spots—especially if guests will be in town all weekend with some downtime available.
The “Helpful Hangover” Wedding Welcome Bag
Eating, drinking, and being merry is what weddings are all about—which is fine and dandy until morning rolls around and those hangovers set in. Ease the hangover by creating a wedding welcome gift that is packed full of the hangover cures.
Bottles of water, packets of Advil, eye drops, earplugs, Tums, eye masks, gum, and makeup remover cloths are just a few of the many things your guests are likely to appreciate when they've imbibed in one delicious cocktail too many.
The best part about hangover wedding bags is that the majority of the contents can be bought in bulk, which makes this option both smart and affordable. Ca-ching.
Step 3: The Drop Off
Once you've got your welcome bags sorted, it's time for the drop-off. Most hotels will accept the gifts a day or two in advance of the wedding, but you should call ahead and let them know of your plans.
As you and your fiancé likely already have a lot on your plate leading up to the wedding, this is a great task to delegate to a trusty groomsman or bridesmaid—that's what they're there for after all! Just be sure to relay any special instructions when handing them off.
A Few More Helpful Points to Keep in Mind
No matter which option you choose, including a handwritten note will make the welcome gift all the more special.
If you're planning a destination wedding, especially one that involves travel abroad, a well thought out gift will go a long way in welcoming your guest and letting them know that you appreciate their time and effort for making the journey.
Take into consideration how the majority of your guests will be getting to your wedding. Close enough that they can drive? Any welcome gift will do. Are the majority of your guests flying in? A wooden crate probably won't work well in this case. Keep in mind bottle sizes for liquids (champagne, liquor, olive oils) if your guests are flying home.
At last but not least—when in doubt, go back to basics. Simple is sometimes best, and it's so easy to get carried away with welcome bags. Remember, you've got A LOT to plan already, so don't beat yourself up if you don't feel like going all out. Guests will appreciate even the smallest of gestures—it's really the thought that counts, after all.
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