Maybe it's the 'wedding planner nerd' in me, but I absolutely love to put together Welcome Bags for guests. This task is normally done towards the end of the planning, when the wedding is just weeks, or days away. Welcome Bags are typically dropped off at the hotels where your guests will be staying. The hotel staff will give the bags to your guests when they check into the hotel.
I get a lot of questions from my clients around Welcome Bags. Putting these together should not cause any stress, and should not cost a lot of money. Throughout this blog I will go over a few simple rules to follow on how to put together the perfect Welcome Bag.
What do I need to include?
There are a few things that you really should include. Once you include these items, then you can get a little creative with other items to add. You need to include important information regarding the day's events. Is there a shuttle picking up guests from the hotel and taking them to the venue? Include that information, especially the times that the shuttle is coming, and how many trips it will be making. You can include a small map with directions from the hotel to the venue-- and don't forget to put the address of the venue and times that things start. Do you have a Day of Coordinator? You can include this persons name and phone number in case guests get lost. You don't want your guests to contact the bride, groom, or immediate family if they are lost. These people will most likely be very busy.
You can include a brochure of things to do or see in the area. Or you can type up some sightseeing ideas on a piece of cardstock. If you have a AAA membership you can stop by a local AAA store and pick up free brochures, or contact the local visitor center.
If you are having a breakfast the next day for guests, include this information as well. If there is a local taxi service, or if you have an Uber or LYFT code for guests, include that information.
And don't forget to include a welcome note from the couple. This adds a nice personal touch. The note can be as simple as "Welcome! Thank you for making the trip and sharing our special day with us."
What else should I include?
This is where you can get really creative. I always suggest including two bottles of water, and Tylenol or something for headaches. Travel size Tylenol will work just fine. Snacks are a great idea too. Try to include local snacks. Example: if you're getting married in Philadelphia include a Philly pretzel or tastycakes. If you're getting married down the shore, you can do a "beach theme" Welcome Bag, or you can include "something salty."
Some other ideas of what to include: breath mints, kleenex, band aids, chap stick, stain remover, sunscreen, sunglasses, a mini bottle of alcohol, a personalized 'do not disturb' sign for the door, an energy bar, a beer koozie. Again, just get travel size items. The dollar store is a great place to look for these items, or the travel section of Target or Walmart.
Does it have to be a bag?
Nope! I have seen Welcome Bags, Welcome Boxes, Welcome Baskets, Welcome Beach Bags, etc. Again, use your creativity! This should be something fun that reflects you as a couple, or goes with the theme of your wedding.
How can I make my Welcome Bags stand out?
Personalization is key! Your Welcome Bags should give guests a 'sneak peak' into your wedding- what the colors are, what the theme is, etc. I always suggest tying the bags or boxes with a cute personalized ribbon, or monogram.
Another cute idea is to name your Welcome Bags. A big trend right now is the "In Sickness and In Health" Bag, loaded with hangover cures like Tylenol, breath mints, and Visine.
The more personalization you can add, the better. I have seen really cute maps and itinerary's added to Welcome Bags. Go to WeddingMapper.com for a free, personalized wedding map. You can print these out on nice card stock and add to your Welcome Bag. Pinterest and Etsy are also great resources to look for inspiration.
Drop off the Welcome Bags at the hotel well before any of your guests will check in. Also, if possible, provide your hotel with a list of guests that are staying at the hotel. Make sure the staff knows to hand the bags to any guests that are attending your wedding. If you can, outsource this task to your Planner or a family member. And remember to have fun!