Friends and family often live very far apart from each other. These means traveling long distances at great expense when they are invited to a wedding. It is important that the bride and groom let their guests know how much they appreciate their efforts. A wonderful way to make them feel welcome is to place a custom gift bag in each guest’s hotel room.
Imagine dealing with the stress of traveling – crowded airports, overpriced meals, and having to navigate in an unfamiliar city. Then you arrive in your hotel room (at last!) and find that a bag or basket of treats is in your room awaiting you. Wouldn’t you feel grateful to have such thoughtful hosts? Nothing is more fun than surprise gifts.
What to include in the welcome bags is a personal choice, and will be dictated in part by budget (all of those little things can quickly add up). One definite thing to enclose is information on the wedding particulars. A brief timeline, with directions to and from each location will be greatly appreciated by your guests. Do this even if you mailed out a packet earlier, because some of your guests will surely forget to bring your packet. Guests will also be delighted to have some tips on points of interest within walking distance or a short ride from the hotel. Ideas include shopping destinations, restaurants, and scenic attractions.
Snacks are a big favorite in welcome baskets. Little bags of non-perishables are great, as are pieces of fresh fruit like apples. Customize the snacks to the season and the location. For a winter wedding, little packets of gourmet cocoa would be a nice treat. I once attended a wedding in Philadelphia where the welcome bags contained local Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels (I guess the cheesesteaks didn’t fit in the bags!). Be sure to include bottles of water or gourmet sodas to wash it all down.
Sweets are always a hit, so be sure to include plenty of them in your baskets. Custom M&Ms would be really great (they could say, “Welcome!”), as would any kind of chocolate candy. Pretty sugar cookies in glassine bags are a good looking way to take up a lot of space in the goody bags. Choose a motif that either coordinates with your wedding theme or your location (like a cactus shaped cookie for a wedding in Tucson). A good rule of thumb is that is is better to over-stuff a small container than under-fill a large one. It feels more luxurious to receive a basket overflowing with goodies.
From there, you can really include any little items that you think your guests would enjoy. Stamped postcards would be a thoughtful enclosure, along with a little pen. Some couples like to include luxe spa items, like a fancy handcream (especially good for a cold weather wedding). You could be practical and drop in travel sized bottles of sunscreen for an outdoor wedding. Your creativity is the only limit to what your gift baskets can contain.
You may want to further customize the welcome bags for certain guests. Close friends and family would be delighted to find a bottle of wine or Champagne waiting in their room upon arrival. Perhaps you would like to add a small potted plant to your grandmother’s basket to make her hotel suite feel more like home. At my best friend’s wedding, she included more snacks in the bags designed for guests staying in a hotel without a restaurant to ensure that they would have a late night snack available. The more your tailor your goody bags to your guests, the more they will enjoy them.
The last thing to consider is the bags or baskets themselves. Of course a basic bag in silver would work, but it would be more exciting to dress up the package. Decorate the basket or bag by tying pretty ribbons and a fancy nametag to the handle. You could even take it one step further, and coordinate the gift bag with your overall wedding style. For instance, if your taste runs to classic pearl bridal jewelry, glue some pearls to the nametag. Splashier brides could borrow from the look of crystal bridal jewelry and add a few twinkling crystals to the ribbons for a surprise bit of sparkle. Considering those types of special touches will make the welcome baskets even more impressive, and will really set your event apart.