One of the most exciting things about your wedding is that it’s a unique chance for all of your family and friends to be in the one place. They’re there to celebrate a joyous occasion: the start of a wonderful, new, chapter of your life as a married couple. Whether they’re travelling from near or far, one of the best ways to welcome them to your wedding celebration is with a thoughtful welcome bag. But where on earth do you start? If you want to create the ultimate wedding guest welcome bag, we’re here to show you how!
How to create the ultimate wedding guest welcome bag:
What’s your budget?
Decide how much money you can set aside for your guest wedding bag. Is it $3,000 or $500? Be realistic!
Number of bags needed
How many bags are you going to need? If it’s a destination wedding you’ll need one or two per hotel room. I advise accounting for one bag per two guests. If it’s a couple, give them one bag. If it’s a family of four, given them two bags. And solo guests obviously get one bag.
Next, you’ll need to divide your overall budget by the total number of bags you need. This will become your budget per bag. For example, if you have budgeted $1,000 and need 40 bags, your budget per bag is $25. You’ll need to take into account both the contents of the wedding guest welcome bag and the actual cost of the bag. This will really simplify things for you!
Figure out the actual ‘bag’
I’ve seen a whole slew of awesome ‘containers’ for welcome bags. Brides and grooms have given me everything from really nice linen beach bags to paper bags with ribbon tied to the handles. Once, I even got a little box tied with pretty velvet ribbon and a calligraphy card on top with my name on it.
Now it’s time to think about how creative you want to be with the container and what your budget allows. Don’t forget that if you’re ordering something custom or online, you need to allow time for it to created, shipped and delivered. Also work in some cushion time to figure out a re-order just in case something arrives and is inaccurate. Because of this, I recommend ordering anything custom about two months in advance.
Plan the contents of your wedding guest welcome bag
Here are some ideas on what to include in each bag.
One of the most useful tools I’ve seen in welcome bags are area maps and recommendations for where to eat and drink. Also, I love knowing where the bride and groom recommend for sightseeing. Including what you and your fiancé adore in the area is the perfect way to personalize the bag and inform guests why you love the location where you chose to get married.
One of the best wedding guest welcome bags I ever received was on a Disney Cruise Line wedding. The ‘local’ items were Disney-themed crayons and colouring books. Everyone I know is a kid at heart anyway and there were some children under the age of 12 on the wedding cruise that this was particularly perfect for!
Is your town known for a local drink, like Cheerwine in North Carolina? Include a bottle of it. Or Cape Cod chips in Massachusetts? Throw a pack in! Find what’s local and unique to your wedding location and it will give you some ideas.
You’ll want your guests to be on time to your wedding celebration, whether it’s simply one day or a few days of partying and events. If they need to be at your rehearsal dinner or simply your ceremony, remind them of the times and locations in their wedding guest welcome bag. If you can, include the entire timeline, as guests like knowing what to expect. This would include the following key times for the actual wedding day:
- Ceremony start time
- Cocktail hour time
- Reception start and end times
- Send off time if you have a special exit (like a sparkler send off or bubble exit)
Locations can be as simple as ‘Sand Dunes Hall’ if you’re at a resort for a destination wedding. If your guests are travelling to the wedding location from other areas, include the complete address of the ceremony site (number, street name, city and zip code).
Bonus items are a ‘nice to have’ not ‘need to have’. But they sure can either help out your guests or give an extra special touch that wows them! This could be anything from gum, mints bandaids or headache medicine. I loved that the Disney Cruise Line wedding couple included sunscreen in their bags – a MUST for their tropical destination wedding. If you really want to impress them and personalize the bag, include a handwritten note saying hello and that you can’t wait to see them!
Food and drinks
Your guests will surely appreciate some snacks and hydration. Perhaps they’ve traveled far and haven’t eaten in hours or wake up the morning after the big day with a hangover (not fun!). They will value a bottle of water or Gatorade, pretzels or crackers. Don’t forget to include something sugary for those with a sweet tooth. I love gummy bears so I would include those but even a few Hershey kisses would do!
Put your order in
You’ll need to order any print materials ahead of time. This includes making copies of things you’ve created yourself or need to order from your wedding stationery professional. (Tip:If you’re working with a wedding stationery vendor, be sure to give him or her a few months notice that you’d like to create something personalized for the welcome bags to match your stationery suite.) It could even mean ordering free city maps from the local city tourism board office.
There are also plenty of things to buy ahead of time. Plan to go to the supermarket or bulk store about a week before you need to assemble the bags.
Assemble and deliver
You will need to allot time to assemble all of your awesome wedding guest welcome bags. Do this after you’ve gathered all your materials either the week before or the week of your wedding week. You’ll have to store them before you deliver them so ensure you have room for that as well. If you’re getting married at a destination, be sure to allow time for assembly and delivery leading up to guest arrival too.
Invite a few family members or friends (that’s what your bridal party is for) over to your home or hotel room to get things assembled in record time. Create an assembly line. If you’re having a destination wedding, ask your on-site coordinator if they’re able to provide a conference room with enough space for you to assembly everything.
Delegate the delivery of the bags to reliable, trusted friends and family. It will be less overwhelming for any one friend if you have multiple people share the responsibility. For instance, if you have guests staying at two hotels, have two people help. Perhaps you send your mother to deliver 20 bags to the downtown Hilton while your best friend delivers the remaining 15 to the suburban Marriott.
A hotel will usually keep the bags behind the front desk and hand them to guests upon check in if it’s noted they’re part of the wedding room block. Don’t feel like you’re going to have to hand deliver the bags to every couple or family’s room!
And there you have it! We hope we’ve helped you plan your wedding guest welcome bags.
Planning your wedding? Check out:
- Dreaming of a Destination Wedding? Here’s How to Pick the Ultimate Location
- I Got Married but I’m Not Changing My Name. Here’s Why.
- 8 Special Honeymoon Experiences Every Couple Should Have
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What’s one thing you’d definitely include in your wedding guest welcome bag? Let us know!