One of the questions I get most often from my clients, after the deposits are put down and rooms are booked, is about what they should do to make their guests feel welcomed and appreciated. I almost always respond with, “ The welcome bag, of course!”
What is a Wedding Welcome Bag?
I say the welcome bag is a perfect replacement for traditional wedding favors. However, most brides still put favors in their bag. Destination welcome bags are a great way to personalize your wedding and show your guests how much you appreciate them for flying across the country, getting those first-time passports, and going out of their way to be there for your special day. If you really want to up the anty here are a few other ways to wow your guests.
So now that you know what it is, you’re probably wondering how you should go about putting the right items together. Should you go with a theme? Will your friends and family just end up tossing everything before they catch their plane back home?…. Hold it right there! We will answer all of those questions and more in this post.
Where to Start?
The Welcome Bag starts with the bag, of course. Do you want a nice trendy beach tote or sturdy bag that can double as something to carry groceries in after the wedding? It’s all about the bag. You can do the small tote, or go for a beach bag or even a brown paper bag with a monogram stamp.
I suggest giving your guests something they can reuse. Beach bags are very popular and can also be used while they are on their trip. But, at the end of the day, it’s your wedding, get creative!
Now What Goes Inside?
We know how guests will receive all of their goodies, now let’s talk about what goes inside. Depending on your location, it’s cute to do a theme. I have seen several great themes in different welcome bags: Beach, City, Mountain, Vineyard, Garden etc.… whatever you choose just make sure the items you choose go with that theme. However, try to match the theme to your destination as best you can — you probably don’t want a beach bag in Paris.
There are several great ideas for what can go in the bag:
Flip flops - great for hitting the dance floor after the ceremony
Mini liquor bottles - we did this for ours, tequila came in handy.
Tip: Think Rum for Jamaica and Don Q for Puerto Rico. Buy these when you get to your destination to avoid any immigration + traveling issues.
Cigars - this one is for my fellas, they also double as great groomsmen gifts, lots of times you can even hire a cigar roller for an added touch.
Candy + Snacks - Go local! Plantain chips at your destination? Special chocolate? You can’t go wrong sourcing treats from your destination spot.
For example: In Jamaica, you could do Blue Mountain Coffee or Appleton Rum. Remember, you want to give them a little piece of the culture and destination flair. We say go salty + sweet, aka chips and candy! Top it off with something refreshing like coconut water.
Practical items - lip balm, sunscreen, first aid kit, and in my case, a hangover kit.
Bonus: Add something that you and your fiancé love that you would like to share and explain to guests in a cute little note attached to the item.
Another quick tip: Buy items when you get there. Don’t worry about the hassle of shipping, or worry about relying on that bridesmaid who accidentally forgot to bring something or groomsmen that broke something on the way over. Get to your wedding early, and take the first couple of days to go shopping. There are a lot of cute little boutiques, markets, and shops that will have items you can use.
Now that you have some ideas on what to add, create a Pinterest board. See ours here.
This leaves me with the important and sentimental stuff like the welcome letter. What is the welcome letter? Check out our post here.
Add your special welcome letter and/or note and make sure to put a main point of contact. You do not want anyone contacting you about an issue on your special day. Make sure to include the schedule for the week.
Some Little Details + Logistics of the Bags
Now that we know the “what” about the welcome bag, let’s talk about the “HOW.”
Questions to consider:
How many bags will you need? Will there be a bag per room, per couple or per family? Sometimes it’s better to combine individuals. We did: one per couple, roommates got individual bags and if your wedding is family-friendly meaning you are going to allow children, then I suggest, one bag per family with some kid-friendly items inside. Maybe even a cake pop from the resort’s wedding team which can be delivered to the room!
Will you have items specifically for the bridal party?
Should items be age appropriate? My gran gran might want a bottle of tequila, but does yours? My fiancé’s parents don’t drink, so we had to be mindful of this as well as dietary restrictions and allergies, especially with kids.
Budget - How much will you spend per bag? Obviously, these can get expensive. Set a limit up front and do not go over!
Tip: Work with an agent and/or planner to reach out to destination’s tourist boards and CVB centers for free items such as maps, coupons and guides.
How Will You Deliver Bags? Will you entrust a bridal party member, deliver upon check-in or have the resort put in the room? Nowadays, most resorts can deliver them to your guest upon check-in and even go a step further to put them in their room at turn down for an additional fee. I think ours was $4-5 per room. We did this for our wedding and didn’t even think twice — we didn’t have to deal with who gets what where etc.… it was a lot easier.
Who will put the bags together, and when? Do you and your bae put them together before guests arrive? Do you have bridesmaids work on it for you? What about your planner or onsite team? I say you and bae complete this task the same day you go shopping! Take that right off your list and grab a cocktail before everyone arrives.
Some Quick Wedding Bag No No’s
Nothing too heavy
Nothing too bulky
Nothing that would be hard for people to carry home
Keep it simple, and don’t try to overdo it
Lavish doesn’t always mean better