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A Warm Welcome: Gift Bags for Guests

Nothing says “Thanks for coming” like a bag filled with hometown goodies and helpful items for out-of-town guests.

Whether they came from 10 miles away or a few states, your wedding guests often travel to make it to your big day. Between the wedding prep and festivities, it can be difficult to show them how much you appreciate their journey. What better way to thank them for going that “extra mile” than with a welcome bag full of wedding weekend necessities?

“Nearly all couples we work with are providing welcome bags for their hotel guests,” says Rachelle Mazumdar, director of weddings and events at Style-Architects. “It’s a wonderful way to welcome guests to the Twin Cities and to thank them for making the trip.”

Starting the Party Off Right

Welcome bags can serve as a considerate gift to jet-lagged guests. A safe rule is to factor one bag per hotel room. Often there is a reservation deadline two weeks prior to the wedding date. At that point, the hotel will be able to provide you with an estimate of how many rooms your guests have booked.

When deciding how best to distribute the welcome bags, make sure to contact the hotel for advice. “There is likely a charge for [the hotel] to distribute these to guests, whether to the rooms or handed out at check-in,” says Mazumdar. “Be sure to get [the bags] to the hotel the day before any guests are scheduled to arrive.”

Treats and Necessities

Welcome bags can be tailored to fit your wedding theme and are a nice surprise for guests when they’re checking in. When deciding on what items to include, consider the three Cs: comfort, customized and considerate.

Your guests may have just stepped off a long flight or finished a stressful workweek. What’s more comforting than a tasty snack and drink? Pair a salty snack, such as popcorn, with a sweet treat to satisfy all cravings.

There are also many ways to express your wedding theme with beverages. “It’s always fun to incorporate the branding of the wedding with the welcome bags,” says Mazumdar. “If you have a monogram or motif, create custom water bottle or wine labels.” Minnesota is home to many excellent breweries, so adding a local beverage is a nice taste of home.

Another simple way to customize welcome bags is by providing little favors the guests can keep once the weekend is over. Ideally, they should be small items that won’t be difficult for the guest to tote home. Yumzar, an online farmers market, offers sample-size jars of locally made jam and honey that make the perfect favor. Personal care items are also a practical pick.

Tie It All Together

It’s important to remember that your guests may also be in an unfamiliar city. Include a customized itinerary that provides a ceremony/reception timeline, as well as some of the activities you enjoy in the area that they can explore during their downtime. “We suggest providing guests with a map showing the location of the hotel as well as the location of local coffee houses, shopping, parks and restaurants,” says Mazumdar.

Have a stationery company design paper elements that incorporate your wedding colors and theme. Cute gift tags or customized “do not disturb” door hangers are fun additions to the mix. Most importantly, don’t forget to include a welcome note. With all the hustle and bustle, you may find it impossible to have a lengthy conversation with each one of your guests. Including a thoughtful note adds a personal touch and lets them know how much you appreciate their presence.

1. Reusable totes, like this one, are easy for guests to take home, and serve as a fun reminder of the big day. We favor ones that show off our home-state pride. State Love Tote ($10) from Vital Industries.

2. Hop Dish and Farm Girl are just a few of the creative Minnesota-themed names Lift Bridge Brewery has given their locally brewed beer. Six-pack (bottles, $9.49), available statewide at liquor stores.

3. What says celebration more than champagne? Toss a mini bottle of bubbly in your gift bag so guests can continue the revelry. Chandon Brut Classic ($7), available statewide at liquor stores.

4. Head to your grocery store or farmers’ market to pick up locally made goodies. Or go visit Yumzar, a Minnesota company that brings the farmers’ market to your front door. Bare Honey raw honey ($3.49), Duluth Preserving Co. jams ($4.49), Vine Appétit wine jellies ($2.99).

5. Minnesota’s own B.T. McElrath’s Salty Dog chocolate has won awards for its perfect combination of sweet and salty. Chocolate bar ($6), chocolate bites ($17.50/28-piece pack), available statewide at grocery stores or btmcelrath.com.

6. Amp up your guests’ hotel shower game. This eco-conscious bar of soap does triple-duty, good for a shampoo, shower and shave. Shhh bar (6 oz. bar, $17; 1.5 oz. bar, $5), 3waybeauty.com.

7. Angie’s Boomchickapop Popcorn is a delicious, natural treat made right here in Minnesota—perfect for post-reception snacking. $7.74/six-count snack pack, available statewide at grocery stores or angiespopcorn.com.

8. Offer your guests a quick pick-me-up for the morning after a long night of partying. Caribou Coffee gift card.

9. A welcome note and list of wedding activities will be a nice addition. Work with your stationer to create pieces that match your wedding theme. Bag tag, note card, activity card by Spark Letterpress.


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