Most people would die to have their approaching nuptials in some faraway place graced with beauty and romance. Many brides choose island locales, mesmerized by the possibility of wedding photographs with stunning ocean views as backdrops. Others opt for more stately opulence in European cities such as Florence, Italy, and Paris, France. If you are lucky enough to have a destination wedding, or even if you are having a local wedding but inviting guests who may be traveling quite a distance and may not be familiar with your area, then you will want to be sure to make these out-of-town guests feel at home with wedding gift bags.
These special goody bags should be awaiting them at their hotel or wherever they choose to stay while in town for the event. The big question is, what should you put in these bags of goodness? Do not think of them as afterthoughts, for starters. The bags should have items that are both useful, like the time of the wedding and directions to the wedding and reception venues, as well as items that are not necessarily useful but simply great gifts, like a terrific bottle of wine.
Practical Bag Stuffers
Forget filling up guests’ bags with basics like a bottle of water, painkiller and some potato chips, which they can simply get from the hotel. Think more deeply about what they will really need based on the locale and geography of the destination, and buy accordingly. If you have an outdoor wedding planned, then arrange for maps to be put in the bags so that it is easy for them to find the exact location in the park or elsewhere where the wedding or reception is being held. If you are having a wedding out of town in, say, Boston, then you want to fill up the bag with practical items like maps to local attractions, such as Fenway Park and Faneuil Hall Marketplace. You will want to also include information about the best ways to get around town, even.
If your wedding is being held overseas, such as in London, England, then there is even a greater need for maps and information that would make their stay comfortable. A guest might be really grateful for a little note that has the address of the nearest McDonald’s (just in case). Foreign destinations where English is not spoken will necessitate helpful translation guides. You do not have to be quite so serious about it all, though. Find translation guides that show humor, to make picking up a few phrases enjoyable rather than a chore.
If your guests are going to have to deal with a hot climate, avoid including anything that would melt, like packaged chocolate, in the bags, advises Susan Southerland, founder of Just Marry, a wedding planning service. What guests would really appreciate having in such a hot destination are a pair of cool sunglasses and a good bottle of sunscreen.
Always welcome your guests with a note, either handwritten or typed. It is a nice touch. When guests have been traveling for some time and finally get to their room, think of how nice it would be for them to see a note from someone familiar.
Fun Bag Stuffers
Another suggestion is to buy something that might not be a bag stuffer, per se, because it is the bag itself. Rather than picking a generic bag to put your goodies in, arrange to have personalized wedding welcome bags for hotel guests. You can put the wedding date and include any special message on the bag itself, which would make it a thoughtful keepsake. You could also simply leave off your personal information altogether and just give the guests a fabulous bag, like a great jute bag; that would enable them to use the bag again since it does not have your personal information embroidered on it.
Also, think in terms of buying fun bag stuffers that represent the locale you will be in. A Napa Valley, California, wedding would seem incomplete without gift bags with at least one bottle of California wine. Is your wedding destination a place that is known for certain fruits? Then why not buy a bottle of jam with that fruit as the star? Vermont is known for its maple, so how fitting it would be to have some locally sourced maple syrup (bonus points for including a box of gourmet pancake mix like lemon meyer) in the wedding gift bag.
It is important that out-of-town wedding guests be thoroughly accommodated to show your appreciation for them taking the time out from their busy schedules to attend your wedding. One of the best ways to show your gratitude is with gift bags that have helpful information, like maps, so that they never feel uncomfortable and can really enjoy the festivities.