Wowing with the Welcome Bag
A How-to for Adding a Personal Touch
By Chay D. Baxley // Photo by Lawrence Davidson
It used to be that welcome bags were reserved strictly for destination weddings — a tube of sunscreen, some cheap sunglasses and a sweet note from the bride and groom to get guests feeling festive. Today though, welcome bags have been completely reimagined.
And why not? As the first point of contact with out-of-town guests, these tiny gifts are often seen as gestures of goodwill and an honest-to-goodness “thank you” to loved ones who have traveled from near and far to witness the blessed event.
“It’s very common,” said Briana Hudson, the front desk supervisor at Four Points by Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown, “but at the same time no one really expects it. Being able to watch it all happen, that element of surprise is just really cool.”
As easy as…
Selecting the container for the welcome bag (or box, tote, carton, basket, mug, etc.) is almost as important as what’s placed inside. Before splurging on that gorgeous handwoven basket at the farmers market down the road, remember that the expense won’t stop there — you’ll also have to fill it 50-plus times.
“It goes along a continuum from something real simple to large gift baskets,” said Pam Bauer, an established hotelier and current sales consultant at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Downtown Tallahassee.
Traditional gift bags — possibly printed or stamped with the couples’ monogram — are the most common. Local craft supply stores or online retailers (here’s looking at you, Etsy) may hold different options for brides who are thinking outside the bag.
“Most people do snacks and drinks,” explained Jeri C. Madden, catering and events sales manager and colleague of Bauer’s at the DoubleTree. “I always suggest a pack of gum or mints to go along with it. Just something for them to carry in their pocket.”
Highlighting the couple’s favorite treats, or the local flavor, is always encouraged. In Northwest Florida, that could mean including something as delicious as locally sourced tupelo honey or a coveted “Fear the Spear” T-shirt. Beyond the fun and funky, gifts of a practical nature are always appreciated: Water, trail mix, maps of the area, brochures from the best museums and outdoor activities, and nearby restaurant menus make for great additions.
Simplicity is crucial not only for the creator of the gift’s sanity, but also for the distributor. Try to conceptualize something that will travel well and still look clean and crisp by the time the concierge smilingly hands it to the wedding guests at check-in. Another tip: Don’t get too caught up in personalizing each welcome bag. Uniformity is encouraged so that Aunt Lou from the bride’s camp doesn’t receive a note for Uncle John on the groom’s side.