The Lowdown on Wedding Welcome Bags

Wedding welcome bags are a fun way to greet your guests and thank them for traveling to celebrate your special day! These gifts showcase your personalities, give guests a taste of what’s to come, and can provide helpful items to help guests make the most of their stay. 

To help inspire your own gifting, we sat down with Tracy Stolese, owner of Shelburne Gift Company. Her team specializes in working with couples, wedding planners, and venue managers to create memorable welcome wedding bags. After packing countless gifts, Tracy knows wedding welcome bags like no one else, and is kindly sharing some of her best tips to inspire you!

Read on for her advice, and, if you decide to outsource this gifting task, reach out to Shelburne Gift Company for help.

Who Receives a Wedding Welcome Gift?

The etiquette around who receives a wedding welcome gift can vary: Is it just for out of town guests? Does your wedding party get one? Does each family get one gift or does each individual receive one?

“In terms of who gets a gift, this actually seems to vary widely by couple…we see it in every way you’ve described!” says Tracy.

To start, think about your distribution plan. If the welcome gifts will be given out at the hotel(s), then we’d suggest you plan gifts for any guests staying at the hotel, but not those who are staying in their own accommodations. Sometimes, wedding welcome bags are given out at the venue itself (functioning more like a wedding favor). In this case, we’d suggest planning for gifts for every attendee. 

“As far the wedding party, they are often included in the welcome bag count,” says Tracy. “But that is not a hard-and-fast rule, especially if they’re receiving something different/more extravagant.”

Tracy notes that it’s common for her team to create two versions: a small version for a single attendee or couple, and a larger version with multiples of certain items for families. 

Wedding Favors vs. Welcome Bags – Which is Better?

While both kinds of gifts show your appreciation, your wedding budget may call for you to choose one or the other. 
Wedding favors can be a great option if they add to your reception decor (ex. potted succulents on each table setting). Wedding favors are also great if they’re adding to your reception entertainment, such as live cotton candy spinning or portrait sketching (both of which can be found in our Gift Guide!). If most of your guests are local, and thus not staying in hotels, a favor would be easier to distribute. 
On the other hand, it’s not uncommon for wedding favors to be forgotten at the end of the night, which can lead to waste. “I think a welcome gift upon arrival at the hotel is more likely to be remembered and enjoyed,” says Tracy. Wedding welcome gifts are a great option if you have a lot of out of town guests, or if you have a full weekend of activities and want something that guests can enjoy throughout your festivities. 

Three Elements to Great Wedding Welcome Bags

When creating your welcome bags, we suggest hitting three main categories: food, information and useful items, and personal touches. Including something from each category will create a great gift. 

Snacks & Beverages

Stock up your guests with your favorite snack foods to fuel their fun. A good rule of thumb is to include something sweet, something salty/savory, and something to drink. (Check out our Gift Guide for yummy local options to include!)

Information & Useful Items

Including useful items in your welcome bags can make them feel practical and thoughtful. Consider packing things like an itinerary, transportation details, suggestions for local attractions, bandaids, travel pain relievers, or individual electrolyte packets.

Incorporating Personal Touches

Maybe you’re famous for your chocolate chip cookies, or everyone knows your partner loves a brand of seltzer – include those unique touches!

You can also make this gift personal to your wedding by incorporating your wedding theme. For example, pack a mini sunscreen or novelty sunglasses for a lakeside summer wedding, or hand warmers for your après ski winter ceremony.

Tips to DIY Your Wedding Welcome Bags

Tackling your own wedding welcome bags is a big project. Tracy is kindly sharing her tips below to make the process easier, but don’t forget that her team is able to handle this for you if you decide to outsource the task!

Order Your Supplies Early: Give yourself plenty of time when ordering items for your welcome gifts. This is even more important if you are including custom items.

Double Check Your Orders: Open your boxes and count your items as soon as you receive them. Sometimes shipments come up short or include damaged items. 

Ask friends to pitch in: If you’ll have a significant number of gifts, save time and energy by making space for “assembly line” table, and call in your friends and family to help.

Plan Your Transportation:We know from experience just how many bags and boxes of varying sizes fit in the back of vehicle – and it can be a surprise when it’s fewer than you had planned!” laughs Tracy. So, be sure you have plenty of room to transport all of your gifts. (Or enlist those friends with extra vehicle space.) It’s also helpful to have clean blankets to keep things pristine during delivery.

Plan for Distribution: Would you like them to be waiting at the reception area for the guests to pick up on arrival? Or perhaps you’d like them to be delivered to their rooms individually? “A lot of the time, we’ll deliver the gifts to the hotel(s), and then the hotel will either deliver them in advance to the guests’ rooms or hand them out to the guests upon arrival,” says Tracy. “And, it’s worth noting that sometimes hotels will charge fees to deliver to rooms.” Think through how you want guests to get their gifts so you can work with your team to plan accordingly. 

Start Crafting Your Own Wedding Welcome Bags 

Now that you’ve seen how to create your own wedding welcome bags, you may be feeling inspired to DIY – or excited to connect with Shelburne Gift Company to manage this gifting task for you! Either way, find ideas for amazing Vermont products to include in our Gift Guide.