Baby, it’s COLD outside!  And now you’re putting the finishing touches on your Fabulous Winter Wedding plans.  Everything’s just about set so let’s polish it up a bit – let’s take a look at that Wedding Welcome Bag for your Out of Town Wedding Guests!

We’ve already established in previous posts that there are certain “must have” basics for your wedding welcome bag contents:

  • A cute bag or basket
  • A liquid or two
  • Some snacks
  • A schedule of events with directions
  • A cute and clever little keepsake favor

Even given the economics of the times, we certainly want to give our wedding guests a very warm “thank you” for taking the time (and the expense) of traveling from their homes to participate in your very special day.  But how do we do this without breaking the bank?

Ahh, you’ve come to the right place.  Here’s the secret:

think

It’s not about the “stuff” you stuff in the “welcome vessel”, it’s about the caring and considerate thoughts that go into it!  (I’m going to use “vessel” here – because it doesn’t matter if it’s a bag, a box, or a basket)

 

 Let’s walk through this together…

Pretend you’re a fictitious guest from out of town who has accepted your gracious invitation to travel 75 miles from home and spend two nights in a local hotel, just to witness you and your beloved take those magical vows of commitment.  Hmm…let’s give your guest a name.  How about Alex?  Alex could be a girl (Alexandra) or a guy (Alexander), who’s a good friend from college that’s kept in touch with you both over the years and who’s excited about your decision to tie the knot!  Alex has never been to your wedding location (be it a cosy hometown or a delightful destination venue).  He/she doesn’t really know many of the other invitees all that well, but thinks enough of ya’ll to be Up Front and Center when the I Do’s are said.

If you were Alex, what would make you feel kinda special when you walk up to that Hotel Desk Clerk to check into your room?  (No matter how pricey the hotel, those lobbies can be kinda cold and un-inviting.)  And Alex is probably going to be a bit tired and hungry from the trip.  Plus, it’s a Winter Wedding, so it’s cold outside!

There’s your challenge!  Now let’s get our thought-wheels a-turnin!

First the Cute Bag (or Basket, or Bucket – you decide)

  • Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Dollar Section of Target.  I’m telling you – visit these places and you’re going to find the perfect something to use as your Welcome Welcome Vessel!  Nope, they all don’t have to match – you can do 5 baskets and 10 bags, if that’s what you find.  Just find something the right size and the right price, and you’re on your way!  But buy your “vessel” first, then your contents.

A Liquid or Two

  • This one’s pretty important, as everyone’s thirsty after a bit of travel.  I’m a HUGE advocate of the Water option.  Everyone drinks water and, of course, the more water you drink – the healthier you become!  Home Depot sells Crystal Springs Water in the 24 pac for about $4.00.  Yep, $4.00!  Buy some – and spread the joy!  Even if you put two bottles in each “vessel”, you’ve just spent less than $1.00 per bag!  Wahoo – are you finding the pace here yet?

Some Snacks

I guarantee you that at some point during the wedding festivities, Alex is going to need some breath mints.  There are a million fifty options on the table here…

  • Go to Sam’s, BJ’s, Costco, or any other warehouse store in your area.  If you don’t have a “membership”, many of those stores are willing to give you a “guest” membership, good for one visit, at no cost (sort of a lure to drag you into the whole warehouse-mass purchase-mindset).  Whatever you do – don’t buy a membership just for this one purpose.  If no guest memberships are available (or if you’ve already cleverly used up your one visit for another purpose), find somebody who has a membership and get them to purchase your mints in bulk for you! 

I did a bit of homework for you.  Sam’s Club offers 24 count Breath Savers packs for $9.84 each.  That’s .41 per pack.  Gum’s even cheaper (although you may not want to have a bunch of guests standing around smacking gum during your festivities, so give that some thought first). 

  • If you’re in the mood to “up the ante” a bit, these are awful cute and terribly clever (click the pic for more info)…

 Let’s do the math so far ….

  • Cute bag/basket – $1.00 + 2 bottles Crystal Springs water from Home Depot – $0.90 + Breath Mints – $0.41 equals $2.31!  We can so handle that!

Moving along to more snacks, since breath mints don’t always take away the hunger…

  • It’s winter and do you know what that means?  It’s Citrus Season!  And with Citrus Season, you get Clementinas!  Or some places call them Clementines, whatever.  They used to be a Spanish speciality, but the farmer folks in Florida and California have jumped on the bandwagon so now they’re cheaper and more readily available and they are CHOCK FULL OF VITAMIN C, REQUIRE NO SPECIAL UTENSILS TO PEEL, AND THEY’RE VERY SWEET AND TASTY!  Buy a box of Clementinas and drop one in each bag (two for couples, of course) – cost?  Right now Sam’s is offering a 5 lb crate for $6.88. Assuming that your average Clementina weighs less than a quarter of a pound, that’s 20 pieces (but probably more).  Average cost per tasty and healthy snack?  $0.35 each. 
  • Let’s throw in a couple of snack bars just to polish off the mix.  Be careful what you choose – some folks have allergic reaction to nuts.  You can purchase bars at the warehouse places or, if you have some handy bridesmaids, aunts, or other assorted helpful cooks nearby – I suggest you get the Rice Krispie Treat-a-thon going here.  This is where the “Thoughts” go into the bag. 

Listen up – don’t buy the pre-made ones at the grocery.  Just don’t.  Follow the recipe, use a cute cookie cutter that follows your wedding theme – like a wedding bell, or a heart or check out this site – they have a ton of cookie cutter options.  Wrap in celophane and tie with a bit of ribbon that matches your wedding theme color.  Your guest will just be floored that you took the time to make them a treat!    Also, you’re Aunt or your Mama’s next door neighbor will probably do them for you for free – leaving you with the cost of ribbon and plastic wrap.  Average cost per treat?  About $0.10 each. 

So now we have the “vessel”, liquids, breath mints, healthy snack, home-made treat, – we need to deal with the Wedding Schedule and List of Directions.  Here’s where we really need to put our thinking caps on!

You need to be Alex again for a minute.  What will you want to know when you get to your hotel?  Hmm…where do I need to be at what times? What can I do during my down times when there are no wedding events planned?  Where is the closest drug store (gonna need that aspiring after the party, ya know)?  My throat hurts, is there a doc in a box nearby?  I’m starving for a steak!  Where’s the best restaurant?  Do I walk about the area here or would it be better to call a taxi, and by the way – how to you call a taxi around here?  I need panty hose, I forgot my socks, who do I call if I need to know something?

Alex is a mess, no?

First The Wedding Schedule 

Make it thorough.  Make it small.  Make it handy to carry around and make it hard to lose.  Oh – make it yourself!  Much cheaper!  Here’s what you include:

For out-of-town guests who are members of the wedding party…

  • Rehearsal information – location address, time, directions, telephone number at venue (in case anybody gets lost)
  • After rehearsal party – time, location address, directions, telephone number at the venue (in case anyone gets lost)
  • Wedding Day – list the location information again and the time everyone needs to be there (people forget stuff in foreign locations)
  • Wedding Reception Venue – location address, telephone number at venue, and it’s always nice to give them a hint on the food involved – heavy hors douvres?  Seated meal?  Just cake and punch?
  • After party information

For those just attending just The Wedding Part:

  • After rehearsal dinner information (if they’re included)
  • After rehearsal dinner after party (if there is one)
  • Wedding venue – location, time of ceremony, transportation issues, a telephone number
  • Wedding reception – location (if different), food offerings (just cake, heavy hors douvres, seated meal)

Type it up on your own computer, or if your maid of honor is as helpful as she is expected to be – get her to do it.  Try to condense it into a half page or a thin, single column unit.  Use a heavier stock paper (to jazz things up a bit), cut it out and paste it onto a colored stock that matches your wedding theme, then take it to your local office supply or printer and Have It Laminated!  It makes a great keepsake, and if you’re really clever, punch a hole in the corner and add a key holder so they can attach it to their keys, their purse – whatever.  Seriously – this is helpful and appreciated!  Don’t want to use an attachment?  Then tie a little ribbon into the hole, or a tassel from the dollar store in your wedding colors – anything to make this more noticeable and non-lose-able!

Extraneous Information

You don’t have to laminate this one, but you do need to do some courteous thinking about it – and cute is always preferred of course!

Turn yourself into Alex’s Food Critic for a bit.  Give Alex three options, three reviews, in each of three categories and make it as personal as possible!

The “Where To Eat” Review

3 categories – Expensive and Fancy, Medium and Casual, Fast Food

Include Restaurant name, location and contact information, carryout?  Delivery?  Taxi or walk?  Make a suggestion at each restaurant, or a comment about the cuisine as a whole.  Best for breakfast?  Lunch?  Dinner?  Reservations suggested?  Add a bit about the ambiance.  The more you can tell Alex, the more comfortable and welcome Alex will feel.  And if you’re really crafty, stop by a few of the restaurants, tell them you are going to suggest them to your wedding party, and ask if they have any discount coupons!  Free content for your bags, and a welcome savings for your guest!  Good lord, even Chick Fil A offers free ice cream for dine in guests!  Just ask!

The Other Essential information:

  • Local zoo?  Cost to get in, location directions, operating hours, discount coupon?
  • Local museum?  Same as above.
  • Local movie theater?  Same as above.
  • Ice skating rink?  Closest Starbucks?  You get the idea. 
  • Nearest drug store.
  • Nearest doc in a box.

Here’s a good idea – appoint a wedding party member to be the telephone contact for all questions from out of town guests.  Provide their telephone information in your welcome packet.

Once you’re done – either insert the information into a colorful envelope in your wedding color, and embellish Alex’s name on it with a gold or silver paint pen.  Or just roll the thing up scroll style and tie with a ribbon in your wedding color.  Investment?  Probably a nickle’s worth of ribbon and paper so we’re not even going to bother.  But your time and considerate thought?  Priceless!

Last but not least (are you still with me here?) –

The Keepsake Wedding Favor – low cost, very cute, very memorable, and a precious remembrance of your special day for years and years to come.

Three options (I love Threes, don’t you?) –

1.  It’s a Winter Wedding – so put your engagement photo (the one with both of you, btw) into this cute little snowflake ornament (or frame, since it also has a thoughtful easel stand on the back as well).  Cost?  Copy/print out your own pic from your computer or scanner for pennies per photo (for mathmatics sake, we’ll call it $0.10 each).  Ornament?  As low as $1.75 each, depending on how many you purchase. 

 Check them out here … http://www.kateaspen.com/Products/aspenProductDetail.aspx?productId=10ec1e3b-5ab2-4807-b761-4f22d359a546&categoryId=f0c43f6e-8296-4b72-95ea-cfebb248d348

2.  Cute, keepsake, memorable and practical!  Coasters!  Insert your photo in the top one – and they’re already wrapped, with a thank you tag – or a customized one if you want to spend the extra quarter per gift.  Cost?  Without the customized tag, as low as $1.75 per pair, depending on how many you buy. 

 

 Check them out here … http://www.kateaspen.com/Products/aspenCatagoryProduct.aspx?searchString=coasters

3.  Seriously – Alex is traveling already, so don’t be surprised if he/she doesn’t pop this one out of the cute little giftwrapped box and hook it straight onto the luggage right there in the hotel room!  Cost?  As low as $2.92 each, depending on how many you buy! 

Check it out here … http://www.kateaspen.com/Products/aspenProductDetail.aspx?productId=22e4b95b-739e-488f-b717-aacec1673adb&categoryId

Now – the easy part is the assembly.  Buy a bag of shred (varying prices, available everywhere, average shred price per bag/basket – around $0.50) in your wedding colors.  Use that to nestle the liquids, snacks, instructions and gifts into your bag or basket.  Add some ribbon and make a little tag with their name, either write it on the bag in paint pen topped off with a big ole happy “Welcome” – and leave it at the desk for check-in.

For my big Tah-Dah finish, let’s do the math …

Bag/basket:  $1.00 + suggested liquids:  $0.90 + suggested snacks:  $2.00 + directions, instructions, envelopes, paint pens and shred:  $1.25 per vessel + most expensive favor suggestion from the above list:  $3.00.

Grand total per guest – drumroll please – $8 bucks per!  How’s that for thrifty?

Celebrating toughtful wedding welcome bags for cheap today!

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

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