Updated: Jul 23
Whether you're having a destination wedding or local, there's nothing like guests getting a little something upon arrival. A welcome bag needs a few key things for practicality and a little fun take-home to remember the weekend by. Obviously we are going to give you a few examples of the choices we made and why but before we share with you what we did, let's check out the anatomy of this "Welcome Bag" and the key things we recommend for your guests. To see the whole production of our New Orleans Wedding Destination CLICK HERE.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WILL NEED TO EXECUTE THESE BAGS:
Is an organized list of where they will be staying. Did you know on your wedding website, you can create a question prompt for anyone who RSVP's yes? Instead of asking "What song you want to hear" , ask them "Where will they be staying?", that is something I wish I had done instead of having to reach out to almost everyone asking where they would be, lol.
*There will also be a check list & brainstorming planner printable to download or pin for later.
1|Itinerary| So you've sent out invitations and have the list of events for your guest via the website, but still there is nothing like having it right there in paper when they arrive. How many people travel with the wedding suite? How many guests are savvy with the digital form. I may be 31 but I still love my pen to paper everything. The itinerary is not only a way to drill in the time an place of everything for yours guests, but it's also a chance to leave a little "So happy you are here.." excitement filled message and my personal favorite, lists of some gems to see in the city. I treated our wedding website like a blog post in the additional things to do section they offer, now I just reiterated it on the paper goods for the welcome. I promise it's a nice touch and great way to pump up your guests. There are a few ways to go about this. You can find templates on Canva, Word, PicMonkey, Etsy etc. I actually used a wedding menu template that I was able to copy the font off the original invitations and had them printed and folded at Kinkos.
2| Toiletries| Think of these items as quick fix/ practical toiletries. My favorite is Sylv's title the " Oh Sh*t Kit", she says that in the bridal highlight. In ours we packed in Advil, Tylenol, Alka-Seltzer, gum, mints, chapstick, bottled waters, tissues. Basically anything to cover a potential hang over. If you have a few events planned for your guest, pack doubles of everything. Some people add toothpaste , floss etc. but that can become costly so buy what you think you'd want to aid your guests in. Look to buy your items at places like Costco, Bj's and The Dollar Store!
3|Something Local to Eat| This is the fun stuff, where can you get create and give your guests a little local bite of something. I like to think of this as " Oh man I've been getting ready all morning and need sugar" type of bite. Or maybe your in a place that a savory smoked something is better? I don't know, I just think of what do guests want to possibly try that's a staple and can be packed easily if they wish to take it home or devour it after coming back from a night of dancing?
4|Take Home Trinket| Every basket has an opportunity to highlight the couple, the place or a specific theme to the wedding. People like to adorn candles, soaps and more with the couples dates or initials. Maybe everything is a specific color. For us we just wanted our guests to fall in love with New Orleans and understand a little why this place to us is so special. If you've followed me long enough, then you know that anything metaphysical is my thing. So there were a few nods to the known Voodoo Priestess , mini bottles of Sazerac Rye and so on... we'll show you more below.
5| The Bells & whistles of the "Bag" | This is a labor of love. You want to get all the bags/baskets/vessels -whatever you may be using- ahead of time. You want to get labels created of your guests names, any personalizing of sorts. I switched out the original bottled water labels and created one of my own designs for specific look and theme on Canva (PicMonkey works great too) then searched online and found MakeStickers.com and had my stickers printed and shipped fast! Some people use baskets, some people use gift bags. I wanted this vintage rustic vibe and have always loved muslin/canvas bags so I went on Amazon and boom found all the large and small bags (for our toiletries & smudge sticks) for all our goodies. I went ahead and made a section just for all the items we used on our Amazon Favs for easy access incase any of you wanted to create the same rustic feel. Click HERE. We personalized our but using fabric spray paint and stencils. If I had sponged or painted them on, it would have taken forever! My mom was a great help btw.
LET'S SHOW YOU WHAT WAS INSIDE OUR NOLA THEMED WELCOME BAGS
ITINERARY | We chose a tri-fold look as there is a welcome message and a closing message for our guests, but of course all the details and recommendations inside.
WATER & TOILETRIES | Sure the probably already have water in their rooms but we thought it would be fun and quick access to pair with their toiletries bag. We titled it L'eau de Laveau , she's a famous Voodoo Priestess and NoLa is known for not just their drinks but the spiritual rituals that have been engraved in the city's history. We also added " Pair this with your "REVERSE HEX" pouch and you will be as good as new." You can say that these details may not be needed but for my mother, sister, and Sari (wedding planner) it means a whole lot to us. You can see what's inside the Reverse Hex pouch below.
LOCAL BITES & DRINKS | There is nothing like having a signature Praline for a quick pick me up or to satisfy your sweet craving. It's pronounced Prah- Leens. We absolutely love Leah's Pralines of all the spots we've taste-tested, lol. Each praline was adorned with a label featuring the St.Louis Cathedral, where we got married. They were packaged and labeled by the company, so it was a quick and hassle free pickup. Did you know that The Sazerac is an original spirit of New Orleans? Did you also know that there are no mini liquor bottles in it's existence? Yeah... technically we did something illegal.. GASP... but I promise we did it responsibly and were left with the most adorable liquor bottles. I got these great mini bottles on Amazon, in our amazon favorites and you can creat your own concotion there. I then created the "Sazerac Rye" labels and continued the cohesion with the water labels.
TAKE HOME TRINKETS | I continued on with local themes by sharing some of our favorite items to buy in the area. First image is of Hove', this is a woman owned business and is currently on it's way to be taken over by the fourth generation of the women of Hove'. You can learn more about Hove' in our Travel Guide Post on New Orleans HERE. They knew how much I love the Fleur Dis Lis and they had the most perfect soap mold and used my favorite scent, Heliotrope. Please stop by there and smell the original scents since 1931! The next local take-home gift were the candles created by Amy's Country Candles. Their scent of gardenia is strong but elegant. My mother has been buying from her for the last 20 years and my sister and I have now taken that tradition to out homes. Last item for take home, are the white rose petaled wrapped sage sticks (the bridal version from our witchy party version we gave out) . Like we spoke about the magic that lives within the streets to the swamps, I figured I take a moment to wrap these with love, all 180 of them. I make these already for a gifting service I offer in my company and a few of my friends had commented on them so I thought it would be a nice touch! You too can find these in our shop section. The best text I received was when one of my dear friends moved into her new home and smudge the entire space! The last item that they could choose to bring with them were the beads. Everyone got some to wear or toss on Halloween night if they wanted to bring flair. The only other take home not pictured were our handkerchiefs for the Second Line parade. They are featured in our Invitations and Paper Goods post because our guest picked them up at the church. It was the best way to prevent anyone forgetting to bring them to the Second Line.
BELLS & WHISTLES | The canvas bags, the mini burlap bags, the designs of the labels, the stenciling of the the Fleur Des Lis, all of the little extra details you can find in our Amazon Favs CLICK HERE and the labels I created you can find our downloadable in our SHOP page. Remember that these materials and process take time so start as early as you decide. Obviously you will really get an idea of amount by the RSVP date. Work around that plus 15! lol Somehow the number grows and next thing you know you are grateful you had a few extra bags lying around!
For fun, here are a few behind the scenes of our packaging days and our sorting days:
We've created these freebie printables: checklist & brainstorming planner just for you. I'm all about pen to paper and in the brainstorming planner you will be able to take your notes, doodle, whatever your planning sesh needs to be. You can go ahead and download the files or pin the images below for later when you're ready to plan.
I hope you all enjoyed this easy guide to creating a fun and joyful welcome bag. If you are planning on getting married in New Orleans, we'd love to see your take on your welcome swag. Be sure to tag us on instagram, comment below or mailbox us your ideas and take aways!
Happy planning babes!
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