Dear Donna: What do I put in a Welcome Bag for my out-of-town wedding guests?

A Providence, Rhode Island Wedding Welcome Bag with New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox customized cookies, a map of Providence, a small package of Pepto-Bismol, Advil and Aspirin, "Just in Case", Del's Lemonade Mix, a handmade local soap,  Coffee Syrup and other goodies welcomed these lucky wedding guests. Photo: Kristin Spencer

A Providence, Rhode Island Wedding Welcome Bag with New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox customized cookies, a map of Providence, a small package of Pepto-Bismol, Advil and Aspirin, "Just in Case", Del's Lemonade Mix, a handmade local soap,  Coffee Syrup and other goodies welcomed these lucky wedding guests. Photo: Kristin Spencer

Dear Donna,

I am trying to figure out what to put in my Welcome Bags for my out-of-town guests coming to my Wedding. I'm a little overwhelmed at all the options and wondered if you could give me some advice and steer me the right direction on what to include. 

Thanks so much!

Sincerely,

Perplexed Bride


Dear Perplexed,

We'd be happy to help you!

Welcome Bags or (OOT(Out-of-town) bags are not a necessary addition to your wedding but they are a very welcome (no pun intended) addition to your special day.

Brides often ask me if they should go with a basket, bag or something disposble. I usually recommend either something disposable/recyclable and something that can be folded up. Baskets are beautiful and look great, but if your guest is travelling by plane, chances are the basket will be left behind. There are so many great gift bags that are made of paper or Jute bags (the kind you use for your groceries) and they can be customized easily. (We'll have another blog post on this soon).

Buying them online or going to a store like Christmas Tree Shops, Target, etc. are great options. Most grocery stores, including Whole Foods, have inexpensive options for a reusable bag. 

Now that you have the bag, what do you put in it?

Here are our general suggestions for the ingredients for your perfect Welcome Bag:

This Boston collection of cookies from A Dozen Eggs is a great addition to your welcome bag. They can even bag them and put on a custom topper for you!

This Boston collection of cookies from A Dozen Eggs is a great addition to your welcome bag. They can even bag them and put on a custom topper for you!

1. Something Sweet - individually wrapped candies that are local to the area are a great idea. We also love Hershey's kisses or customized M&M's but be careful of chocolate (melting) in the summer months. We also love having a customized cookie in the bag. A Dozen Eggs creates some great Boston cookies or a totally customized cookie. 

2. Something Salty - again, an individual bag is a great idea. Cape Cod Potato Chips is a local favorite and can be purchased in bulk at Costco or BJ's Wholesale Club. 

This bride had a simple but elegant fabric bag with a custom rubber stamp with their monogram. Photo: Kristin Spencer

This bride had a simple but elegant fabric bag with a custom rubber stamp with their monogram. Photo: Kristin Spencer

3. Something Healthy: It's always nice to include something nutritious like granola or trail mix. Since many kinds of granola are manufactured in facilities that also process tree nuts and peanuts, just take caution when deciding on something, especially if you know you have guests that have nut allergies. Vermont Nut Free Chocolates makes a nut free granola bar that is individually wrapped. 

4. Something MINTY - Tic Tacs, Altoids or even Peppermint Lifesavers are a nice and refreshing touch. 

The Discovery Maps are a fun addition to your welcome bags and are free for the taking!

The Discovery Maps are a fun addition to your welcome bags and are free for the taking!

5. Local Maps or Tourist Guides. Often a local chamber of commerce has a local travel guide that you can get for free to include for your guests. Sometimes a local magazine is also a nice touch and oftentimes the magazine companies will sell you a discounted rate for larger number of magazines, as long as you pick them up. 

6. Bottled Water - It's a nice touch to add a bottle of water but keep in mind that they are heavy and transporting many bags can be challenging! But we love creating a customized water bottle label which really completes the design of the welcome bag. 

This Boston Wedding Welcome Bag included bottles of water with a customized label, tic tacs, Cape Cod Potato chips, a Welcome Letter and Boston Baked Beans Candy. 

This Boston Wedding Welcome Bag included bottles of water with a customized label, tic tacs, Cape Cod Potato chips, a Welcome Letter and Boston Baked Beans Candy. 

We designed a customized self-sticking label for a simple but elegant ivory gift bag and finished the bag with blush pink tissue paper. This Boston Welcome Bag is perfectly coordinated to the bride's colors and paper goods. 

We designed a customized self-sticking label for a simple but elegant ivory gift bag and finished the bag with blush pink tissue paper. This Boston Welcome Bag is perfectly coordinated to the bride's colors and paper goods. 

7. Toiletries - A small tube of toothpaste, or some pain reliever "Just in case" your guests party too hard at your wedding. 

8. Welcome Note - Last but certainly not least, a small note to say WELCOME to your wedding weekend is not only a nice gesture, it can also help your guests with directions, addresses, reminders for transportation times and it can include last minute changes as well. 

The combinations are endless but this list will give you a start to help you decide what to include for your Welcome Bags. What did you include in your bags that was unique or special? We'd love to know!

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Hot Cocoa Mix and homemade cupid chocolates were part of this Newport, Rhode Island Welcome bag. YUM!

Hot Cocoa Mix and homemade cupid chocolates were part of this Newport, Rhode Island Welcome bag. YUM!

This bride had Welcome Boxes for her Providence, Rhode Island wedding. It included many Rhode Island goodies including Autocrat Coffee Syrup!

This bride had Welcome Boxes for her Providence, Rhode Island wedding. It included many Rhode Island goodies including Autocrat Coffee Syrup!