While it's not expected, it's very nice to offer out-of-town wedding guests welcome bags — totes or boxes filled with edible local treats, a map, and more. "Providing comfort and hospitality to these special guests shows them how much it means to you that they have come to celebrate this brand new chapter in your love story," explains Michelle Wright, owner of Michelle Wright Events in North Carolina. "Welcome bags are definitely a great way to start providing hospitality to your guests. But there are so many other things you can do as well." Here are five expert-approved ways to make your guests feel even more welcome.
Write a personal note.
It's easy print off a standard letter to all your wedding guests — but it's so much more personal to handwrite a message to each out-of-town guy or gal. "Hand written notes are the most personal medium you can use to communicate gratefulness and love," explains Wright. "They take time, effort and there's just something so traditional and classic about them. They carry a lot of weight when it comes to making someone feel special." Leave it at your guests' hotel check-in, or slip it into their welcome bags, Wright suggests.
Include an information card.
In each handwritten note, slip in "a simple information card that includes what's nearby or activities to do in town," suggests Michelle Leo, owner of Michelle Leo Events in Utah. "Suggesting eateries and shopping locations is helpful so that guests can make the most out of really experiencing the location where the event is held."
Schedule activities for guests.
Out-of-town guests often feel lost — or worse, bored! — as they wait for your wedding ceremony. So schedule optional activities for them as a way to pass the time pleasurably. "For example, when I execute weddings in Utah for destination clients, I'll often set up fishing, golf, river rafting, hiking, or biking expeditions for guests to enjoy while here," says Leo. "People want to experience the location they are in, and setting up some extra activities allows them to do so."
Treat guests to a turndown service.
Who doesn't love a sweet treat each night before they slip into bed? Then, suggests Wright, "accompany the last turn down service with a hand-lettered, calligraphy letterpress note from the newlyweds. Their first note as a couple can include a heartfelt gratitude and a piece from their favorite poetry, prayer or scripture. The note could be attached to a gorgeous garden rose or two fresh slices of wedding cake in a custom box and ribbon."
Ask the hotel staff to go above and beyond.
"Inform the hotel staff of the expected arrival time of your guests so that the staff is able to greet the guests by their names," says Wright. "Be sure they open their doors and tell them how glad they are that the guest is here. Tell the staff to pass along your own personal welcome as well. It will make your guests feel a sense of home and gentle hospitality the minute they arrive for your wedding weekend."