Weekends are for Weddings: Hospitality Bags

Weekends are for weddings!  If you’re like me, with 9 weddings each year, the weekends are, quite literally, for weddings (attending them, that is).  Also if you’re like me, the weekend is a time to think about planning your own wedding.  Lots of people carve out a certain time each week for  to wedding planning (Wedding Wednesday seems to be very popular).  It ensures the wedding doesn’t take over their whole lives; however, I find that confining wedding planning to a specific time is too pressure-filled and bicker-prone.   I plan my wedding when inspiration strikes.  Weekends, in particular, offer the time to let my mind roam and plan my own wedding in a stress-free environment.  In this series, I’ll take you through some of my major planning steps – hopefully this will help you plan your own wedding!

Since I married a Yankee, a ton of our guests were out of towners.  Nearly 150 people would be coming from other cities/states – that’s a lot of people you need to welcome to the wedding weekend!  To make them feel at home in my fair city, we put together hospitality bags that each guest/couple would receive upon hotel check-in.

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There can be a lot of assembly involved in hospitality bags.  This is a very simple thing to hand off to a wedding planner or even helpful bridesmaids.  For me, this sort of assembly line work is the type of distraction I needed.  The plan was to arrive in Savannah a few days early and use this as a mindless outlet for all my nervous energy.  You know: crank up the tunes and get to work.  Unfortunately, my Mom planned for her best girlfriends to come over and they assembled the bags while gossiping and drinking wine.  I ended up funneling my nervous energy into other activities.  The point is, for some people, this type of activity decreases stress; for others, it might raise the blood pressure.

Hot Tip: figure out which camp you fall in and plan accordingly.  If you’re the type who can’t handle this additional task, farm it out…just make sure to make those arrangements in advance.  Bridesmaids, for instance, would likely be happy to help as long as it’s not thrown on them last minute.  And if you’re the type who needs this sort of zone-out activity, make sure to order all items in advance.  It’s only relaxing if you can just assemble and don’t have to scramble to find everything.

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My parents, assembling

For the bags themselves:

  • Go cute but cheap because it’s going to get thrown away anyway.  I liked the look of simple kraft paper bags.  The material makes them sturdy, which is always classier than something that looks like it’s crinkling.  It also went with the more natural look of our wedding.  Note: we were originally going to go with kraft paper boxes for something a little different; however, some of the items we wanted to include were too large – don’t be afraid to think outside the box and go with…a box.
  • Since the bags could look a little blah, we decorated them with a custom stamp featuring our last name initial and filled them with tissue paper.  Rather than spending money on a fancy tote or patterned bag, use a simple adornment like a sticker, stamp, or hang tag.  The personalization automatically makes it more sophisticated.  It can also be another inexpensive way to incorporate your wedding hashtag.
Custom stamp to give the bags a little oompf

…and for what goes inside the bags:

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  • Something(s) Helpful:
    • Welcome your guests with a nice note – they’ve traveled long distances to celebrate with you so make sure they know how much you appreciate it.
    • Lots of people leave the invites at home, so it’s nice to remind them of the weekend’s schedule.  Make sure they know of all events they’re invited to and when they need to be someplace, like in front of the hotel for shuttle pickup to the ceremony.
    • Most people will have no idea what to do in your city.  We included a list of our favorites so our guests knew where to explore.  We divided it into groups: Restaurants (casual, fancy, coffee/desserts), Bars, Shopping, and Activities (both historical/cultural and social).
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Our rolled up guide to Savannah
  • Something Sweet: In addition to random sweets, we put two mini MoonPies in each bag because it’s such a Southern treat.  It was also a great way to include a cute note (which we put on a sticker) like “We’re over the moon you could join us!” (Alternative: “We love you to the moon and back”)
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A Southern delicacy…with our own little decoration
  • Something Salty: A bag or two of chips is fabulous.  My parents actually found Muchies (aka Munchie Mix) at Sam’s without realizing how much my beau and I loooove the snack.
  • Something Local: It’s very easy to go to Sam’s or Costco for the somethings sweet and salty.  In fact, I highly recommend that.  However, it’s also nice to include something local just to make it more personal.  The MoonPie covered that for us, but other Savannah/GA-themed treats could include Savannah Bee Company honey, Georgia peanuts, or glass bottles of Coca Cola.  Every city or state has something they’re known for.
  • Something Just for Funsies: Include things that actually make people want to dig through this bag!  We included customized plastic cups and a “do not disturb” door hanger.

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