“A smile is the universal welcome.” -Max Eastman
Every bride wants their guests to feel welcome and wants guests to know you appreciate them sharing in your big day! Making the guests feel welcome sets the tone and knowing you have handled this part ahead of time will lift a burden from you the week of the wedding. So, decide ahead of time what you will do within your budget.
Communicate before they arrive – If you have chosen a destination wedding, then in order for your guests to have the best possible experience, they will need to be well informed. You will also most likely be inviting more guests to ancillary events like the rehearsal dinner, welcome party, or farewell breakfast. For events that all guests are invited to, feel free to include the information on your wedding website. For events that only a select group is invited to, such as the rehearsal dinner, notify guests individually. Rehearsal dinner invitations are typically sent one to two months before the event, but we recommend giving any out-of-town guests who are included an informal, word-of-mouth invite in advance of the formal invitation if possible. In order to make travel plans, they will need information about these events ahead of time. Also, make sure everyone has a list of hotels that have a room block or where you are providing transportation from. Websites are great ways to communicate with guests. Keep in mind that you can also email a link to the website when you update it.
Communicate when they arrive – This can be a simple note that you type up to be given to each guest as they check in to their hotel or something you email ahead of time. After you welcome them and thank them for coming to your big day, you will want to make sure this note includes contact information (other than you), directions to venues for any events and to the wedding, and the time of each event and when they need to arrive, and any details about transportation they may need.
Ideas to consider:
- Plan a large group picture so you can send a print of it in a thank you note.
- If you plan to do a welcome bag, try to add some “local” flavor to it by finding something locally. Honey sticks are great and are fairly inexpensive. Depending on the season, you could choose a locally grown fruit like apples to include.
- If you plan to give guests a favor, consider giving it to them in a welcome bag. Set a budget for this and keep in mind you can give one welcome bag to each couple or family instead of one favor per person so the bag can extend beyond bottled water and snacks.
- To help keep traveling guests comfortable and entertained during their stay, provide a list of your favorite local spots. Include coffee shops, salons (some guests may want to pop in for a manicure or blow-out to look their best for your big day), restaurants (make sure to include a variety of cuisine types and price points), shops, or any unique local landmarks or attractions. Provide an address and phone number for each spot you list so guests can make reservations quickly and conveniently
- Find ways to incorporate your personalities into your welcome bags. We had a bride fill welcome bags with items and then included a list of why they chose that item and who it reminded them of. For example, the pack of cards was included because the bride played cards with her aunt and uncle every time she visited them.
- Assign a point person that can help troubleshoot and answer questions (and who has cell phone service). They can be contacted in case of travel delays, getting lost, accommodations issues, or any other hiccups. You will have a lot on your plate during your wedding weekend and you may not be readily available to help. Ask a coordinator, bridal party member, family member, or friend to stand by in case of any issues.