Creating simple DIY welcome bags for wedding guests is one of the most thoughtful things you can do when people are travelling long distances to attend your wedding, and you don’t need to be crafty (or have a big budget) to make a big impact.
From snacks and water bottles to souvenirs and lists of recommendations, we’ve rounded up the very best items to include in DIY welcome bags for wedding guests (including ideas for making and decorating your bags) that your guests are going to LOVE.
Why you should make DIY welcome bags for wedding guests
1. You’ll show your out-of-town wedding guests their presence is appreciated
It can be a big expense to travel to a wedding, especially if your guests are travelling a long distance to be part of your special day. Arranging to greet them with a DIY welcome bag is a nice way of showing your appreciation for the time and money shelled out to attend your wedding.
2. You’ll provide them with items they might not have packed
If your wedding guests are travelling light with nothing more than carry-on luggage, they might not have been able to pack everything they wanted to bring. You can provide useful essentials (see below for ideas) that will come in handy on the big day.
3. You’ll help make them feel more comfortable in a new environment
By giving your guests information on the best local spots to visit, and how to stay connected without Wi-Fi while they’re staying in a new country, you’ll be helping them feel more at home while they’re in town for your wedding.
4. Your guests will have special keepsakes to bring home with them
You might just see it as a tote bag with a few items tucked inside, but to your guests, those items (even the bag) might become treasured memories of the time they visited you for your wedding. Count on a wedding to make people feel extra emotional.
How to make DIY welcome bags for wedding guests
Organize your must-have items first
If there are certain items you absolutely must including in your DIY wedding welcome bags, you want to make sure there’s going to be room for them, and that everything will fit nicely. By planning this out ahead of time, you’ll know what size bags to purchase.
Shop around for bag options
Depending on how heavy your items are, you might be able to get away with using nice paper bags with handles. (You could decorate the bags with your wedding hashtag or write the guests’ names on each bag.) If you’re packing up heavier items, you could need something stronger, like plain canvas bags. If you’ve got a healthy budget for this project, you could order custom bags on Etsy, or go above and beyond by picking out nice tote bags from a local tourist boutique, and your guests could bring them home to use again someday.
Be ready with inexpensive ‘fillers’
Not everything in your bag needs to be a big-ticket item. If your bags feel a little empty, you can fill them up with inexpensive items that won’t break the bank, like locally-made candy or popcorn (see the complete list below). You can also make the bags feel fuller by stuffing the bottoms of them with tissue paper or brown craft paper.
Personalize your DIY wedding welcome bags
If you’re feeling creative, you can use markers or paints to decorate paper bags or plain canvas bags. (Maybe put your wedding hashtag, you and your partner’s initials, or just create fun designs in your wedding colors.) If you’re not a crafter, you could always hole-punch extra wedding invitations and use string or ribbon to loop them around the top of the DIY wedding welcome bags. Craft stores often sell 3D monograms or cut-out letters that can be hung around the bag, too.
What to put in DIY welcome bags for wedding guests
A welcome note
Grab a pen and write from the heart. This should be a personal note telling each out-of-town wedding guest how much it means to you and your partner that they’d travel all this way to see you get married. Since you may not get much time to spend with each individual guest on your big day, this is an opportunity to thank them personally for travelling to your wedding and being part of this special occasion in your life. For many guests, this note will be the most treasured part of their DIY wedding welcome bag.
Local mobile data details
For wedding guests travelling in from another country, they might be nervously keeping their phone on Airplane Mode because they aren’t sure how to avoid data roaming charges during an international vacation. You can assure anyone who’s worried about roaming charges that if their phone is eSIM-compatible, they can use a digital SIM card to hop onto local networks and get affordable prepaid data.
A wedding itinerary
If your wedding celebration will include inviting these guests to a rehearsal dinner or other day-before activity, it would be nice to include a wedding itinerary that explains where they need to be (and when), as well as the details on where and when they need to be on the big day. Make sure to include the details for any post-wedding breakfast gatherings!
Your wedding guests may never have visited your city/town before, and would surely appreciate a few recommendations so they know the best places to grab a meal or go for drinks. This list doesn’t have to be too long (after all, they’re probably not in town for long), but it’s always nice to add a personal touch by sharing restaurants or bars that are special to you and your partner.
An international travel adapter
If your guests are coming in from another country with different wiring, they might not have remembered to pack a travel adapter. Pick up a few inexpensive travel adapters and add them to your DIY wedding welcome bags so your guests can confidently plug in their curling wands or phone chargers without frying them.
Whether your wedding guests are staying in a hotel, AirBNB, or even a family member’s guest room, it’s always nice to have a few snacks on hand. Stock your wedding welcome basket with pre-packaged goodies made locally, like cookies, nuts, flavored popcorn, chocolate bars, or toffees. You can pick up these items at a local touristy shop, and they’re sure to impress out-of-town wedding guests.
Your wedding guests might be parched when they arrive in their room, and appreciate being able to sip some bottled water without having to wonder if the tap water is safe to drink. If you wanted to get crafty, you could print wedding-themed labels and tape them around the plastic water bottles’ existing labels. Or if you’re anti-plastic, you could put in enough reusable water bottles for everyone staying in the room. (Bonus points if you customize the bottles with each wedding guests’ name.)
If you know your out-of-town wedding guests are going to have a few free days to explore, considering picking up brochures or print-outs on local touristy activities they might enjoy, like guided walking tours or bus tours, boat excursions, theatre performances, or sporting events.
Depending on how long your wedding guests are in town, they might not have much time to visit local shops and pick up a memento to bring home with them. Consider adding a small trinket that will remind them of the trip they took to attend your wedding, like a fridge magnet or holiday ornament featuring the name of your city/country.
Not everyone rents a vehicle when they travel for a wedding, so make sure you’ve provided your wedding guests with information on the best way(s) to get to and from your ceremony and reception. Whether it’s Uber, a taxi, or a rented shuttle, make your out-of-town guests feel welcome by including a small note with these details.
Essentials they might not have packed
If you’re getting married outdoors, could your wedding guests benefit from sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, or something else they might not have packed for their trip? If it’s going to be chilly, mini hand-warmers could be appreciated. If rain is in the forecast (Don’t worry! It’s good luck if it rains on your wedding day) then maybe consider a travel-sized umbrella?
Coupons they’ll actually use
No, your wedding guests don’t want to save 50 cents off a pizza order from a place you’d never recommend. But they might appreciate a two-for-one deal at your fave breakfast spot, or a BOGO admission coupon for the museum next-door to their hotel, or a $3 off prepaid mobile data if they’re an international wedding guest. (Psst! If they use this $3 eSIM discount, you’ll also earn $3 in free eSIM data for your honeymoon destination.)