Anatomy of an Australian Wedding Welcome Bag
Re-creating that feeling of surprise and delight for someone that you care about is surprisingly easy. They'll feel good. You'll feel good. We'll all feel good! In this blog I'm considering weddings as an example, but the gifting ideas are easily transferable to many other occasions, where a little bit of effort on your behalf can make someone you know and/or care about feel on top of the world. For example, guests who are visiting from interstate or overseas for holidays or a conference, or to visit family, friends, new babies etc.
In the USA 'Wedding Welcome Gifts' are a big deal. It's not uncommon for the majority of wedding guests to travel from another state and so the 'bride and groom' or 'bride and bride' or 'groom and groom' (ie "the happy couple") arrange a little gift to be left at the hotel room/place where their guests are staying - this is what is commonly referred to as a 'Wedding Welcome Gift' (da-dah!). These gifts range in size, value and elaborateness, but they are usually a personalised gesture intended to warmly greet and thank wedding guests for coming to the wedding.
I think these gifts are such a lovely gesture. Even though we may not have as many guests who travel for our weddings or commitment ceremonies in Australia, there are still opportunites to create gifts for those that do, and create a memorable first impression. It's the least you can do really considering they've usually spent quite a bit of money getting to your event to help you celebrate.
So what's in this Wedding Welcome Gift?
Many factors come into consideration such as the location, season, wedding style, budget and colour palette. You'll also want to be careful about balance. It's all very well to have a stunning hand crafted wooden box, but not if you can't afford to put anything in it! Generally speaking, you'll want to include some or all of these to create a memorable and well-balanced gift:
Something to hold the items: This might be a calico tote, a fancy cardboard box, a wooden box or even a woven basket. You can personalise this too with screen printing (if you're making lots of gifts) or stencil and a paint (if you're making only a few)
Something to sip: If your guests are staying in an unfamiliar location or arriving late at night, you want to save them the effort of having to step out to buy water. Also, buying water can add up to big bucks for your guests as convenience stores often charge an arm and a leg for a small bottle of H20!
Fresh fruit: You can't go wrong a crunchy apple - unless your guests are 5 and have lost their front teeth...or somewhat older and have no teeth! You can always go posh of course with a punnet of raspberries or even chocolate dipped strawberries.
A local beverage: Take a cue from your location. If there's a local craft or hipster beer you can pop a bottle of that in. If you're lucky enough to live near a wonderful wine region (eg the Barossa Valley), your guests may appreciate a small bottle of vino. Many wineries sell 375ml bottles and these are perfectly sized for wedding welcome gifts. You're doing yourself a favour here because if your guests taste something they like, they'll know what to buy you when they next visit!
Something sweet:Every wedding welcome gift should include something to satisfy your guests’ sweet-tooth. The options are endless but it might include a local well known sweet, the happy couples' favourite treat, a personalised iced biscuit in the wedding colours or some personalised chocolates. You could buy sweets in bulk to save a few dollars and transfer portions into your own little cellophane bags tied with ribbon in your wedding colours.
Something salty: At the end of long nights, something salty is always appreciated by guests who may have, how can I put this delicately...over-indulged? It's a bit challenging to put a greasy hamburger or hot chips in the Wedding Welcome Gift, so some salted nuts, chips, rice crackers or pop corn should do the trick.
Hangover relief/recovery kit: Somewhat related to the need for salty snacks, after celebrating your nuptuals in style, you might like to indulge your guests with a few essential amenities. Headache relief, bandaids, eye drops, a mini tooth brush - anything you think they might need but may have forgotten to pack.
Information: While the treats and drinks are obviously the most exciting part of the gift, don't forget the details. Help your guests by giving them everything they need to know at their fingertips. For example, the itinerary for the weekend with times, locations and addresses for the ceremony, reception, wedding breakfast, post wedding bbq etc. If you are providing transportation, this is a great place to include bus pick-up/drop-off information as well. Also, consider including local maps, a public transport card and tips for a few things to do in the area including where to get the best coffee!
By way of example, here's something we prepared earlier for Adelaideans:
So there you have it - it's certainly something you can do yourself and if you've got the time it's a lot of fun. You don't need to spend a lot of money, you can scale it up or down to meet your budget. If you get stuck however, or need an hand, we'd be only too pleased to help.
Perhaps one day soon I'll look at guides for other cities - especially if it means a visit! I reckon it would be best if I went to Melbourne in the Spring. What was that you said? I might be able to go the Spring Racing Carnival at the same time? Oh, I never even thought of that...
Until next time.