By Noelle Parent with gifted

Welcome gifts can be as simple as a DIY bag with snacks and drinks, to elaborate gifts curated just for you by a professional. This is also a great opportunity to make sure your guests have all the information they need for when and where the wedding festivities will be taking place. You’ll want to insert some information about their surroundings and maybe even the story behind why you and your fiancé chose to get married in that location. Try to get creative and include some items that will truly make your guests feel special.

WHO SHOULD RECEIVE THEM?
You will want to provide gifts to any guests coming from out-of-town and staying overnight for the wedding. You can create gifts that are designed for two so that each couple or family receives a gift when they arrive, or if your budget allows, you can create an individual gift for each person that will be traveling. Typically these are at the location where your guests are staying so that they can be handed out as they check in.

WHAT DO WELCOME GIFTS TYPICALLY COST?
The pricing can vary greatly depending on how many items you plan to include and how you plan to source those items. On average the cost falls into the $20 – $75 price range, and costs can really add up when you start sourcing these items yourself. An expert can save you time and money by helping you determine what will be essential for your gifts.

WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE?

WHERE TO BE AND WHEN
Include an itinerary that has all of the information for the weekend. Provide the date, location, and time of each event that your guests have been invited to, such as the rehearsal dinner, welcome party, ceremony, reception, and day-after brunch. The itinerary can be provided from the same place where you are getting your wedding invites, but this can also be a fun DIY project if you have the time to create it yourself.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO EAT
Your guests have traveled from far away, and hopefully, they will have some time to check out their surroundings! Richmond Region Tourism is a great place to find suggestions for things to do in and around the city, but if you are getting married somewhere else, check with the local visitor’s bureau. They should have plenty of resources for you, and they can often provide local maps or guides as well. If you have any favorite places to visit as a couple, be sure to include them and tell your guests what you love about these locations and why those places hold so much meaning for you.

SOMETHING TO SNACK ON
The general rule here is to provide something sweet, something salty, and something to drink, which means your options are pretty limitless! Water is always a safe option for beverages, but even water doesn’t have to be boring. If you are looking for a more eco-friendly option, try including reusable water bottles so that your guests can stay hydrated all weekend. Some other options could be your favorite bubbly beverage such as soda or sparkling water. If you want to get the party started early, mini bottles of champagne, airplane bottles of liquor or some local craft beer are always good choices.

SOMETHING SWEET, SOMETHING SALTY
When selecting your snacks, think about the things that you would love to munch on. Also, local favorites are always a big hit. For example, Virginia peanuts and local doughnuts are a fun way to introduce your guests to the Richmond food scene. If you are planning to put something like cookies or muffins into your welcome bags, make sure that they are fresh when the gifts arrive at the hotel. Also, make sure that you select packaging that will help them stay delicious for the entire weekend.

SOMETHING PERSONAL OR HANDMADE
Whether you are planning to DIY something for your guests or you’ve hired someone to help you, a handmade gift always feels a little more special. Local makers are thriving right now, which means you will have lots of options to choose from. Essential oil candles, hand turned bottle openers, and locally made bath products are just a few ideas. If you think your crowd is the partying type, hangover kits are a fun addition as well. Including a little bag with some pain reliever, eye drops, and breath mints will be a much-loved gift the morning after the wedding.

PACKAGING
Be mindful when selecting packaging. Most of your guests are already bringing a lot with them so it needs to be something that can travel easily. Boxes or bags that can fold flat are always helpful as well as tote bags which can be used as a carry-on for the flight home. Packaging is important to the hotel that will be passing them out too. Keep in mind that they will need to store your gifts behind the front desk so if you have more than 10 gifts, something that can stack or be stored easily will ensure that they don’t get damaged before they are handed to your guests.

Noelle Parent is the Owner and Founder of gifted, a curated gift box company that specializes in locally made products. Noelle previously spent 13 years as a hospitality professional and event planner. When she isn’t helping people create meaningful gifts, she loves spending time with her family and exploring all the curiosities that Richmond has to offer.