What to put in your wedding welcome bag

Today I’ve got a DIY for you to make your own out-of-town welcome bags, and then I’m sharing what to put in them.  I think this is often an afterthought for brides, but an area where you can make your guests (especially those who have traveled and spent money & effort to attend your wedding) feel appreciated!

I’ve been to a lot of weddings.  And as an often-from-out-of-town guest, I have always appreciated a good welcome bag.  So when I was planning my wedding and knew a majority of our guests were coming to California from all over, I vowed to make them as comfortable as possible.

I wanted to make my welcome bag a little more personal than the generic brown or colored paper bag with a couple of things thrown in.  I wanted them to include what I believe are necessities.  And I wanted them to be easy and inexpensive for me.  Because you don’t need to take on yet another huge project!  These bags shouldn’t be overwhelming or energy-draining.  But they should show your guests that you are thinking of them and want them to be comfortable.

{The DIY}

Materials for the bags:
1.  Canvas tote bags for each out-of-town guest or couple (from cheaptotes)
2.  Iron-on printer paper (from an office supply store like office depot)
3.  An iron
4.  A printer
5.  An image or design to print

We had a monogram that we included on our save-the-dates, invitation suite, and other wedding details, and I wanted to put in on our welcome bags.  I had to reverse the image so that when it was printed and ironed on it would read correctly.Instructions:

1.  Print  a coordinating number of your image/design as you have totes.
2.  Using a hard surface (a table works well- an ironing board does not), follow the directions on the transfer paper packaging to iron on your image.  I laid an old pillow case down on the table, put the tote on top of that, and placed the printed paper where I wanted it on the tote.  Then I ironed each image on until I had done enough totes for everyone, plus a few extras to be safe.

What to put in your wedding welcome bag

Next you have to fill the bags.  Here are what I consider essentials:
1.  2 bottles of water (this is the most important thing, and one bottle is NOT enough unless the bag is for only one person! You MUST include TWO.)
2.  Snacks (in ours I included special K cereal bars, a bag of chips or crackers, and a small bag of Isabella’s Cookies, which are made where we had our wedding and are my absolute fave!)
3.  Hangover helpers (tums, advil, etc.)
4.  A map of the area, activities, & restaurant recommendations
5.  Mints or gum
6.  An itinerary of events, including any shuttle departure times (if applicable)
7.  Sunscreen (if in a beachy area)
Here is a picture of our finished product, complete with itinerary and other items with our monogram:
Total approximate cost per bag (including the stuff inside) = $6

Has anyone else done their own DIY welcome bags?  Do you have any things you think should be included in them that I didn’t mention?  Let’s make a running list in the comments to help planning brides!

{credits} Top photo by Expressions Photography, from this wedding / Boston Tote from The Wedding Chicks / Bottom photo by me, but taken before I blogged, so please forgive their poor quality.  If only all of the cool photo-editing apps had existed in 2009….