You know that oft-used wedding line, "This is YOUR day?" It's probably one of the most overused and, frankly, misleading little sayings that brides tend to hear when planning a wedding. First of all, ahem: there's a groom to consider. And second, while the stars of the (wedding) show are undoubtedly you and your fiance, there are many other special parties who play an important role on an occasion as special as a wedding day...including your guests!
A wedding invitation isn't just a ticket to free cake for your guests (although, there is that). It's also a signifier that there are parties to attend, gifts to purchase, and—in the case of destination weddings—plane tickets to reserve, rooms to book, and travel plans to finalize. With these things in mind, if you will be hosting a destination wedding, it's a great idea to acknowledge this effort by welcoming guests with a little gift of your own!
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Taylor and I got married on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. For us and many of our guests it was a true destination wedding, as I am originally from Texas and Taylor is from North Carolina. Guests who drove from North Carolina could expect a journey of about five hours by car, while Texans said "I do" to a pricey flight...and don't even get me started on my sorority sisters who flew in from California. We were truly honored by their effort to join in our celebration, and had so much fun curating items that were sure to surprise and delight after their long journeys.
Okay, enough intro. Let's dive in and discuss a few ideas for YOUR destination wedding welcome gifts!
Real talk: As much as your friends and family love the two of you, and as excited as they will be to celebrate the beginning of your life together, the truth is that they're very unlikely to reuse a tote bag with your name and wedding date emblazoned on it. Wedding expenses can really add up (understatement of the century), so don't waste your budget on an item that has a 90% chance of ending up in your guests' next Goodwill clean-out pile. Instead, I recommend selecting a graphic, pattern, or phrase that's more universal. A bag printed with "Aloha" for a Maui wedding, the outline of the Lone Star State for a Dallas "I do," or even a simple striped bag with nautical flair all come to mind! (A less expensive option? Cardboard gift box containers or paper bags. Seal them with a custom sticker to up the presentation!)
That's not to say that EVERY aspect of your destination wedding welcome gifts have to be generic, though! Bag tags, stickers, and water bottle labels—i.e., items meant to eventually end up in the trash or recycling bin—all present excellent opportunities for you + your beloved to go to town with customizations of the name, date, and welcome message variety.
Customizable Tags + Stickers
Calligraphy tag | Palm sticker | Tropical pink tag | Water bottle wrap
Snacks + Treats
Your guests will be hungry when they finally arrive at their hotel rooms, and let's be real—no one wants to pay $7 for that pack of mini fridge M&Ms the hotel tries to tempt you with! Give your guests some instant snack-ification by providing an assortment of bites and treats. Go on a CostCo run to pick up individual packs of trail mix, pretzels, and chips, or get a little more custom by going the his-and-hers route. His favorite chips + her favorite salsa. His favorite candy + her favorite popcorn. You get the idea!
As a nod to both of our roots, Taylor and I gifted guests with Texas chips and salsa and a jar of North Carolina honey, plus water bottles with custom labels. It gave guests a taste (pun totally intended) of our hometowns, and help hold them over until our rehearsal dinner, too.
Themed items are always fun for destination weddings! Custom koozies, sunglasses, flip flops, frost flex cups...go crazy, but not TOO crazy. Remember, your guests will have to find room in their bags to bring any non-disposable items home with them!
Think travel-sized bug spray for a ranch wedding, sunscreen for a destination "I do," small Advil or Tylenol packets for dance floor induced foot pain and headaches, and hand sanitizer because #LIFE.
Also, since many of your guests will be visiting your wedding destination for the first time, you'll want to include plenty of helpful tips and local insights! Up for inclusion: an itinerary that includes the wedding weekend events ALL guests are invited to (the welcome party, ceremony and reception, and send-off breakfast all come to mind), coupons or discount vouchers to area restaurants, and a map of the area highlighting some of your + your fiance's favorite dining spots, boutiques, and activities (turn to Etsy to obtain a design that's as pretty as it is practical!).
Destination Wedding DIY: Custom room key wristlet
One of the best things we included in our destination wedding welcome gifts also happened to be a really fun DIY project: room key wristlets! Help your guests avoid low-key "Who has the room key?" panic attacks by providing them with a wristlet for carrying their key card around the hotel. Here's a picture of me with my momma sporting one of the wristlets we made together for my wedding!
Me + my momma wearing our room key wristlets!
- Pack of clear plastic card/ID holders. Holders will need to include a slot for a lanyard or keychain. I like this pack because the card holders are made of thick vinyl, and they're actually waterproof. Perfect for a destination wedding weekend featuring lots of ocean + pool time!
- Coil wristlets. Amazon has lots of colorful options available, but I think this black and white pack is extra chic!
- Cute custom insert. The purpose of the cover is two-fold: to look cute (duh) and to shield any other items you choose to carry in your wristlet along with your room key, like your ID or credit card. We've created a FREE downloadable/printable template that you can snag below. Feel free to use it as is or tweak it to make it your own! If you do use it, tag us on Instagram @ashortengagement so we can see your DIY in action.
Click to download in PDF form!