Wedding gift bags, also known as wedding welcome bags or out-of-town guest bags (and as we like to call them: “Wedding Swag Bags”) have become a thoughtful way to connect with your guests even when you can’t be there to greet them. Considering the number of far-flung relatives and friends who would use the wedding as an opportunity to vacation, don’t assume everyone that lives far away won’t make it to the wedding! These out of town wedding guests are usually friends and family members who are making the effort to travel to participate in your celebration, so making them feel comfortable and included is important. Here are a few suggestions for what to include to make these the best wedding gift bags ever!

First, choose a wedding welcome tote bag or container. There are inexpensive options on in various prices: These small 8″ x 8″ canvas totebags are under $10 for 12, and a larger size (nearly twice the size!) is about $20 for 12.  Those are all plain bags. If you’re able to spend a little more and want to add custom designs to it, there are always coupons to be found for (I just bought 3 awesome totes to give away next week!) on top of the already awesome price of $9.99 for a budget tote bag.

A map is probably the first thing you need to include, especially for guests who have never been to the area, or who will be staying for longer than just overnight. Give them a chance to explore your city by marking a map with significant locations (where you met, your favorite restaurants, etc.). Suggestions for what to eat at a variety of price points would also be very helpful. Be sure to indicate the hotel, the wedding and the reception locations with some bright stickers. Check with the visitors center in your town – they’ll have free maps and maybe some other fun swag to include!  You can also create a free personalized local map at

SomethingTurquoise-DIY-Mason-Jar-Cocktail-Gift-0015Keep your guests from having to raid the expensive mini bar by providing hydration options! Bottles of water would be perfect, but if you’re inclined to add the ingredients for a relaxing cocktail, they’re always welcome! Cans of soft drinks or juices are also great options, as are any local specialty drink. Check out the DIY Cocktail Kit from!  Delicious snacks or sweets from the candy buffet will also come in handy late at night!

Speaking of local specialties, if there’s any food or snack that’s particularly significant to your area, include it if possible! Chicago-style popcorn is a great suggestion, but Chicago-style hot dogs are definitely a bad idea. Keep it reasonable!

Always include an itinerary, especially for multi-day wedding events, as well as contact information for someone local, in case you’re not able to answer your phone.

Don’t forget to include a thank you! Your guests traveled here to join in your celebration, and a thank-you note in the wedding gift bag is a great way to start their stay with a smile.

Other ideas to include:

  • Home cooked or baked sweets
  • Seasonal needs such as bug spray, lip balm or sunscreen
  • Pampering amenities that hotels don’t normally provide, like bath soak or ear plugs
  • Single-dose packs of headache medicine for the morning after
  • The wedding favor or treat
  • A mix of your favorite music, on cd or flash drive

It doesn’t matter how much you spend on the bag or the items you include, it only matters that you gave thought to what your guests might need. The gesture goes a really long way toward helping your guests feel like they’re an important part of your big day!

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