When loved loves make a long journey to attend your wedding, they're often spending money and taking time off work to see you and celebrate with you in person. Here are some tips to make them feel extra welcomed and appreciated!
1. Give Detailed, Timely Information
Make their trip as easy as possible by letting them know well in advance of dates and locations. Even before the wedding invites are ready for the press you may want to reach out and have a conversation about dates you would like to see them, and what they would be comfortable with when traveling.
You can even do some research on which airlines fly to your wedding location, nearby bus or trains, and different hotels at several price points to accommodate everyone.
Provide details for:
- Wedding itinerary (Doors open, ceremony, cocktail hour, reception dinner, after party, etc.)
- Times to be available for wedding party to get ready and what will be provided or not (hair and make up, pastries while getting ready, etc)
- Other wedding events like rehearsal dinner, welcome drinks, or next morning brunch
Include key times, locations, who is hosting, what to wear and so on for each activity.
A wedding website is a great place to compile all the information so guests won't have to ask you for details.
Make yourself available to answer questions, and consider asking some one you trust to check in on guests that may need a little more assistance (like asking a cousin to make sure grandma has a ride to the venue).
2. Book Hotel Room Blocks
Do the extra leg work of finding and booking a hotel block so guests have the option of booking a room near other wedding guests, and don't need to research where to stay. Call some local hotels close to your wedding venue or area that guests would enjoy staying to get rates and details for reserving guest room blocks.
This usually means the hotel will reserve a number of consecutive rooms for a set period of time at an agreed rate so that you guests can book rooms close to other wedding guests.
This will make it easier for guests to book rooms and hotels will usually provide a discount for groups.
Let guests know rates and the dates they will need to book by to reserve their room. Even guests who live in the area may want to book a room to be close to the action, so provide the information on your wedding website to let everyone know.
3. Make Welcome Baskets / Gift Bags
You can create welcome bags to greet guests when they check into their hotel. It can be as simple or elaborate as you would like. Here are a few ideas:
- Welcome / Thank you note
- An itinerary of the wedding events
- Water bottles
- Locally made treats
- City guide
- Small bottle of wine
If there are kids, you can include some coloring pages and crayons or something they might enjoy playing with.
You can talk to the hotel beforehand to see if they can distribute the bags to the rooms or let you in to the rooms early to set them up.
4. Compile a City Guide
If guests are staying for a few extra days but you don't have time to play tour guide, you can still make sure they have a good time by providing a list of your favorite things to do and eat.
Here is a simple Welcome Guide I made for a friend's wedding with San Francisco attractions, that you can adapt to your own hometown.
You can make it personalized by adding things like "Our First Date Spot", "Our Go to Take Out", "The Best Sunrise", "Bride's Favorite", "Groom's Favorite", etc.
If you know family members are big sports fans, do some research on games that may be playing that week. Look up any special exhibits at local museums, concerns, and shows that they may enjoy.
You can email the document if there are a lot of links or tickets to purchase ahead of time, but also print them out to include in your welcome bag.
5. Spend time with them the day before
If you are having a rehearsal dinner, it's a kind gesture to invite all your out-of-town guests as they can spend some extra time with you in a more intimate setting. However, you can also do something more simple like welcome drinks at a local bar near the hotel.
6. Provide Transportation
You know how to get around your city best, so help your guests out. You can offer to pick up guests from the airport or recruit volunteers (friends and family) to welcome them if you can't make it.
If you have many guests staying in the same hotel, consider a hiring a shuttle to take them to the wedding venue if it's not in walking distance. You can also help talk to family and arrange carpooling among guests. Uber and Lyft also allow you to create a code to give your guests, so that you can provide them rides to the wedding without worry about booking shuttles or parking at the venue.
When there's many family and friends visiting from out of town for a big event like a wedding, there can be guilt regarding spending enough time with them and making sure they're all having a good time. Taking a few steps beforehand like these can help remind them you care enough though you're busy with other wedding events and can't spend as much time with them as you'd like.
In the end, enjoy the moment as best you can! Share your appreciation when you do see them, and they will surely know your care and love.
Have any more tips on welcoming out of town guests? We'd love to hear them in a comment below!
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Karin is the co-founder of Arden Cove and co-creator of the Anti-Theft Waterproof Crossbodies - bags created for women who want all the practicality and safety features without compromising in style. Shop ArdenCove.com.