(Closed) Welcome bags for hotel guest: Necessary? How does it work?

posted 7 years ago in Favors
Post # 2
112 posts
Blushing bee

Here’s my perspective…

They are absolutely not expected, but if guests are traveling from far away, they are certainly appreciated. Who knew how good a basic granola bar could be after a cross country flight plus hour drive…

But I think they shouldn’t be provided at the expense of providing other, more important things at the reception. So if you’re skimping on food, booze, other things that will impact the guests’ comfort I would reconsider, especially since the reception is enjoyed by everyone while the bags are only for Out of Town guests.

As for logistics, most hotels will hold them behind the counter and will distribute them for free. They will charge though if you want specific bags delivered to hotel rooms (e.g., if you have a personalized note), but I’ve never seen this done. We asked people where they are staying at on our electronic RSVP form. Only guests staying at one of the 3 suggested hotels are getting the bags. We’re bringing them to the hotel the day before the guests check in and are giving the hotel a list of all the guests. I think the hotel is planning on imputting this information into their computer so that when the guests check in, a notice will pop up telling them to give them a bag.

Post # 3
1440 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

When I’ve gone to out of town weddings, the part I always appreciated most in the welcome bags was having like a list of local restaurants, a welcome letter from the couple, and information about where and when wedding-related activities would take place.  

We are doing the bags, but they will be pretty basic – brown paper bags with a sticker label on the front.  They’ll have a couple of granola bars and bottled water, and maybe a couple of other inexpensive little goodies.  And then they’ll have the welcome letters with information about shuttles that we’re providing, contact information for our parents in case someone has a question – that kind of thing.  

Post # 4
7440 posts
Busy Beekeeper

I have traveled to many a wedding and had to stay in a hotel. Never recieved a bag. Its a modern trend that sounds to be more work to the couple and not as appreciated to the guest. Maybe do something small like a map of the area and a snack at most. You can wrap the map around a chocolate bar. You don’t have to do anything

Post # 5
36 posts

I had never heard of a wedding welcome bag until I started planning my own wedding. I think it’s a nice gesture! Don’t beat yourself up if you leave this off your to-do list, though.

I bought gable boxes and ribbons online and ordered personalized stickers from Shutterfly. Then we almost didn’t have money to put anything IN the boxes. What could we get for free? I gathered as many promotional brochures for local attractions as I could, paying attention to whether the coupons in them were going to be expired by our wedding date. I requested a stack of free visitor guides for our area that took three tries before they mailed the correct number. I read somewhere to call the places near the hotel to see if they’ll give you coupons, so I plan to do that. My birthday rolled around and I got some cash, so we’ll be able to get a few snacks to put in each of the boxes. I might look for little souvenirs like magnets or something too. I’m waiting to see how many people book hotel rooms first.

The city of Minneapolis has a service…I don’t know what it’s called but they gave free welcome bags for weddings. I thought they would be cloth tote bags but they’re just white paper like a gift bag and they put a big Minneapolis sticker on it. Chicago might offer that too.

You bring the welcome bags to the hotel desk and tell them they’re for your wedding guests (they should know this from your hotel block if you have one, but you could give them a list of names). The clerk will give the guest the bag at check-in. I read to keep in mind how many guests will be in each room but I don’t know if I want to count multiple bags for that.

If I had guests staying at a dozen hotels I probably wouldn’t bother with this, but if they’re staying at one or two that seems reasonable. As long as there’s not anything perishable you could probably bring them ahead of time.

Post # 6
3932 posts
Honey bee

View original reply
northshorebride:  I had a lot of out of town guests so I did do bags, but I don’t think they’re necessary. I had an absolutely beautiful welcome bag full of keepsakes and cuteness from my cousin’s wedding, but I didn’t have any room to take stuff back on the plane so ended up trashing a lot of it. You can do it fairly inexpensively and just put useful things in it like water, advil/tylenol, and some snacks. That’s basically what I did with a little welcome note. You generally only leave them at the hotels where you blocked rooms. Since you know how many rooms were used in your block, just leave that many bags with the front desk a day or two beforehand. They will have notes as to who booked under your wedding code and will give thoses guests the bags, but you do need to talk to them ahead of time to make sure they’ll do it.

Post # 7
3791 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

View original reply
northshorebride:  Definitely not necessary. I know DH got one for a wedding he was in a few years back, but that was the only wedding I’ve seen where gift bags were given – and really, I think they were part of the wedding party gifts.

My Mother-In-Law asked if we wanted to do these, but I told her it wasn’t necessary. We had some family/friends coming in the day before the wedding and most the day off. I wouldn’t want her going through all of the work doing them, or knowing who to all give them too. Plus, they had already helped enough.

Post # 8
1242 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

View original reply
northshorebride:  “It just seems like a headache and not that important.”

I agree with you 100%. I hate that these are becoming so popular that they seem customary. I mean as a guest, it’s wonderful to get a gift from the bride and groom when you check in, but you’re already providing me with a full meal, drinks and dancing. It’s just not necessary.

And it so often gets forgotten. The hotel staff will keep them behind the counter. If I didn’t reserve my room through your room block, they probably won’t give me one. If they are on the floor out of sight, I probably won’t think to ask if there is one. Even if I did use your room block, if I come at a particularly busy time for them, they’ll forget to give me one in the rush to get through the line of guests. Also, if I am in a rush to check in, I might not give them 2 spare seconds to give me the bag before I dash off to my room to change so I’m not late to your wedding. Finally, quite a few people won’t even check in before your wedding – they’ll check in after. What’s the point of a welcome bag when the party is over?

Again – they are lovely when the logistics all work out. But I just don’t get it. And why should guests who book hotel rooms get treated extra special anyway? I went to a wedding once and received an elaborate welcome bag. But then at the wedding – no one got any favors! Why not take the welcome bag budget for a chose few people and instead make sure to send everyone home with a piece of chocolate or something? I dunno – I guess it’s all personal preference.

Post # 9
999 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2016

IMO welcome bags just seem like an excuse for brides to busy themselves with yet another DIY project. I’m sure guests appreciate them somewhat, but not as much as the time/effort it takes to make them. I don’t think we should let Pinterest make us feel bad about not doing this.

Post # 10
1786 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

I plan on doing welcome bags (one per room) but definitely not making it complicated. It wiill have a mini orange juice and champagne bottle. a mini bottle of water. a things to do list (nearby restaurants). wedding iteniary. crackers, tissues, and maybe some mints. But thats it. it will be a regular plastic gift bag which will be from the dollartree. the things to do and iteniary will likely come from vistaprint and cost me less than $20 to make and have shipped. If you do decide to do it. don’t make it complicated. its a nice gesture but not necessary. i just want to do a little something special because everyone is traveling to my wedding. 

Post # 11
3080 posts
Sugar bee

The one time my family received them, most of what was in the bag went into the trash, instead of being packed in the suitcase to go home. Only in-town for a two nights, so totally not necessary. In that particular wedding’s case, they made a fuss over the welcome bags and favors (Jordan almonds) and should have spent the $$ on reception food.

Most guests can find all the information they want on a wedding website or internet search. Some hotels charge $2-3 for each bag delivered, too.

Post # 12
1065 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

View original reply
northshorebride:  Not necessary, but we did them. I found that they were pretty simple and quick to put together and didn’t cost too much either. I assembled 40+ welcome bags and had them boxed and ready to bring to the hotel in an hour. We got a list from the hotel to know who had gotten rooms so we’re know how many to make.

From Amazon we ordered:

  • (50) 5.25″x3.25″x8″ White paper bags for $23
  • (2) 24-count packs of small 6-piece things of Orbit Gum $13/each
  • (2) 50-count 2-pill Advil pouches $14

From Costco we got:

  • (2) 60-count mini bags of pretzels $7/each
  • (2) 48 count granola bars $9/each
  • (2) 48-count 8oz bottled waters…  maybe $4 each 

So for about $120 we had all the supplies. I went in Word and created a simple 3 column document and welcomed people, thanked them for coming and listed some shopping and dining options nearby. Since the ceremony started at 7 I also included some nearby museums, activities.

Then I just started stuffing the bags. They got 2 of everything except gum since we didn’t have enough. It was tight, but everything fit in the bag fine.

Then we just gave the bags to the hotel along with a list of names and dates they were checking in (based off the list we got for the block). The hotel ended up putting the bags in people’s rooms prior to check in (the hotel really appreciated that and said it helps them out a lot). Also, some rooms had more than 2 people staying so we gave those rooms 2 welcome bags and noted that on the sheet also. Only issue would be if someone booked through a 3rd party, they didn’t always show up on the list of names. So we’d ask about certain people we knew were supposed to be staying and the hotel could confirm if they had a room and added them to our list/block.

We had tons of people thank us for them, especially the water and advil. DH takes leftover granola bars and pretzels with his lunches while we still have some.  



  • This reply was modified 6 years, 6 months ago by TXbride2015.
Post # 13
252 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2015 - Versailles Banquets (Northwest Suburbs of Chicago)

View original reply
northshorebride:  I have never gotten one and most of the times didn’t really care except when we went to a destination wedding. I thought the couple could have at least written a nice heartfelt letter. With that said, we are doing welcome bags because we are in the same boat as you, 70% of our guests will be out of country or out of state. You can get a great deal on totes at Vista Print or if you want just get paper bags and make stickers at home to personalize it.  We went to the Candy and Snack expo this past May in Chicago and got SO MANY candies and snacks that we are using to stuff the bags. We are also putting some Garrett Popcorn (for me since I’m from Chicago) and Cheese Curds (for him since he is from WI), water bottles, a welcome packet that has everything and anything about Chicago, Milwaukee and our wedding and a small emergency kit (Tylenol, kleenex, tums and a small Gatorade).  Our hotel (Westin NorthShore) said they do not charge if given out at check out.  They do charge for room delivery though.  

We think they will be a nice touch for out Out of Town guests.

Post # 14
3 posts
  • Wedding: November 2015

We’re doing personalized wedding welcome bags for all of our out of town guests. If our friends and families are spending tons of money on flights and hotel rooms, you better believe we’re going to go out of our way to make sure they know how much we appreciate them coming to our wedding. 

Most hotels keep them behind the front desk and give them to guests when they check in. 

Post # 15
22 posts
  • Wedding: May 2015

I used to work in the hotel industry and started at the front desk (close to 15 years ago). We had tons of gift bags to hand out and never charged a fee, and this is in Washington, DC and NYC. I find it outrageous that hotels are doing that because it’s like leaving a note for a guest….you’re going to charge for that? 

Sorry, rant aside, I only had a handful of out of towners and provided gift bags that included: welcome note (including rehearsal lunch info), a bottle of water per person, granola bar, trail mix, pretzels and if there were kids under 10, I included a few small items from target’s $1 section. 

We had guests at two different hotels, and none of them charged a fee for the guest to receive the bag at check-in at the front desk. 

It’s not mandatory, but I think a nice touch. It shows that you care enough to think of them traveling from out of town. They’re probably spending a lot of money on travel and lodging and also giving you a gift. For me, it was worth the additional expense. 

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