Out of town bag?? What is that!? The point of an “out of town bag” is to welcome your guests to your wedding and make their stay more enjoyable. Typically, your guests receive a little bag of goodies upon check-in at their hotel. Out of town bags are usually limited to the guests that are traveling to your wedding and staying in a hotel. You can skip bags for those that live near your wedding and will be staying at their home.
I conducted a very informal poll on social media (follow me on Twitter and Facebook) last week and the jury is out on out of town bags. Some say to make them, as they are a nice treat for your guests and a way to say thank you. Many say to skip them to save money. Out of town bags are definitely one of those weddings extras that you can cut back on to really save yourself money and headache. One thing was consistent in the responses: you can include just about anything you want in your out of town bag. Also, there is no set price per bag. If you just want to include one cupcake and a bottle of water, that’s fine! If you want to go the extra steps and include lots of tourist information, that’s OK too!
The sky is the limit on what you can put inside of an out of town bag. Here are a few things to consider including in each bag…
Ideas + Credits
1 – Schedule of events: Day of Itinerary by Simple Simon Design
2 – Map of the city: Neighborhoods Map by These Are Things
3 – Transportation: Metro card with a small amount, or information on how to ride Metro.
4 – Something healthy: Honest Tea (based locally in Bethesda!)
5 – Something sweet: Georgetown Cupcake
6 – Something salty: Route 11 Potato Chips
7 – Hydration: Custom Labels by Kasey Hamel
Out of Town Bag Tips
- Fees: Most DC area hotels charge a small fee (around $1 or $2 per bag) to pass out the bags to your guests when the arrive to check into the hotel.
- Bag Drop Off: If you have guests staying at multiple, different hotels, you will need to drop off the out of town bags at each hotel. Be mindful of how many different stops you’ll need to make, as it can take some time getting around from hotel to hotel. This isn’t the kind of task you want to save until the hours just before your rehearsal. Consider doing it a day or two before. If you have a wedding planner or good friend, perhaps this is a great task to delegate!
- Name Tags: Be sure to put labels or some type of name tag on each bags so that the person handing out the bags will know what bag goes to whom. It would be horrible if your bags were never passed out to the right guest.
- Tourism Offices: One of our bride readers on Facebook recommended hitting up the local tourism boards in your area for free and useful bag stuffers.. She said: “I got married in Loudoun County and they have a visitor center that hooked me up with all kinds of maps and a welcome letter and brochures and a few freebies (Virginia is for Lovers bumper stickers)…I just added a few other things to that, but it was nice to give my guests maps and coupons to local wineries and restaurants so that they had a direction should they have downtime while they were in town…Tou don’t need to spend a lot of money to be hospitable.”
- Keep it Affordable: Tabitha, owner of Roberts & Co. Events, had a great tips for keeping the cost of each out of town bag low. She said: “If you don’t have the budget to plan a bag for each guest, provide an itinerary at pickup with an hand written note and a small bag of homemade cookies. It shows that you care!”
- Be Healthy: I know you might want to spoil your guests with lots of sweets, but also consider adding something healthy like an apple or banana. I was married in the fall and we put a few fresh pears in each bag. I had so many guests tell me later that night that they really appreciated having a healthy and delicious snack after a long drive.
- Go Local: If you are looking for ideas for what to include, we are lucky here in the DC area because there are lots of ideas for choosing locally themed items. There a lots of ideas for how to make your bags specific to the DC area like chocolates shaped like one of the Monuments or a cute crab cracking tool for a wedding in Baltimore. I also really love these ideas for DC area tote bags.