When I got married, we had lots of guests who were coming quite a distance to be there for our celebration. My husband’s immediate family all lives in Ireland, and his extended family are spread across the midwest, far from my hometown in Maine. The way weddings are nowadays, more and more of our friends and family members are coming from miles away for weddings, taking time off work and going to great expense to make the journey.
I remember how much we really wanted to make sure everyone who made the journey knew how excited we were to have them there with us. When we were gearing up for the wedding, we wanted to make sure they felt the warmest of Maine welcomes. My mom’s best hospitality trick is to make sure friends and family are prepared for delicious breakfast, so we set about putting together welcome baskets full of freshly baked Maine blueberry muffins, maple syrup and coffee to welcome wedding guests. They were such a big hit that my now mother-in-law still talks about those muffins!
Even if you don’t have a mom willing to make tons of blueberry muffins for your guests, here are a few ways you can make sure your guests feel extra-welcomed when they arrive to celebrate your wedding.
Welcome baskets or bags come in lots of different iterations. While ours included homemade treats, they can be just as well-received if you fill them with cookies from the local bakery, maps of the local area, a takeout menu from your favorite Thai place, or a few toiletries that might come in handy. We attended a wedding in the south of France last year, and the bride filled welcome totes with local candies and jam, and mini bottles of Pastis, the local liquer.
Another way you can welcome guests without a lot of expense or planning is to set up a time to meet at a local restaurant or cafe for drinks once everyone gets into town. You’ll probably have a long list of to-do’s, but your guests will love to see you, even if it’s only for a few hours. Choose a spot where you can reserve space for a crowd, order a few plates of canapes, and invite your guests to come for an hour or so to mingle with you and your other guests.
Introductions to Local Guests
A drinks meet-up is a natural place to introduce guests from far away to another great resource, your local guests. A little forward thinking about which guests might get along well together can go a long way. Introduce your guests who might not know many people to a few who are from the area, and suggest to the locals they might have suggestions for visitors to enjoy their hometown. This is an instant conversation starter for people to get chatting.
In the days leading up to your wedding, you will likely be busy finishing up the last of your to-do list. You may not have time to show your out of town guests around like you would if they came in for any old weekend, so consider setting up a few events guests can do on their own. In your welcome bags or wedding information, include tours, galleries or museums worth visiting, and suggest a time when the wedding party might go together. This can give a little structure during times when you know you won’t be available and your guests need to entertain themselves.
All of these things just help to put guests who have made a journey to your wedding at ease for the time they’re with you. Now it’s your turn. Is there anything you’re planning to make your guests feel welcome? Anything you’ve experience as a wedding guests that made you feel really welcome?
Emily Westbrooks is an American-born writer and blogger based in Dublin, Ireland. She is the Online Editor for Confetti Magazine, one of Ireland’s top bridal magazines. She also writes her own lifestyle blog, From China Village, where she chronicles her adventures in Dublin, travels around Europe, DIY projects and Irish design. She shares her home with her husband, one cat, and four sassy chickens!