Destination Wedding welcome bags (or Out of Town Bags) and favors are a great way to show your appreciation to those who have traveled the distance and spent a considerable amount of cash to attend your destination wedding. But all too often, wedding favors just get dumped in the trash or left behind.
So, a few months ago, I gathered ideas from hundreds of destination brides who already got married. They shared their thoughts on the type of welcome bag items and favors their guests loved, as well as the misses.
Side Note: I’m going to use Welcome Bags/Out of town bags and favors interchangeably throughout this post because for a destination wedding you can do one or the other. Many brides choose to put the “favors” inside a “welcome bag” and hand it out when their guests first arrive. You can even arrange it so the resort can hand them to guests upon check in or for a nicer touch – you can greet them with their bags when they check in.
So without further ado, below is a list of the hits & misses according to the destination brides I polled.
The biggest welcome bag hits are items that your guests wouldn’t think to bring for themselves, things they could easily forget to bring, or gifts that will make their trips easier and more comfortable. Here they are in no particular order.
1. Tote Bags or Beach Bags
Beach bags are probably the most popular giveaway for destination weddings. Not only can you use them as the welcome bag that holds all your other times, but the best part is that your guests will put them to good use during their trip as well. Plus it’s something they can use for future vacation travel.
Zazzle has a ton of destination wedding and beach wedding welcome bag designs for around $10 each. And their website makes it really easy to customize their existing designs with your wedding details.
Or if you already designed your own custom monogram, Zazzle will let you upload it for a completely customized bag like I did below.
Below are a couple of other cool destination wedding welcome bags I found on Beau Coup’s website.
2. Flip Flops
I gave flip flops away at my wedding, so I can personally attest to the fact that they were a huge, huge hit. Five years later, friends and family tell me they still have theirs! Hand these out at the reception and your guests will have absolutely no excuse for not hitting the dance floor.
You can buy flip flops in every color and size imaginable at Old Navy for less than $3 each, which is a steal. And if you can find a coupon online or buy these in the winter months, you can get them for even less.
Beau-Coup also has some really cute XO embossed flip flops, which I really love.
For a nice added touch, you can display your flip flop favors in a cool monogrammed bucket like this one.
3. Pashmina Shawls
Pashmina shawls are another item that female guests are always happy to receive. These are the perfect gift, especially if you’re tying the knot on the beach or in a tropical location that has cool winds in the evening.
And you can usually find pashmina shawls in every color under the sun.
Mini liquor bottles are a really cheap and fun gift to throw in your welcome bags. But to make it even more special, try to find the traditional liquor of your destination. Get mini tequila bottles in Mexico; rum in jamaica; Barcelo in Dominican Republic; Don Q in Puerto Rico. But to avoid any issues with the Borders & Custom protection, your best bet is to buy these when you arrive at your destination.
Many of the brides I polled choose Cuban cigars as a favorite, and I can personally attest to the fact that cigars were a huge hit at my very own wedding. You can hire a cigar roller in most destinations, but if you have budget constraints you can just buy the cigars and hand them out along with some personalized matches.
Candy is always a welcomed favor at both traditional hometown weddings and destination weddings. But with a destination wedding you can add the wow factor with the packaging. There are so many cute travel and beach themed candy packages that the hard part will be narrowing down your choices. Here are some of my favorites.
Coasters were also cited as a favorite because it’s something guests can take home and put to good use for years to come.
8. Lip Balm
Lip balm with SPF always comes in handy, and you can add some really cute travel or beach themed labels with your name and wedding date for a personalized touch.
9. First Aid Kits
First Aid or Hangover kits have to be one of the most fun and practical items to put in your wedding welcome bag. You can buy really cheap travel sized packages of advil, alka seltzer, band aids and ear plugs at your local drug store and just put them all in a super cute personalized bag like this one.
10. Deck of Cards
A deck of playing cards is another great favor to put in your wedding welcome bag for guests to enjoy both on the trip and back home.
11. Waterproof Key card holder
How many times have you been on vacation trying to figure out what to do with your money, credit cards and hotel key card while you lounge pool side? This is something your guests will never think of bringing themselves, but they’ll be super grateful you did! You can google “waterproof key card holder” to find a variety of styles. You can even create or buy cute personalized cards to insert in the key card holder like the one I found below on Etsy.
12. Shot Glasses
Who doesn’t love shot glasses? I collect them everywhere I go. For a fun idea, put one shot glass on everyone’s place at the reception table and ask them to use their custom shot glasses during the toast. You can see pictures of how I used this idea at my destination wedding.
13. Luggage Tags
Probably the most practical of all destination wedding favors is the luggage tag. These can double as table seating cards to make them even more useful.
14. Bottle Opener
It’s usually hard to call a bottle opener “adorable” but I will anyway. These are super adorable, functional, and a perfect little favor to put in your destination wedding welcome bag. It’s something your guests will put to good use at the resort and back at home too.
If you’re tying the knot in a tropical location, fans are a very inexpensive, cute and really useful addition to your wedding welcome bag. I’m kind of obsessed with fans as a destination wedding favor so I was like a kid in a candy store when I was researching different fans for this post. Here are my favorites.
Koozies are such a popular destination wedding favor that you can now find them in a ton of colors and styles to match your wedding theme.
17. Mini Aloe Vera Gel
I wish I would have thought about adding aloe vera gel to my own destination wedding welcome bags. This is something most people won’t think to bring, but can come in super handy. If you’re not familiar with aloe vera gel, it is the holy grail when in comes to soothing sun burn. You can buy mini travel size bottles at your local dollar store or any drug store that sell travel size products (i.e. Walgreens). I don’t know much about Cheap Travel Sizes.com, so I can’t vouch for the website but while researching this post, I found 2 ounce bottles for .99 cents on their site.
Anything that your guests will intuitively pack for their trip, or that the resort provides is going to be a waste of your time and money. You also have to keep in mind that some people are very particular about the brand they use for skin care/hair products. Here are some items that you’ll probably be better off leaving out of your welcome bags.
Like everything else related to destination weddings, you have to put a little more thought into welcome bags and favors than a traditional hometown bride would. For starters, you’ll probably have to haul these trinkets in your luggage, so it’s important to choose items that are not too bulky.
You also have to keep in mind borders & custom regulations when bringing products into the country where you’re getting married. Read more on traveling with favors and how to avoid run-ins with Immigration and Customs patrol.
All that aside, the fun part of destination wedding welcome bags and favors is that you can really give your guests something practical, super cute and that gives them a taste of the wedding destination.