We firmly believe that weddings are not only a celebration of the couple's love for one another, but a celebration of all who love them. In that vein, we encourage our brides to keep guest experience top-of-mind when planning their nuptials. This could mean anything from providing flip flops + bobby pins in the ladies bathroom to making sure there are gluten free cupcakes for dessert. But when you have out-of-town (whether it's just one couple or twenty), providing a great experience in a new town can make your wedding even more memorable.
These are a few of our favorite ways to make out-of-towners feel specially cared for during your wedding:
1. Make them feel at home. There's nothing better than a great welcome basket left for out-of-town guests at their hotel. Fill gift bags or baskets with a few items to set the tone for your wedding weekend. Do you and your fiancé love your home town (or state)? Go with a "local" theme and include city & regional favorites - a black & white cookie if you're in NYC or fresh picked cherries if you're up in Traverse City. You can also include thoughtful items like a few bottles of sparkling water, a great bar of chocolate and a note welcoming them to the weekend from you and your groom. We also love including a timeline of events for the weekend (especially if they're invited to the rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch).
2. Show them around town! Even the most amazing hostess doesn't have the time to entertain guests the night before her wedding. So we propose compiling a list of your favorite spots around town to guide your guests to a good time! Note where you love to shop, grab a coffee and have a nightcap. This is also a great place to tell people about landmarks around town (visit the Capitol Building or Beaumont Tower if you're in the greater Lansing area!) where they can enjoy some down time. If you are not planning on having the guests at the rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch, include some of your favorite restaurants for them to try. The more information, the better, so include a phone number or website for them to visit for each attraction.
3. Be explicit. Make sure that your out-of-town guests know what to anticipate before they arrive. If you want them at the rehearsal dinner, make sure they have an invitation (and you have an RSVP!). If they're welcome to attend the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, they should know that too. Nothing is worse than Aunt Sally arriving two days before the wedding, anticipating taking part in all of the upcoming festivities, only to be told by your mom that she wasn't invited to these additional affairs. Be mindful + respectful of their time and remember how you would want to be treated if it were you!
4. Provide transportation, if at all possible. Above all things, you want your guests to be safe, especially if they had an extra good time at your wedding. Arrange to have shuttle service from the hotel to the reception throughout the night so those guests who choose to stay can get home safely. Make sure to ask your hotel if this service is included - many will offer the shuttle for free or at a deep discount if you're booking a large block of rooms with them!
5. Arrange for down time. If you're having a substantial break between your ceremony and reception, arrange a location for your out-of-town guests to head to. It could be as simple as reserving a few tables at a local brewery or you could book out a private room at a local restaurant with appetizers and drinks before guests head to the reception. Remember - this doesn't have to be a costly or extravagant affair, but it's a thoughtful gesture that helps keep guests occupied while you're celebrating your new Mrs. status.
6. Say thank you. We know - most of our blogs emphasize the importance of a genuine "thanks" but it is necessary! Take a moment, whether it's in your toast or personally, to thank those who traveled the extra mile to celebrate you and your beau. They'll feel extra loved - and what's better than a room full of love on your wedding day? Nothing.
Kaitlynn + Emma