The following is Part 1 of a guest post by Melinda McKee, founder of Memento & Muse, a custom gifting studio specializing in artisan wedding welcome gifts. Be sure to catch Part 2,”18 Ways to Thank Your Bridesmaids & Groomsmen,” brought to you next week by our friends at The Merrimon-Wynne House!
Special thanks to Videri Chocolate Factory for hosting the photo shoot, and to Lauren Jolly Photography for capturing these marvelous NC treats.
Do you want to honor your out-of-town wedding guests for the time and effort they’ve made to celebrate with you, but find yourself a bit mystified as to how to graciously welcome them?
If you’re hoping to go beyond the basic “water and map” welcome bag territory, and instead move toward thoughtful, useful, and meaningful welcome gifts your guests will really enjoy, here’s a simple six-ingredient recipe for curating welcome gifts that are sure to make your loved ones smile with genuine delight:
- Something sweet
- Something savory
- Something to sip
- A meaningful memento
- Welcome information
- Helpful little essentials (such as single-use packs of aspirin, travel tissues, etc.)
Here in North Carolina, we’re fortunate to have an abundance of artisans who can help raise the bar when it comes to wedding welcome gifts – as you’ll see below. Read on to learn how six “made-in-NC” small businesses can give your welcome gift recipe an extra special local flavor.
(Note: Other than samples for taste-testing, no compensation was received from the businesses featured in this post. All the items and companies mentioned here were intentionally curated by Memento & Muse for their exceptional quality, welcome gift suitability, and North Carolina origin.)
Something Sweet (#1)
Videri Chocolate Factory | Raleigh
Next time you’re in downtown Raleigh, head to the Warehouse District to check out Videri Chocolate Factory’s airy sunlit space. Home to heavenly sweet treats wrapped in sophisticated packaging, Videri chocolates come in four main flavors, and in two sizes perfect for weddings: a full size box (containing two individually wrapped bars), and favor-sized tiles.
Gifting Tip: If you’re going for the broadest appeal flavor-wise, consider Videri’s “dark milk” chocolate. With a cocoa content of about 50%, this flavor can be enjoyed by wedding guests who prefer the sweetness of milk chocolate, but it also has just enough of that raw cocoa complexity to equally satisfy dark chocolate lovers.
Something Sweet (#2)
Southern Sugar Bakery | Raleigh
If you’re not sure what a cookie artist is, just check out Southern Sugar Bakery’s Instagram feed. Owners Angie Tucker & Christin Kubasko have styled up their sugar cookies to look like everything from Tiffany boxes and debutante gowns to pink piglets and Mason jars.
It’s evident that just about no design is beyond their artistic reach, so feel free to get creative! They even take custom orders. And be sure to plan ahead, as these ladies’ sugary skills are in demand.
Gifting Tip: In addition to standard matrimonial designs (wedding dresses, tuxes, rings, wedding cakes, etc.), consider highlighting your and your partner’s interests and hobbies, or locations and symbols that make up your love story.
Chad’s Carolina Corn | Greensboro
A word to the wise: Chad’s Carolina Corn is utterly addictive. Never before have I [Melinda] been a fan of pre-popped popcorn, but Chad has turned me into a believer. This Greensboro-based family business boasts a wide variety of flavors sure to accommodate most every palette, and their treats come in two sizes of resealable bags perfect for wedding guests traveling away from home. (Though this scrumptious popcorn may not stick around long enough to need resealing!)
Gifting Tip: When including gourmet items in hotel welcome gifts, it’s generally best to choose flavors that aren’t too “out there,” so that the majority of your guests can enjoy them. At Memento & Muse, we especially love Chad’s Carolina Corn in White Cheddar, Kettle, Dark Chocolate, and the aptly named Carolina Mix (a deliciously sweet-and-savory blend of their White Cheddar and Caramel Corn).
Something to Sip
Buck O’Hairen’s Legendary Sunshine | Winston-Salem
Bottled water is, of course, a standard item in wedding welcome gifts. But if you want to intrigue your guests with an extra special pick-me-up, try Buck O’Hairen’s Legendary Sunshine, a bubbly beverage full of electrolytes and vitamin B12.
Ideal for guests wanting an energy boost for the after party (or perhaps to help them get out of bed the next morning), think of Sunshine as a less-intense, better-tasting Red Bull without all the scary additives: this non-jittery energy drink has no trace of high fructose corn syrup, gluten, or artificial colors/flavors.
Gifting Tip: Unless you believe that two out-of-town guests are simply sharing a hotel room and are not together as a couple (in which case etiquette dictates that they each receive their own welcome gift), the common practice is to include one gift per hotel room. However, if your hotel allows you to distribute different-version gifts to different rooms, help out your couples and families by adding extra consumables (food and drink items) to the welcome gifts assigned to their rooms. (Can’t do different versions? At the very least, don’t skimp on the drinks. Including two beverages in every welcome gift is a good rule of thumb.)
A Meaningful Memento + Welcome Information
“Mountains to Sea” Print by This Paper Ship | Saxapahaw
Welcome Booklet by One & Only Paper | Cary
Since your out-of-town wedding guests are in travel mode, it’s best not to burden them down with heavy or large items that they’re expected to somehow bring home with them, which is why consumable gourmet items and beverages should make up the majority of your welcome gift collection.
Still, your wedding is an intensely personal, joyous occasion, and including a small memento connected to you, your love story, and/or the wedding location can spark a fond smile of remembrance among your guests long after you’ve walked down the aisle. Keepsake paper goods like these North Carolina map prints from This Paper Ship can even offer an extra personal touch, if you’d like to leave a sweet handwritten note to your guests on the back.
And as anyone who’s attended (much less planned!) a wedding surely knows, there are usually a lot of moving parts. Make your guests’ stay as uncomplicated as possible by providing all the event information they need in one document, from times and locations to transportation and parking details.
Want to go the extra mile? Take a page (or several) out of the above welcome booklet by North Carolina stationers One & Only, by including recommendations for your favorite local restaurants and watering holes, shopping destinations, and notable sights to see.
Gifting Tip: When choosing a memento, thoughtfully consider what will make a heartfelt connection or memory between your guests and your story. (Those plastic sunglasses for a beach wedding might seem cute at the time, but how meaningful will they be to your guests even just a few days later?) Also, be mindful of your guests’ traveling limitations, and try to ensure your welcome memento has at least one of the following characteristics (if not more): lightweight, flat, flexible, and/or compact.
Sound like a lot to consider? As with most aspects of event planning, the sooner you start curating your welcome gift designs, the less you’ll find yourself settling or scrambling down the road. Plus, don’t forget that there are professionals like Memento & Muse who can help turn the gift-giving process into a breeze, freeing you to enjoy the rest of your wedding journey with confidence.
Don’t forget to stay tuned next week for Part 2, “18 Ways to Thank Your Bridesmaids & Groomsmen,” brought to you by our friends at The Merrimon-Wynne House!