We had a destination wedding in the Florida Keys. Fact: The Florida Keys are sunny, hot, and make one thirsty. We wanted welcome bags that would include something functional for all guests and be of use during the week of the wedding.
Welcome bags are often gift bags filled with treats, a schedule of events, and more treats. But the “bag” part of welcome bags bothered me. It just gets thrown out! And even if it's a tote bag, it's just another tote bag to add to your pile at home. So we put ourselves in our guests' shoes and thought about the goals behind this slice of wedding etiquette. How do we remove wastefulness, make it useful, and make it celebration-worthy?
Our answer: Reusable water bottles filled with Make-Your-Own-Margarita supplies!
Instructions for use:
Step 1: Arrive at wedding venue. Wipe sweat from brow.
Step 2: Receive awesome welcome water bottle filled with tequila, agave, lime, and event schedule.
Step 3: Make said libation and find friends. Promptly sip, relax, and reuse when in need of other forms of hydration.
How we did it:
Find a couple of promotional product companies online and order a few samples (we used 4imprint.com). These are usually cheaper than buying from Target or Amazon (embrace the math: We had 70 guests, you might have 120!), and for a small additional cost, you can personalize each item with your wedding logo.
Pick up any and all supplies you think you might want to tuck inside the water bottle. Our prototype included a sheet of paper cut to fit (sample schedule), a nip of tequila, a small tube of lotion to represent sunscreen (it wasn't available yet because it was February in Boston), a powdered drink mix packet, one honey packet (representing agave nectar), and one pouch of Advil (hangover helper).
Put said supplies in said water bottle samples. Consider what looks best, will ship/travel safest, and the quality of the water bottle: Does the top screw on tight? Does it feel durable? If you want people to actually use the water bottle, use it yourself. Pour water in it, take a sip, and see what happens. Experience the idea as if you were a guest.
Order supplies and make guest-ready Welcome Water Bottles
Triple check your math regarding number of guests vs. how many items come in a shipment, box, or case. Note that you might be buying in bulk and may need to purchase one more box to meet your guest number needs. This was the case for a few of our supplies, including the Margaritaville drink mix packets (yes, those actually exist!). One box of drink mix = 6 packets. 70 guests/6 = 11.6 boxes. Buy 12.
Ask how long it will take to get your custom water bottles in-hand. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Our bottles took about 3.5 weeks to arrive with custom logo printing and shipping. We wanted to have them in our apartment for a sanity check and then ship down to the venue one week before the wedding. Moral of the story: Look at the calendar and work backwards from your wedding date. Also, always include some buffer time just in case anything goes wrong — Murphy's Law is alive and well.
Print the schedule cards yourself. We saved some cash by making these with a standard inkjet printer. The information was pretty much the same on the invitation and the website, so should it get lost or splashed on, no worries. At the end of the day, people just need to know where to go and how to find you. Don't stress out about it! Use the same fonts and colors from your invitation, and it's already halfway to completion.
Final Step: Stuff those water bottles! All we had to do was drop the supplies into each vessel and screw the lid on. No extra effort required. (This was a relief after making all those paper flowers!)
Guests have reported they still use their water bottles, three months after the wedding. Qualitative goal ACHIEVED!