by Shelby Ferguson
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." My mother taught me this golden rule of life at a young age. I think this rule is so relevant when it comes to hospitality and how one should treat their wedding guests. How do I want to be treated? I want to be pampered with gifts. And what better way to start the wedding weekend then with a little unexpected surprise waiting in each guest’s hotel room.
Since we’re talking about hotels, I’m going to take a leap here and assume that your guests aren’t local. There are so many amazing Michigan made products to help further introduce them to the region. So here are some welcome bag (or basket) must haves and a few of my favorites in each of these categories.
A Welcome Note
A personalized card thanking each guest for journeying to celebrate with you is one of the most thoughtful gestures you can make. Of course I’m all about hand written letters, but even a well thought out, typed greeting will do the trick – as long as it’s from the heart.
Additional ideas: use a notecard that matches your wedding stationary to keep the whole wedding weekend really cohesive, plus it’ll be extra pretty!
Brochures, schedule of events, directions, and area attractions. Sure, your guest most likely traveled with a smart phone and can look things up for themselves, but that doesn’t mean they remembered the wedding invitation, have memorized your shuttle schedule or will have working phone service – parts of Northern Michigan are pretty rural and a bit disconnected. The additional info will be a welcomed reminder.
Another fun idea is to include a list of your local favorites – restaurants, favorite beaches, and any hidden gems that might have some special meaning to you. You’re their tour guide for the weekend!
- LP (Leelanau Peninsula) Wine Trails has links on their website to a full map or brochures are also available at the Traverse City Visitor Center.
- While you’re at the visitor center, see what other fun brochures and activities your guests might want to participate in during their weekend free time – hiking trails, scenic tours, kayaking adventures, etc.
- Include a contact number for your wedding planner or someone else in charge, just in case guests have wedding related questions or other needs while visiting – you don’t want them texting the bride on her wedding day!
Hotel mini bars are expensive and who wants to pay $7 for a bottle of water? Offering your guests something to quench their thirst after a long day of travel is merely common curtesy and will be greatly appreciated
Some favorite Michigan made drinks:
- Faygo soda
- Michigan craft beers including North Peak Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin, Shorts Brewing and Hop Lot, just to name a few.
- Ciders (either hard or traditional apple), I personally love Tandem Ciders.
- Wines, there are simply too many to mention since Northern Michigan’s peninsulas are the perfect climates for growing grapes!
- Sparkling wine – the perfect way the toast the weekend! Check out Chateau Chantel’s “Celebrate” Rose or L. Mawby has a great variety and many are named after various cities in Michigan, which can add an extra layer of fun to the gift.
Something to Nibble On
When I think of Michigan made goodies, food immediately comes to mind. Maybe it's just me, but most people won’t turn down a tasty treat, whether to eat now or take them home with them to enjoy later.
Some yummy treats:
- Basket of local produce – strawberries, cherries, raspberries, peaches, or apples, depending on the season, fresh fruit is abundant.
- Cherry made delights – think jams, salsa, preserves, chocolate covered. Leelanau Fruit Company or American Spoon are great starting points, although each town seems to have its own little hidden Michigan treat treasure trove.
- Honey – Michigan is a great source for raw and natural honey.
- Salt water taffy – check out Dam Candy Store.
- Mackinaw Island Fudge
- Smoked fish or jerky. Go to Carlson’s, your guests will thank you.
Think aspirin (they might have a rough night) or a bottle of Verners for those queasy early mornings. Suntan lotion, aloe vera, umbrellas, or other weather essentials. Nice handmade soaps or chapstick and other often forgotten luxuries from home are also great ideas. A nice pashmina or beach towel could also be great souvenir that might also come in handy during their stay.
Choose a cute basket or gift bag to store all your goodies, tie it with a bow or include details that match with your overall color scheme or theme for the weekend. The key to a good basket is mixing practical with fun items that pretty much any guests would appreciate. Most hotels will place the welcome bags in the rooms for you, or at least have them waiting for the guests at check in. However, if your hotel is unable to accommodate this request, you might also greet anyone attending the rehearsal with these treats – they’ll be happy to do the transporting back to their rooms for you.
Please note the all products mentioned in this article are at the author's discretion and not the result of paid advertisement.
Shelby is lead wedding planner, artistic director and floral heart behind The Day's Design. She delights in celebrating romantic, natural and fancy free occasions throughout Northern & West Michigan. When she's away from her design work, you'll find her at home with her hubby and two beautiful baby girls, daydreaming along the shores of Lake Michigan, strolling through local antique stores, picking wildflowers or blogging more about wedding and life adventures at The Day's Dream blog.