Out of Town Bags: Inspiration

Out-of-town bags (also known as OOT bags or welcome bags) are a great way to welcome your out-of-town guests to your wedding. These bags are left in their hotel rooms ahead of time or distributed during the welcome party and they are filled with snacks, drinks, maps, and miscellaneous other treats to make their stay more comfortable and thank them for coming to celebrate with you.

You have so many options for your OOT bags. You can have the bag feature your monogram, a cute pattern, or a saying that means something to you as a couple. It can have your wedding date or even highlight the city you are getting married in. It’s entirely up to you and your partner to decide what your guests might like and what they are likely to use again! These bags start at just $1.80 each!

Later today, we’ll do another post on OOT bag contents, but for now, here are some budget-friendly bags to hold welcome goodies for your guests!

Side note: some hotels will deliver these bags for you to your block of guest rooms prior to guest arrival! Ask your hotel what their policy is.

Out of Town Bags Out of Town BagsOut of Town Bags Out of Town BagsOut of Town Bags Out of Town BagsOut of Town Bags Out of Town BagsOut of Town Bags Out of Town Bags

1. Via Wedding Chicks  |  2. Via Etsy  |  3. Via Etsy  |  4. Via Amazon  |  5. Via Etsy  |  6. Via Wedding Chicks  |  7. Via Forever 21  |  8. Via Forever 21  |  9. Via Forever 21  |  10. Via Amazon

Bridal Emergency Kit

This is an important PSA for brides (and bridesmaids) everywhere: something will go wrong on your wedding day. As a wedding planner/day-of coordinator, it is my job to 1) prevent as many things from going wrong as possible, and 2) be there with a solution if something does go wrong. If you don’t have a planner or a day-of coordinator, it’s a really good idea to assemble a bridal emergency kit with some essentials that can save the day in a pinch.

BHLDN has an amazing kit that comes in an adorable zipper case meant. They are a fantastic bridesmaid’s gift and they are a cute little present for the bride, too.

Bridal Emergency KitBridal Emergency Kit

These kits include: deodorant towelettes, stain removers, nail polish remover, pain relievers, dental floss, clear nail polish, lip balm, breath fresheners, hair spray, antacids, tampons, adhesive bandages, mending kits, safety pins, double-sided tape, clear elastics, earring backs, emery boards, bobby pins, wedding bands, blotting tissues, and facial tissues.

If you choose not to buy a pre-made emergency kit, I would suggest making your own. If you have a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator, ask them what supplies they have in case of emergencies, as most will bring along a kit. If you don’t have a coordinator, or if yours does not have an emergency kit, here is what I would suggest including when you assemble yours:

Breath mints
Hair spray
Makeup for touch-ups
Nail file
Tampons/sanitary napkins
Tide stain pens
Mini scissors
Tape (Scotch tape, hem tape, fashion tape)
Safety pins
Mini sewing kit
Moist towelettes
Bobby pins
Earring backs
Eye drops
Dental floss
Corsage pins
Clear nail polish
Quick snacks (granola bars, etc.)
Water bottles
Nail polish remover
Lip balm
Blotting tissues
Colgate Wisp mini-toothbrushes
Duct-tape (you never know!)

Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Your invitations will, in many ways, set the tone for your wedding day. You should aim for sending them out six to eight weeks before the wedding so that guests can have ample time to make travel arrangements. Destination weddings require more lead time (two to three months) as guests will need to make more elaborate travel plans and likely take more time off of work.

What to Include:

The Basics

Wedding invitations need to include the first and last names of you and your partner, as well as the date, location, and time of the wedding. It should also include the names of those hosting the event. This could be you and your partner, your parents, both of your parents, or anyone else hosting the event celebrating your marriage.

Your invitation should provide everything guests need to know about the when and where of the ceremony, reception, and rehearsal dinner or welcome party, if they are invited. If your ceremony and reception are not at the same place, if you have a lot of out-of-town guests, or if your guests are not all staying on-site, consider including maps for the convenience of out-of-town guests.

Accommodation and Travel Information

If you have reserved a block of hotel rooms, include information including the name and contact information of the hotel and deadlines for reserving rooms as an insert in your invitation suite.Also consider including other hotel options for guests looking for a luxurious stay or a budget-friendly option. These cards should also include nearby airports and rental car agencies.

Attire Information

Include information such as “black tie,” “black tie optional,” or “cocktail attire” for your guests information. This will guide them as to what to wear to your wedding while also setting the level of formality of the event.

Response and Meal Information

You will need to let guests know how and by when to RSVP. Many couples are opting to have guests electronically RSVP on their wedding websites, but if your guests are not all technologically savvy, this can lead to a frustrating time getting responses. Make it clear when guests should RSVP by. Typically you will want a final head count for your venue, caterer, and seating charts by three weeks before the wedding. This will give you plenty of time to track down missing RSVPs. Always include a stamped and addressed return envelope for your guests’ response cards.Also, include menu information only if your caterer requires you to submit a count of entree options prior to the wedding. Include the entree options on the reply card so you will have that information as RSVPs roll in.

Who is Invited

It is very important to make clear exactly who is invited. Guests should be listed by name (as opposed to “and guest”) on the envelope address so there is no confusion. If you are having an adults-only wedding, just address the invitation to the adults only. Only in the event that guests RSVP for children should you explain that the event is adults-only. If you would like, you can include this information on your wedding website, but word-of-mouth is always more appropriate.

Additionally, make it clear if you are giving guests a plus-one. It is not required, but it is appropriate to give a plus-one to guests in a serious relationship, as well as to invite all spouses. If a guest is single, you do not have to allow them a plus-one, though it is a nice gesture.

Website Information

It is perfectly acceptable to include your wedding website as an insert in your formal invitations, though it is more appropriate to include them on your save-the-dates. Something along the lines of, “For additional wedding details, please visit our website at www.jackandjill.com” will direct your guests in the right direction.

Childcare Information

If you are providing childcare during the reception, include an insert that informs parents that a nursery and/or babysitting will be provided. It is important for parents to know this information prior to making travel and childcare arrangements.

What to Exclude:

Registry information

Information about your registry should be spread through word-of-mouth through your wedding party and immediate family and friends, or through your wedding website. It is considered poor etiquette to display registry information directly on your invitation. Invitations should invite people to come celebrate with you, not inform guests of how to give you gifts.

In summary, when all is said and done, your invitations should give guests everything they need to know to come celebrate the beginning of your marriage without starting the conversation about your registry and how to give you gifts. Invitations should include a ceremony invitation, reception card (if your reception is in a different location than the ceremony), and information cards for other wedding events such as the rehearsal dinner for those you are inviting. It should also include accommodation and travel information along with maps so guests can make appropriate arrangements and get around the area with ease. You guest should know who is invited to the event, how and when to RSVP, and what to wear. Finally, you should include your wedding website information if you are choosing to include it in your invitation suite.

Given Away, Given Away, Given Away Now

Weddings are full of crazy traditions. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of aspects of weddings that now seem antiquated and downright illogical that I somehow still allow myself to subscribe to (see: veils, the white dress, and bridal parties). But today I’d like to talk about a more controversial topic: “giving away” the bride.

Western weddings traditionally feature the father walking the bride down the aisle, followed by the following exchange:
Officiant: “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

Father: “I do.”

Now, we have fortunately progressed beyond the literal transfer of the woman from man to man in exchange for a dowry. We have subscribed to a more progressive alternative response of, “Her mother and I do.” We even accept brothers, close friends, or mentors to walk her down the aisle if the father is no longer alive, is absent from her life, or if he didn’t fill the role of the most important man in her life. While this default remains the norm, women are increasingly choosing alternative escorts or even forgoing an escort altogether and they take one of the most significant walks of their lives.

Marriage today doesn’t necessarily mean a departure from your family of birth. You can remain a part of your birth family while creating a new family with your partner on your wedding day. You don’t have to have the patriarch of your family send you off into your new life. You can present yourself as an independent unit.

My personal belief is that every woman deserves the respect of not being treated as property, either in symbol or in practice.  There are many alternatives to the practice of being “given away” that symbolize the significance of your birth family and the new baby family you are creating without implying that you are being given to one man by another.

Of course, it is 100% your decision whether your father, mother, second cousin, best friend, third grade teacher, or no one at all gives you away at your wedding. You might decide to follow tradition because it gives you a sentimental link to weddings past, or you might decide that you want to want to meet your future husband at the aisle simultaneously as two independent units joining together as one. It’s your call.

I urge your to reflect on yourself, your partner, and your partnership to decide how you want to come together in a way that is meaningful and affirming for both of you.

Now, we have fortunately progressed beyond the literal transfer of the woman from man to man in exchange for a dowry. We have subscribed to a more progressive alternative response of, “Her mother and I do.” We even accept brothers, close friends, or mentors to walk her down the aisle if the father is no longer alive, is absent from her life, or if he didn’t fill the role of the most important man in her life. While this default remains the norm, women are increasingly choosing alternative escorts or even forgoing an escort altogether and they take one of the most significant walks of their lives.

Aca-Awkward: How to Tell a Friend She’s Not a Bridesmaids

Any other Pitch Perfect fans out there?

Maybe you were her maid of honor and you’ve since drifted apart. Maybe someone you don’t consider yourself particularly close to assumes they will be in your bridal party. Maybe you only want your sisters to stand with you when you get married. Picking your bridal party can bring up some awkward moments. How do you tell a friend that she’s not a bridesmaid?

Be kind, but be honest. Maybe take her out to drinks or coffee and tell her the situation honestly. If you feel like you’ve drifted apart, explain to her that it is important to you to have the most signficiant people in your life stand with you on your wedding day, and you had to leave out a lot of people who are special to you. If you kept your bridal party to family-only, she’ll most likely understand. Maybe she feels entitled to be your bridesmaid because she had you in her wedding party, but that does not obligate you to reciprocate. Instead, make sure she knows that you value her friendship and want to remain close to her, even if that means finding another role for her at your wedding. Her feelings might be hurt, and she might get angry, but your best bet for keeping her as a friend is to handle the situation with honesty.

Wedding Basics Part II: What You Do Have To Do

Now that we’ve covered the extensive (and hopefully liberating) list of things you don’t have to do when planning your wedding, let’s talk about the (much shorter) list of things you DO have to do.

You Have To:

  • Be gracious when you receive offers for help or advice.
  • Make the groom’s opinion count as much as yours. He’ll be 50% of the marriage, so he deserves to have his voice heard before the party, too.
  • Speak up if you feel like the wedding is no longer about what really matters: starting and celebrating a union between you and your significant other!
  • Make your ceremony and reception a reflection of you and your partner. Make your guests comfortable. Have food, drinks, chairs, shade, blankets, and bathrooms available as needed. Happy guests make for a great celebration!
  • Thank people for coming to celebrate with you.
  • Send prompt and heartfelt thank you notes for any gifts you receive.
  • Enjoy the day as much as possible!

Wedding Basics Part I: What You Don’t Have To Do

When it comes to wedding planning, everyone has an opinion. It can be really easy to get bogged down in traditions, obligations, opinions, and offers for help and services. As you take the first steps of planning, sit down with your partner and give some good thought to what you want your wedding day to look like, and more importantly, how you want your day to feel.

To get you started, check out this list of things that you do NOT have to do. Hopefully, following this list will make your planning process easier, and will encourage you to plan a wedding that is more “you,” because whatever that means to you and your partner, it’s a wonderful thing!

You Do Not Have To:

  • Have any pre-wedding parties. Engagement parties, showers, bachelor/ette parties, and the rehearsal dinner are all optional!
  • Invite anyone you don’t want present. The caveat to this is if someone else is paying for the wedding, they do get a vote on who gets invited. Talk it out until you are comfortable with your guest list.
  • Invite anyone at all! You can always elope.
  • Accept demands or advice from family, friends, or acquaintances.
  • Accept financial/non-financial help from anyone.
  • Accept offers from friends or family to provide services.
  • Wear white or a veil. Wear whatever you feel beautiful/yourself in.
  • Look perfect. Looking like yourself can feel much better than wearing a lot of makeup to look “flawless.” Shoot for looking like your best self!
  • Have matching bridesmaid’s dresses.
  • Have bridesmaids at all! It is perfectly acceptable to forgo a bridal party or have bridesmen/groomswomen.
  • Walk down the aisle or be “given away.”
  • Get married in a church.
  • Have an altar or aisle. You can always have your guests encircle you and your partner.
  • Have a sit-down dinner. In fact, you can serve whatever you like as long as your guests will still be comfortable and it is appropriate for the time of day. For example, you shouldn’t host your wedding and reception from 4-11pm without serving dinner, unless you want unhappy guests!
  • Have an open bar or even serve alcohol at all! There is nothing wrong with a sparkling cider toast!
  • Have a live band or a DJ. If you aren’t the “dance the night away” types, it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo these traditions.
  • Toss your bouquet or garter. These traditions, while fun, can be awkward for single guests.
  • Have flowers or expensive decor.
  • Have a receiving line.
  • Do anything “traditional” if it isn’t reflective of you as a couple, or feel ashamed for wanting your day to be traditional, either.
  • Finally, you definitely don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a beautiful and meaningful wedding day!