How to a Create Hampton Roads Wedding Welcome Bag

One detail I've come to appreciate as a wedding photographer are Welcome Bags. I feel that creating a welcome bag (or box!) is a supremely gracious gesture for guests who have traveled a long way to see you get married. It’s also an elevated way to show that you care about your guests and their experience, and that you’re glad they came.

A highly personalized bag of goodies sets the tone for your guests’ visit, and can provide them with essentials like hangover kits, a sweet treat, and a gift to reflect the theme of the wedding or shine a spotlight on the region. While I love personalization of all kinds, I’m an even bigger fan of practicality. I want to give (and receive) things that I would actually use or taste, so I’ve rounded up a few locally-crafted items that would be perfect for a Hampton Roads wedding welcome bag.

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1. & 2. Give them a souvenir they can't digest! Prince Ink, located in Downtown Norfolk, offers up these fun enamel pins (a pride version is available too!), and can make custom bags for you to use either as your gift bag, or to roll up inside another box. If you are talented in the design department, they can digitize your artwork and create a one-of-a-kind gift. I'm a huge fan of these Norfolk bags, which are currently sold out. Don't let that deter you though--Prince's in-house artists can work with you to create a customized screen print similar to this one, a wedding logo, or just about anything else! 

3. Hampton Roads has seen a HUGE boom in craft breweries and distilleries in the past few years. When I reach for a beer, it’s usually O'Connor, but there are quite a few to choose from! Smartmouth is another local favorite if you're looking to include beer, or, if you're super grateful to your out-of-towners, a bottle of Ironclad would be a real treat. 

4. Southeast Virginia is known for it's peanuts, so show some pride with Merchant's Reserve or a savory mix from Taste Unlimited. I'm a sucker for Merchant's beautifully branded bags, but you can make your bags with your wedding logo or date on them. Last year I had a bride and groom who included one treat that was “Her Favorite”, one that was “His Favorite”, and one mix they labeled “Our Favorite”, which I thought was super cute.

5. Last year Norfolk unveiled a whole new shopping experience in downtown Norfolk-- Selden Market! There are so many rad, unique shops there. When it first opened last October, I discovered Merchant's Reserve and I also came across Twittering Bird's pop-up shop. Twittering Bird has these gorgeously fun prints of nearly ALL Hampton Roads cities, which would make an unforgettable gift for your guests to keep. She also offers Norfolk postcards, in a set of 10, which you could use to write a handwritten thank you.

6. Also spotted in Selden was Vessel Craft Coffee, who create a specialty Norfolk Blend! (How cool is that?!) If you didn't want to offer your guests alcohol, this would be a great substitute. Or, if you wanted to do both, it's a great way for your guests to perk up the morning after your epic dance party. (I’m all for these coffee cups!)

7. Last but not least, something sweet! I love the idea of putting a few macarons from Hummingbird in a small box. They are so delicious, and are constantly updating their menu. I'm obsessed with this shop (Rosewater is my go-to!).

If you are feeling extra, the macarons can be personalized with your initials or wedding brand!

Last but not least, whether it’s on a postcard like I mentioned above, or on personal stationery, take a few moments to include a handwritten note for your guests. I’ve seen a trend in the wedding industry emerging with ultra-individualized details, like a custom thank you note at the guests’ table setting, and photos of the guest on the escort card display. I am all for this!

You can make welcome gifts as simple or over-the-top as you want or budget allows, and even the bare essentials goes a long way to sending your friends and family members a tangible message of gratitude.