By Brooke Showell
Whether friends and family are coming from around the world or across town, a locally-themed welcome bag will have your guests excited to kick off a wedding weekend, Houston-style. "Not only does it allow the guests a chance to sample some of Texas's finest specialties, but it also displays the Texas welcoming hospitality that we're known for," says Samantha Darr of Soiréebliss! Events.
A well-appointed welcome bag should include an itinerary of your weekend events; local transportation options, a suggested list of must-sees and a map so attendees can explore on their own; drinks and snacks for their stay; and - the most important part - a few small mementos of the city. "The welcome bag is another opportunity to brand your wedding weekend and to share your favorite things with those you love. The bags and the contents can be as personalized as you want them to be," adds event planner Natalie Dawley of Two Be Wed.
Whether it's a midnight snack for the hotel room or a personalized map of the city, well-chosen goodies give guests a hint of events to come and a feel for the area around them. We checked in with some of Houston's top wedding planners for their favorite welcome bag must-haves.
- Pretty, delicate and chicly French in feel, macarons are ideal because you can coordinate them with your wedding colors. The party-planning gurus at Todd Events name Macaron by Patisse the sweetest in town - even better that they're made by a Houston baker. But the best part? Superb attention to detail goes into every bite.
- You can't beat a classic like pecan pie, chock full of Texas pecans. Deborah Elias of Elias Events recommends mini versions from Goode Company.
- Even a sophisticated city like Houston can have a little fun with a theme. Natalie Dawley digs Wild West Cookies shaped like cowboy hats and the Alamo.
- Jo Ann Woodward of Schwartz & Woodward loves Michael's Cookie Jar for his creative and delicious decorated goodies. A custom-decorated State of Texas cookie is always cute and yummy.
- With unique shapes and colors, Cacao & Cardamom's exotic, locally made chocolates are more like pieces of art according to Todd Events. Consider customizing the treats with your wedding logo or initials - it will make the artisanal flavors like cardamom rose and black sesame ginger even more special.
- Even the most buttoned-up affair needs a touch of Texas BBQ - fill welcome bags with Goode Company's BBQ Sauce to give guests a treat they can take home, says Samantha Darr.
- Keely Thorne of Keely Thorne Events loves putting adorable, homemade salsas in welcome bags along with the couple's favorite brand of tortilla chips - an instant addictive snack. Her recommendation: Revival Market, which makes and packages the salsa in-house in Houston and also sources all of their ingredients from area farmers.
After a few days of overindulgence, guests will appreciate biting into fresh, local, organic fruit from Houston's Rawfully Organic Co-Op, Dawley recommends.
Something for the Morning
Providing a midnight snack is key for when guests get home from the night's wedding events, but don't forget breakfast. Keely Thorne suggests Houston's own Dacapo's Pastry Cafe, which can make an assortment of delicious mini loafs of breakfast breads like banana nut, zucchini and chocolate chip.
Something To Do
Rather than giving guests a standard issue map of the city, create a custom version. Natalie Dawley recommends Nib and Pixel to illustrate the general area guests will be exploring. For an inside glimpse at what to see and do while they're in town, make sure guests are well-stocked with the latest issues of Houston and PaperCity magazines - these luxury publications are great resources for dining, shopping and exploring the city, Dawley adds.
For more professionals with creative wedding ideas, check out IDoHou's event planner directory.