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5 Tips for Out of Town Guests

In my mind, your out of town guests should be considered to be your guests of honor. Remember, these people have not only traveled but some have purchased air fare, they have paid for hotels and in some cases have taken extra time off work to be a part of your special day. For this reason, they deserve to be taken care of. Here are 5 things to keep in mind to make them feel the extra love when they arrive. There should deliberate and separate planning for these very special guests.

DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS

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You have to put yourself in their shoes. They are showing up in a strange town and here to see you. What would you need to know if you arrived in a strange town? That is what you should provide for them.

Even though the information is in the wedding invite, include the address of the wedding and reception again, along with maps.  Unlike other guests, these guests had to pack and travel which makes misplacing things very easy to do.  Include a list of cool restaurants, movie theaters, parks, workout facility, hair and nail salon, massage salons, bars, night clubs and grocery stores.

Place all this information in a cool handout or binder that is exclusive to the out of town guests. The key is making them feel special.

Also make sure you offer transportation options. Many guests will either have their own cars or get a rental from the airport but that is not always the case. Many who drive together might not own the car and want to travel separately at sometime during the stay. Include bus schedules, any airport-hotel shuttles and numbers to local taxis.

For older guests or guests who do not feel comfortable driving in strange locations, have someone who will be willing to pick those people up from the airport. Signs with guests names, and the wedding party are a nice touch along with a friendly smile and a warm hug. This will remind them that this is going to be a great day.

Getting your guests to the wedding s your responsibility. You need to do a little work here. Discuss this with all of your out of town guests before hand. Make sure just as you have everyone seated at the reception, that you have a car, limo or van some other transportation for the guests the wedding for those who don’t have it.

OFFER MORE THAN ONE HOTEL OPTION

This is key. Everyone is not going to be able or want to afford the $200 per night hotel so add three options. They should all be different pay scales and everything should be as equally as convenient for all locations. This is not always possible because a lot of times the reception is at one of the hotel venues but try and make sure that just because a guest chooses cheaper accommodations they are not treated any less.

WELCOME GOODIE BAGS

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For me this is one of the things that you should spend a lot of thought on.  Oftne, more thought then money. Gift bags should be provided for all of your out of town guests and ideally should be in their rooms when they arrive.  Depending on your budget, you can offer anything from hotel massages to a complete spa day. The basket should say to them two things, “WELCOME & RELAX”. There are some easy wins like bottles of water, mints, gum, trail mix and fruit snacks. It should also contain all your out of town information such as maps, and itineraries. Consider some keepsakes like cups and “do not disturb” door hanger, mugs, candles and specialty coffees.

Don’t forget a hand written individual personal note. Mention the guests by name, include where they are traveling from, and how much you appreciate thier specific sacrifice they made to be there. Use good quality paper. Take your time with this activity which means don’t save it for the last day.

ENTERTAINMENT

This is a tough one. You will be inundated with reception dinner and reception dinner guests and toasts. Out of town guests although extremely important are often not a part of these festivities and can quickly become an after thought.
My suggestion is to arrange some type of inexpensive, casual activity like a cookout or cocktail hour. Appoint a designee in charge of out of towners. Make sure this person has the right personality to go with the job at hand. Have this person host any local gathering where all of your out of town guests can mingle and get to know each other.
For those guests who want to have a low key evening to themselves, include any movie locations and explore any special discounts. If there is live music or a jazz bar include these details as well. Also check and see if there are any local coffee shops or bookstores as these are also relaxing places to hangout after a logn day of travelling.
 

QUALITY TIME AND RECOGNITION

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This is important and often overlooked. Make sure you block off two time slots to visit and say hi to your out of town guests. That could mean before and after the reception dinner or visiting the hotels for cocktails with some of the guests. If you do have an event arraigned schedule it at a time where you can attend the end and just give a special thanks.

At a bare minimum these guests need special acknowledgement at the reception. An out of town toast should be a staple at all weddings. Bring attention to the convenience and the time that tthese guests have sacrificed and how much it really means.
A farewell brunch is always a nice touch. Even if you are leaving for your honeymoon a host designee could be appointed. Again personality is everything. This person will have to be upbeat, friendly and responsible after a night of partying. That will be a very special person.

In conclusion – put yourself in the shoes of the guests arriving in a strange town. Brainstorm this with your partner three or for times during he weeding planning process. Create a list and tweak it as more guests confimrm and more details of the wedding emerge. Visualize every step from the time a guest is making reservations to the the time the guests leave in the morning.
If you use the Golden Rule you really can’t go wrong. Happy Planning.


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