18 June 2014

DIY Wedding Week 2014: out of town bags

Wedding week continues today! I’ve already told you how we invited our guests to the celebration and let them know everything they needed to know about Nashville and our wedding. To continue that focus on the guests, today I’m going to tell you how I DIY’d a not-totally-necessary-but-totally-sweet project for guests: out of town bags!

Once we had a few blocks of hotel rooms, I did everything in my (admittedly limited) power to encourage our guests to book in one of those hotels. Not only did it help me feel like I could keep track of my guests (control freak much?) but then, of course, I could be sure to get them their bag of goodies.

For the bags themselves, I just purchased plain white gift bags from Nashville Wraps (a great company for any bulk packaging needs). They have lots of good designs there, but I went with basic.

Then I dolled up the outside with ribbon and a tag made with the same silhouettes I showed you yesterday.

The insides were filled with your standard out-of-town bag fare. You know, free brochures I snagged from the Nashville visitor’s center (actually, my bridesmaid snagged them as I was afraid of imaginary authority figures), snacks and drinks purchased in bulk from Costco, a welcome letter. Of course, we made sure the welcome letter included maps – the same as the ones on the map card.

I also had a back of a page to fill in the welcome letter, so I used a free crossword generator (plus some Illustrator magic) to make a puzzle about us and our fair city.

In my head, I pretended that people would work together to solve the puzzle and, in doing so, learn a thing or two about their new family member. Or maybe they’d look up the answers on the website! I am fairly sure that neither of those things happened, but it was fun to pretend – and the crossword was easy to make.

As for the snacks, I didn’t want to fork out the cash for super-fancy custom snacks or ”Sarah’s favorite Nashville treat” or whatever (out of town bags can get expensive fast!). But still, I customized where I could, even in the bottled water. I made my own labels!

It seems fancy, but it’s easy, promise! I just tore the existing label off a bottle to measure how big it should be, designed our label, printed them with a laser printer (so ink doesn’t run), cut them up (running a black pen over places where the white paper looked fuzzy), and stuck them on using a Xyron (but a regular glue stick could work too). It sounds like a lot of work, but compared to all the other projects, it was one of the simpler ones!

Finally, we did include one special item, with the help of my bridesmaid with professional production equipment. Mr. P and I figured, what would a gift bag from Music City, U.S.A. be without... music? So, we made our own mix CD of our favorite songs from our favorite Nashville artists – some familiar, some very unknown, and NO COUNTRY MUSIC. We called it Nashville Rocks!

I’d share the playlist and package design and all the thought that went into that, but I am daggum terrified of the copyright lawyers (which are not imaginary authority figures but actual authority figures). So instead I’ll tell you about the pièce de résistance: the image on the CD itself!

I started with this photo in front of legendary Ryman Auditorium, taken by our photographer for our engagement photoshoot:

Then whipped up this little (pretend) sign, made with the same perspective as the sign in the background above:

And ended up with this design that my dear friends printed on the CDs!

I couldn’t find my hard copy of the CD in the five minutes I allotted myself to look for it, but I promise, it was pretty cool. Of course, not everyone has a friend with fancy CD production equipment, but you could do the same thing with printable CD labels.

Once I’d printed all my letters and information, re-labeled all my water bottles, procured my snacks, and made the fanciest mix CDs of all time, it was time to distribute!

There was also a lot of ribbon-tying involved, but I didn’t manage to catch that in a photo. I document things more thoroughly now that I have a blog!

Writing it all up now, it sure sounds like these out of town bags were a lot of work – and I suppose in some ways they were! But like pretty much every DIY wedding project I worked on, it was worth it in the end. Our guests traveled from near and far to come to our wedding, and I wanted to at least put forth some effort just for them in turn!

And of course, now when I attend a wedding, the out of town bag is one of my favorite things ever. If you have the time – and the extra hundred bucks or so to spend – it’s much appreciated by the guests!


carol said...

Love your ideas!! Here is how we just did ours for our own recent wedding! http://www.celebrationideasonline.com/wedding-welcome-bags.html