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Local Vendor Spotlight: Bagable Gifts

Bagable Gifts is a Chicago-based company that specializes in high-end custom gift bags for weddings and events.  Now, we aren’t just talking any old paper gift bag with a few snacks and treats. These swoon-worthy customized canvas creations are true swag bags in every sense of the word. Keeping with tradition, the bags are totally build upon the theme of your wedding and event and can be as simple or as over-the-top as your heart desires!

When it comes to alleviating last minute wedding stress, this vendor is a gem that will take care of the personal details your guests will see upon arrival to your wedding. Whether you opt to leave these bags in each hotel room for out of town guests to feel more at home, or you gift each girl in your bridal party a swag bag, the options are endless and their team will help you come up with just the right contents for any theme.  The idea behind Bagable Gifts, is really about delivering comfort and style in the form of hand packaged, thoughtful gifts. And the packaging is truly what sets it apart. From the vast array of monograms and personalization’s you can choose for your bag , to the hand created labels for each treat, these one of a kind gifts will have guests talking for years to come.

And they’re not just for weddings! Bagable Gifts is perfect for promoting your business as well. Lately, the company has been busy working with Chicago Social, Glossed and Found and Trump Hotels along with countless bridal clients. And what’s even better? The bags are all reusable and eco-friendly. What could be more chic than that? So whether it’s a newlywed monogram or your company’s logo, this company is well worth checking out.

How to Pull off a Surprise Wedding

A darling wedding was recently featured on one of our favorite go-to wedding blogs, Style Me Pretty.  The bride was absolutely stunning in her classic ¾ length sleeve Chantilly lace gown and her groom was flawless.  Their décor was subtle and had guests seated at a large outdoor restaurant venue that looked like a cobblestone street in Paris. Every detail was perfectly executed, but one thing made this wedding uniquely one for the books: None of the guests knew it was a wedding!

Tara McMullen Photography

When guests arrived to the venue for what they thought was the groom’s surprise 30th birthday party, they were greeted with a beautifully scripted note letting them in on the little secret. The photos are absolutely priceless; full of tears and screams of joy. We can only hope to be a guest at one of these of the moment fetes sometime soon!

Tara McMullen Photography

So we got to thinking: What does it take to pull off such a covert operation as a surprise wedding? Here were a few tips we found from the bride in this story and a few industry insiders who can only hope to see more of these type of weddings in the future!

  1. Keep it quiet, and let it slip: This has to be the trickiest part of all. Not telling your nearest and dearest about the biggest day of your life can be torture, but is well worth the pay-off in reaction. Of course there are always exceptions in a surprise scenario. Some of the guests that might think they are merely missing a birthday or engagement party might skipped the event since it may require travel – in this case, trust us, it’s worth spilling the beans. You want to make sure your secret doesn’t stop your favorite people from being there. They may never let you live it down!
  2. Make something up! : Some brides decide to surprise guests at their “engagement” party, while others create an entirely new scenario like a birthday or Bon Voyage so that their guests are completely caught off guard. Sometimes the more casual the event they think they are attending, the more exciting it is when they realize they are at a wedding.
  3. Gift or no gift?  No one gets married for the gifts. But for some couples that expect to leave their wedding with a little extra to start their new lives with , may be disappointed with the lack of envelopes they see since guests don’t come prepared. While this is hardly a reason not to have the wedding you want, most guests gladly send a gift after the wedding as they would with any other.  They understand the time and money spent and want to show they wish you well.  Some guest might even be inclined to be more generous than usual given the once in a lifetime memory you shared with them.

Extra Wedding Events

Sure, your nuptials are the main event, but it’s not the only affair you (or your guests) will be attending during the weekend of festivities. Here’s an overview of the additional events to consider planning for your wedding weekend:

Welcome Party: If you have a lot of guests coming in from out-of-town for your wedding, consider hosting a party to welcome them to town. This can be as simple as a backyard barbecue or as elaborate as a swanky cocktail party. Not only will it make your guests feel honored and appreciated, it’ll give you an opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones that you might otherwise only talk to for a few minutes at your reception.

Bridesmaids Brunch/Luncheon: This gathering can also be as casual or classy as you prefer and it is typically held one or two days before the wedding. A close female friend or relative who isn’t part of the bridal party traditionally hosts it and it can be held in a restaurant, at someone’s home, or at a tearoom. The primary goal is to spend time with your bridesmaids, closest friends, and close female relatives of you and the groom.

Rehearsal Dinner: The rehearsal dinner is offered following the—you guessed it—rehearsal. Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom’s family and is offered for the entire bridal party and anyone helping with the wedding. It can also be opened up to out-of-town guests who are particularly close to the bride and groom. This can be held at a nearby restaurant, a reception hall, in a hotel, or at someone’s house.

J. Jones Photography

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party: While the bachelor/bachelorette parties can be held in the weeks or months leading up to the wedding, a lot of couples opt to enjoy them one or two nights before the wedding. Whether you opt for a wild night out on the town or an intimate dinner with your closest pals, hosting the bachelor/bachelorette party shortly before the wedding is a great way to truly celebrate the end of your single life.

 

Farewell Brunch: If you aren’t departing for your honeymoon immediately following your wedding, why not host a morning-after-the-wedding brunch for your close friends and family? The wedding day is such a whirlwind, so an event the following day will give you a chance to relax, have fun, and ruminate on the best moments of the day.

How to Help Wedding Guests Save Money on Hotel Rooms

Whether you have a lot of out of town guests, are hosting a destination wedding or just have guests who don’t want to drive after the reception, many of your wedding guests may ask your advice on reserving a hotel room. Most likely, they will ask you where to book a room as well how to save money at local hotels. A 2007 report done by Smith Travel Research revealed that the average U.S. hotel room price is now over $100 per night, so many guests may be concerned about cost. However, don’t get discouraged. According to Daniel from ChicagoHotels.org, there are two easy ways your out of town guests can save money on a hotel room.

Consider Business Hotels

According to Daniel, hotels that cater to business guests often offer discounts on the weekends. This is because their main clientele only need rooms during the week. It is a basic example of supply and demand. During the week, prices are higher because demand is higher. However, on the weekends, prices are lower because demand is lower. To find a hotel that typically caters to business travelers, simply do a little online research and make a few phone calls to local hotels. You may want to make a list of hotels in your area that typically cater to business professionals and then share this information with your wedding guests.

Wait Until the Last Minute

It is common knowledge that waiting until the last minute is the best way to score great travel deals. This applies to everything from hotel rooms to flights. This is because companies lose money if they do not fill up their hotel rooms or plane seats, so they are willing to offer steep discounts to fill up those seats at the last minute. The downside to this approach is risking the possibility of not being to get a hotel room or flight that meshes with your wedding schedule. Avoid this tactic if you are planning a wedding on a holiday weekend. Travel arrangements are best made in advance for busy weekends. However, this may be a good option for local guests who don’t want to drive home after the wedding because they can always make other arrangements if they have trouble finding a room.

While you can share helpful information with your wedding guests, you are not responsible for booking the rooms for them. Give them the information they need to make an informed decision that fits with their personal finances; then let them handle the rest. After all, you are planning a wedding!

Being the Best Man

Being the best man is a huge honor, but as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Here’s an introductory guide to the duties of the best man…

Assist: The chief responsibility of any best man is to assist the groom in any and all wedding-related duties. This can vary greatly from wedding to wedding, but a few obvious ways a best man can help out are: helping out with the selection of tuxedos or suits for the wedding, direct or drive out-of-town guests to/from the airport or hotel, hold onto the bride and groom’s rings during the wedding ceremony, make sure the officiant receives their payment on the wedding day, serve as a witness for the signing of the wedding certificate, and drive the bride and groom to their hotel/house/airport following the reception.

Attend: Being the best man comes with a long list of invitations as the groom’s main man is expected to attend a wide variety of wedding-related festivities. It’s the responsibility of the best man to be present for any and all of the following events: the bachelor party, the engagement party, a couples shower (if one is being thrown), the wedding rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, and most obvious, the wedding and the reception.

Oversee: One of the biggest ways that the best man can help out the groom is by overseeing tasks and people that might otherwise be overlooked. The best man is responsible for keeping the other groomsmen in line, making sure they’re where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there and that they’re doing the right thing. This doesn’t only include the wedding day; the best man can keep the groomsmen in line at other wedding-related festivities as well, making sure the men are on time to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and that they’ve all rented or purchased their tuxes/suits on time.

Organize: The best man also has a few party-planning obligations of his own, most notably the bachelor party. The best man is the guy in charge of organizing the bachelor party, usually celebrated days before the wedding. This can be thrown by several groomsmen or friends (so don’t be afraid to ask for help) and the cost is usually split evenly among the guys (excluding the groom). It’s also up to the best man to put together a toast for the reception.

More on being the Best Man

Preparing for Out-of-Town Guests

If you’re expecting a significant number of out-of-town guests (i.e. if the wedding is taking place outside of your hometown or the groom’s hometown), there are a number of things you need to prepare in advance. You can’t leave your visiting guests to fend for themselves, which means the task of booking rooms, providing transportation, and creating itineraries falls on you. Here’s what you can do to ensure your out-of-town guests have a fun and effortless experience at your wedding:

Book Hotel Rooms: It’s up to you to secure a block of hotel rooms near the wedding/reception site for your guests. You should reserve these six months in advance in order to get the number of rooms you need, avoid scheduling conflicts with the hotel, and secure a good rate. Most hotels will offer you a set, discounted rate for the rooms. Ideally, you should book rooms at multiple hotels to give your guests the option of where to stay. For your ease, if at all possible, book hotels nearby each other and select places with various price points for guests that are more budget-conscious or ones who want to enjoy a lavish weekend away.

Secure Transportation: If guests will be flying in, it’s up to you to arrange transportation to and from the airport. If the hotel has a shuttle, you’re in luck, but if guests are staying further away from the airport, you’ll need to figure out additional rides for them. If there’s room in your budget, you can book shuttles for the weekend. If not, this is a great task to hand off to members of your bridal party, family members, or trustworthy friends. Also, make sure that visiting guests have a way to get to/from the wedding and reception.

Create an Information Pack: Be sure to provide out-of-town guests with everything they need to know about your wedding weekend. When you mail your save-the-date cards or invitations, you should include information about hotel accommodations, car rentals, nearby airports, wedding events, and a weekend itinerary. It’s also incredible helpful to include a phone number of a friend or family member that guests can call with further questions.

Create a Wedding Website: A great way to consolidate information and make it easy for anyone to find is by creating a wedding website. Depending on how tech savvy you are, this can be as involved as you want. A lot of wedding websites allow couples to create a personalized site including information on their registries, accommodations, schedule of events, and location details. Google weddings is the newest trend in wedding websites.

Assemble Gifts: One of the greatest ways to make your out-of-town guests feel welcome is by assembling a gift bag or basket for them. Put together reasonable gifts based on your budget and number of visiting guests and have them waiting in each hotel room. Some great ideas of items to include: snacks, bottled water, fresh fruit, brochures for local attractions and area restaurants/shopping, disposable cameras, homemade baked goods, and gift certificates for brunch, a massage, or a nearby eatery. Feel free to include themed gifts (i.e. beach towels for a seaside wedding or local apple cider for a autumn celebration).

Plan an Event: Since most of your out-of-town guests won’t be included in all of the pre-wedding festivities, like the rehearsal dinner, bachelor/ette parties, and brunch, plan a special gathering strictly for visiting attendees. Host a cocktail party in the hotel or invite everyone over for a backyard BBQ. It’s a great way to welcome your out-of-town guests, give them a chance to mingle with one another, and show your appreciation for the sacrifice they made to attend your wedding.

Welcoming Out-Of-Town Wedding Guests

If your wedding will be drawing out-of-town guests, there are a number of ways to make them feel welcome and significant. Follow these easy and practical tips to ensure that your traveling wedding guests receive the VIP treatment:

1. Provide Information: One of the surest ways to ease the pain and discomfort of traveling for your guests is to provide as much information as possible. Without question, you should include hotel information with your wedding invitation or save-the-date card. In addition to that, you may want to send an information packet to all out-of-town guests that includes a detailed wedding itinerary, contact information for a friend or family member willing to answer questions, and particulars about the nearest airports, car rental companies, and hotel accommodations. Since many of your guests may be planning on staying in town for a few days prior to or following the wedding, offer suggestions on great local restaurants, tourist attractions, or shopping centers they may want to visit.

2. Arrange Transportation: If you have wedding guests that are traveling to town via plane, arrange for transportation to and from the airport. Find a few trustworthy friends to greet out-of-town guests upon their arrival and deliver them to their hotel. In the days following the wedding, find volunteers willing to drive guests back to the airport for their departing flight. Also, be sure to make arrangements for guests to get from the hotel to the actual wedding by assigning a friend or family member to the task, arranging a hotel shuttle, hiring a car, or reserving vans or a bus for the day.

3. Secure Accommodations: One of your most important jobs as it pertains to out-of-town guests is securing hotel accommodations. It’s your responsibility to reserve a block of rooms at a couple of hotels for your guests to stay for the wedding. Contact the hotel manager about six months prior to your nuptials to inquire about group rates. Look for hotels in a convenient location close to your wedding and reception sites, as well as nearby restaurants, shopping, or entertainment for any downtime your guests might have. Arrange for rooms to be available at hotels with varying price points to accommodate budget-conscious guests along with wealthier ones.

4. Show Appreciation: Surprise your guests and express your gratitude by having a welcome gift waiting in each hotel room. The gift can range in lavishness based on your budget and number of out-of-town guests, but a thoughtful token of your appreciation will wow guests and make them feel special. Put together a gift bag or basket complete with snacks, fresh fruit, bottled water, and brochures for local attractions. If you have room in your budget, bless guests with a gift certificate for brunch or a massage. Wedding favor ideas.

5. Welcome Celebration: If a great deal of guests have traveled in from out-of-town, you might want to consider celebrating their arrival with a cocktail party, brunch, or barbecue in the days before the wedding. Since the wedding day itself is often hectic, hosting a special event for out-of-town guests will give you the opportunity to say hello and visit with those individuals that traveled a long way to participate in your big day.