From welcome baskets and reception favors to bridesmaids bags and groomsmen gifts, you don’t have to look far to find unique items to share with your family and friends.
by Amanda Lea
Presenting family and friends with small gifts is a way to show your appreciation for helping you celebrate your special day. Your wedding is also the perfect opportunity to introduce your guests to some of the Queen City’s local offerings.
“Many of the couples I have worked with live here, but are not from here,” says Libby Sarver, owner of Details Wedding Planning. “Or they live out of town and are coming back to their hometown for their wedding. Either way, they want to showcase their city and highlight some of their favorite local-based items.”
There are a few things to consider when planning which gifts and favors work best for you and your wedding crew. Katrina Hutchins, owner of Katrina Hutchins Events, says to keep in mind many of your guests may be traveling by plane. “Things that are small and flat, like koozies and keychains, are easier to pack into luggage and won’t hold up the security line,” she says. “You can also offer something guests can eat during the wedding weekend, like pretzels and cookies, so they don’t have to add anything to their carry-on.”
Hutchins adds that while local items offer a personal touch, Charlotte-centric gifts don’t need to be too on the nose. “Most people just want something that reflects the city in which you live,” she says. “Think about things you and your partner enjoy about Charlotte – your favorite places to shop, snacks to eat, sports teams to cheer for. That is what you get to share with your guests.”
It can also be helpful to consider how you want to present your gifts. Sarver suggests hosting guests for a drop-in at a local brewery the night before the wedding, so you can hand-deliver welcome bags and mingle with your guests before the wedding day chaos kicks in.
Here are a few of our favorite finds to help ensure your guests have Carolina on their minds.
The bridal squad
For the ladies
Show your bridesmaids you have their back with a cute clutch from Girl Tribe in SouthPark, filled with go-to items they may need on the big day. Think chapstick, stain remover, tissues, safety pins, bandages and bobby pins. You can also pop in some foldable flats from Swoozie’s. (When it’s time to hit the dance floor, these comfy kicks will be a lifesaver.)
Grab some fun tote bags from Disco Honey and pack them with self-care items to enjoy at home. Try lip polish from Ruxton Mercantile, “Just Breathe” bath bombs from Paper Skyscraper or luxurious hand cream from Eliza B’s Gift Shop. You can also surprise your leading ladies with matching medallion initial necklaces from Boem, or unique statement earrings from Ivy & Leo.
For the guys
Sarver encourages couples to consider what items can incorporate the shared experience of your wedding but can also be enjoyed by each individual for years to come. For the gentlemen, Sarver says fun socks and bow ties are popular picks. But items like etched Charlotte-map whiskey glasses from Moxie Mercantile can spark a cherished memory when your best men serve up drinks in the future.
You can also give traditional gifts a glow-up, like customized cuff links from Swoozie’s that feature the shape of a state outlined in silver or gold. For one-of-a kind belts, key rings, wallets and valet trays, Charlottebased ColsenKeane Leather creates handcrafted leather products that can include a monogram of your choice.
For the family
To honor your parents and grandparents and their special roles in your life, Sarver says sentimental gifts are sure to be cherished and appreciated. A “Thank You, Mom” clutch from the Mint Museum Store, a monogrammed glass-and-leather flask from The Sporting Gent, or a commissioned piece from Two Ships Pottery are meaningful mementos that will bring a smile to their face when they think of you and your partner.
A warm welcome
Extend some southern hospitality and set guests up for success with a carefully curated collection of Queen City swag.
Like Hutchins, Sarver also suggests filling your welcome boxes with locally made consumables that guests can graze on between the wedding weekend events. Try to incorporate things that reflect you and your partner’s palates. Queen City Crunch pretzels, Lance crackers, small bottles of Cheerwine, prepackaged snack bags from Popcorn Heaven, crispy cheese snacks from Piedmont Pennies, Bear Food peanuts or a can of craft beer from your favorite Charlotte brewery are all delicious ways to introduce your visitors to a taste of the city.
Another helpful item to include in a welcome bag is a hangover kit. A few essentials – a bottle of water, mints, stomach soothers, pain relievers, vitamin C packets, sunglasses – can help make the morning more manageable for those who lived it up the night before.
Whatever you choose to include in your welcome bags, a Charlotte-centric postcard from Archer Paper Goods to thank guests for coming is a nice finishing touch. Sarver also recommends including printouts of wedding event details so guests have the rundown in-hand.
When it’s time to wrap up the festivities, give guests something they can sink their teeth into.
“Consumables work best for favors so people can eat it right then, or bring it back to the hotel to snack on later,” Sarver says.
Sweets from local confectioners like Wentworth & Fenn, Manolo’s Bakery, Suárez Bakery and Sunflour Baking Company are solid stand-ins for traditional wedding favors. Or consider a doughnut bar from North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme or refreshing treats from King of Pops.
When it comes to personalization, you can give guests a subtle nod to your big day without having to put your name on everything, Hutchins says. Skyline two-in-one coaster bottle openers from CLT Find or “CLT” koozies from MadPark Designs are fun ways to send guests home with a little piece of our Crown Town.
By the time you have booked the venue, picked your dress and finalized the flowers, it may be overwhelming to think about what to get everyone on your list. Luckily, there are several local companies that can take the gift procuring off your hands.
“You already have a lot going on with the rest of the wedding planning, so we’re happy to help you have one less task on your list,” says Whitney Holofchak, founder of Bonnie + Bud. The team works with a variety of local vendors to create thoughtfully curated gift boxes for everyone from your future father-in-law to your West Coast bestie. For weddings, Bonnie + Bud can work with you to choose everything from the ribbon colors to the items that will fill your gift boxes. You start by taking a brief online survey, and the team takes it from there. Several of their popular gift boxes include “Be My Bridesmaid,” “Cheers to the Happy Couple,” and “Welcome to the Carolinas.”
CLT Find is another Charlotte-based business that partners with local artisans to create a collection of customized gift boxes. Fill a cute North Carolina canvas bag with local favorites like snacks, a postcard map of the city, koozies, keychains, magnets and more. CLT Find also offers specialized bridal party gifts, like self-care products, jewelry for bridesmaids and customized leather goods for the groomsmen. You can even work with the team to create a custom scent and label for candles, so the memories can live on long after you say “I Do.” —W