There's really no way around it...if your guests travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles, you really should acknowledge their arrival. A great way to do so is having a welcome gift left for them either in their hotel room or at the front desk. The welcome gifts do not have to be as complex or even as pretty as the ones we put together for the photo shoot, but they should be thoughtful and useful. Here are the top things I ALWAYS include when putting together a welcome bag:
Food & beverage: If there is one thing people are when they get off of a long plane ride, is hungry and thirsty. Rather than making them dig into the mini bar, providing a little snack and something to drink is much appreciated. I try to take this a step further by selecting foods and drinks from the destination as to get the excitement started, but many of my clients choose to simplify by providing things like bottled water, trail mix or fresh fruit. I think a simpler approach is okay too, as long as their is a little something they can munch on.
Details about the destination: Whether you have a mini "Survival Guide" created with your favorite activites and hand selected restaurants, or you choose to include a local publication, guests like some assistance in planning their excursions. If you are in a popular or even semi-popular tourist destination, the airports will have free publications or guide books that are perfect to include in the gifts.
Details about the wedding week: Whether it be in the form of a map, an itinerary or a welcome letter, remind guests about all of the activities and other details they need to know such as start times, shuttle pick up locations and so on.
Something they can keep or use: I personally like to present the gift in a bowl, bag, box, etc. that represents the destination and can serve as a souvenir. It's a great way to pretty up the gift and ideally gives the guests something to remember the trip by. However, some people are a little more functional and if this is the case, you might prefer to put things they can use in the destination in the gift. A good example is sunblock or flip flops if in Mexico or a pair of super warm slippers or scarf if in Aspen.
So, there you have my "must haves" for a welcome gift, but if you want to go above and beyond, also consider personalizing the bags a bit. A simple thank you letter that was written for each couple or some hand selected books the guest can read poolside is a great way to let each guest know you thought of them specifically.