Here’s how to create a warm NoCo
welcome for wedding travelers.
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you. You drag yourself into the wedding hotel on Friday night, hungry and tired, with garment bags draped over every limb. As you leave the front desk with your room key, the clerk hooks a “welcome bag” over your pinky. You peek inside, hoping for a little refreshment. Instead you find a droopy sheet of crepe paper, a bag of Lay’s, a bottle or two of Evian, a Snicker’s bar, a box of TicTacs, a piece of wilted fruit, and a moist towelette. There’s also a laser-printed note from the bride and groom that says:
“We’re SO thrilled that you’re here!”
Feel the excitement?That’s the trouble with wedding welcome bags—or hospitality baskets, wedding favors, or whatever else you want to call them. Too often they’re the opposite of welcoming, because they’re usually at or near the bottom of the wedding planning priority list. The contents reek of indifference, and the presentation is more often cold than cordial.
It’s not the type of first impression you want to make on your out-of-town guests (except for the bothersome relatives and family friends who your parents muscled onto the invitation list). But with a little forethought, you can greet your visitors with items that show your appreciation not only for them, but also for our region’s trove of ethically sourced, sustainably produced, hand-crafted treasures.
Here, then, is a starter list of truly welcoming NoCo wares.
You can’t go wrong with nonperishables, so we’ve limited our suggestions to that category. First up: the earthy-crunchy snacks from Bubba’s Foods (www.bubbasfoods.com) in Loveland. It’s the most guilt-free food you’ll eat all weekend—no added sugar, no chemical preservatives, just a tasty gateway to the local craze for hunter-gatherer cuisine.
Another Loveland-based Paleo purveyor, Wild Zora (www.wildzora.com), offers more substantial fare in the same vein, including energy-boosting soups, teas, snack bars, and freeze-dried packaged meals. Any guests who plan to hike, bike, climb or ski between wedding events will thank you for the replenishing chow. I
f your guests’ palates run sweet rather than savory, treat them to the Brownie Bites from Johnstown’s Canyon Bakehouse (www.canyonglutenfree.com). Anyone with food allergies will be grateful for the absence of gluten, dairy and nuts. They’re GMO-free, too.
And if you want to share some food that travels well, send everyone home with a jar of all-natural honey from Local Hive (www.localhivehoney.com) in Greeley or Bee Squared Apiaries (www.bethsbees.com) in Berthoud.
Luxury and comfort always play well at a wedding, and NoCo provides plenty of opportunities for your welcome bag. Salus (www.shopsalus.com) is something of a one-stop pampering shop, with a broad range of moisturizers, soaps, foot creams, essential oils and the like. There’s even a well-stocked guys-only section (90 Shilling Ale soap, anyone?). We recommend Salus’ signature merch, their bath- and shower-bombs, to help weary travelers purify pores, sinuses and spirit.
Greeley-based UPamperU (www.upamperu.com) also has a full complement of softeners and soothers, all handmade, eco-friendly and pure vegan. The company’s essential-oil soaps top the list, and the lineup includes a few wedding-centric bundles that are perfect for hospitality (e.g., the Forever Nuptials soap, shea, and mango butter suite).
Brighton’s Milagros Soap Company (www.milagrossoapcompany.com) also specializes in vegetable-based soaps, while FoCo’s Dawn Til Dusk Farm (www.dawntilduskfarm.com) features goat-milk cleansers, lotions, and creams from an ethically cared-for herd.
Small Acre Farm (www.smallacrefarm.com) offers goat-milk body care as well as goat-fiber products, so you can give your wedding guests face cream for the weekend and a skein of dyed wool to take home. The aforementioned Bee Squared Apiaries sells unique beeswax soaps and scented candles in addition to honey.
Another NoCo beekeeper, Bee Healthy Candles in Eaton (www.beehealthycandles.com), specializes in artistically crafted candles, with dozens of shapes and sizes available (beeswax soap is on offer here, too). For a woodsier scent, try Beldamia (www.beldamia.com)—hand-poured soy and beeswax candles with forest and garden aromas.
You never know what you’ll find at Timnath’s Colorado Feed and Grain (www.coloradofeedandgrain.com). The regularly rotating inventory features artisanal coffee and tea, small-batch snacks, baked goods, decorative stuff and whatever else ends up on the shelves that day, all of it locally made.
If you want to gently introduce your visitors to Colorado’s cannabis culture, stock your goody bag with some non-THC products from Greeley’s Gold Care (www.goldcarecbd.com)—CBD oils and lotions, bath bombs, tinctures, and a smattering of edibles (including hemp honey).