group of people talking at wedding welcome party

8 Wedding Welcome Party Ideas We Love

Jun 8, 2022
By Wedding Spot

Celebrating your love story deserves more than just one event. Your ceremony will be the most "important" part of your wedding, but why not make a whole weekend out of it? That's where these wedding welcome party ideas come in.

A wedding welcome party is a lavishly fun precursor to your wedding day and is not to be missed! Hosting one gives you an opportunity to bring everyone together to socialize. It will also provide a nice psychological and emotional pause from all the stress of wedding planning as you transition into actually enjoying your big day.

Read on to learn more about why you need these wedding welcome party ideas in your life and how to plan a stress-free soiree in a few easy steps.

What’s a wedding welcome party, and is it necessary?

A wedding welcome party is a gathering that's usually held the evening before the wedding. Most couples who host one choose to do it immediately after the rehearsal dinner. They’ll then invite everyone who attended the rehearsal dinner, friends and family from out of town, and anyone else they’d like to relax with.

Whether you decide on a local or a destination wedding, a welcome party is always a great idea. On the actual wedding day, you're likely to be in a flurry of activity and may not be able to give everyone attention. So hosting the welcome party a day, or days, before the ceremony allows you to say hello to all of your loved ones.

Although most are casual in nature, your wedding welcome party ideas can include whatever you want. Tired of planning? Host it at the bar next to your wedding venue. Want to jazz it up a bit more? Invite a carefree, celebratory spirit with live music, poetry recital, food trucks, or whatever else you want. The choice is yours!

Discover 8 of our favorite wedding welcome party ideas

1. Choose a relaxed venue

Choosing a venue for a wedding reception or ceremony can be stressful for couples. The good news is that tools like Wedding Spot make the process of finding a venue, getting an instant quote or pricing on the spot, and booking it for your chosen dates, a breeze.

The sky's the limit when it comes to choosing the best venue for this event type. It can be anything from your parent’s house to renting out a restaurant space. Not sure where to start? Outdoor patios and venues are always a hit, especially if the weather cooperates. You can use Wedding Spot to narrow your search by location, aesthetic, scenery, and much more.

For example, when we searched for a wedding welcome party venue in Los Angeles with an outdoor aesthetic and an ocean view, we found venues like Malibu West Beach Club and Shutters on the Beach, either of which would be amazing options for this type of get together.

2. Consider giving out party favors

Gift-giving is one of the best ways to carve a place for yourself in someone’s heart while also showing appreciation for those who have traveled or otherwise put in a lot of work towards your wedding. Regardless of how much or how little you spend, welcome party bags, favors, or boxes are a memorable way to end the evening.

An equation for the perfect wedding welcome gift bag can be something to eat, drink, and a small specialty item like a locket for someone to keep as a souvenir.

You can choose items with a great deal of sentimental value, like your favorite kind of chocolate, a handmade item like resin earrings, or even a book of love quotes. For best friends or loved ones who are very close to you, you can even slip in a special card or thank you note to show them how much their presence means to you as you get ready to tie the knot.

3. Pick one active and one passive activity

A welcome party is more than just a cocktail party. Instead of relying on drinks to get everyone mingling, consider adding a couple of fun activities. Choose one that is more active, such as cornhole, board games, or billiards for those who want to do something with a little more energy. Then add in a passive activity such as watching a mini-concert by a local band or a DIY ice cream bar.

For example, YouTubers known as The Funks hosted a carnival-themed wedding welcome party. Their activities included a wedding photo booth inside of an Airstream trailer and jumbo wedding lawn games like Connect 4.

Whatever you choose, make sure you’re going with the options that are easy and low stress for you to arrange while also being a good fit for your particular guest list.

4. Have fun with decor

Do not underestimate the power of beautiful décor for a welcome party. While some wedding welcome party ideas are less formal when it comes to decorations and setup, they can still be visually exciting and tie into things you and your partner love. If you have extra decor that won’t be used at the venue, consider using that for your welcome party.

Don’t be afraid to share your personality! Remember when your partner vetoed dressing up as Star Trek crew members for your ceremony (and rightfully so)? Now is your chance to incorporate any themes or elements you didn’t get to plan for the big day.

We personally love this romantic and beachy boho wedding welcome party decor. Light woods, wicker basket lights, white lace tablecloths, and the leafy green canopy really pulls the theme together.

Pin, Insta URL

Can’t stomach the thought of yet another DIY decor project? We hear you. At the very least, consider what lighting you’ll use to make your wedding welcome party ideas really pop. Add fairy lights and lanterns for an outdoor gathering. Or bring in floor and table lamps to ensure your interior lighting is warm and cozy. We also love a well-placed spotlight underneath an especially beautiful tree or potted plant.

5. Opt for grazing platters

Most couples are expected to spend a small (or considerable) fortune on their wedding reception dinners. And many do! This means you can be a bit more creative and go for affordable options with your welcome party menu. Guests at a wedding welcome party may not expect a full-fledged lunch or dinner, which leaves a lot of room for fun and unexpected snacks.

Cheaper and more elegant than a buffet, serving a few different grazing platters will always be a winning choice among guests. They’re easy to assemble and leave lots of room for creativity.

Do a delicious spread of crowd-pleaser snack items like cookies, chips, brownies, nuts, hummus, salads, and so forth. Then, add a small selection of juices and soft drinks that pair well. 

If your wedding welcome party ideas involve food, consider adding heavier finger food options to the spread. Items like finger sandwiches and plated hors d'oeuvres will look great against fresh fruits and lighter fare.

6. Make everyone feel appreciated

Deciding who to invite can be an unforeseen challenge, as many wedding welcome party ideas are more intimate than a grand wedding reception. A welcome party can absolutely be limited to close friends and family members. Or it can be a large-scale celebration. It’s really up to you!

Either way, make sure to mention this when inviting your guests to your wedding welcome party. That way they’ll have the right expectations going in. You’ll also be able to communicate your intentions for the event in a way that doesn’t make anyone who didn’t get invited feel left out.

If you have gone for the more intimate gathering route, you can handwrite and mail letters to guests. Or design a special e-vite to elaborate on the exclusive aspect of the invitation. If you’re utterly exhausted from sending out all the other wedding-related invitations, a text message works too. Just be sure to mention attire, location, and time details.

7. Bring on the toasts

Welcome parties can be a chance to let close and beloved friends give speeches, toasts, or simply share stories that you don’t have time to do on the wedding day. A simple yet fun wedding welcome speech from Ryan Bang’s YouTube channel is a great example of the ideal toast structure, and that is:

  • start with a welcome
  • make a joke
  • say cheers

While this example is short, feel free to make it longer by adding a personal story or help out by announcing the itinerary for the party.

Including a toast is one of our favorite wedding welcome party ideas because it might be less nerve-wracking for your guests to get up and talk to the smaller group of people -- assuming your wedding welcome party has a smaller guest list than your wedding, that is. Leave at least 20 minutes for this part of the evening and make it first come, first serve.

8. Have great communication

Event planning experts Haute Fêtes shared on their website that the key to a successful rehearsal dinner and wedding welcome party is to communicate well with your hosts. This includes making it clear who is paying for what, who is in charge of organizing it all, and how the entire group will keep track of everything.

This is especially important when it comes to money. As the Haute Fêtes team writes, “Traditionally, the groom’s family is responsible for the welcome party and/or rehearsal dinner before the wedding. But with weekend-long wedding celebrations becoming more popular, it’s certainly not a faux pas to have both families split the cost and host all events together. With that said, always communicate with both sides of the family beforehand to set clear expectations for the budget of each event.”

Using a wedding planning software, spreadsheet, or digital planner is a great way to document and get sign-off on expenses for your wedding welcome party.

Welcome your guests in style with these wedding welcome party ideas!

Using one or more of the wedding welcome party ideas we’ve listed is a delightful way to create a pre-wedding celebration. These tips and tricks will also allow you to make the most of the time you have with loved ones before you walk down the aisle.

Up next, show your welcome party guests some gratitude with our unique wedding welcome bag ideas.

Featured Blog

Follow Us


Wedding Spot

Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.