At a lot of weddings I’ve been to, I’ve either felt like I was part of the “in crowd” or I was on the outside. If I’m in the wedding party? I’m part of the in crowd. If I’m not invited to the rehearsal dinner? I’m on the outside.

Even though Matt and I planned a $2,000 wedding, we didn’t want to have those kinds of divisions. We wanted to spend quality time with everyone. That’s why we opted for a Welcome Picnic instead of a traditional rehearsal dinner. In order for it to fit within our strict budget, we had to simplify: make-your-own sandwich bar (including organic meat from Whole Foods!), chips, watermelon, iced-tea, lemonade, and homemade chocolate cherry dessert with vanilla ice-cream.

The event was held at the same B&B where the reception was held. Approximately half the wedding guests were staying on site with us, so it was a very casual affair. People helped themselves to food and an assortment of fun activities: football, hot-tub, S’mores around the campfire, board games, a swing dancing lesson, volleyball, etc.

One of our main goals for the wedding was to give our friends and family an authentic opportunity to get to know each other. It’s a hard task, especially when small talk is the norm among strangers.

To combat the small talk conundrum, we fashioned name tags for our guests to wear at the Welcome Picnic. Instead of “Hello, my name is…” the tags read “Ask me about:” Each guest has three or four quirky things on their tags.

diy nametags

The tag of my friend, Camella, for example, said: “Ask me about: Ashtonga yoga, raising chickens, DJing a radio show, and why should shouldn’t buy corn.”

It was quite a bit of work (aren’t most DIY projects?), but it was well worth it in the end. They really helped build the kind of connection we were going for.

The Welcome Picnic helped connect people from different families and friend groups. When it was time for the reception the next day, people had already formed new friendships.