By Allison Bergstedt
What are each of the 50 states best known for? Find out the top recommended souvenir gift ideas to include in your hotel gift bags for wedding guests.
Remember that you know your state the best out of anyone. Include items in your bags that ultimately hold a sentimental value to you and your fiancé. Items that are always good to include in welcome bags are coupons/pamphlets of area attractions, locally made treats and snacks, water bottles and wine/spirits, your wedding itinerary and maps to your ceremony/reception, and personalized keepsakes of your wedding day. To help generate ideas for filling your wedding gift bags, we've created a list of some of each state's most recognized attributes.
Alaskan Kenai River Sockeye Wedding Favors
The pecan is the Alabama's official nut and its flower is the Camellia. Famous for Gulf Coast beaches, Alabama is commonly referred to as Heart of Dixie and Cotton state. Consider adding mini pecan pies to your bags and inserting cut Camellia stems for a romantic addition.
America’s Last Frontier, Alaska is known for the Gold Rush and its wildlife. Wild forget-me-nots are the state’s flower. Consider inserting fake gold chocolate nuggets into gift bags to play on the state’s Gold Rush pastime. Add lavish, warm touches with fake fur and lodge type gifts.
Home of the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Painted Desert. Arizona is known for its beautiful landscape, desert, and Indian culture. Turquoise is the official state gemstone. The colors blue and gold are the official state colors. Play up on the state’s beautiful deserts by incorporating vivid sunset colors into your gift bags, turquoise gemstones, and Navajo inspired memorabilia.
The Folk Capital of America. Be sure to play up on folk music inspired gifts to guests. The state flower is the apple blossom and the pine tree is the official state tree. Well known for its polar opposite terrain with equally divided areas of lowlands and highlands.
The Golden State is home to Hollywood, sunshine, surfing, and wine country. The redwood is the official state tree. The California poppy is the official state flower. California is well known for its national parks and beaches. Take the Hollywood route and go full glam on your gift bags or opt for a laid back surfer style. If hosting your wedding in beautiful wine country, be sure and include local area wines, cheeses, breads, and other area goods.
Colorado means colored red and is known as the Centennial State. Known for its landscape, mountains, world-class skiing, and wildlife. Give a nod to the state's world class ski resorts by including scarves, mittens, and hot chocolate with marshmallows to keep your Aspen bunnies warm during your wedding.
Home of Yale University and the 250 mile shoreline. The state flower is the Mountain Laurel. Keep your gifts refined and nautical themed playing up on the state’s coastal setting and academic history.
With only three counties, this small coastal state is home to a large number of horseshoe crabs which can be seen in mass along the shore in May. The Blue Hen chicken is the state’s official bird with Delaware sometimes being referred to as the Blue Hen State. The Peach Blossom is the state’s official flower. Consider incorporating nautical items like lighthouse and crabs into your gift bags or give your wedding an “at home” feeling with farm like touches of burlap and Blue Hen Chickens.
District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)
The capitol of the United States of America, DC is known for its national monuments, The White House, and political influences. The name Washington is in honor of George Washington and Columbia honors Christopher Columbus. The American Beauty Rose is the state’s official flower. For your gift bags, focus on playing tribute to our nation's capitol by including American flag memorabilia and sightseeing brochures of the area so guests feel free to see the sites during their stay.
Nicknamed the Sunshine State, Florida is famous for its beaches, weather, the Everglades, oranges, Cape Canaveral, and Disney Land. Be sure to play up on the tropical feeling of this destination for guests. Include the state’s flower, The Orange Blossom, in your gift bags along with some Florida oranges, palm tree leaves, and sightseeing memorabilia. If further south in the Keys, be sure to incorporate lizards and chickens into your bags along with colorful gifts to celebrate the culture.
The peach state, this destination is the perfect opportunity to inject some southern charm into your guest welcome bags. Think warm hospitality, comfort food, peaches, hats, and homemade pies. The Cherokee Rose is the state’s official flower and “Georgia on My Mind” is its official song.
Hawaii is well known for its beaches, climate, surfing, volcanoes, and Pearl Harbor memorials. A tropical paradise, be sure to make your guests feel like they have escaped to a dream. Include flower leis in your gift bags, orchids and hibiscus flowers, tropical fruit, and vibrant colors to celebrate the area. Items like hand fans, custom water bottles and/or wine and spirits will be appreciated among guests.
Well known as the Potato state, you may be surprised to know that Idaho produces 72 types of precious and semi-precious stones, some of which can be found nowhere else in the world. It is known as the Gem State and is also home to the nation’s largest Elk herds, ski resorts, Hells Canyon, and blue-ribbon fly-fishing.
Known for its farmland and unique weather, Illinois is home to one of the most bustling cities, Chicago. The world’s first skyscraper was built here and first Aquarium. The Sear’s Tower is the tallest building on the North American continent. The violet is the state’s official flower. Well known for its pizza and sports, consider giving guests coupons to your favorite eatery or coffee shop for guests to enjoy after your wedding.
Home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a farming community. Historic Parke County has over 32 covered bridges and is dubbed the Covered Bridge Capital of the world. The state flower is the lovely peony. Play up on the state’s racing pastime, and include toy cars and racing flags in your gift bag with quirky quotes like It’s a race to the alter and he’s won the prize.
Widely known as a corn and agricultural state. The wild prairie rose is the state’s official flower. Play up on this farming community by including “down on the farm” touches like homemade canned jam, bags of popcorn kernels, and rustic barn wood touches.
Made famous for its tornados thanks to movies like the Wizard of Oz, Dodge City, KS is actually the windiest city in the US. Kansas is also well known for its sunflowers, buffalo, and wheat production. Be sure to include the state’s flower, the sunflower, in your gift bags along with strands of wheat and a copy of the Wizard of OZ.
The Bluegrass State, Kentucky is dubbed one of the most beautiful states to drive through and is widely renowned for its scenery. The Kentucky Derby is the oldest horse race in the country. To play up on the Derby, include small mint julep cups in your bags along with gambling lotto tickets and even a wide brimmed hat.
Home of the largest block party in the nation, Mardi Gras. Be sure to include fleur-de-lis and French inspired gifts, masks, and beads to play into the Mardi Gras inspiration. Louisiana has also been referred to as the Crawfish Capitol of the World. Southern references to spicy jambalaya, alligators, and references to bayous would be a welcome addition in a Louisiana inspired gift bag.
Marthas Vineyard, MA Wedding
Famous for its lobster, coastal landscape, lighthouses, blueberries, moose population, and home to Acadia National Park. 90 percent of the nation’s lobster is caught off the coast of Maine. Nautical gifts are a must for Maine inspired gift bags
. Be sure to include lobster bibs and crackers and iconic lighthouse shaped keychains or gifts.
Home to the Annapolis US Naval Academy, Annapolis MD is known as the sailing capitol of the world. Maryland is also famous for its wild ponies and seafood. The Chesapeake Bag produces more seafood than any other comparable body of water. Be sure to include sailboat inspired items and coupons to your favorite oyster bar to pay tribute to this coastal state. “Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Me Away” would make an adorable personalized quote to add to the front of an MD gift bag playing on the states famous Assateague wild ponies.
One of the four New England states, Massachusetts houses two of the largest New England cities, Boston and Worcester. MA is home to Harvard University, the oldest college in North America, and is well known for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island. Play up on the iconic New England atmosphere and regal collegiate feel of Harvard for your out of town gift bags.
This Great Lakes state is famous for its automobile plants and boasts the longest freshwater shoreline. The apple blossom is the official state flower. For MI welcome bags, play tribute to the classic automobile by including gift shop mementos and flyers from the Henry Ford museum.
Finding the perfect items for your gift bags shouldn’t be an issue for Minnesotans. Home to The Mall of America in Bloomington, the shopping mall is the size of 78 football fields. The state is also well known for its number of lakes, golfing, and boating. The state flower is the lady slipper, a gorgeous orchid that would be a romantic addition to your gift bags.
The Mississippi River is the largest in the US and the nation’s chief waterway. Making Mississippi famous for its river boats and pre-Civil War mansions. The state is also known for its catfish, cotton production, and forests. The romantic Magnolia flower is the state’s official bloom.
Dubbed the Gateway to the West, the Show Me State, and the Home of the Blues. Missouri is home to the iconic St. Louis Arch. St. Louisans consume more barbecue sauce per capita than any other city in America. Be sure and include a not to the St. Louis Arch in your welcome gift bags and other attractions of the area. Inserting a local bottle of barbeque sauce will add a unique addition to the bags.
Nebraska Popcorn Bags via EtsyMontana
Famous for Yellowstone National Park, Glacier Park, mountains, scenery, cowboys, dude ranches, and wildlife. No state has as many different species of mammals as MT. Among them include elk, black bears, grizzly bears, antelope, moose, caribou, and mountain lions. Keep guests cozy with rustic, flannel, and fur lined gifts. Add a different stuffed animal to each of your gift bags tied with a personalized hang tag to give a nod to the state’s vast wildlife.
Dubbed The Great American Desert, Nebraska is actually one of the top farming areas of the world and was once a part of The Oregon Trail with its Chimney Rock landmark being the most mentioned landmark among travelers. The goldenrod is the state’s official flower. Include farming inspired gifts like unpopped bags of popcorn and mini covered wagons to give a nod to this time period.
Las Vegas, Reno, Wild Mustangs, and Lake Tahoe are what make Nevada world famous. It is also the largest gold producing state in the nation. About 150 couples get married in Las Vegas each day. There is no doubt that you will want to include gambling inspired gifts in your Nevada themed welcome bags.
One of the four New England states, New Hampshire is renowned for its fall foliage and maple syrup. The state is home to the White Mountain National Forest, antique shopping, covered bridges, and a high moose population. Be sure to include bottles of local maple syrup in bags to give to your guests. Local antique items would make a quaint addition and would pay tribute to the New England atmosphere.
This Garden State is home to Princeton University and the New Jersey Shore. Famous for its many resort towns, shopping, and urban life. New Jersey is completely surrounded by water except for 40 miles along the NY border. Due to the impact Hurricane Sandy had on this coastal community, charitable donations included in each bag are a great way to give back to the community. Items like salt water taffy and boardwalk inspired gifts pay tribute to this coastal state.
This desert state is famous for its white sand, cliff dwellings, and Native Americans. Bottle up some brilliant white sand for your gift bags so guests can take a piece of New Mexico home with them. Don’t forget to include Indian inspired gifts like Navajo jewelry, moccasins, and blankets to play tribute to the heritage of this state. Consider using a Yucca made gift basket to house your goodies, the state’s official state flower.
Home to the Big Apple, New York City. New York State is also famously known for Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the Home of Jazz, the Empire State Building, and its wineries. Include NYC memorabilia in your gift bags along with a local bottle of wine and pamphlets of favorite attractions. I <3 NY should be displayed prominently on the outside of your welcome bags.
North Carolina Welcome Bags
This popular Tar Heel State is famous for its beautiful beaches, specifically the Outer Banks, and the Great Smoky Mountains. A great mix of laid back coastal atmosphere, mild temperatures, and gorgeous mountain foliage create an all-around perfect retreat. The state is also well known for NASCAR, barbeque sauce, and its sweet potato production.
Famous for The Badlands and its rural farming communities. Welcome guests with sprigs of wheat and loaves of bread to give a nod to the nation’ number one wheat producing state. North Dakota is also well known for its sunflowers making a cheerful addition to any welcome gift bag.
A Great Lakes state, Ohio is also known as The Buckeye State because of its prominent buckeye trees and is home to the popular college sports team The Ohio State Buckeyes. Be sure to welcome guests with bags or boxes of chocolate covered buckeyes. Ohio is also well known as The Birthplace of Aviation and is famous for its Rock and Roll and Football hall of fame. Include miniature airplanes, pamphlets and trivia facts in your gift bags for guests to enjoy.
The pan handle state, Oklahoma is famous for its awe-inspiring weather and has the most tornados out of all the US states. Oklahoma is also known for its oil production, Cowboy Hall of Fame, Indian heritage, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. A small cast iron skillet is a must have for OK gift bags to play on the state’s pan handle nickname and shape. Include farm inspired comfort food in your bags such as mini pecan pies, cornbread mix and/or grits, and strawberries to make guests feel at home.
Renowned for its landscape and breathtaking views. Oregon is also famously known for its ghost towns, beavers, windsurfing, lighthouses, and is home to beautiful Crater Lake, Mt. Hood, and Oregon Dunes.
Pennsylvania is home Gettysburg, the Liberty Bell, and Valley Forge. The state is full of rolling hills, lush forest, and millions of acres of farmland. The state also leads the nation in the number of licensed hunters, covered bridges, and pretzel bakeries. Hershey, PA is considered the chocolate capital of the US and Pittsburgh, PA is renowned for its culinary arts.
Rhode Island is officially the smallest state in the US and is known for its beautiful coastline, tourism, and jewelry production. Its mild summer climate has helped to make it a renowned vacation spot. Portsmouth is home to the oldest schoolhouse. Opt for coastal gifts like boats, lighthouses, and driftwood.
Famous for its beaches, golf courses, resorts, plantations, and peaches. Depending on your area, you can choose to take the resort route for your bags including gifts like coupons to golf courses, seashells and sand or opt for a southern plantation theme with peaches, Spanish moss and old south calligraphic touches.
Famously home to Mt. Rushmore, The Black Hills, and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It is almost a must to include mention to Mt. Rushmore in your welcome bags. Include interesting facts about the area along with local attractions and eateries for guests to stop at during their stay. South Dakota is also well known for its dinosaur fossils, Native American population, prairie dogs, buffalo, and honey production.
The home of country music, Tennessee is famously known for the Grand Ole Opry, Graceland (home of Elvis), and its influential bustling music industry. The state is also popular for its beautiful, lush landscape. Be sure to incorporate Tennessee’s musical background into every aspect of your gift bags
This Lone Star State is known for its oil production, rodeos, cowboys, cattle farms, and football. The Bluebonnet is the state’s official flower and would make a charming addition to your guest bags. Cookies in the shape of Texas, old-fashioned oil wells, and cattle would also be a welcome addition. Don’t forget your cowboy boots!
Famously known for its stunning rock formations, national parks, Great Salt Lake, and skiing. Your gift bags should be as grand as the state. Include rock candy to play on the famous rock formations of the state.
This New England state is renowned for its fall foliage, maple syrup, and ski resorts. If you decide to have a fall or winter wedding in Vermont, the beauty of your surrounding scenery is on your side. Keep your bags simple by including bottles of local maple syrup and nature inspired gifts.
Considered the birthplace of the nation, Virginia is well known for its presidential homes and beautiful lush greenery. About 1/4 of Virginia residents work for the US government. The dogwood is the state’s official flower. Be sure to celebrate the beginning of America in your gift bags with nods to pasts. Chocolate covered presidential coins, civil war and Mount Vernon memorabilia.
Washington is the Evergreen State and is widely known for its annual rainfall and landscape. It is also home to Starbucks coffee, the Space Needle, crabs, oysters, and apples. Must-have gift bag items include Starbucks gift cards, mini evergreen saplings wrapped in burlap, and evergreen scented candles and aromatherapy items.
This lush state is known for its mountains, diverse landscape, and New River Gorge. It is also historically known for its coal mining and logging industries. The world famous Greenbrier Hotel is home to springs that are rumored to cure various ailments. Don’t forget your lumps of coal to give to guest!
Famous for its snowmobiling, lakes, cheese, beer, breweries, Harley Davidson, fishing, and hockey. Wrap some premium Wisconsin cheeses in cheesecloth with some baker’s twine for an adorable snack for guests. Bottles of craft beers will also add instant charm.
The Cowboy State, Wyoming is renowned for its mountain scenery and breathtaking views. Wyoming is also home to Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Old Faithful, Jackson Hole, and Flaming Gorge. It has a large number of Native Americans and bronco related festivals. Keep your gift bags rustic and cowboy themed with nod to the Indian culture. Be sure and insert a few Indian Paintbrush stems to add a splash of color and play on this mountain state’s official flower.
About the Author - A web designer, photographer, mother, wife, lover of the outdoors and all things crafty, Allison
is the marketing director for and regular contributor to My Wedding Reception Ideas
where you can find more helpful wedding tips, advice and ideas from Allison and other wedding experts.