Photo: Bright Bird Photography
Many weddings these days are weekend-long celebrations, with family members and friends traveling from all over the country, and the world, to attend. This means you need to consider a great many more details to make sure that guests are happy and comfortable. Here are some tips and creative ideas to help you do just that.
Choose one great location.
If possible, choose an all-inclusive venue so that all the wedding-weekend festivities are held in one place. If you can't host all of the events on the same property, make sure the venues are within 15 minutes of each other.
Hire an expert to assist.
Because there will be a ton of logistics involved to pull off an entire weekend's worth of events, it's crucial to hire a wedding planner to take care of all the details so that you just focus on enjoying yourselves.
Be generous but smart.
Work with your wedding planner to negotiate a good room rate at the venue on behalf of your guests. Since you're planning to book lodging for multiple nights, most sites will be willing to negotiate on price. Also, save money on food and beverages where you can. For example, instead of offering a full bar each night, opt for a full bar at the wedding only and have a limited bar at the other parties.
Send a save-the-date.
When the majority of guests are traveling to your wedding, give them as much time as possible to make arrangements by sending save-the-dates a year in advance.
Create a wedding website.
The save-the-date should urge guests to visit your wedding website — a must-have for a wedding weekend and/or destination event. Your website should help guests get a feel for the wedding, tell them what activities are planned, and include detailed information about lodging and transportation.
Offer rides if possible.
If you can't provide transportation to and from the airport to guests' hotels or to the venue, make sure you've provided very explicit directions.
Suggest dress codes.
Consider devoting a section of your website to attire. In addition to suggestions of what to wear to each of the events (for example, "cowboy casual" for a welcome-party hoedown), also include attire suggestions to make sure guests pack appropriately for the weather and the setting.
Provide welcome baskets.
Have a basket or bag waiting in guests' hotel rooms that includes (at the minimum) a copy of the weekend's itinerary, water, and snacks.
Suggest places to visit and things to do.
Organize a large group activity, like a field day on Friday afternoon or a poker tournament after the rehearsal dinner. Guests will appreciate not being left to their own devices, and it will help everyone bond. If you think your guests would prefer to explore on their own, provide suggestions of things to do and places to eat in the area.
Take care of your guests and make them feel included.
It's the little touches that will really make an impression on your guests. If you're having an outdoor event, be sure to have bug spray and sunscreen on hand, and even extra shawls and/or umbrellas in case of cool weather or rain. And include interactive activities to make guests feel like a vital part of the festivities. For example, one couple asked guests to mail a small swatch of fabric with their RSVP cards; they used the pieces to make a quilt that served as the photo station backdrop at the reception.