If you're getting married in the small town where you grew up, but a lot of guests are coming in from other places, you might want to goose things up a bit so that those guests feel like they're attending a "destination wedding," rather than just spending a whole lot of money to fly into the city closest to the tiny little town where you're getting married.
Even if your town isn't likely to end up on the list of "best wedding destinations" anytime soon, that doesn't mean you can't make your wedding itself a total destination experience for your guests. It means taking on more responsibility and spending more time and money spoiling everybody, but it might be worth it if your hometown is a place where the nicest motel is the Holiday Inn Express and they're going to have trouble finding a cute little place to have lunch.
Here are a few ideas to help out-of-town guests feel like they've "arrived" for a grand occasion:
1. Prepare your guests for the realities of your adorable hometown. If the most exciting landmark within a reasonable driving distance is a war memorial, or a lot of your neighbors are Amish, tell them that in the travel information packet you're sending them with travel and accommodations recommendations. Warn them about any idiosyncrasies that make your town special — like the cop who always sits behind the overpass to give tickets to visitors who didn't see the reduced speed sign right before it. And if your hometown is in a dry county, that's a serious one to make mention of in the travel materials. Your friends won't mind carefully bubble-wrapping a bottle (or two) into their luggage, but they won't be thrilled about having to drive 40 miles to buy it where you live. As a bonus, have a bottle of wine in the welcome bag or basket waiting for them with some munchies when they arrive.
2. Include a fun information packet of "Things to Do" in your town — list the pubs you recommend for lunch on your wedding day, or restaurants for guests who aren't going to be attending the rehearsal dinner (although etiquette says all out-of-town guests should be invited). Mention if there's a farmer's market or an interesting museum, or where the nearest shopping can be found.
3. Have a plan for after-hours if your reception is going to end before midnight. Everybody will have a buzz on and want to continue to party. Even if you're too pooped to keep dancing, send them off to a local spot with nightlife for entertainment. Make arrangements with the establishment in advance so they're expecting your crowd and treat them well. If you don't, your friends will find a place to party. Even if it means keeping everyone else in the Holiday Inn Express up all night!
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.