When we think of destination weddings we think of far off places like vineyards in Napa Valley, chateaus in France or white sand beaches in the Caribbean. Brides and grooms dream about throwing soirees in these beautiful places but the reality is that these weddings aren’t a reality to most.
Traditionally, young adults didn’t stray too far from their home town when settling down, getting married and finding a place to live. This meant celebrations were local and guest lists might include anyone the family ever knew! These days that idea is a stretch. Couples often have long distance relationships spanning the continent. Friends settle in cities all over the country, and sometimes you meet your beau in one local and move to another for work? What does this distance mean for the modern day wedding? The bride and groom are no longer limited to the local reception hall and can dream big!
With the majority of the guest list traveling for the big day it means every wedding is a destination wedding, allowing you to treat your “local” event like a far off dream celebration. Whether you have your soiree in your home town, your college haunt or your big new city – the options are endless. How do you treat your guests to a fabulous weekend away when your focus is the wedding? Don’t worry – it’s easier than you’d think!
Photo by Romi Burianova Wedding Photography
1. Welcome them
Your guests will want to feel like a part of the action from the moment the plane hits the tarmac. Welcome bags are a great way to include treats and information to get them through the weekend (We love the variety of options from Marigold and Grey). Think maps of the area, coffee from the local cafe, an itinerary of the weekend events, hangover recovery items. Go bigger and get your guests out of the hotel room with a welcome dinner on arrival day (perhaps a casual barbecue at your home) or schedule a happy hour at your favorite bar for friends to pass through at their leisure. Whatever you decide, don’t leave them hanging on arrival!
2. Break the ice
With guests coming from every which way its likely there will be some strangers in the group. Break the ice and introduce your guests so they’ll feel like family by the time the dance floor opens. If you prefer a hands off approach, try a “guest map” in the welcome bag (also a great option for cocktail hour). We love these funky genealogy charts from Melangerie NYC to help your crew connect the dots. You could also add little factoids about each guest for conversation starters!
3. Encourage the tacky tourist
I don’t know about you, but when I travel I enjoy spending at least a little bit of time exploring the city. Encourage your guests to sight see in their down time! Not only will they enjoy the “vacation” part of the weekend but it can help them feel like a part of your life. Provide a list of your favorite locations like restaurants, bars, museums and shopping. Give lots of information about taxis, metros or walkable parts of town. If you’re in a big city, a tour list is another great option – you could even schedule a group tour just for your guests as a special part of your itinerary! Try the MyCityApp on your phone or a small travel guide for guests.
4. Focus on comforting details
When it comes to big events, and weddings in particular, it’s all about the little details. Ultimately, it’s important your guests feel comfortable and considered. This can mean everything from available accommodation information (the earlier the better!) to thoughtful favors or hand written thank you notes (in the hotel room or even in place of a menu). Consider their comfort at the reception, like soft shawls on a cold winter night or baby sitting services for young children so parents can party the night away! These details will elevate your event from another wedding on the calendar to a memorable weekend away.
5. Get personal
As much as visiting a new place is a great excuse to attend a wedding, the weekend is really all about you! Your guests are traveling to celebrate your big day and will likely want to spend time with the bride and groom. Stake out a part of the weekend to do just that – whether it be a welcome dinner (as previously mentioned) or a brunch before you depart. Consider taking your photos before the ceremony so you can mingle during cocktail hour and make the most of your reception time.
6. Bring in the professionals
Though a destination wedding is all about the guest experience in a lot of ways, the bride and groom should enjoy the fun too! We suggest finding a wedding planner you love and leave the to-do list to them! They can help you research the best options and deals for your location while planning. During the weekend, handing off the details to someone else will allow you to focus on your big day and enjoy a “stay-cation” of sorts with your friends and family.
Whether you decided to celebrate near or far, make the day special for you and your loved ones who have traveled for your big day!