Thursday, August 13, 2009

Destination Wedding Weekend

2009 was full of destination weddings for me, and by destination I mean the Michigan lake shore. Having family and friends coming to Michigan from out of state led my clients to many questions about how to make the whole weekend an event for their guests. The question of the importance of doing more for the guests then just the reception was asked. My answer is that it is very important to host your guests when they are attending a destination wedding.

Some ideas for your wedding weekend:

If you are able to find out where everyone will be staying while in town, welcome bags/baskets are a wonderful thing to surprise your guests with. Wedding guest baskets are a nice added touch, immediately comforting the travel-weary by making them feel right at home. I have seen couples do everything from sand pails full of snacks, bottled water and flip flops for a beach themed wedding to baskets with local wine, wine glasses, wine openers and snacks for a wedding held at a local winery. Another fun idea is to visit local businesses and collect information and coupons and put it all together in a folder for your guests to use while they are visiting. If it is not in your budget to put together a whole basket of goodies just a nice note and a bottle of wine is perfectly acceptable.

The rehearsal dinner guest list is traditionally made up of everyone that is involved in the wedding and their significant other. If you are having a destination wedding it is proper etiquette to invite anyone that will be in town for the wedding. I can see some jaws dropping and some gears turning...yes, I am aware that some of you have invited 100 people from out of town and most of them came in the night before. There is no rule to say that you have to have a fancy sit down dinner for your rehearsal night. The main rule to remember is that you want your rehearsal dinner to reflect the overall theme and feel of your wedding. If you are having a laid back wedding then do a park BBQ or backyard cookout for the night before dinner.

The wedding day usually takes care of itself by the time people are awake, have breakfast and get ready to come to the ceremony there isn't a lot of time for anything else. If you do a welcome basket including a list of local restaurants is very helpful for breakfast and lunch. One suggestion I have for the day of is transportation. If you are having your ceremony and reception at different locations hire transportation to bring your guests from their cars parked at the reception venue to the ceremony and back to the reception. Renting a bus or some trolleys for an hour isn't too expensive and the guests would love to have a personal tour of the area. This is especially nice if your ceremony venue has limited parking or is somewhere that you have to pay to park.

The morning after the ceremony your guests will most likely have to check out of their hotels late morning. But depending on the kind of fun they have at the reception they might not be getting up until the late morning either :) Inviting some of your closest family and friends to a Morning After Brunch is a nice way to say your goodbyes and thank them all one last time for coming all that way to celebrate with you. If you are staying in a hotel that has a small banquet or meeting room or if someone in the family has rented a cottage or house for the weekend, these would all be good places to host this brunch. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just some nice pastries, quiches and fruit would be perfect (Panera Bread does amazing catering).

By having some events pre-scheduled for your guests it takes a lot of stress off of them being in an unfamiliar place and it also shows them how much you appreciate their time. Believe me, it will not go unnoticed that you have put your guests comfort on the top of the priority list.