While only the wedding day itself is considered “the bride’s day,” many couples are turning their nuptials into a full weekend of celebration. This trend is more common with destination weddings, but it is growing in popularity with local weddings as well.
As long as everyone will be staying in the same small area, this is an option that can work for many of your guests. Possible weekend events can include, but are not limited to: a welcome party, the rehearsal dinner, a toasting event, a daytime activity such as a hike or beach excursion, and a morning-after brunch.
Not only does this make your wedding a fun-filled weekend for your friends and family, but it also gives you an opportunity to talk to everyone before the ceremony, so you don’t feel as much pressure to spend time with all of your guests at the reception and can enjoy the day as newlyweds.
Photo by Kir2ben Photography; From Event: A Millennial Blogger's Festive Post-Wedding Styled Shoot in Florida
Read the tips below to ensure your wedding weekend is perfect:
If you're going to have a destination wedding or a multi-day event, it's important to send save the dates earlier, so your loved ones have more time to plan. A multi-day event takes more planning than a night out. Also, be sure to include wording to make it clear that there will be festivities all weekend long, so guests have time to figure out if they want to/are able to attend the whole weekend.
While come couples may plan every detail of each day, you don’t have to have a fully detailed itinerary. People like to take time to decompress, and they can plan their own days if they know what options are available. Give out welcome bags and include suggested activities for people who are not from the area so they can fill their time how they wish – when they're not attending a wedding event.
If there isn’t easy access to affordable restaurants, try to have every meal covered, if possible. Otherwise, hosting dinner for each night and offering a continental breakfast should suffice. Ultimately, the decision is up to you based on your wedding and the location itself, so just try to be mindful of your guests.
Similar to the wedding itinerary, try to keep things to a loose structure. While it’s understandable to want a head count for sit-down meals, see if you can keep the RSVPs to word-of-mouth for the more casual events. People will get overwhelmed if they have to formally RSVP for too many events. However, if the caterer requires a head count for each event, that's understandable and necessary.
For a multi-day event, it's important to include the dress code for each celebration and weather information. This is a great option for couples detailing the events on their wedding website, so friends and family have an idea of what they need to pack. Planning an outfit for a wedding can be hard enough, so keep your guests in mind when sharing the details!
The theme doesn't need to affect your décor on the big day, but an overarching theme for the weekend can be a nice touch – a popular choice (especially for mountain weddings) is summer camp! Make sure the theme fits the setting, shares your love story, or has some sort of special significance to make the celebration all the more you!
While you'll want to make sure there are enough hotel rooms for your friends and family to stay throughout the weekend, be sure to also negotiate a room rate. Especially when guests will be staying multiple nights, having a discounted room rate at one or two hotels near your venue will ease the expense for your guests.
Have shuttles or other transportation available for guests between your venue and lodging. If all of the events will be taking place at the venue and your guests are staying on-site, transportation isn't necessary. Make the best decision for your big day!
Even if you're having a formal or black-tie wedding, not every wedding-weekend event needs to be formal. For example, keep the morning-after brunch informal, like a drop-in buffet. Timing is tricky because you want the breakfast or brunch to be late enough if your wedding reception had people out all night, but you also want to be mindful of check-out times as well. Your guests will appreciate it!
For more advice, get expert insight on out-of-the-box wedding designs and discover which wedding-planning tasks can be finished quickly to help you check some things off of your to-do list!
Opening photo by O'Malley Photographers; From Real Wedding: Gorgeous Outdoor Wedding Overlooking the Columbia River Gorge