If you’re going to make a party of it, why not let it roll through the weekend?
Obviously, a wedding celebration spread over two or three days entails more planning and logistics than a traditional rehearsal dinner and wedding day ceremony with reception to follow. However, with a few strategic steps completed in advance, you can avoid hassles for yourself and your guests…and enjoy a steady two- or three-day ride to remember for years to come, without breaking the bank.
First of all, full-weekend wedding parties go much more smoothly when the guests all stay at a single resort or hotel, or at least in very close proximity. It’s not impossible to pull off a successful weekend-long party otherwise, but transportation logistics obviously make it more difficult to organize events when guests are spread all over town.
You may consider hosting a hospitality suite at a centrally located hotel where your guests can meet and relax. Here you can offer them snacks, beverages, and reminders about the full weekend itinerary, local maps, menus for favorite local restaurants, and suggestions for local activities and sight-seeing opportunities.
Happy experience shows that a simple welcoming party for all guests on the first night of festivities makes for a great kickoff to the weekend, where old friends and family members can re-unite after long separations. Unfamiliar folks can also get acquainted for the first time before the main party to come.
The general consensus about welcoming kick-off parties suggests that casual is the way to go. Even if the wedding day celebration will be upscale, a more down-home venue and atmosphere allows guests to mingle more comfortably. A barbeque and beer bash, a fish taco and margarita fiesta, a clam bake or crab feast — why not let folks unwind for the weekend first in this sort of informal situation?
Arranging for a group trip to a nearby tourist-worthy spot, if it’s feasible, surely represents one of the best ways to express gratitude to your guests who have traveled far to witness your special day. If your wedding is in Washington, D.C., for example, you could arrange for a boat ride on the Potomac River to take in the historic scenery, or charter a bus to Mount Vernon. The options are nearly endless!
Leading up to the wedding day, you could invite the artistic and industrious among your guests to a flower-arranging jam session. If you have a favorite spa or personal trainer, ask your guests to join you for a stress-relieving aerobic workout followed by a shiatsu massage. Let your personality shine and your generosity lead the way in scheduling activities for your friends and family.
As a sweet and affordable way to involve your entire guest list on the night of the rehearsal dinner, consider hosting a cookie and coffee reception to conclude the night for everyone. Remember that the weekend is for you and your guests, not your wedding vendors. Make it clear (gently!) to all your wedding service providers that all meetings with them must occur no later than 48 hours before the big day, because after that your priority No. 1 is fun with your friends and family!