Phew. That was a blur!
You’ve planned for hours… months… years! At last, the big day has arrived!
And then it was over.
While that may seem a bit extreme, it’s not too far off from the truth! In the end, you will have worked tirelessly to plan your perfect day, and the day will be over before you can say “thank you for coming”. (Sometimes, literally!)
But what of those guests who traveled from the furthermost tips of the country to witness your marriage? You may have every intention of “making the rounds”, but time is fleeting when the big day arrives and splitting the time between Aunt Louisa who came in yesterday all the way from Michigan and shaking your tail feather on the dance floor will prove to be harrowing at best.
Let’s face it, when the big day comes around you’re thinking of one thing: getting hitched. Between all the little details it becomes nearly impossible to slow down and enjoy quality time with friends and family who have traveled so far to be there to witness your special moment. With the aide of your wedding planner (let’s just assume you have made the incredibly wise decision to include a day-of planner in your event – hint, hint) you can at least relax a bit on the day of your wedding to enjoy the pampering, the excitement, and the embrace of family and friends.<
What's a girl to do? Make it a weekend affair!
If it's feasible, encourage your guests to arrive in town up to two days in advance of the event to decompress and explore the area. With more time available for you to spend with the people you care about most, it's a win-win! Say "Sayonara" to the single-day sprint and hello to a weekend of successive events leading up to your wedding day. Then sit back, relax and spend some quality time with Aunt Lousia and all the other beloved friends and family you've invited to be there. After all, we do live in the Sunshine state! Who wouldn't want to escape to tropical Florida for a few days?!
Here are a few tips to help make your weekend a stress-free, mini vaca a few days before you begin the rest of your life as a Mr. and Mrs.!
DAY 1 Centralize!
Generate an itinerary for your guests which keep them local to their hotel. This will alleviate you from feeling responsible for transportation to all of your “funtivities”. If you are certain many guests will have vehicles of their own, you can branch out a bit!
A Proper Greeting
A Welcome Bag is the perfect way to greet your out-of-town guests and set the stage for a fun wedding weekend. Let your guests know how much you appreciate them being there and get creative! Customize a tote, bag or cooler with your monogram or wedding logo, then fill it up with little treats! Think: tylenol, water, snacks, sunscreen or bug-spray.
You will also want to include a weekend itinerary, a map of the area, a few treats from a local bakery, etc. You get the idea…think of your favorite local things to do/see/eat and expand the list from there! Want that extra personal touch? Include special stories about these locales as they apply to you and your fiance! (It might also be nice to include a coupon or free drink voucher to a few restaurants/bars that you’ve suggested.)
Once you jam-packed your welcome bags, draft a welcome letter from the both of you thanking your guests for being there – and don’t forget to include a good contact number or any weekend information that they will find helpful. Just make sure it’s someone other than you!
Tip: Check with the hotel where your guests will be staying; many hotels will deliver the welcome bags directly to the rooms and others will give them to your guests as they arrive to check-in.
Invite guests to join you for a welcome reception (but don’t break the bank!). Keep it simple! As long as you word your Welcome Reception invitation the right way, guests will not necessarily expect that you foot the bill. Consider meeting at a local rooftop bar for light snacks and beverages, the lobby of the hotel for dessert, or poolside for a relaxed opening to the weekend.
DAY 2 All Together Now
Consider itinerary items which are unique to the area or hearken to what your market is known for. In Tampa, for instance, a golf outing or dolphin site-seeing tour would be a great option. Perhaps kayaking at Ft. DeSoto Park or Seashelling on Honeymoon Island.
And, of course, you can never go wrong with a day at the beach! (Sunblock, PLEASE!)
This evening, go “dutch” for dinner and meet up at the hotel for a fun night of mixer games to get your guests to mingle or trivia games highlighting fun facts about you and your soon-to-be spouse! You can search sites like Etsy for fun, printable games. Just be sure to call it an early night so you are well rested for the big day tomorrow!
DAY 3 Say “I Do”
Finally, the day of your wedding! Remember to simply enjoy it! Suggest a few activities so your guests feel free to venture out on their own, but excuse yourself from this one. Get a massage, listen to your favorite music, gather your bridesmaids for a day of pampering and preparation. Then, go get yourself hitched!< DAY 4 Say Goodbye
If you are able to swing it, offer guests a send-off breakfast or brunch. This is an item you may want to include in your budget and will want to send invitations for, specifically, to gauge interest and attendance. After a weekend of fun and partying, everyone will be leaving today – and it’s a great way to thank your closest family and friends for partying with you!