Planning a destination wedding is a great way to create a unique atmosphere to host your nearest-and-dearest for the most exciting weekend of your life. Yet you may be feeling overwhelmed about making sure your guests feel welcomed and loved all weekend long. If your family & friends’ experience is a top priority for you, we’ve put together a guide to a 4-Day Destination Wedding Weekend Plan Overview to create a framework for your celebration. We’ll walk you through the events of each day, as well as some key guest experience reminders, to ensure you are the host(ess) with the most(est).
Day 1: Guest Arrival
As a travel day for your guests, you’ll want to keep this day light, but warm and welcoming.
Deliver Welcome Bags
A great way to ensure guests feel welcomed and supported upon arrival is by having a welcome bag ready for their arrival. We love using welcome bags to set the tone for the weekend and provide guests with important information. Learn how to create your own wedding welcome bag with our “Anatomy of a Welcome Bag” post.
Host Welcome Drinks/Dinner
This is completely optional, but may be a great fit for those who want to cater to their guests’ every need. Some past welcome events from our couples have included:
- Brewery/Wine Bar Hangout
- Lawn Games & Drinks
- Ice Cream Social
If hosting another full event feels overwhelming to you, consider working with the block hotel to offer a relaxed happy hour for guests to partake in without your presence. You can include drink tickets in the welcome bags and provide the hotel bar with your signature cocktail recipe to create cohesion across they days. Guests can stop by the bar for a cocktail before heading out to one of the restaurants recommended in your welcome bag insert card.
Day 2: Relaxation & Rehearsal
This is the day for guests to settle in and for you and your wedding party to prepare for the wedding day.
The morning of Day 2 is a great time for group excursions. You can set these up for guests or connect them with a preferred travel partner who can help each guest make plans that best suit their interests. Some ideas for group activities include:
- Water Sports
- Spa Services
- Wine/Beer/Spirits Tastings
- Guided Sight Seeing
For wedding party members, we encourage activities with minimal risk as there’s nothing worse than spending the wedding weekend in the ER.
If at all possible, we suggest scheduling your rehearsal at the same time and place as the ceremony to limit confusion about start times and where to go day-of.
The rehearsal invite list should include everyone who will be an active part of the ceremony. Often this includes:
- Grandparents (if walking down aisle)
- Parents (if walking down aisle)
- Wedding Party
- Ring Bearers/Flower Girls
- Readers and/or Vocalists
We request our couples allocate an hour for rehearsal time. Usually it only takes us 30-45 minutes, if the group is attentive, however, we allow cushion for those running late and for people to catch up before we get started.
If you are hosting an event after the rehearsal we recommend it’s start time be no earlier that 90 minutes from the rehearsal start time. Giving yourself extra buffer on top of travel time between spaces will allow you to be unhurried to arrive before guests.
It is customary to invite all those who are a part of the rehearsal to a hosted rehearsal dinner. Some couples have opted to include all out-of-town guests (for destination weddings this usually means the entire guest list) in rehearsal dinner invitations.
For those looking for something in the middle, we’ve seen couples invite ceremony participants and close family to a hosted rehearsal dinner followed by casual welcome drinks for all guests.
The rehearsal dinner is a great spot to offer up something different from the wedding day. Here are some ideas from our couples to be inspired by:
- Denim & Diamonds (Wedding was black-tie, so denim welcome dinner signaled a more laid back affair)
- Cooking Demonstration (The couple are huge foodies, so they asked the chef to show a how-to of one of the night’s dishes)
- Cultural Night (To honor their heritage the couple used colors and traditions from their culture on their rehearsal night)
Day 3: Wedding Day
This is the day you get married! The best way to support guests today is to make sure they know when, where, and how to go.
Our couples love a good party. Part of being a host of a great party is making sure your guests get home safely. In some areas ride-share can be hit or miss meaning the best way to keep guests safe is to offer transportation.
Include shuttle information in invitation inserts, on the wedding website, and in the welcome basket (or even hotel lobby signage) to ensure guests are fully aware of their transportation options.
The ideal transportation schedule deposits guests at the ceremony site 20-30 minutes prior to ceremony time. There may be one or more return shuttle runs to the hotel based on if kids or older guests are invited. The last shuttle of the night should leave the venue 10-15 minutes after end-of-night to allow guests time to collect their things and get to the bus before departure.
Another way to make guests feel well cared for is by guiding them through the day with great signage. Here’s some signage ideas to keep in mind for directing guests:
- Welcome Sign
- Parking Sign
- Ceremony “This Way”
- Bar Signage
- Seating Chart/Escort Cards
- Table Numbers
- Menu Cards/Menu Signage
- Restroom Signage
- Late Night Snack Signage
- Shuttle Pick-Up Location Sign(s)
Day 4: Farewell
This is a travel day for most guests, and a farewell brunch is a great way to send them off.
You either can send specific invitations for brunch, include brunch on wedding RSVP, or simply inform guests of brunch plans via the welcome card.
How you gather RSVPs may be based on the type of agreement you create with the venue. For one wedding, our couple offered to pay for the hotel’s weekly Sunday Brunch, guests needed only to make a reservation using the website-provided instructions to ensure their meal was paid for.
An important note for brunch is to make sure you discuss bag storage with the brunch venue. Check-out times typically fall between the standard 10a – 12p brunch window and guests will need a safe space to store their luggage in order to join.
Thinking about hosting your own Destination Wedding Weekend?
Skylar Caitlin plans memorable, stylish destination weddings that are as fun as they are beautiful. We come alongside you to provide expert guidance (like this post!), creative vision, and on-site production management to make your dreams a reality. We’d love to connect with you and hear all about your dream destination wedding weekend. Fill out our contact form here to set-up a connection call.