The To-Do List Every Couple Needs for Their Out-of-Town Wedding Guests
If you’re like most couples, some number of guests will have to cross state lines to attend your wedding. Maybe you moved away from home for college, or maybe you changed cities to take a job. Whatever your situation, travelling guests will spend a lot of time, money, and effort to attend your wedding. It’s up to you to make their experience as easy and welcoming as possible. Here are a few essential things to do to put your out-of-town wedding guests at ease before, during, and after the big event.
Provide an Itinerary and Short List of Things to Do
Guests travelling from out of state will need to carefully time their trip. All friends and family, regardless of whether they choose to drive or fly, should know the full schedule of events before making travel plans. Creating an itinerary is the best way to help your guests. This can be in print or online, but it should include key times, locations, host contact information, dress codes, and activity information.
Be sure to mention whenever guests will have free time. Provide a few suggestions as to how visiting guests can fill a few hours (or a few days). Small “travel guide” tips for people who have never been to the area can go a long way. Suggest restaurants, museums, and cultural events they may want to check out to fill their time. Recommend some day trips, too, for any guests who may be staying in town for a few extra days of their own vacation, while you and your new spouse are on your honeymoon.
Shelter and Travel
Customarily, paying for airfare and accommodations is not your responsibility, but you should make the process as easy as possible for your out-of-town guests. About six weeks before the wedding, start researching hotels around your ceremony and reception sites. Create a list of possibilities, then start calling locations to inquire about special group rates. Reserve blocks of rooms at a couple of hotels, and keep your guests’ probable budget range in mind. Additionally, if a large group of people is travelling from a specific area—say, your hometown—call airlines to inquire about discounts, group rates, and frequent-flyer deals.
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If you’re planning to have your location in a rural area, be sure to provide information about car rentals for out-of-town guests. However, whenever possible, you should also look to offer alternative, low-cost solutions. For transportation to and from the wedding, ask the hotel about shuttles or hire a limo or bus service. If you want to cut costs, enlist the help of friends and family to act as chauffeurs.
Keep in mind that guests will be returning to the hotel after the reception. Arranging a shuttle, regardless of how many guests have cars, is always a good idea. And make sure people know about this shuttle service ahead of time: You want to eliminate the possibility of guests driving while under the influence.
Hotel Goodie Bags
Upon arrival, travelling guests will be tired, jet-lagged, and ready to take a break. Providing a small gift for out-of-town guests will be a welcome surprise after a long flight. This can be anything from a box of local chocolate to a bottle of champagne—whatever fits in your budget will be appreciated. This is easily executed with the help of a hotel concierge.
In addition to this small gift, provide a welcome pack with relevant information. This should include essential phone numbers, the names of other guests at the hotel, and a list of nearby spots to check out. You may also want to provide a few local brochures, sightseeing maps, and a personal note thanking each guest.
For Those Who Can’t Make the Trip
Unfortunately, some guests will not be able to secure the time and funds necessary to attend your wedding. However, they can still experience the important events—your ceremony and the reception—in real time. Consider streaming your wedding online. Most videographers will be able to arrange this, but you can also request help from attendees. The Facebook Live feature is an easy and free way to capture your big day for everyone to see. To complete the experience, send non-attendees a copy of your wedding program to follow along during the big event.
Looking for more wedding planning tips? Check out our main resource page, and know that if you need hassle-free storage along the way, Closetbox has you covered.