How To Plan A Wedding Weekend
Celebrate all wedding-weekend long!
The Pines Resort on Bass Lake | Vivian Chen
Looking to turn your "big day" into a multi-day event? Consider hosting a full-fledged wedding weekend. Multi-day celebrations are seriously trending—and not just for cultural or destination weddings! Many couples have suffered through multiple postponements as a result of the pandemic, and are yearning to make the most of their wedding when it (finally!) happens. A mere five-hour event just doesn't seem to make up for all that lost time with loved ones.
Enter the long wedding weekend. Couples are opting to stretch out their weddings over the course of 3–4 days, with multiple events occurring within that time frame. Perhaps it starts with a welcome party to kick off the weekend, followed by recreational activities the next day, a rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony and reception, afterparty, and farewell event on the last day.
Whether it's a formal affair with an intimate group or a casual bash with a gaggle of guests, a wedding weekend is whatever you want it to be. And although your wedding weekend will be based on your overall budget, style, and preferences, here are 8 things you'll want to nail down before planning your extended celebration.
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1. Find A Fab Wedding Weekend Venue
We believe the best wedding weekends happen when all the guests are staying on-site, or as close to your venue as possible! Because convenience is key if you're hoping for them to attend your varied wedding events. It's also a huge bonus if there are recreational activities at the venue—or attractions nearby. Think along the lines of campground venues, retreats, hotels, resorts, inns, lodges, and lakefront properties.
Pro Tip: Consider your guest list when it comes to venue accessibility. For example, you don't want to reserve a rugged off-the-beaten-path campground if your dear grandmother is in a wheelchair.
If your guests aren't all staying in one central location, consider setting up hotel room blocks and accessible transportation. Some venues offer shuttle service that you can reserve for your wedding weekend, but you can also research local options and list them on your wedding website or printed agenda.
Cedar Skies Event Center | Helo Photography
2. Figure Out Your Budget
Work your way backwards when it comes to your wedding weekend budget. Figure out the total amount you're able to spend, and then go through each separate event to allot a portion of your funds for it. Each event will require its own budget, event space, vendor team, guest list, and timeline. Your wedding weekend itinerary may be a version of this:
- Day One: Welcome Party
- Day Two: Daytime Activity followed by Rehearsal / Rehearsal Dinner
- Day Three: Wedding Ceremony, Reception, and Afterparty
- Day Four: Farewell Brunch
Yes, the events of a wedding weekend can certainly add up, but keep in mind you don't have to throw a super-fancy (read: expensive) celebration. Keep things simple with budget-friendly events like a welcome bonfire, a casual barbecue by the pool, or a non-hosted gathering at the local brewery.
Speaking of budget-friendly, it's also important to be transparent about potential costs for your guests. Let them know early, via your wedding website and invitations, what they'll be expected to pay for and a general price range for each anticipated cost. This may include transportation, accommodations, and anything they opt to enjoy between the wedding events like restaurants or local attractions. Use words like "cash bar" or "no host event" to make it super clear they'll need to pay their own way. Also, try to provide options and recommendations at various price points so your loved ones can have a great time on any budget.
Colette's Events | Jen Fujikawa | Couture Events
3. Consider Hiring A Wedding Planner
We're not gonna sugarcoat it: Planning a wedding weekend yourself can be a logistical nightmare. There are so many moving parts! If you don't have the time or energy to deal with all the details—and if your budget allows—find yourself a wedding planner. Even though this may take up a good portion of your budget upfront, they'll typically save you money with their industry know-how and vendor connections. And they'll certainly save you precious time and alleviate stress!
Jenni Grubba Events | Love Tribe Weddings
4. Come Up With Your Itinerary
The trick to an enjoyable wedding weekend is spacing out your activities. You don't want to overwhelm your guests or make them feel rushed between events. Build in some downtime so they can do as they please—whether it's enjoying the local surroundings or simply taking a nap!
Also make it clear that your guests aren't obligated to attend every single planned event. Allowing them to treat your wedding weekend like a mini-vacation will only add to those "best wedding ever" sentiments.
5. Get Detailed On Your Wedding Website
Your wedding website is the digital home base for all things related to your big weekend: From the itinerary and dress code for each event, to the travel and accommodation details, and even suggestions on what to pack.
Get super detailed on your wedding website so guests feel well informed and prepared as they get ready for the weekend. It's also a nice idea to lay out a list of "things to do" on their off time. Share the best local restaurants or the most iconic spots for sightseeing, as well as fun shops, bars, wineries, recreational activities, outdoor spaces, and attractions to check out during their stay.
Meadows at Mossy Creek | Caitlin Tabilog Photography
6. Send Save The Dates Early
Treat your wedding weekend like a destination wedding and send your Save The Dates up to a year in advance! Sending them out early gives your guests plenty of time to make travel and accommodation arrangements, secure the most competitive rates, and save up their vacation days to request time off work.
Put your wedding website URL on the Save The Dates so your guests will have access to detailed information straight away. You'll want to send your wedding invitations out early as well, 3–5 months before your wedding weekend, to give guests plenty of time to RSVP—and to give you a solid guest count to begin formalizing your activities.
7. Consider Welcome Bags
If your budget allows, we love the idea of arranging welcome bags for your guests. They may include a welcome note, wedding weekend itinerary, a map of the area, locally-made treats, a list of local transportation companies and attractions, or travel-sized essentials. Cater the welcome bag contents to your events or environment. For example, if you're enjoying a lakefront weekend, consider gifting your guests small bottles of sunscreen, bug spray, or sunglasses. If you're planning a wine-tasting tour, they'll certainly appreciate water bottles and ibuprofen for the next morning!
8. Determine How To Document Each Day
This is a weekend you're going to want to remember forever. And while you'll no doubt have a wedding photographer on the day-of, you'll want to figure out ways to capture the fun throughout the entire multi-day experience. If you can afford a professional photographer for your various wedding events, great! Otherwise, here are some ideas:
- Designate A Trusted Guest. Assign a friend or family member per event to be the designated camera-person. Keep it low pressure and informal, but ask them to snap images of any notable moments. You can even give your phone to a member of the wedding party to capture videos that are fun, authentic, imperfect, and oh-so-personal.
- Promote Your Hashtag. Luckily, we live in the age of the high-quality camera phone—so you're likely to get some really fantastic shots from your phone-wielding guests! The key here is to make your wedding hashtag known so all those photos will be stockpiled in one place. Display your wedding hashtag on your:
- Save The Dates, Invitations, and Paper Goods
- Wedding Website
- Wedding Signage
- Welcome Bag Inserts
- Use A Wedding Photo App. There are a ton of photo sharing apps out there (just Google "Wedding Photo Apps" to see what we mean), but they're all built to collect the photos your guests have taken in one streamlined place. Share your personalized QR code on wedding stationery or signage for guests to easily scan and upload straight from their phones.
- Provide Disposable or Instax Cameras. Purchase several disposable or Intax cameras, set them around the various wedding events, and encourage guests to use them.
- Rent A Photo Booth. Photo booths are always a hit, so consider renting one for the pre- or post-wedding events for even more memories.
Want To Find A Wedding Weekend Venue Near You?
- The Coolest Camp Wedding Venues In The U.S.
- Stay and Play! Northern New Jersey Venues Made For Wedding Weekends
- Scenic Connecticut Venues For Your Weekend Wedding
- Destination Nashville: Your Weekend Wedding Guide
- Rustic Retreats for your North Texas Weekend Wedding
- Best Weekend Wedding Venues Within a 3-Hour Drive of Chicago
Filed under Destination, Expert Advice
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