Your wedding will be one of the best events of your life, so why limit it to just one day?
A truly unique and memorable celebration calls for a weekend-long affair. A festivities-filled wedding weekend allows you and your guests to create and share special moments and bonds. Here are tips for planning an extraordinary bash that everyone will be talking about for years.
Hire a wedding planner
Hosting a wedding can be overwhelming enough, and planning an entire three-day affair takes lots of organization and resources. Hiring a planner will make the process smoother and more efficient; and working with one who is familiar with your destination is a plus, as they will have relationships with local vendors who will help you create an authentic experience for you and your guests. Choose a planner whose vision you love and understands what you do and don’t want, and then work together to build your dream event.
Pick your perfect venues
“Make sure your venues can accommodate what you want for the weekend,” says Kate Ryan, co-owner of Gold Leaf Event Design & Production. “Consider a wedding site that also has great spaces for a welcome party and day-after brunch.” If that’s not possible, choose venues that are located near your wedding site to make it easy for you and your guests to get to. If you have the opportunity, personally check out all of the venues you’re interested in; this will allow you to visualize and map out your entire celebration. Make a list of must-haves for your venues and be sure to ask all of your questions when you meet with the event managers. Schedule menu tastings and discuss policies and fees to help you make your final choices.
Arrange your guests’ accommodations
If your wedding venue doesn’t offer lodging, give your guests options on where to stay; and pick properties that are close to each other to keep your group together. “Some guests will be hoping for five-star accommodations and others may opt for a hotel at a lower price point; either way, giving your guests choices is a nice way to cater to varying needs,” says Ryan. Post your hotel block details on your wedding website and send out your Save the Dates. “In addition to helping guests secure accommodates, providing transportation from and to the airport, as well as to the wedding events allows guests to relax without the trouble of driving or figuring out how to get around in a new place,” says Ryan.
Organize the fun
Think of your wedding weekend as a mini vacation for your guests, once they’ve arrived they’re ready to celebrate. Research activities that showcase the destination and create an itinerary that not only reflects what you and your groom love, but also what you both love about the location. “Think of what the area offers that your guests can’t experience anywhere else, for example, if you’re wedding in Tuscany host your welcome party at a picturesque winery and serve local wine and food,” say Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck of Alison and Bryan Destination Weddings. Include all of the gatherings and activities you have planned on your wedding website, as well as in your invitation suite so that guests will know where to be when and what to wear.
Take into account the arrival times of your guests when organizing the pre-wedding events. If your ceremony is on Saturday, most of your guests may arrive Friday afternoon so an evening welcome party would be better than afternoon cocktails. When planning your after party, consider a more casual setting with unique touches like a rented mobile bar or food truck, which not only offers late-night snacks and drinks but also provides a great conversation piece and place for guests to mingle. And wrap up the weekend with something low-key. “Many couples love the idea of a post-wedding brunch, but as many weddings continue into the late hours more brides and grooms are choosing to send their guests ‘breakfast in bed’ so that they can recover from the big day instead of meeting early the next morning at an event space,” says Ryan. Guests who stay a little longer can join you and your groom for a relaxing afternoon lunch before departing.
Plan your outfits
A full weekend of events celebrating you and your groom means lots of fabulous outfits. For your pre-wedding festivities, Galia Lahav’s GALA collection has welcome-party worthy looks like a shimmery star-motif wrap dress that’s both easy and elegant; and from her namesake Galia Lahav couture line, a fringed embroidered cocktail-length sheath dress will have your guests wondering how you’ll top that look for the big day. While brides are choosing their dream dress no matter the destination or season, keep in mind that you’ll not only want to be comfortable in your gown, but also want the dress to help complete the picture of your day. Both the Galia Lahav couture line and GALA collection feature ethereal, light-as-air gowns befitting every type of nuptial from a garden soiree to a chateau celebration.