Being in an unfamiliar place can lead to stress and confusion for both you and your guests. Here’s how to make your guests feel at home whether you’re in Aspen or Argentina, according to wedding planner Emily Clarke.
Get Them an Itinerary, Stat
A great place to start is providing a packet with a mini itinerary in the save the date. You can add information about a welcome reception or brunch so that people can book their flights accordingly. In the save the date we also like to give information about the best airport to fly into, transportation information from the airport, and hotel blocks. A website is also a great way to deliver information that is a little more budget-friendly than an insert. A lot of times, brides want to include a map in their save the date or invitation, but most guests won’t remember to bring it with them, so include that in the hotel welcome bag. Clearly communicate the hotel choices and which hotel is “home base” for the bridal party and where the transportation will be provided from.
Don’t Forget a Welcome Bag
Once guests arrive, a welcome bag is appropriate. This is where you can fine-tune the itinerary and information for the weekend including times, locations, transportation information, and also historical spots, places to dine, and activities for the guests’ free time.
Host a Fiesta on Friday
When planning a destination wedding, consider hosting a Friday night get-together. Old etiquette would tell you that you have to invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner and the wedding, but sometimes space restrictions at the rehearsal dinner venue or budget does not allow for the entire guest list to be invited. It’s perfectly acceptable to host a party that starts an hour before the wedding party will arrive so guests can mix and mingle beforehand. Honestly, what people want more than anything is a place to gather and see each other. If you have people offering to host parties, this is a great option for them in lieu of a shower or engagement party. Plus, you may not have as many showers because your guest list is smaller.
As a rule of thumb, if you want a destination wedding, you need to consider transportation accommodations in your budget. You need to make people feel cared for. There are scenarios where maybe it’s not necessary, such as walkable areas in New Orleans or when hosting the wedding and reception at the same hotel venue. But, if your home base hotel is in the town of Aspen and the wedding is at a venue 20 to 30 minutes up the mountain, you need to provide transportation for guests.
Book Multiple Hotel Blocks
When booking hotel blocks, make sure you have a few price points. If you don’t, your guests will find other places to stay. On the response card, a great idea is to include a line for guests to fill in their hotel (so you can still deliver welcome bags) and if they will need transportation. Then you don’t overpay on the buses and you can track your guests.
Get to Know the City
Finally, do your research! Be wary of festival and holiday weekends that are specific to the city. A word of warning: The venues will never tell you this. I call the concierge at the nicest hotel and ask what the weekend looks like. Festivals and holiday weekends can increase costs to your guests and can be hard to plan around.