Your Destination Wedding Check ListTuesday, August 31, 2021
You've asked and we've answered! Welcome to your weekly column 'Planning Your Happily Ever After' with wedding consultant Shikima Hinds.
After numerous pandemic-era wedding delays and postponements of 2020 wedding dates, the international destination wedding market is well on its way back to recovery. Couples are again venturing out to get married in sun-soaked international destinations like Jamaica. But destination weddings don't have to be international; many locals are also simply going outside of their hometowns to create a getaway experience.
One important destination task that is often overlooked is the guest experience. Convey essential information about your destination wedding by providing guests with all the details they need to know.
Here are my top tips:
1. Advance notice is imperative: Send save-the-date notices at least six months prior if they will be travelling internationally.
2. Provide a wedding itinerary: After sending out your invitations, set up a website and/or mail guests additional communiqués with the complete rundown of the events leading up to and following your special day. An itinerary is an easy reference one-stop shop for guests to check up on everything you have planned. Include key times, locations, what to wear, and so on for each activity.
Keep in mind your guests may be turning your nuptial event into a weekend getaway or mini vacay, so do inform them about any free time.
3. Provide suggestions for accommodations and travel: Recommend different places for guests to stay near your ceremony and reception sites, or perhaps provide a room group block if you prefer everyone to stay at the same location. Ensure you recommend different categories of accommodations so that everyone can find something that suits their needs and budget.
It's worth noting that you don't have to do this, but it's a nice gesture. Also, remember some of your guests may have never visited the area before, so you may want to add in a “travel guide”. Provide the latest travel restrictions and requirements as they change, as it may affect travel for some.
4. Suggest (or organise) activities: Do your best to keep your guests entertained. Don't leave them in the lurch with nothing to do, as you may have plenty to occupy yourself. Even if you aren't able to be there, you can give your guests a few suggestions for restaurants, tours, and activities.
Suggesting things for out-of-town guests to do during their stay is another great gesture.
If you have the time, join them for the fun; it's a great way to bond with your loved ones. Your pre-wedding itinerary will get guests excited about the journey.
5. Give wedding venue details: Your guests may not be familiar with your wedding location. In addition to the address of the ceremony and reception venue, provide written directions, parking details, and other relevant information to ensure guests have no trouble finding your wedding. Feel free to include photos and interesting facts about the location for your guests.
6. Host an event for them: Have a welcome party or invite out of towners to your rehearsal dinner. You may think you'll get to spend time with everyone on the wedding day, but with all the photos, the ceremony, and the dancing, it's rare that the bride and groom get to spend quality time with guests individually. Make sure your out-of-town guests are hosted before your big day.
7. Think about transportation: For those of your guests who do not drive, you'll have to figure out how they'll get to and from the wedding. Organise a shuttle bus to transport them, carpool with relatives or friends. Remember to provide pick-up and arrival times, so everyone will be on time.
8. Give the dress code: Even if you don't have a special dress code for guests, it's still important to let them know what is best for the venue. Include special footwear they should carry in case any part of your wedding is on grass, sand, or gravel. It's also a good idea to give guests a heads-up about the weather.
Have a communication plan so your guests won't be scrambling to get in touch with you while you're busy with the final preparations; appoint a contact person with details. Whatever you do, make sure they have all the necessary info; it makes things easier for out-of-town guests.
Put all the info they need conveniently in one place; for example, your wedding website. Communication is important for any wedding, but this is especially so when you have lots of guests travelling for your celebration.