The best part about a destination wedding is that you will likely have a whole weekend with your guests, instead of for a few hours. With most destination weddings, the guests pay their own airfare and hotel rooms. This means they are truly investing in this experience and going a further distance (both financially and physically) so it’s important that you plan to make it special for them.
Here are a few things that I did to make sure my guests felt special and appreciated.
- Keep your guests up to date with a few email updates prior to the trip. Some nice to have reminders are for them to know ahead of time: like what’s your wedding attire and how do they get to the hotel from the airport? And you can also include things like the weather forecast and links to the resort website for them to plan their own activities ahead of time if they desire. Please also make sure that it’s super clear to them of when any reservations need to be made with the hotel so they have their rooms booked on time. People will need (and appreciate) reminders!
- We hosted our wedding at an all-inclusive resort. This way, guests had to pay for their resort stay but once they were there, they didn’t incur extra charges. All food and drink was unlimited, and tipping wasn’t even allowed!
- We had welcome bags available for them at the front desk when they checked in. (We did this in lieu of wedding favors.) The bags included the following: a custom suntan lotion bottle with our names and wedding date, a postcard with the location on it, local coffee and tea sachets, a personalized soap bar and bath bomb, and a small bag that held all of the items that could be used as a beach bag.
- We provided an agenda for the weekend ahead of time with times and specific locations. I will admit that this was hard for me to create prior to the weekend since I hadn’t been to the resort yet, but it helped to have some foundational plans set.
- Along with the agenda, we provided a welcome letter in their rooms that shared our gratitude as a couple for each guest to spend this special time with us. We also included random facts about the island we were being married at, and some of our history as a couple. Right off the bat, this made guests feel welcome and more connected to both us as a couple and the place they would be staying.
- We planned a few optional group activities, like snorkeling and buffet meals so we could spend time with our guests. We did choose all free activities that were included in resort fees, but if you choose any that guests will have to pay more for then please make this clear.
- We made sure guests knew that a majority of the events planned were optional, so they could choose what to take part in. Remember, not everyone is going to want to climb up a steep waterfall or go on a catamaran! It’s a fine balance because you want to have enough planned where people aren’t bored and you create some special moments, but you want people to enjoy some time of relaxation. This will likely serve as a vacation for most of your guests as well so don’t feel pressured to fill all of their time.
- If you’re having a bridal party, try to keep the additional costs as low as possible. I had my girls buy their dresses at Kohl’s and I gifted them their accessories. I didn’t “require” that their hair or makeup get professionally done either. I didn’t think it was fair to ask them to take vacation time off work, pay their own way and hotel room, and then pay the traditional fees that most bridal parties do. Although they might be willing, it’s important to be sensitive to this.
- If you can, invite all of your guests to your rehearsal dinner, or something like a welcome dinner the night before the wedding. This will allow for some time of formal introductions and then people won’t feel like strangers during the ceremony and reception. Your guests might actually really hit it off and make some lifelong friendships, too! (This totally happened at our wedding!)
The best part about a destination wedding is that all of the guests that attend will be invested in your relationship and future marriage. No matter what, don’t forget to let them know how grateful you are for their support.
Girl with a diamond ring