More and more couples are extending their weddings so that they get a whole weekend with their loved ones, rather than just one day – but beware, it takes extra planning! Here’s our guide to planning a wedding weekend…
Provide lots of food
Aside from your venue costs, the area of your budget that’s most likely to jump when you’re planning a wedding weekend is your catering budget. Depending on what time guests arrive and when your wedding is, the minimum you’ll have to provide is dinner on the Friday night, and breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as your standard wedding meal. If your accomodation is self-catering, or you’re holding a festival-style wedding on a campsite, then your guests may be able to bring their own food – just remember to be very clear on your invitations how much food is included, and whether they’ll be expected to provide their own meals or feed themselves at local restaurants.
Be clear with your invitations
When you’re sending your invitations to your chosen guests, make sure you’re clear about the length of your wedding weekend and the costs involved. It’s not cheap to attend weddings at the best of times, so be upfront with any extra expenses your guests may face – include the room rates, for example. Also, be prepared for people to only attend the wedding itself if they feel they can’t stretch to the costs or time off required for the full celebration.
If it’s too much info to fit on your wedding invitations, or you don’t like the idea of including accomodation costs, then make sure all the details are listed on your wedding website instead.
Give your guests an itinerary (and dress code)
Make sure that each of your guests gets a wedding itinerary when they arrive at your venue, so they know exactly how much downtime they have and when they need to be ready for events or meals. If your site is relatively large, like a campsite or a woodland lodge park, then include maps so they know where they’re meant to be going, too.
Don’t forget to include suggested dress codes, just for sake of ease. If your Friday night dinner is going to be a formal affair in a hotel ballroom, then let them know! Alternatively, if you’re having a casual BBQ or a pool party, they’ll need to know that too!
A side note: if you’re researching wedding weekends online, be aware that American websites may give you a slightly altered perspective on your wedding day itinerary, as most US ceremonies don’t start until the late afternoon or early evening. Don’t try and squeeze in activites on the morning of the wedding unless you’re also having a late ceremony!
Book the right venue
You don’t want to be moving your guests around from place to place all weekend, so if possible, book a venue where everything comes included and you can hold the ceremony and reception in the same place. If you’d prefer a church ceremony, or your venue isn’t licensed, try to hold your ceremony close to your accomodation/reception site – if the budget stretches to it, include transportation to and from the ceremony for your guests.
Wedding weekend venues can include everything from classic hotels and stately homes to large rented houses and festival-style campsites, so there’s something for all types of wedding theme! Just be sure to check whether or not you’re getting exclusive use.
Consider a wedding planner
If the thought of trying to wrangle your guests for three days rather than one has got you nervous, then consider hiring a wedding planner or co-ordinator to help you out. They can make sure that your guests are all where they need to be at the right time, and help run catering times to run smoothly as well as assisting you with set-up and take-down for any decorations. It may be that your venue provides one as part of their package, so be sure to enquire about this when looking at prospective venues.
Although this all may sound like massively hard work, it’ll be worth it in the end, as you’ll get plenty more valuable time with friends and loved ones rather than trying to squeeze it all into one night. Spending the night before your wedding having fun with your guests and getting to join them all the day after for a breakfast or brunch catch-up is one of the best things about planning a weekend wedding, so embrace it!