How to Make Your Destination Wedding a Great Experience for Guests

Guests applaud a newly married couple at a wedding ceremony

Destination weddings are enjoyable and exciting for guests and the happy couple alike, but it can take some family and friends a little bit of time to adjust to the idea. There are a few great steps that can help your guests adjust to both the idea and logistics of a destination wedding while getting excited about going somewhere new and different.

Get in Touch Early and Explain Your Excitement

While it is always good to give plenty of notice for a wedding, a destination wedding is even more important to send notice about. If you want guests who live far away from the destination to spend the time and money to attend, you’ll want to make it clear what the commitment is early on.

Someone is bound to ask, “why are you having the wedding there?” People who get married in their hometown or their current location get fewer of these questions. Try to come up with a clear reason for your guests, even if the reason truly is just, “that’s where we want to get married.” If you can talk about how the destination is in a central location, is far more beautiful than where you live, or gives everyone a chance to bundle a bit of vacation with their wedding travel, potential guests will begin to share your excitement about the location.

Various supplies laid out to plan a flight and trip

Do Some of the Prep Work

Especially for friends and family who may have anticipated a short car ride and single night’s hotel stay, getting used to the idea of a destination wedding may take some time. To make it easier for them, look a few things up: are there flight deals from a nearby hub to the location? What about great nearby hotels, cheap airport shuttles, or an all-inclusive package that people can choose? Any info you can pass along shows that you’ve done your homework and helps them figure out if this wedding is in their budget much faster.

Another form of prep work is to simply find fun things to do in the area: make a portion of your wedding website or invitation devoted to the benefits of this location and all the fun that guests can have when they aren’t at the ceremony proper. This will remind everyone that they are getting more than just a wedding for the time and money they use, and it will be more meaningful than the average vacation.

Try to Pass Along Wedding Deals and Savings

If you are getting married at a resort or hotel, there are often ways in which the wedding package can bundle in some savings for the guests. If you can get a cut rate on hotel rooms by reserving a block with your wedding package, look into it and try to pass those savings to your guests. If the difference between two similar wedding packages is that one includes a day-after brunch for the remaining guests, spring for it and mention it in your invites or wedding website. Everything you do to show your care for your guests will increase their excitement about participating.

A group of friends exploring an old stone house

Build in Time to Enjoy the Location

Some people won’t be able to take much time off work, but try to find a way for guests at your destination wedding to enjoy themselves. One popular model is to have a bachelorette/bachelor party on a Thursday night, rehearsal and dinner on Friday night, and wedding on Saturday evening. With this structure, your wedding party is free for much of three days to explore the location and enjoy their vacation. When possible, save yourself the pressure to DIY or do a lot of venue prep by letting the venue handle the décor; with a destination wedding, half the fun is that you are in an interesting place with a lot of the people you love.

Bring Your Favorite Folks With You

This is a controversial idea, but if you know that there are friends who would absolutely attend a small local ceremony but who don’t have the cash to fly to the Caribbean with you, consider whether you want to help pay for the trip. Many destination weddings aim to be substantially smaller than local weddings, and the reduced cost of food and size of the venue may leave you with budget wiggle room. If you are only having a very small amount of bridesmaids, think about whether you could spring for the hotel room or airfare for them. Not only does this mean your bridesmaids are more likely to say yes, but it also means that they will be less stressed about finances while they are with you, which makes for a more fun trip.

Regardless of how you handle the destination wedding planning, your wedding is not an imposition on others: getting married in a tropical paradise or alpine chalet can be exactly the dream you want, and supportive family will work with you to make it happen.

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