Multi-day weddings are more common than you may think, and not just limited to destination weddings. In fact, the majority of couples today prefer to span their celebrations over several days. On average, multi-day weddings last about three days, though one can prolong them even longer to four or five days!
There are many benefits to extending your wedding. You’ll have more time to socialize with friends and family, you don’t have to squeeze everything into 24 hours, and you can arrange for more fun activities your guests to enjoy. The only downside is that you’ll likely need a bigger budget. So before you get started, examine your finances first.
If you’re interested in turning your big day into a multi-day celebration, it’ll take effort—but it will be worth it. To make it easier, here is everything you need to know.
Plan a Schedule
The basic outline of a multi-day wedding consists of three days. You can also tack on additional days for activities, which is recommended for a destination wedding or if you have a lot of guests coming from out of town. For something simple, opt for a three-day schedule, such as:
Day 1: Welcome Party and/or Rehearsal Dinner
Host a relatively relaxed welcome party on the first day, but schedule it in the early evening or later. Give your guests enough time to travel without any rush. You can combine the welcome party with the rehearsal dinner, or separate the two. If you have extra time, you can host a casual welcome party on day one and a more formal rehearsal dinner on day two.
Day 2: Wedding Day
This is pretty self-explanatory. The same scheduling will apply, even if you were having a one-day event.
Day 3: Farewell Brunch
Before your guests depart, host a relaxed thank you brunch. Do keep in mind, especially if everyone was up late partying, that people will appreciate sleeping in so don’t schedule the brunch too early in the morning.
Day 4 (optional): Secondary Celebration and Activities
If you have the option, you can continue the party the day after the wedding, perhaps by providing an entertainment program, or taking your guests out to a fun activity. You can also do this after the farewell brunch and limit attendance to only close friends and family.
Some suggestions for activities include a group hike, beach day, or attendance at a sports game.
Respect Your Guests
Keep in mind that not everyone can take several days off to party, so mention which days are optional. Assuming most of your guest list doesn’t work on the weekend, remember that it’s best to schedule things from Friday through Sunday. In addition, do consider if any of your guests have kids, as they may not be able to leave them behind if you want a children-free wedding. If you want them in attendance, you should be prepared to offer a nanny service, or apply the children-free rule solely to the wedding day.
Establish Some “Me” Time
Establish some “met” time not just for yourself, but for your guests as well. Generally speaking, leave 30-40% of every day free for guests to do as they please. Everyone needs a bit of downtime between the partying. If you want to be extra hospitable, suggest local attractions for people to check out on their own.
Announce Your Plans Early
Since a multi-day wedding will likely require people to take time off from work, make sure to send out your invitations as early as possible—6 to 8 months before the wedding, at least. It can help to give a basic outline of what the weekend will look like, but you don’t need to have a set schedule by then. Do send out a more detailed plan at least 1-2 weeks before the wedding, including any details guests will need to know, such as dress codes. If you have any specific events going on, provide a short description of what to expect. It can also help to give guests an estimation for daily spending.
Choose Your Venue Wisely
It can get annoying shuttling from one venue to another, so it’s best to keep the party centered around one main location. Or, if necessary, arrange for transportation to take everyone from point A to point B. If possible, it’ll be convenient to rent a hotel; some boutique hotels double as party venues and can be rented out completely for private use. For ease, this is recommended if you have a lot of out-of-town guests. At the very least, provide everyone with a list of local accommodation options they can look into.
Make a Meal Plan
You don’t necessarily need to feed your guests three meals every day, but at least one full meal is necessary. The only exception is the wedding day itself, in which the standard rules apply. Do, however, make suggestions on where to eat nearby if you’re not serving food throughout the event. To keep things from being mundane, alter your menu constantly. Perhaps have Asian food one day, then classic American the next. You can also change the serving style, such as having a tapas cocktail party on the welcome night, and then a multi-course meal for your wedding reception.
Create a Wedding Website
When a wedding spans over several days, it is almost necessary to have a wedding website and/or app. This way, your guests always have a guide to reference and don’t have to interrupt you over every detail. Having everything down in one place will also help you. In the hype of everything, you might easily get confused or stressed out trying to figure out what happens when. Don’t worry if you’re not a tech person; wedding websites are really easy to set up these days.
Consider Hiring a Professional
Since planning even a simple wedding can be stressful, it’s understandable that planning a multi-day wedding can be tough. Hence, it might be easier to hire a professional who can take care of the details. Although it will bite off a chunk of your budget, a good wedding planner can arrange things in a way that’ll actually save you money overall.