How to Plan a Two- or Three-Day Wedding

A rustic "welcome" sign at a wedding weekend.

When a bride-to-be hears the term “multi-day wedding,” she may feel like her eyes are popping out of their sockets. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! Many people extend wedding events to two days by having a rehearsal dinner, or to three days just by having a post-wedding brunch, and you can actually figure out quite easily the best way to make these events work for you.

Why have such a long wedding experience? The biggest reason is that it adds value for those guests who are coming from far away and may be investing a lot to get to see you. It makes it possible to connect with a wider group of your wedding guests than you can get to in a few hours during the wedding reception. It’s also really fun! Here’s a path to plan the right multi-day wedding for you.

Make Your Priorities Clear

While all wedding planning requires priorities, the needs of a multi-day wedding are different than those of a typical wedding ceremony and reception. For instance, some couples want to prioritize time with their wedding guests, so their events are more informal: cafeteria-style food for the whole weekend, bunks, and events like s’mores around the campfire are affordable at a conference center rental—but definitely yield a different style of wedding than other sites. Think about what your budget is, how you want to splurge, and how you want to create space for togetherness that doesn’t cost you or your guests a lot of money.

Find Your Venue

A tent at a beach wedding in the evening with firepits surrounding it.

You can certainly use a traditional wedding venue for a multi-day wedding, and hotels tend to work quite well for a multi-day event since they bring everyone to the same place. Your venue should be a place that offers the right combination of lodging, large spaces for the ceremony and reception, as well as smaller options for different secondary events like the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, any gatherings the night before the wedding, a brunch, or other farewell events. Make sure that your itinerary is fairly clear before you book a venue, since you may realize that they simply cannot provide all the spaces you want.

Figure Out In-Between Entertainment

People around a campfire cooking marshmallows.

One aspect of bringing groups together for a multi-day wedding is making clear what the scheduled “events” are, such as meals or the ceremony, and which time is free for smaller gatherings or relaxation. By choosing a venue that has options nearby like hiking trails, shopping, or a swimming pool, you can create a list of potential entertainment during the times when you have no scheduled events. The morning and early afternoon of the wedding “day” can be good times to let people catch up, eat on their own, and perhaps explore the area rather than asking them to participate in scheduled activities. They’ll be more refreshed to boogie all night long if they’ve had a day at their leisure.

Provide Week-Of and Day-Of Guidance for Guests

A couple of wedding guests walking into a hotel.

While many ceremonies have a program, a wedding weekend is probably best with a schedule. Send out the schedule a week before people arrive, in case anyone wants to book tickets or make reservations for meals they won’t be having as a group. Then, have a copy of the schedule available for everyone who checks in (or an electronic copy if people are staying in a variety of lodgings). There’s no need to pressure anything, but make it possible to get a real conversation or time in with everyone you love.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Whenever possible, lean on a wedding planner, day-of coordinator, or the venue staff for their ability to get people to the right spot and keep things moving along the schedule. One of the major reasons to have a wedding for multiple days is to get more quality time with those you love, so make sure you don’t leave a lot of coordination details in your own hand, or you’ll just end up spending your whole wedding making sure that all the vendors have checked in. More so than with other kinds of weddings, you’ll need the option to take breaks by yourself or with your spouse-to-be, and you’ll want to make sure you take that time.

Decide How Long You Want the Event to Last

Make sure you’re clear on when scheduled activities end. For instance, if some of your family wishes to stay longer and enjoy the location you’ve selected, make sure they know that you still may have to return to work or head out on a honeymoon. Make a form of “send-off” possible even if it isn’t a traditional send-off after the reception, so that your guests know the official wedding is done and they are free to do as they please.

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