The week before your wedding is always busy. There’s so much to do before you walk down that aisle: last-minute DIYs, final dress fittings, the ceremony rehearsal—not to mention celebrating the upcoming nuptials with your family and friends. And if you have guests coming from out of town for your big day, you’ll have to add a few more things to your to-do list. After all, these folks spend time and money traveling to celebrate with you—you’d better make sure to give them some face time!
But how do you keep out-of-towners entertained while you’re busy finalizing all those last-minute wedding details? We have a few suggestions to help keep your friends and family happy all weekend long.
Start with Welcome Bags at the Hotel
If you have out-of-town friends and family attending your wedding, chances are you know exactly where they’re staying. Maybe you gave them a hotel recommendation. Maybe you set aside hotel rooms in advance. Maybe they’re staying in the guest room at your house! Wherever they may be, you have an opportunity to make them feel welcome from the moment they drop their suitcases. Talk to the hotel where your guests are staying (or to whichever family member is putting them up) and ask them to hand out welcome bags when your guests arrive.
What’s in the bag? The essentials: a list of your favorite restaurants, shopping, and night life spots; toiletries they may have forgotten to pack; the weekend itinerary; some homemade baked goods or local food, and anything else you think your guests will enjoy. This will get everyone’s weekend off on the right foot and make them feel like their presence is appreciated.
Host a Cocktail Party
Let’s face it: you won’t have time to spend every moment with your out-of-town guests. There is simply too much to do! However, there is time to schedule one activity per day—and a chic cocktail party is one of the best ways to start your wedding weekend. A cocktail party doesn’t have to be anything fancy (although it can be if you want to go the extra mile). Just grab a few bottles of wine, some cheese and crackers, and gather everyone in the living room or on the patio. Before you know it, your guests will be chatting away! This is a fantastic opportunity for you to catch up with the family and friends you don’t see often, however, it’s also a chance for your guests to get to know each other. If they become fast friends, they’re more likely to spend time together, leaving you free to talk over the reception playlist with the DJ (or take a breather!).
Give a Hometown Tour
Every person who comes to town for your wedding has one thing in common: they love you and your soon-to-be spouse! So why not give them a glimpse into this place where you’ll become newlyweds? A little tour of the area can help give new life to your love story. Are you getting married in your hometown (or your partner’s)? Family members will want to reminisce about your younger days, while friends and new in-laws may want to see the spots where you grew up. Are you getting married in the city where you two fell in love? Take your guests to the places that mark key moments in your relationship, like where you went on your first date or where you first said “I love you.” Giving your guests a tour of the town may give them a clearer picture of who you and your fiancé are. Ultimately, this will make your wedding day even sweeter for everyone!
Organize a Fitness Class or Activity
When people take vacations, their daily routine inevitably gets thrown out of whack. They sleep late, indulge at restaurants, and completely forget their workout routines. For some, this may be a welcome break from everyday life, but others may prefer a little more structure.
One way to provide your guests with some structured, productive fun is to offer a fitness class during their visit. Ask a friend (maybe a bridesmaid who works in the fitness industry) to host a Zumba or Yoga class to get your guests’ blood flowing. Or, organize a morning hike or outdoor run in a local nature setting. Of course, not every guest will want to join in the fitness fun. But there are bound to be a few friends and family members who will appreciate the opportunity to get a little exercise during your wedding weekend. Don’t be afraid to get sweaty!
…And Always Allow for Down Time
While it’s important to schedule activities for your out-of-town guests, it’s equally important to give them some time to themselves. For many, this may be their one vacation of the year. Be sure to give them time to enjoy it in their own way. How many activities should you plan for your guests? The rule of thumb is one activity per day. For the rest of the time, you guests should be free to explore the city (maybe try one of the suggestions from your welcome bag), catch up with family or friends from the area, or just nap in their rooms!
Make sure you set aside a little time for your friends and family throughout the wedding weekend. Adding a few simple activities for out-of-towners (or locals who want to join in the fun) will make your wedding more memorable for your guests—and it will give you time to get away from all the planning insanity!