If you’re expecting a significant number of out-of-town guests (i.e. if the wedding is taking place outside of your hometown or the groom’s hometown), there are a number of things you need to prepare in advance. You can’t leave your visiting guests to fend for themselves, which means the task of booking rooms, providing transportation, and creating itineraries falls on you. Here’s what you can do to ensure your out-of-town guests have a fun and effortless experience at your wedding:
Book Hotel Rooms: It’s up to you to secure a block of hotel rooms near the wedding/reception site for your guests. You should reserve these six months in advance in order to get the number of rooms you need, avoid scheduling conflicts with the hotel, and secure a good rate. Most hotels will offer you a set, discounted rate for the rooms. Ideally, you should book rooms at multiple hotels to give your guests the option of where to stay. For your ease, if at all possible, book hotels nearby each other and select places with various price points for guests that are more budget-conscious or ones who want to enjoy a lavish weekend away.
Secure Transportation: If guests will be flying in, it’s up to you to arrange transportation to and from the airport. If the hotel has a shuttle, you’re in luck, but if guests are staying further away from the airport, you’ll need to figure out additional rides for them. If there’s room in your budget, you can book shuttles for the weekend. If not, this is a great task to hand off to members of your bridal party, family members, or trustworthy friends. Also, make sure that visiting guests have a way to get to/from the wedding and reception.
Create an Information Pack: Be sure to provide out-of-town guests with everything they need to know about your wedding weekend. When you mail your save-the-date cards or invitations, you should include information about hotel accommodations, car rentals, nearby airports, wedding events, and a weekend itinerary. It’s also incredible helpful to include a phone number of a friend or family member that guests can call with further questions.
Create a Wedding Website: A great way to consolidate information and make it easy for anyone to find is by creating a wedding website. Depending on how tech savvy you are, this can be as involved as you want. A lot of wedding websites allow couples to create a personalized site including information on their registries, accommodations, schedule of events, and location details. Google weddings is the newest trend in wedding websites.
Assemble Gifts: One of the greatest ways to make your out-of-town guests feel welcome is by assembling a gift bag or basket for them. Put together reasonable gifts based on your budget and number of visiting guests and have them waiting in each hotel room. Some great ideas of items to include: snacks, bottled water, fresh fruit, brochures for local attractions and area restaurants/shopping, disposable cameras, homemade baked goods, and gift certificates for brunch, a massage, or a nearby eatery. Feel free to include themed gifts (i.e. beach towels for a seaside wedding or local apple cider for a autumn celebration).
Plan an Event: Since most of your out-of-town guests won’t be included in all of the pre-wedding festivities, like the rehearsal dinner, bachelor/ette parties, and brunch, plan a special gathering strictly for visiting attendees. Host a cocktail party in the hotel or invite everyone over for a backyard BBQ. It’s a great way to welcome your out-of-town guests, give them a chance to mingle with one another, and show your appreciation for the sacrifice they made to attend your wedding.