Who says you can only celebrate your wedding on one day? The wedding night has now become the wedding weekend, with couples planning activities and celebrations that span a few days compared to a few hours. You might not have seen some of your guests for years or perhaps not often enough. From the welcome party to farewell brunch, these events give you ample opportunities to entertain and visit with all of your loved ones. Here a few ideas on how to make sure your wedding guests feel well taken care of and have a weekend they won’t forget!
Schedule wedding weekend activities, but not too many. While you want to offer activities for guests, you also want to give them some down time. The ultimate goal is to host different events and give different experiences instead of just having the same event over and over. For example, if we are doing a formal seated dinner for the wedding, plan something more casual and light the evening before.
Rehearsal & Dinner
With the exception of the wedding, it’s never required that you invite all attendees to each event. The rehearsal dinner is often limited to those involved in the wedding party, family, and any other VIP guests. Not only will you need their undivided attention to perform a run-through of the wedding ceremony, but it can serve as an intimate last ‘hurrah’ before your big day.
Looking for a Central Indiana rehearsal dinner location? Check out recommendations here.
Planning a get-together after dinner gives you an opportunity to hang out with guests, especially from out-of-town, who you may not have as much time to see on your big, busy day. Invite your guests to meet at a local brewery or hotel bar for a low-key night before the wedding. This casual setting is a great opportunity to visit and they’ll feel welcomed without feeling obligated to spend the entire evening. This can be an informal invite whereas guests buy their own drinks. (Read more below on how to tactfully communicate in your details!) Remember, the welcome party should stay lighthearted and be all about hanging out and having fun!
Naturally, you don’t want all of that fun to end after the reception! Luckily, there’s a way to extend the evening —that’s where the after-party comes in. The after-party can take place in a setting that is totally different from that of the reception to ensure that guests won’t be confused where one ends and the other begins. Proximity and transportation (Uber!) are important considerations here. Ideas for after party locations include a local lounge bar, karaoke, hotel bar, pizza party, backyard party or bonfire. You definitely don’t have to make your after-party a huge production, but even the littlest bit of planning will get it started on the right foot (ie., ask the hotel bar if you can reserve a few tables)
If you aren’t hopping on a plane immediately after your grand exit, consider having brunch with your guests the next day. Everyone needs to eat, so you may as well do it all together one last time before the weekend is over! Your guests will appreciate the opportunity to congratulate you again and say “goodbye” before leaving town. If you have a local family member who has been itching to help in planning your day, see if they might be interested in hosting the day-after brunch. These events are typically be held at the hotel or a family member’s home or backyard. Tip: Reuse a few of your wedding reception florals for decor!
If you’re planning multiple activities, try to keep them relatively close. If not, providing transportation options is a thoughtful idea. Whether this information is included in a welcome bag, agenda, or provided by you, give guests an easy way to get around to various events from rehearsal to dinner, for example.
Welcome bags are totally optional but super helpful for a wedding weekend. You can include your printed itinerary, transportation information, locally sourced gifts, necessities (Tylenol, bottle of water, etc.) and any helpful advice for having fun in the area. For the Indiana brides, some locally sourced gift ideas include a bottle of Oliver Wine, DeBrand’s chocolates, Just Pop In popcorn, Albanese gummy candies, custom cookies or local coffee. For more ideas, visit A Taste of Indiana.
With the exception of the wedding, it’s never required that you invite all attendees to each event. If hosting a variety of activities you may find that you’ll be creating 2-3 different types of ‘schedule of events’ or ‘details’ cards. The first includes the full weekend events for those invited to everything, the second is for guests invited to the welcome reception and brunch only, and the third for those only invited to your wedding day.
Another courtesy is to let guests know what they’ll be expected to pay for and generally what prices might be. The best way to do this is through wording on your invitations or wedding website. Include website information for restaurants, bars, and other activities you’re planning and include something like, “See menu and pricing at [website].” If you’re planning to pay for an element of the fun, say something like, “This event will be hosted by the couple.”
5:30pm Rehearsal dinner
7:30pm Welcome drinks
10:30am-2:00pm Offer out-of-town guests ideas for casual pre-wedding activity such as a wine tasting, lunch spots or local sightseeing ideas
10:00pm After Party
10:30am Farewell Brunch