Monday, August 13, 2012

Destination Wedding Itinerary, What to do?

Hands down the best thing about destination weddings is that your wedding is the cornerstone of one of the best weekend long parties-reunions you can imagine. You and your guests will feel like they are on vacation! I like to say that destination weddings are experiences, not an "event".  
With that being said, if you haven't been to a destination wedding then you wouldn't really know what you should or could plan for your guests.  One thing to keep in mind when planning your weekend is that the wedding should always be at the forefront.  Everything else is just an extra that adds to the experience.

Based on what we have received the best feedback on from our clients and their guests, here is the ultimate Destination Wedding Weekend Itinerary.  I've also added in whether or not to hire photography, videography or music (this part I am answering based on what our clients have told us after the wedding what they were most glad about or had regrets about) :

Day One:
A Family dinner.  Let everyone arrive and get settled, then have a very intimate dinner with just bride & groom and both sets of parents.  If siblings are in town, you can always invite them as well. This should be hosted by the bride & groom.
Photography: Not necessary
Videography: Not necessary
Hired Music: Not necessary

Day Two:
The Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner with just the bride & groom, both sets of parents & grandparents, siblings, and the wedding party (and their plus one's). This is traditionally hosted by the Grooms family.
Photography: Yes
Videography: Yes
Hired Music: Consider

Day Three:
A Pool day or Beach Day for everyone.  Don't plan anything formal for this, but do let everyone know where the bride and groom will be available for hello's for the afternoon as guests check in.  I highly suggest renting a cabana or two at the pool if possible.
Photography: Consider
Videography: No
Music: Not necessary
The Welcome reception. This should begin as late into the evening as possible, to make sure that as many guests as possible have time to arrive and check in before the event begins. A 1.5 to 2 hour reception is a good length. If you're not hosting dinner at the reception, make sure this starts late enough so that everyone has time to get dinner prior to. This can be hosted by anyone, but typically its hosted by the wedding hosts. Expect that anyone who has arrived to town will attend.
Photography: Yes
Videography: Yes
Music: Yes

Day Four:
Wedding Day Lunch or Brunch. While it isn't necessary to plan anything on wedding day other than the wedding, it is nice to offer a very casual and optional lunch for the guests at the host hotel if you are having an evening ceremony & reception. This can be hosted by anyone, but most often we see it offered by the wedding hosts. Typically the wedding party would not attend as they are busy preparing for the wedding. Expect that 90% of guests staying on site will attend.
Photography: Not necessary
Videography: Not necessary
Music: Consider

Day Five:
A Farewell Brunch. All invited and out of town guests should be invited to a this event before they begin their travels home.  Typically the brunch is a buffet or serving stations and offers a couple hours to attend.  Most often we aim for 9:0-11:00, but consider flight times if many of your guests are leaving on early or late flights. Expect that 85% of guests staying on site will attend.
Photography: Not necessary
Videography: Not necessary
Music: Consider
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101 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

From the editors of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons