If some of your wedding invitations were mailed out of town or even out of state, chances are you’ll welcome guests who will have traveled by air or via a long car trip.
Considering the fact that these guests have already invested a good deal of time and money to attend your wedding, you’ll want to make an extra effort to make them feel truly welcome and appreciated.
A great way to help everyone, whether they’ve been there before or not, is to include a tastefully done map when you send your invitations. Don’t assume that all of your guests have been to your area before. Include the sites of the ceremony, reception and hotels where they might stay, along with the quickest routes from the airport and the main highways. Even if someone is a repeat visitor, they’ll appreciate the guidance, especially if it’s been a while or your town has experienced growth since they last visited.
Paying for your out-of-town guests’ lodging is not your responsibility, but it is customary for you to negotiate rates and secure a block of rooms for guests at a convenient hotel. Include contact information for the hotel in the invitation packets for out-of-town guests, along with car rental options,
After the invitations have been sent, it’s time to prepare an itinerary for your guests. This is your opportunity to let everyone know about your plans, which is particularly helpful for weekend-long weddings or destination weddings.
Your itinerary can be a clever packet of information sent via snail mail, or a detailed web site or blog for guests to visit and learn what is to be expected.
Be sure to include all of the events preceding and following the ceremony. If guests might have a bit of free time here and there, include interesting things to see and do in your area.
For those who will be essential to the ceremony itself, such as your attendants, relatives, and anyone who will be invited to the rehearsal dinner, it’s a good idea to tuck extra information into their packet before sending it off. Include details on the time and location of the rehearsal dinner, along with directions and whether dress will be casual or formal. If you’ll be sending a car for your bridesmaids, let them know. Or if close relatives will be invited to a special brunch at your parents’ home or future-in-laws’ home, be sure to include that information, as well.
Little surprises left for your guests in their hotel rooms will reinforce the fact that you appreciate their making the trip. A small gift basket with locally produced wine, fruit, flowers, or even homemade cookies or brownies will be a welcome treat.
Another copy of the itinerary will be handy, along with a list of phone numbers to reach families of the bride and groom. Encourage your guests to mingle by including the names and room numbers of additional guests staying at the same hotel.
Take every opportunity possible to let all of your guests know how much their presence means to you. A few sincere comments from you and your parents during the receiving line will mean so much to guests who have traveled to share your day. Your out-of-town guests will appreciate being acknowledged with a toast from the bride and groom during the reception, just to let everyone know how much their journey has meant to you.
THANK YOU NOTES
When it’s time to send out notes to thank everyone for their gifts to you and your new spouse, don’t forget to thank them for attending your wedding, in particular if they took time off from work and traveled to be there.
It may seem like a bit of work for you to put the plans in motion to make your guests feel at home, but with a little help from your attendants it shouldn’t take much time at all to assemble everything. There’s nothing worse than taking time off from work, spending your hard-earned cash, and staying in a hotel, only to be ignored by the very people who invited you to take this journey. Don’t let your guests leave your wedding feeling that way.