As you piece together your wedding guest list, you might realize that more of your invitees are coming from far than nearby. Bringing guests in from around the country or world makes for a beautiful reunion, of course. But it also means you have a few extra courteous steps to take to ensure they all feel welcome and prepared for the big event. To make your job as host or hostess easier, here are five of the most helpful and essential tips for planning the perfect experience for an out-of-towner.
1. Make Transportation a Priority
Guests who fly in for the wedding won’t be able to check or carry-on a car. Sure, they can rent one, but you should still make it your duty to figure out how they can get around town. At the very least, some couples will slip an information card in with the wedding invite or welcome package — use this page to provide your trusted taxi service’s phone number, the directions via public transit to local landmarks, etc.
You might take things a step further and arrange a shuttle for your wedding festivities. This will be a vital addition to your big day if your ceremony or reception doesn’t take place at the designated hotel where attendees are staying. Tell everyone to gather 10 to 15 minutes before the bus arrives, and it should be seamless to get everyone from point A to point B and C.
2. Provide Hotel and Flight Suggestions
To that end, guests from out of town might not know the best place to stay, especially in terms of a hotel’s convenience to the festivities. So, gather a list of places to stay or, better yet, reserve a block of rooms with more than enough space to hold everyone traveling in from out of town. Sometimes, hotels will even provide a discount to everyone booking under your name, which would be an even sweeter thing to organize — traveling in for your wedding will be expensive, so every little bit will help your guests.
Clearly, not everyone will be travel savvy, so you might want to include some travel tips with your wedding invite, too. Provide a list of the airlines that fly to the closest airport or link your guests to your favorite app for finding low-cost airfare.
3. Send a Personalized Welcome at the Hotel
Many of today’s brides and grooms will put together welcome bags to greet their guests once they get into town. This is a kind gesture, but you should take it a step further for those who have come from far away to see you say “I do.” Start by penning each guest a personal welcome card or note. Tell them how much their presence means to you. You can leave the letter with the front desk, or you can send it along with a special gift, like fresh flowers. Even without their room number ready, you can have the flowers greet them at the hotel.
You should also call ahead to the hotel before your guests arrive so that staffers know who’s coming and why. They might be able to offer your visitors special treats, like a turndown service or a free welcome drink. At the very least, they can provide personalized service, greeting everyone by name, calling them taxis, suggesting local restaurants, etc.
4. Schedule Some Time Together
You’re certainly going to be busy in the days leading up to your nuptials. However, you should make as much time as possible to see the people who have traveled to see your wedding, since they put in such an effort to do so.
One of the best ways to round up the troops is over food or drink — it’s an event that’ll allow you to mingle with everyone, too. So, plan a welcome happy hour, or invite all of the out-of-towners to attend the rehearsal dinner. Other couples have planned an end-of-the-weekend brunch so everyone can gather one last time.
Depending on your wedding destination, you might be able to plan group activities, too. At the very least, you could include a list of suggested tourist sites and to-dos along with the schedule for the weekend.
5. Share Your Appreciation as Much as Possible
Lastly, you should make it clear throughout your wedding week or weekend that you appreciate everyone’s effort to attend — this is especially true for guests who have traveled from another city or country. As previously mentioned, a note works. But you should tell each person individually on the day of your wedding, as well as at any of the other events you’ve scheduled for the weekend. And raise a glass and draw attention to those who have come to celebrate you — they deserve a moment of celebration themselves.
In the end, your effort will show just how much you appreciate those who have come to your wedding. Considering them as you plan is a great place to start — and you’ll be finished when you’ve made the trip as easy, fun and personal for them as you possibly can.