A lot of your guests will be coming to your wedding from out of town or possibly from overseas. Not all of them will be familiar with your hometown, but they’re still making the effort to join you, so you need to welcome them, help them to find their feet and keep them comfortable and entertained.
Give them lots of information
You must provide guests with a wedding itinerary after you’ve received their RSVPs. This should include all the events before, during and after the ceremony. Alternatively, you can create a wedding website with all the information readily available. You’ll need to say what’s going on, when and where, who’s hosting and the dress code for each event. Include periods of free time, so that visitors can do their own thing for a few hours.
Some of your out-of-town guests will be making a vacation of it, possibly staying in the area for a few days either side of your wedding, so make sure you give them some good ideas. You could include a travel guide, with public transport information, information about museums, concerts, exhibitions and so on so that people can plan their holiday better.
Suggest accommodation and transport
You don’t have to pay for everyone’s hotels, but you should make life easier for guests by pointing them in the right directions. Include details of hotels and airlines, as well as car hire companies, in an insert with the itinerary or on the website. You could call one or two hotels to ask for group discounts if you know several groups of guests are likely to head there, too. You could also do this with airlines – if ten or more guests are flying in from roughly the same area, then you could organise a group booking for them at cheaper rates. It’s always worth making the effort as people will appreciate and remember it.
Some of your guests will hire cars, but not everyone will be able to, so organise carpools, a hotel shuttle, or even hire a van or two for the big day so people can get to your venue.
It’s also really helpful if someone picks up guests from the airport – your relatives and friends can do this if they’re willing. Have a schedule of arrivals so that people can pick their best slots and make sure your volunteers carry signs with the visitors’ names on.
Offer welcome bags
These will be really appreciated, especially if someone’s travelled a long way. They get to their accommodation to find a muffin basket, a bottle of wine or some luxurious bubble bath… You don’t have to spend a fortune here, though – if you’re a keen baker, then a fresh cake will do the job just as well. You should also include important phone numbers – those of other guests nearby, yours, your relatives and so on, so that people can coordinate travel and outings. A card or handwritten note expressing your gratitude for the effort they’ve gone to is also a must.
Keep your guests happy
You’ll be rushed off your feet in the days leading up to the wedding, but your guests may not be. Organise a dinner or a welcome party, press-gang some guests into making last-minute wedding favours, have a game of cricket or a film night; whatever you know will keep everyone occupied. Your friends and relatives can step up here and host an event or two.
Lastly, make sure you namecheck them on the big day
Some of your guests will have come a long way and they’ll have spent a significant amount of time, effort and money to get to your wedding. You must let them know how much you appreciate it by mentioning them during the toasts and by organising a special brunch or similar for them all the day after.