Top tips for planning a weekend long wedding

Why have just one day? Our wedding guru, wedding planner Katrina Otter shares her advice for planning a weekend long wedding…

If there’s one wedding trend that I just can’t get enough of at the moment, it’s weekend long weddings. When your wedding is such a special occasion, and such a great opportunity to get your friends and family together, why not extend the celebrations?  More and more couples are choosing to do just that and as a wedding planner, I love organising fabulous occasions that share the love over an entire weekend.  So, if you’re planning your own multi-day event or if you’re now thinking that you might like to extend your wedding, then here are my top tips for planning a weekend long wedding…

  1. Your venue is the key ingredient! To be able to host a wedding weekend, you need a venue that’s totally on board with your plans.  Location, accommodation, flexible catering options, activities and a really warm, welcoming atmosphere are all essential.  If you can take over the entire venue, so much the better because then you can design your perfect house party without worrying about other guests or visitors.
  2. Think about logistics for guests and also for suppliers. This becomes even more important if you’re hiring a venue that doesn’t have on-site caterers or has its own challenges in terms of access, power or infrastructure.  When will guests be able to arrive?  How will your suppliers deal with the various aspects of the wedding weekend?  For example, if they’re catering for a large brunch on the morning of the wedding, will they need more staff and / or more equipment?
  3. Send save the dates / invitations out early so that guests have got plenty of time to book time off work, consider their travel plans and make all the necessary arrangements for a great weekend away. If you can give an idea of the activities that you’re planning at this point too, so much the better so that everyone can get an idea of what the wedding will entail in advance.
  4. Make sure there’s plenty of accommodation onsite or nearby so that there’s not a mad scramble for rooms or worse, guests who are left with no choice but to decline your invitation because they just can’t find anywhere to stay. Obviously on-site accommodation cuts down on the need for further travelling but it’s good to be able to offer everyone places to stay across a range of price points.  Which brings us on to my next tip!
  5. Set expectations for costs in advance so that everyone is very clear what they’ll need to pay for and what you’re covering in return. It’s quite likely that a wedding weekend will be costlier for you and for your guests so clarity is important.  If you can include information on likely costs with your save the dates or invitations, so much the better so that everyone can budget accordingly before they RSVP.
  6. Stock up on food and drink! You’ll be surprised at just how much guests will eat and drink over a weekend and you don’t want to run out or have to make emergency trips to re-supply.  And don’t just think about the main meals, consider all the little extras that will make guests feel really loved. Teas coffee, soft drinks, biscuits, cake, nibbles and snacks are all important.  Your venue or caterer should be able to help with quantities if you’re struggling.
  7. Host a welcome / rehearsal dinner and / or post wedding brunch / lunch to give everyone a chance to meet other guests and relax into the party atmosphere. Everyone bonds over food and drink and these meals don’t have to be super formal or overly indulgent.  A delicious grazing table or gourmet pizza evening are all great ideas.
  8. Think about child care for guests bringing young children. If you’re hoping that they’ll spend time with you in the evenings, you might need to organise a nanny or provide a list of babysitters that guests can contact to make their own arrangements.  Alternatively, you could organise a movie night for the kids complete with snacks and popcorn so that their weekend is just as special as their parents!
  9. Keep your guests entertained – think about activities you can put on for your guests or give them suggestions about things they can do in the area (eating and socialising are valid activities!). It’s great to have a few things planned for guests to give focus to the weekend but beware of filling every moment of every day for them.  Your guests will appreciate some time out from all the festivities and an opportunity to just relax.
  10. Have a team to help out, especially as you’ll want to relax and enjoy the weekend as well. Hosting such an important event as your wedding can be tough and when you’re planning and managing multiple days, it can be even trickier.  Working with a wedding planner means that none of your friends and family have to take control either or you could delegate different elements of the weekend to different people so that the workload is shared.

Whatever style of wedding weekend you choose, I hope you really love your extended wedding party!

Katrina Otter is a Cambridgeshire based wedding planner and event organiser with over 10 years experience. Find out how she could help you plan your wedding day 

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