Disclosure: Today I am so happy to feature a guest post. I hope you'll make the author feel welcome.
It’s a tricky thing trying to balance planning your destination wedding and preparing your guests for said wedding at the same time.
It’s almost like planning a wedding and a massive group vacation at the same time and trust me, the scale can tip so easily if you lose your focus.
But here’s what you need to know about the guests’ side of the scale;
Give Them Reasonable Notice
The fact of the matter is nobody is going to take kindly to being invited to a destination wedding at the last minute, this isn’t a 90s romantic comedy, it's real life and people have stuff to do.
There's a big difference between a destination wedding that's 2 hours out of town via road trip or a destination wedding that is 2 hours out of town by flight.
The former could more easily be affordable and practical for guests to attend while the latter could take some serious thought and budget, that some guests simply won't have.
This is why it's important to give your guests proper notice, 12 months is sufficient notice, and you can send out your save the dates in order to give them that notice.
Otherwise, right you lo after you lock in your wedding venue you should get out your save the dates as soon as possible.
Your wedding invitations should be sent out no later than 3 months before the wedding.
Include The Right Information (And Where to Put What)
When you do your save the dates, be sure to add and then tire weekends date not the date of just the Saturday.
Also, mention that it is a destination wedding and in the case where the wedding is overseas you can mention the destination in a cute and clever way;
· You could include a map of your destination country and put an x or a heart or a kiss on the city on the map where you are getting married.
· Have a postcard made with your save the date details at the back.
· Print out miniature flags of the country and cut it up and add it as confetti in the envelope.
· Use a luggage tag to write your guests name on and stick it to the envelope.
· Make a destination distinctive keepsake that can fit into your envelope.
But there is other important information you should give your guests as well
On the invitation, you should include the name of the venue and its address, for example;
The Sandals Resort, Great Exuma, Bahamas.
You then add the link, site, or page (we’ll discuss more below) where they can find all of the information.
Please do not clutter your invitation - keep it elegant.
Make a Guest Info Hub
With a destination wedding, it’s super important to have a place that people can go to to find all of the right information, almost like an info desk at a tourist hot-spot.
This is where you put information like who pays for travel & accommodation (you don’t have to), Season Information (is it going to be summer or winter or The Bahamas?) a link to the hotel’s website as well as where to find booking information.
You can add more information as you go along.
Which is why it’s important to choose an “info hub” that is flexible and reliable, here are a few options:
A Wedding Website
Wedding websites are actually really fun to design, and you don’t even need any web design skills whatsoever.
You could use a free drag and drop website creator such as Wix or Squarespace (but Squarespace isn’t free)
Or, my personal favorite option - you can use The Knot’s Wedding Website maker which is free and simply incredible, a great (paid) alternative is Appy Couple.
But one problem I always notice with wedding websites is people tend to lose the link, you can ask them to bookmark it to improve the odds of them not losing it though.
I love using a private Facebook Group as an information hub because it’s an app that basically everyone has and it’s super easy to add all of the information that I mentioned above to a pinned post so everyone who opens the Group can automatically see it.
Your guests can post questions there and then everyone can see the answers instead of dozens of people asking you the same question over and over again.
Plus, a Facebook Group link is much easier to add to an invitation than a lengthy website link.
You can also use it in conjunction with other forms of communication such as the wedding website where you can collect RSVPs.
Whatsapp groups can also work well for communication if you know how to use them right but the risk you run with adding a bunch of family members or friends in a group is that it can quickly become a circus and a meme train, which can get annoying fast.
Although it can be a great option for keeping guests in the loop, it can be just as ineffective when people eventually leave the group.
Email communication is great, or at least it used to be until inboxes became so flooded with newsletters and promotions that people mostly just ignore their e-mails.
But you could always use it along with a Facebook or Whatsapp group in order to include all parties that don’t necessarily have one or the other of the above mentioned social media.
Plan Some Activities For Them
Preparation doesn’t stop when your guests get on the plain, it stops when the wedding is done and everyone is sleeping off their hangovers the next morning and maybe not even then.
And although this doesn’t technically involve any planning on the guests’ side, it does still take some preparation.
In order to embrace and fully enjoy the destination, you should set up some activities for your guests to get them pumped and relaxed at the same time (maybe there’s a balance in there somewhere?).
If you’re worried about the cost, consider going to an all-inclusive resort that includes all these fun activities and all you have to do is book them.
Get Them Gifts
In the spirit of love, it’s a wise idea to get gifts for all of your guests who have made the effort to travel so far to celebrate your special day with you.
It can be something small if your budget is shot but it really is a great opportunity to make your guests feel appreciated and it also makes them feel welcome and included in your wedding, rather than being expensive props for your glamorous destination wedding.
So my advice is to go for gold and get them something really amazing.