Welcoming Guests to Your Destination Wedding

Having a destination wedding means that you'll be hosting travelers. Ideally, you or someone from your wedding party should be present to greet and help them get their bearings when they arrive. Otherwise, alert the front desk as to who is expected. Ask that your friends and family members be shown to their rooms quickly.

Your guests may have come a long distance to celebrate your wedding, and they'll want to unpack and freshen up. They also want to feel welcomed, so consider the following pointers for being a gracious host:

  • Appoint a second-in-command: You can't do it all — nor should you. Having a second-in-command who can meet and greet guests can give you more time to wrap up last-minute details and relax before the ceremony.
    Appoint anyone who is organized, trustworthy, and reliable. Ask one of the dads, moms, the maid of honor, or a close friend who is qualified to be your proxy. That person can keep his or her eyes on things, hold on to your valuables, and communicate your wishes with the photographer or musicians. If you have a wedding coordinator, you can also lean on her.
  • Arrange a hospitality suite: Consider booking a hospitality suite at your hotel for guests to gather in. This space — usually a meeting room or empty guestroom — is a central place for friends and family to gather, mingle, and leave messages. If yours are staying at multiple hotels, such a spot can be especially useful.
    Normally refreshments such as cold sodas, bottled water, and cookies and brownies are furnished. You can order healthier items and specialties by making arrangements with room service or the banquet staff.
  • Notify guests of optional and required events: Deciding how loose or structured you want the wedding weekend to be, and which events require optional or mandatory attendance, is up to you. What you need to do is make sure your guests are informed about the events.
    To keep everyone in the loop, provide an itinerary in your wedding newsletter. A wedding newsletter is a document with an agenda that's typically included in a guest's welcome bag or separately delivered to their room. Leave extra copies in the hospitality suite (see preceding bullet) and at the front desk so guests are never at a loss for what to do or where to find you.
  • Provide a welcome goody bag: When your guests arrive, have welcome bags ready for them. If you've planned well, you've already shipped the bulk of the goodies and the bags to contain them.
    Your coordinator or attendants can handle filling guest bags. If neither is available, offer to compensate staff members to help. Work at a long table in a room that can be locked. Line up bags, followed by items in the order they need to be placed inside. Use paper (or real luggage) tags to identify the guest and room number for each bag. Arrange delivery with the bell or service desk.
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