What’s a wedding without happy guests? Whether it’s a two-hour drive or a six-hour flight, wedding guests generally have to travel to attend the celebration. Destination couples especially keep this in mind and, as a sign of gratitude for their attendance, have been putting extra effort into the guest experience. Destination weddings are no longer only about the pair saying "I do," but are also about everyone who has come to celebrate in paradise.
So how are couples taking the guest experience into their own hands?
Any time a guest has to travel to attend a wedding--whether it’s in the couple’s hometown or a destination--it’s important to make it convenient for them to plan ahead. Although it may be ultimately easier for guests to arrive on-site at an all-inclusive resort and simply start relaxing, travel arrangements do require some time to book in advance. Destination couples are sending out their save-the-dates and invitations earlier than usual, allowing guests to request time off from work and secure childcare if needed, although we have seen an increasing number of our destination weddings taking advantage of the incredible offerings at family-friendly resorts. Additionally, couples help by providing suggestions for flights and reserving room blocks with competitive group rates.
Many brides and grooms are creating wedding websites that include all of the details for their Big Day, so guests can refer to it whenever they needed. Couples have also found it useful to connect with a destination wedding specialist to help coordinate travel to ease the planning for their guests.
Nothing is more exciting for a destination wedding guest than a group excursion to take in the sights, traditions and popular activities of the area. Today’s to-be-weds are booking day trips for the whole crew to tour a nearby museum, take in a winery or jump on a boat to go snorkeling. Better yet: An excursion, such as a sunset catamaran cruise, can easily double as a welcome dinner that serves as a kickoff to the festivities to come. Every destination offers its own opportunities for group activities, so it’s a great way for everyone to get a feel for their surroundings, and take another unique memory home with them!
A little something extra
When all is said and done, everyone, of course, expects to have fun at a destination celebration. Today’s couples are going the extra mile with thoughtful gestures to say thanks and provide guests with an unforgettable experience. Welcome bags are a popular way to do so, while also acting as a “starter kit” for the wedding. Couples are including everything from snacks and sunscreen to customized sunglasses or koozies, to personalized itineraries and maps of the area as a fun way to greet their attendees. Other options for incorporating that extra something special are via wedding favors or even surprise entertainment, such as an interactive food station or traditional musicians for a cultural affair.
Much of the guest experience will depend on the couple’s combined personalities, as well as who is attending and where the wedding is being held. Regardless, there are endless ways to ensure that all guests go home with extra-special memories to last a lifetime.
Rebecca Hochreiter is the vice president of marketing and customer engagement at DestinationWeddings.com, the world's leading destination wedding and romantic travel planning company. DestinationWeddings.com has worked with nearly 25,000 couples and half a million guests to plan dream destination weddings.